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This book is fine for those who are interested in making fermented breads from a commercial yeast, but for those looking to make naturally leavened bread from a starter you would be better off trying a different method than the one described by Forkish. His method wastes way too much flour, over 1000 grams per day just to get the starter going! Completely unnecessary! All you really need is 100 grams of a 50/50 white and wheat blend and 100 grams of water, more or less depending on your baking schedule. That's it. The method in this book would have you go through a bag of flour a day. Try Chad Robertson's Tartine instead for a better daily method.
I also have to wonder if all the 5 star reviews actually made some of the recipes as described or if they just glanced over it. If you try to make the Pain Au Bacon there is a typo that has you adding an unnecessary 604 grams of whole wheat flour in the method (it should read only 16 grams!). He also has you build a huge levain for this recipe and only use a fraction of it. There are much more economical recipes out there with much better methods.
Other reviewers stated that a combo cooker is preferable to the Dutch oven method used here and they are absolutely right, a combo cooker is much easier to work with. Forkish also apparently isn't a fan of scoring bread instead advocating for using the natural seam, it's a personal preference but I quite like scoring and making unique designs.
Forkish also claims that in order to have a good rise and taste out of bread you need a combination of natural leaven and commercial yeast. Not true at all, some of the best risen and tasting breads I have ever made have been from using my own starter alone. Commercial yeast has its place at times but you absolutely don't need it to make good bread. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years before yeast was sold and packaged.
I do agree that bread needs to be cooked a lot longer than most people think, a dark flavorful crust is preferable to an under baked loaf any day, and most people negatively reviewing it for that reason probably don't know what good bread looks or tastes like.
Overall, if you are dipping your toes into the water and trying out long fermentation methods with commercial yeast, this book should be fine, but be sure to do the math on the recipes and calculate the correct baker's percentages before you waste flour and time on a typo. If you are looking for a book to get started making naturally leavened bread, go buy Tartine by Chad Robertson.
I purchased this book thinking it would provide many recipes for artisan style bread’s. Unfortunately it seems to be mostly about bakers theory and the authors personal journey. It’s kind of odd as it claims to be the one book that isn’t for professionals. It is written understandably however with only maybe six different recipes all of which are variations of the same types. I’m glad I only bought the Kindle version and not the paperback.
Ken's book has a number of good techniques for making artisan type loaves with extra flavor due to overnight cold fermentation. But the presentation is clumsy and it is easy to get yourself out of sequence. I actually sat with the book and made a spreadsheet of steps in sequence. When you get it right the bread is much better than average but it is hard to follow. Mild recommendation from me because of that.
Edit: This book is OK to be able to master a couple of recipes, while you get the knack of it and develop intuition.
I personally prefer books that help me UNDERSTAND what I'm looking for, instead of following rigid recipes (ex: I'd prefer to know what's my target volume, texture, etc... vs having super specific times and water temperatures like this book).
Most recipes are literally word-by-word copy-paste from other recipes just one or two parameters changed. So don't be discouraged with the annoying level of exigence and detail, since what you do will be almost the same for all the breads in the same section. It would be so much more useful to understand the recipes in terms of "deltas" from the previous one, and the rationale behind it.
For some strange reason the recipes on this book ask you to create a ridiculous amount of levain only to throw away most of it (ex: create 1kg, use 300g, discard 700g). I just divide by 3 (or 2, if I'm feeling lazy with math) and have more than enough. ----- I have been baking great bread through ressources found on the Internet (ex: Sally's website). I decided to buy this book hoping to up my game in terms of: - Understanding better the details of what I'm doing (ex: science behind) - Expanding my options at a particular point (
I really don't understand why this book has so many great reviews. The recipes give little room for understanding and interpretation. They all feel redundant, with little variations, while at the same there's little to no explanation on the small differences between them.
Pics are beautiful, and you can see the person has a passion for bread, but this book has only created a huge amount of frustration (and wasted food) with terrible results. I'm folding back to my previous methods, where at least I have an idea of WHY am I doing each step of the recipe, and what are my options at any specific point.
Am I the only one who could not see one clear recipe in this book. I’m sorry making bread should not be this complicated I respect every artist and chef who publishes but I was so disappointed and confused It’s a pretty book and nice pictures but omg lol I stick with Donna Hay
El libro explica bastante bien los procesos por los que se hornea un pan artesanal (con masa madre y otros prefermentos) e incluso es bastante entretenido el leer las anécdotas que coloca entre capítulos; el problema es que -cuando se trata de recetas- repite las misma indicaciones una y otra vez: sería mucho mejor sí sólo describiera las diferencias entre cada receta en lugar de repetirlas varias veces.