The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Problems with Ken Forskish Pizza Dough Recipes

Firatcim's picture
Firatcim

Problems with Ken Forskish Pizza Dough Recipes

I’ve been making pizza from scratch for several years and am always on the lookout for different perspectives. Bought Forkish’s Pizza book a couple of years ago and have tried many of the recipes. They almost always end up overproofed, or too wet and unworkable, or zero oven-spring. They are also very demanding timingwise. Wonder if any of you tried his recipes and have encountered similar problems. Is this guy a joke, or do I give him a couple of more chances. 

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

There should be a section on this site for Forkish alone so before starting one can read all the comments, questions and advice.  

What you experience is common and his recipes should come with words of advice. He is eccentric and his recipe timings should be largely ignored. But once you get to know Forkish and his eccentricities his recipes are very nice indeed!

All I can say is drop the hydration to something you're more comfortable with, ignore insane builds and go easy with the fermentation times. 

Don't give up. Give Forkish a chance.  

Firatcim's picture
Firatcim

much appreciated, Abe. I’ll be doing some research on here before tossing the book into the Goodwill bin. Have been perplexed why Forkish has such a large following. Maybe I’ll finally figure it out. 

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

When they work they're great :)

My suggestion is if the recipe involves an overnight ferment then flip it around to a day ferment so you can keep an eye on it. Always watch the dough and not the clock. You can also go lower hydration until you've figured out what's going wrong and then slowly work your way back up. If it's very warm then you can adjust the yeast amount and/or use chilled water. Err on the side of caution too. 

Easy does it but eventually you'll find what works. You can always post the recipe you're working on and point out the issues you're experiencing and then someone will help you. Most of us have been through the same thing. But we all agree on how tasty the results are once mastered. 

Best of luck. 

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

I bought FWSY after mainly baking from Hamelman and incorporating techniques from other books, and found the recipes very fussy.  I'm curious to know what you mean in your comment.  If you remove the builds, timings, and high hydration, what are you left with that makes Forkish's recipes unique or special?

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

The builds are excessive and wasteful. However as long as you have the correct amount of starter you're good to go. As in all recipes. It's okay to follow his build ratio just don't build too much. So in fact you're keeping in line with the levain build. 

Timings. As with all bread recipes one can't just watch the clock. This applies to every recipe book. Perhaps where he lives the timings are more accurate.

One can alter the hydration and not change the recipe but not so with the flour. I recommended this just until they can up the hydration again. Always a good practice when ironing out issues. 

What makes his recipes good? Apart from some eccentricities he does have good technique and tasty resulting loaves. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Many have had a similar experience to yours, as you may have discovered by now. Abe's advice is excellent. I will just add that, after learning (the hard way) to ignore Forkish's timings and to watch the dough, not the clock, his formulas for breads, have been my favorites. His flour mixes and techniques, other then fermentation timings, yield excellent results.

I also generally leave the instant yeast out of his formulas that call for both IY and levain. Also, his approach to building levain is unnecessarily wasteful. FYI, the formula for making 360 g of his levain is: 36g ripe starter, 144g water, 36g WW flour, 144g AP flour.

i have his pizza book, but I have had such nice results from the pizza recipes in FWSY that I have stuck with them so far.

Happy baking!

David

Firatcim's picture
Firatcim

Thank you all for your replies. This is a great community of dedicated bakers and I appreciate the time you took to reply to my comment. Will post the results when I get around to making another batch. FYI, I’m mostly interested in finding a way to make pizza dough using wild yeast, so that was the recipe I was trying in the book. 

yana's picture
yana

I have to strongly advice about his pizza recipes, from either of his books.

His recipe is supposed to be based on neapolitan pizza, which is downright not doable with a home oven. A 90 seconds bake is absolutely crucial to neapolitan. That's why neapolitan dough is low hydration and why it has no sugar in it, at those temperatures you don't need sugar for browning.

But for home ovens you do (sugar or diastatic malt powder). So he takes a purist approach in regards to making it a "lean" dough (really the amounts you need are pretty minimal), yet he doesn't take a purist approach for the hydration, which he inexplicably raises to around 70%, which does nothing but contribute to a harder to handle dough, and longer baking time (which is the opposite of what you want).

If you want a pizza book I can recommend The Pizza Bible instead, but the pizza forums and reddit are also places where you can find good tips and explanations, only problem, like here, is that you need to dig for them.

David R's picture
David R

More and more I see apologetic posts about Forkish (both in the older sense of acting as his representative AND simultaneously in the more familiar modern sense of saying you're sorry. 🙂) Not from any one person or group, just generally.

I've personally decided that if he presented me with a loaf of his bread I would probably love it - but that he's a terrible writer. There's no excuse for publishing entire books filled with recipes that are all clearly stupid and can't possibly work. As a writer only, Forkish clearly just doesn't know what he's doing, and needs to be ignored so that (as a writer) he'll go away. Maybe a good writer (or a very hands-on, intrusive editor) can work with him in the future to create something truly worthwhile.

I do fully get the point that within many of those stupid broken recipes there is a really good recipe struggling to emerge - but that isn't worthwhile or acceptable from someone who's supposedly a cookbook author. In any worthwhile cookbook, most of the recipes work, without modification.