Months before Ken Forkish's bread book, "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast", became public, an advanced edition came across my desk. The perfect simplicity the title embodies screamed for my attention; beckoning me to conjure up the powers of natural leavening within those four ingredients. Taking it home, I set my sights on the hybrid-leavening breads (breads that use a combination of Fleischmann's style instant yeast and yeast found naturally in flour). The recipes were wonderfully laid out, scheduling the time to perform certain tasks and how long to wait before each technique. As a visual learner, the bounty of pictures helped me to understand the no-knead process. After a little trial and error, I had the methods worked out. Since then, the author published extremely informative technique videos to help readers understand each step of the bread baking process. (See them here: http://www.youtube.com/user/KensArtisan).
After successfully baking two loaves of the hybrid bread, I went for the pure Levain breads (think San-Francisco sourdough). A Levain bread, nothing but flour, water, salt, and yeasts found naturally on wheat. Ahhh, the way that bread should be. I was fortunate enough to have been gifted a 30+ year old sourdough starter ; one never tainted with added ingredients like pineapple juice, potato flakes, milk, or sugar (all have merit, but a pure loaf of bread is something to be cherished). With my sourdough starter, I shot for the moon with the "Bread with Bacon". I couldn't resist the temptation to add lots of bacon. Besides its delicious flavor, Forkish also writes, "The bacon fat makes the yeast extra happy .The two loaves turned out excellent, really remarkable. Using a dutch oven to re-create the environment of a large bakery style oven really gave the crust a really chewy texture. The interior had a pretty good crumb considering this was my first attempt to create bread only using flour, water, and salt. If you want to make artisan level bread at home, buy this book.
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