I own multiple pizza cookbooks. This one is by far my favorite, and then one I keep going back to for reference. I get a lot more out of other pizza cookbooks having read this book cover-to-cover and learning everything I possibly can about traditional methods and...
I own multiple pizza cookbooks. This one is by far my favorite, and then one I keep going back to for reference. I get a lot more out of other pizza cookbooks having read this book cover-to-cover and learning everything I possibly can about traditional methods and ingredients. This is the pizza book that makes other pizza books more valuable.
Baking has always appealed to me, since I was a little kid. I think part of it how much it tickles that part of my brain that''s very systematic and orderly, and every time you bake it''s like a fun science experiment too. It also has a nostalgic quality for me as my mom was always baking different things, and I got to help her in the kitchen growing up.
All too often, you look up a recipe online, or in a regular cookbook, and it''s just a series of steps, often vague, and no real explanation of how to do them, or why you should do them. The authors either assume you have certain knowledge already, or lack that knowledge themselves. For many kinds of food, that''s okay, and you can get good results just muddling through, but with baking there''s chemistry and biology at work that requires very careful attention and specialized knowledge to achieve the best results. Sometimes you wish you could experiment, but you''re unsure what parts of the recipe you can play with and how to play with them to get different results. This is a book for those who don''t just want to make a decent pizza at home, but want to understand the ins-and-outs of pizza dough, and all the different things you can adjust to achieve the results you want.
This book contains some recipes, some very good recipes, but it''s not a cookbook. It''s really a textbook, written in evocative prose, with tantalizing full-page photos of ingredients, dough, toppings, and of course finished pizzas. If you read the book cover-to-cover, and you should, you won''t even encounter a recipe until page 103. The first five chapters are a history lesson, stories about pizzaiolos (those who make pizzas in Italy) and discussions on pizza styles, ingredients, equipment, and methods. Throughout is vast amounts of wisdom, and very important details on what makes a great pizza dough. If you''re the kind of person who wants the very best results from your pizza-making, and discussion of protein percentages in your flour or the brix of the tomatoes you use doesn''t scare you off, this book is a fount of invaluable knowledge. This is a recipe book for those who WANT to worry about the humidity of their kitchen, and want to precisely measure time and temperature as ingredients in their dough-making. All of this information is presented in a clear, well-organized way, that''s beginner-friendly.
Armed with all of this knowledge, the recipes in the latter half of the book are really just examples. You are encouraged to use the techniques you''ve learned in the first half to experiment and decide what sort of pizza you want to make. The first dough recipe, Saturday Pizza Dough, is an excellent baseline, but depending on what style you like you might try any of the other dough recipes, or use them as starting points to develop your own. After the dough and sauce recipes come specific pizza recipes which may or may not suggest specific doughs. If you''re like me, you''ll find yourself eager to hunt down the very best ingredients you can find, and happily making many pizzas to perfect your skills.
Bottom line, will you make great pizza after reading this book? Heck yeah you will! The best pizza I''ve ever had comes out of my own oven now. Perfect crust, perfect sauce, and the toppings just how I want them. It''s a bit of work, making food this good, but it''s so worth it and the experience from start to finish is a lot of fun. It''s very satisfying to chew a pizza crust and admire its qualities, knowing exactly what you did to make it so good. My first few pizzas after I started making them the traditional Italian way were a little stressful, some mistakes were made, but even the worst pizza I made using this book as my guide were still a lot better than you get from most restaurants.