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American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza Hardcover – November 4, 2003
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Reinhart begins his inquiry into pizza with his baseline palate memory for what a great pizza should be. As a teenager he had worked in a pizzeria, Mama's, and instinctively knew this pie to be the best. Returning as an adult years later, he discovered otherwise. Had he changed, or had the pizza changed? Both, it happened, were true.
So what is the nature of perfection, and where do you go to find it? In the case of Peter Reinhart, this journey includes travels through Italy and across the US. This is Part One of the book, called The Hunt. It's not the most enlivening travel writing, which would have helped elevate the insights into the nature of great pizza and the people who make it happen. But it's only a third of the entire package. The best is yet to come. In Part Two: The Recipes, Reinhart comes entirely into his own. Here is the master at work. Chapters include "The Family of Doughs", "Sauces and Specialty Toppings," and "The Pizzas." Reinhart gives you the building blocks, no matter what your kitchen, tools, and oven might be like. And then he unfolds the roadmap--pizzas from the strictly classical to the strictly whimsical.
Work diligently with American Pie and in time you will be able to call yourself, without hesitation or rising color, pizzaiolo and focacciaiolo. --Schuyler Ingle
From the Publisher
Includes in-depth pizza-making techniques; more than 40 classic pizza recipes; and an engaging narrative of Reinharts pizza hunts with such food luminaries as Rick Bayless, Jeffrey Steingarten, and Joanne Weir.
Peter Reinharts last book, THE BREAD BAKERS APPRENTICE, was named Cookbook of the Year by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book has two sections. The first is a fascinating account of all Reinhart went through to find what he regards as the perfect pizza. This includes details of a trip to Italy as well as places within the United States where he found excellent pizza on his pilgrimage. The second, larger section deals with the recipes (formulas) he has created, and this section is broken down further into three sections -- dough, toppings and sauces, and finally complete pizzas.
Do yourself a favor -- do not skip the first section and plow right into the recipes and formulas. While you may be more interested in getting down to business, you learn a tremendous amount about what the author regards as a great pizza, and more importantly, you learn just how serious the author was when he set out to find what he calls the perfect pizza. As is typical of his other works, Reinhart writes with unwavering passion, pouring everything he's got into the writing. Finally, many of the pizzas he mentions in the first section are recreated in recipe form in the second section, and it's really fascinating to recreate one of the pies in your own kitchen.
The dough section is a collection of approximately a dozen excellent formulas for crust. Each recipe sticks to Reinhart's trademark method -- slow rise, usually an overnight rising.Read more ›
Comparisons against THE ART are difficult for me to avoid. DeAngelis basically instructs on making one style of pizza - what Reinhart would call a New York style or Americana. Reinhart teaches you to make Napoletana pizza, New York style pizza, Americana pizza, Roman style (thin crust) pizza, grilled pizza (Yes! It's what it sounds like!), Chicago deep dish pizza and a few breads that you may not consider pizza at all, like pita, carta di musica and focaccia. DeAngelis INSISTS that you need to use high-gluten flour (good luck finding it locally) and complains of the inadequacy of the home oven. Reinhart uses (mostly) available ingredients and writes the book knowing that it's going to be used within the limitations of a home kitchen.
But until recently, I've had problems with the recipes. I've tried the Napoletana crust, the Americana crust, the focaccia, the carta di musica, and the prebaked crusts. Despite following his recipes (nearly) to a "T," the dough just did not act as described in the book. It was not as elastic as described, and could tear apart from its own weight. Despite this, if I could get the dough formed into a crust at all, the results were still pretty good! There are two pages on "Ten Tips for Making Pizza Dough." These may be the two most valuable pages in the book, and should be expanded and not relegated to the reduced type size. The recipes call for "instant yeast.Read more ›
The first half of the book is a quest to find the best American pizza, after an incident in Reinhart's home town of Philadelphia when he has a pie from a fondly remembered local restaurant, and it simply does not come up to his fond memories of the pizza of days gone by. As one would expect, the quest begins by a visit to sample the pizzas of Italy in Genoa, Florence, Rome, and Naples, the legendary home of the pizza archetype.
Upon returning home, the author and his wife visit famous pizza locations in New York City, New Haven, San Francisco, Los Angles, Chicago, and Phoenix. In case the Food Network has not caught onto this fact yet, some of the very best pizza is made at Pizzeria Bianco by Chris Bianco, a James Beard Best Chef of the Southwest award winner.
The author is not so gauche as to make a pronouncement on the best pizza in the country, but comes to the conclusion that a local `best' is the conjunction of a perception of what the best pizza should be and a very good pizzaioli who can produce a pie to meet those expectations. One of the most difficult problems for maintaining a good pizza in the U.S. is keeping a dedicated pizzaioli at work at that position and not to treat the job as just another station for a chef to master and move on. Even food meccas like Chez Panisse have problems keeping up the quality of their crusts in the face of staff rotation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Extremely readable. Gets you to the main differences among the various types of pizza. Encourages you to experiment, after having learned the basics. Read morePublished 4 days ago by katesmom99
Never have gotten into this book yet.. no photos, so you have to make the pie to know if it is what you are trying to get.Published 22 days ago by One Bad Dog
A renowned baker, but this book uses volumes not weights in his recipes? Generally interesting, but I would have liked to see these ingredients represented in percentages not cups... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Patrick S Early
Absolutely TERRIBLE. While I am a cook at a a restaurant and usually trust myself, I took this to 3 other chefs, including a large casino chef and had them try out these recipes. Read morePublished 3 months ago by NV...Cle
I am so happy with this book it looks like it is brand new. Great seller very pleased with shipping time and the book itself. Thank you!Published 3 months ago by Lori Mc
Excellent book. I enjoyed reading the first part a lot and then the doughs make me twice the baker I actually am. Read morePublished 3 months ago by michael colton
I am thrilled to have this book, I am taking Peter Reinhart's class at Johnson & Wales University here in Charlotte, NC I am looking forward to learning how to make my own pizzas... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tish Treadaway
Best pizza book I have ever read. Highly recommended. Nice blend of science, culture, and practical tips.Published 4 months ago by lilloquacious
Not a big fan of this book. I found it to be kind of scattered, and a lot of information is outdated. Book is also very dull not illustrations. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Rino