Pizza Making Forum

Reviews & Opinions => Cookbook Reviews => Topic started by: Bbqguy on May 10, 2021, 09:11:03 AM

Title: Ken Forkish’s Book
Post by: Bbqguy on May 10, 2021, 09:11:03 AM
What are your thought on The Elements of Pizza book by Ken Forkish?  I found a copy at a yard sale over the weekend. For $2 I couldnt pass it up. What I wonder is how the formulas, most of which seem to be at 70% hydration, work out. Does anyone have any experience with using these formulas and any input?
Title: Re: Ken Forkish’s Book
Post by: Peter B on May 10, 2021, 10:11:16 AM
I have the book, and there is some good stuff in it but there is some stuff that does not seem to work well also.  I like the way he is very deliberate at describing processes.  This was very helpful for me when I started, because there can be a good amount of intimidation when learning to make pizza.  However - I did not get the results he got in many ways.  My crusts did not get the color of his, and I was using bread flour instead of 00.  Since you mention the hydration, I do recall having some issues with tearing and thin spots.  IMO - beginners should start with lower hydration to get some confidence stretching and then work up, if desired.

I think it is a good book to help one learn about making pizza, but it is not to be used alone.  Many here will say that you can get as good or better knowledge on this site.  While this is absolutely true, I think it is easy to forget that this site has such a crazy amount of content that it would be hard for a newbie to just learn from here alone.  Also - I think it is easy to forget that newbies often do not know what questions to ask or what to search for - I know this because that was my experience, and continues to be as I learn.  The book helps to introduce the topic to folks, which then makes this site much more helpful.

My 2 cents.

The Broz
Title: Re: Ken Forkish’s Book
Post by: Bbqguy on May 10, 2021, 10:35:27 AM
I have the book, and there is some good stuff in it but there is some stuff that does not seem to work well also.  I like the way he is very deliberate at describing processes.  This was very helpful for me when I started, because there can be a good amount of intimidation when learning to make pizza.  However - I did not get the results he got in many ways.  My crusts did not get the color of his, and I was using bread flour instead of 00.  Since you mention the hydration, I do recall having some issues with tearing and thin spots.  IMO - beginners should start with lower hydration to get some confidence stretching and then work up, if desired.

I think it is a good book to help one learn about making pizza, but it is not to be used alone.  Many here will say that you can get as good or better knowledge on this site.  While this is absolutely true, I think it is easy to forget that this site has such a crazy amount of content that it would be hard for a newbie to just learn from here alone.  Also - I think it is easy to forget that newbies often do not know what questions to ask or what to search for - I know this because that was my experience, and continues to be as I learn.  The book helps to introduce the topic to folks, which then makes this site much more helpful.

My 2 cents.

The Broz

Great advice here Peter and much of what you said kind of confirms some of my opinions. Just starting out on my pizzza making journey the highest hydration I’ve worked with so far is around 65% so when I saw 70% in the book all kinds of red flags went up. I also had read through another thread here about the book and on some of the formulas there is an error in the amount of yeast given. The one that stands out in my mind is the Saturday pizza dough. It should be 3 grams not 0.03. Look at replies 37 & 38 on this thread:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=41818.20

So I may try a couple of the formulas that have a lower hydration like the 48-72 hour NY dough that has a hydartion pretty close to what I’ve been working with and definitely check the math first.
Title: Re: Ken Forkish’s Book
Post by: bethj on May 22, 2021, 08:48:40 AM
FYI Kindle edition on sale for $2.99

https://smile.amazon.com/Elements-Pizza-Unlocking-Secrets-World-Class/dp/160774838X/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=forkish+pizza&qid=1621687659&sr=8-2
Title: Re: Ken Forkish’s Book
Post by: Chuck_Benzing on November 07, 2022, 07:57:33 PM
What are your thought on The Elements of Pizza book by Ken Forkish?  I found a copy at a yard sale over the weekend. For $2 I couldnt pass it up. What I wonder is how the formulas, most of which seem to be at 70% hydration, work out. Does anyone have any experience with using these formulas and any input?

I'm on my 3'rd batch of his 48-72 Hr. Biga recipe using the Caputo Red & Blue bag 00 Flours.  It's my new favorite (pp 120).

- Cheers
Title: Re: Ken Forkish’s Book
Post by: kbrede on November 07, 2022, 08:23:02 PM
I know this is an old thread but since it's been resurrected...

I started with his book and liked it because having an electric mixer isn't central to his process. His recipes are geared toward a home oven, but I changed the hydration to 60% and they worked fine in my Roccbox.
Title: Re: Ken Forkish’s Book
Post by: Sandhill on November 15, 2022, 08:49:39 PM
I only have a few pizza specific books (Camp, Roberto's) but I think that Elements (and his couple of YT videos) are far and away the best presentation I have ever seen and has improved my techniques quite a bit.  I've been doing it at home for a couple of decades and my wife did a couple of years running a place, so I was not starting from scratch when I encountered Elements.  Perhaps that let me get the best from it.  If i were to recommend just one book Elements would be it.

That said, unless you're standardizing production for a business staffed by kids (Pizza Hut for example) you're looking at art as much as routine, and you do have to get a lot of it right on your own, there is no way someone can just give you a simple set of steps that if you follow them in YOUR kitchen they will give results exactly like what the author said.  Practice.

I never noticed an odd hydration, if there is one I'd guess it is for a purpose like Grandma, the likeliness of a 70% to be launched from a peel is I think slim and I doubt it appears in the book.  If you look at Forkish's Adam Kuban Bar Pie (a recipe he says Kuban approved to him) and Kubans' more recent YT on the subject, they are quite different...  art.

This site is indeed the best reference, but depending on the topic somewhere near a half of what you read is simply opinion and thus perhaps not lies but certainly not truths.  Totally divergent opinions that you will find here.  Tonight I had a bunch of button mushrooms that needed to get used up, and lacking any other use I decided to put them on a pizza rather than into the trash.  I never ever put mushrooms on pizza so had to learn.  Just search mushrooms here and you will see folks insisting on gotta be fresh, should be canned, dried, or just drained, or should be jarred marinated, if fresh saute them first, roast them first, go raw etc etc

Because I do not like toppings that add much liquid I did exactly the right thing and sliced them 5/16" and held them in a 150 F oven for half an hour it it worked out perfectly.  Any other solution would have been wrong.  My point just being that those here that actually understand your question, knowing if you are using a stone or steel or screen etc and what goal you have and what results you already get, can actually give a good opinion as to what dropping a percent or (this a Kuban concept from above) maintaining "effective percentage) by substituting some oil for water will do.  This is more pizza science and what this site is rich in and why it is the best resource in spite of the fact that a lot of what appears here is simply wrong.

Meanwhile, take Forkish's advice, "flour is your friend and a crust that has formed well and needs slapped is way better than one that stayed too sticky because you were scared to load it with flour."  My doughs don't vary a quarter percent hydration, and the thought of additional flour seemed unimaginable.  Most people are not that OCD I suppose, but Forkish showed me the light, and it improved my product a lot.  Even when you make just 40 or 50 pies a year getting that right is a triumph.  I owe him that and though it is a fundamental lesson, I had always missed it...great book.