Customer Reviews: My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home
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VINE VOICEon September 20, 2012
I made Jim Lahey's pizza dough and my quest for perfect pizza dough has now ended. Just a little recap of the events that lead up to this quest. The setting, Tuscon, Arizona, 2004, an ugly, tiny kitchen and a pile of pepperoni. I'd finally mastered the art of yeast dough, thanks to a recipe from the Bread Bible and I thought, 'pizza will be so eeeeasy!' and it was.

The basic ingredients were the same (let's be real here, the basic ingredients for most yeast doughs are the same) water, salt, yeast and flour. I mixed them all, set the dough in the hottest place in my apartment (anywhere, it was Tuscon in June) and waited. While I waited I carefully shredded fontina, sliced mushrooms and stirred my homemade marinara sauce (recipe courtesy of Batali).

But the pizza was meh, edible but nothing to flip your skirt over. Mostly because of the dough. It wasn't right, too crispy, too soft, too hard, too salty, not chewy enough.

So I tried another recipe and then another. Over the years we ate a lot of pizza. I'd become obsessed. I tried spelt flour, rye, organic honey, natural yeast made from organic grapes and wheat bread flour ground locally. I added wine, kosher salt, black salt and bought a pizza stone. I dusted the baking stone with cornmeal and flour.

My husband and son became concerned, they begged me to stop, 'think about your health, honey, all this cheese it's not good for you! Let's eat burgers instead, please, mom!'

Sometimes I could stop, weeks would go by and I wouldn't think about pizza at all. Then something, usually a sale on mozzarella at the grocery store would jar me right out of my pizzaless complacency and then wham! Back in the kitchen, baking again.

But this pizza dough is the perfection I was striving for, the crazy thing is, it's the easiest dough I've ever made. No heating water, no kneading, no poolish, I didn't even use a pizza stone (mine broke when I threw it out the front door, turns out they are not terribly durable). I've gotten pretty lax about following the recipe, sometimes I sub a little whole wheat flour for the bread flour and I put a tad more salt in (gotta be careful with the salt, it can retard the yeast and lengthen the proofing.) But no matter how many little tweaks I throw at it, this dough turns out EVERY time! And it is delicious whether I smother it with prosciutto, dolaner gouda and walnuts or a thin coat of garlicky olive oil and a few sprinkles of rosemary. Alsom and this is last but not least, it looks frigging fantastic, when I make it for people they shower me with praise (I act humble and say it was nothing, but secretly I'm doing a victory dance and feeling entirely too pleased with myself).

There are a lot of interesting recipes in this book other than the all important dough, for bechamel sauce pizzas, cheesless vegan pizzas (don't turn your nose up at these, some look delightful), some really interesting looking meatballs that use mashed potatoes instead of bread crumbs as a binder and the most delicious looking charcuterie pie (I want to make it so that I can say 'charcuterie' over and over again to everyone I meet).

So, for me, this book is a life changer.
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VINE VOICEon April 21, 2012
Jim Lahey, the man famous for no knead bread, has a new cookbook, this time dealing with pizza, the main ingredient that has made his NYC restaurant Co. such a success. Jim's recipe for pizza dough is so simple it literally takes 2 minutes to make--flour, water, yeast and salt, all mixed in a big bowl and left to rest overnight. The dough is phenomenal--crispy and chewy with a wonderful taste and texture. Jim also takes the home cook through a technique, using a pizza stone and the broiler, to get restaurant style pizza crusts at home. The results are wonderful and fast--I never thought I could have hot pizza after 4 minutes in the oven!

But what really makes this book fantastic are the flavor combinations on the pizzas in the chapters following the crust. The book has three chapters of pizza--red sauce, white sauce, and no sauce. I cooked from this book with a group of friends and we made pizzas from each chapter and there wasn't a bad one in the bunch. From a simple margherita made with fresh hand crushed tomato sauce (again, a super simple recipe), to ham and cheese pie with prosciutto, to a stellar caramelized onion pie with lardons, the flavor combinations were all stellar. The book also includes a salad and dessert section, although these almost feel like an afterthought compared to the detail and attention in the pizza chapters.

All in all this is a winner. I would definitely recommend it to pizza fans!
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on April 2, 2012
Jim Lahey, of no-knead bread/ Sullivan Street Bakery fame, has published a gorgeous book he calls "My Pizza". In it, he describes his no-knead approach to pizza dough which is, not surprisingly, practically identical to the bread approach that brought him fame in 2006 when the NY Times food columnist Mark Bittman first wrote about it. While I appreciate how many more people are making good bread at home since they heard about this technique, I have to say I don't entirely understand the no-knead mania. To me, it is a bit like getting excited to find shoes you don't need to tie. A small time savings perhaps, but neither shoe tying nor bread conditioning ever seemed terribly onerous to me. Perhaps this is because I use a middle of the road approach that I learned from the Tartine Bread book. By resting the dough without salt for an hour or so, the amount of time spent conditioning the dough with a few stretches (not kneads) is minimal and sufficient.

I tried Lahey's dough recipe and I had to resist the urge to give the dough even a few stretches. The resulting dough, while acceptable, was still a bit uneven and I am certain even 30-45 seconds of stretching would have improved the dough structure and consistency. Is that too much to ask of a home cook? Mercifully, Lahey devotes about one page to this no-knead dough approach and then moves on to the task at hand: making great pizza.

I'm sounding overly critical of an excellent book on pizza. Jim seems as obsessed with flavor combinations as the best of us pizza cooks. While never fussy with the preparation of the toppings, he is specific about the how and why he has made particular combinations. For example, in the giardinaiera pie, he balances tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, hot chili flakes, arugula and fresh sweet corn. This exquisite vegan creation is purposeful in the things it omits like meat, cheese, and herbs in order to allow the included items be better perceived. Lahey follows few traditions when it comes to pizza. His "pepperoni pie" for example, has no actual cured meat product. Pepperoni is the italian plural of peppers, you see, so this pepperoni pie includes a variety of sweet and hot peppers. Lest you think he has created a book of vegetarian pizzas, I can assure you every other pizza has meat in some form. The charcuterie pie, for example, is a béchamel sauced pizza of knockwurst, bratwurst, sauerkraut and mustard. Prosciutto and lardons make frequent appearances in the book as well.

In trying to re-create the high temperatures of wood fired ovens, he encourages the home cook to pre-heat the pizza stone to 500 degrees or more and then bake the pizza with the broiler on. He aims to cook the pizza in less than 5 minutes this way. You will need to play with your oven to see what it is capable of. Mine seems to work best on the convection setting of 500° as the broiler was not as efficient for me. The pictured pizzas he creates embrace the black char one might associate with using a broiler but not quite the more reserved mahogany char that I get in the wood fired oven. I suppose black char is superior to doughy white pizzas, but it seems a bit excessive at times; for example, the pizza bianco photo on page 112 might more appropriately be titled pizza negro.

In general, his suggestions for pizza toppings are spot on. The balance he suggests in his broccoli rabe pie, for example, with the blend of two cheeses, the broccoli rabe, the béchamel and the heat of the thai chilis is perfect. The commentary next to each pizza about his thought process developing each recipe gives insight into this chef's creative mind.

Also excellent are the recipes he includes for soups, salads, and desserts. A whole section is devoted to "toasts" and the spreads that can be created for them. As a bread baker, I'm always looking for ways to use up my week old bread. I could see a dinner party of nothing more than salad, toasted bread, and toppings like "Garlic scape and lovage pesto" or "White bean and mirepoix spread".

The photos in My Pizza are stunning and mouth watering. Every page made me either hungry or want to cook. There were a couple of photos where the food styling slipped into distracting affectations. For example, on p. 78, the "cauliflower pie" is served on newspaper (who wants ink on their food?) and four pages later, the "corn and tomato pie" is shown sitting on hand made japanese paper (what a waste!). I suppose these indulgences are to be expected in the food grooming world of cookbook photography, but I think they're best when they aren't noticed.

Whether you are hoping to improve your pizza game or this will be the latest addition to your pizza library, you won't be disappointed in "My Pizza" by Jim Lahey. The pizzas are refreshingly new and well conceived while the extra recipes for salads, soups and other courses are an unexpected bonus.
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on May 20, 2012
this book is worth it for the basic dough recipe alone, and just gets better from there. i've tried more dough recipes than i can count in the years after i realized almost no take-out pizza would do (certainly none here in cabo san lucas). all were too sweet, too bread-y, too crunchy, too flavorless... the author REALLY loves pizza, and shows us foodies what makes authentic pizza authentic, like what you get in italy. if you need buckets of sauce, pounds of cheese and layers upon layers of toppings, i urge you to try these relatively spare but so delicious proportions before adding more of whatever you like. great book for any pizza-holic.
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on October 20, 2012
This is a great book! You'll get the perfect crust and delicious pizzas with Jim Lahey's 18-hour rise, pizza stone, and broiler method (see my added tips ahead). I've been making pizzas at home for 28 years now, and they tasted great but I was never satisfied with my crust. I tried many different recipes over the years. Some said use olive oil, others not. Some said add a little sugar, others not. Some said use an egg, others not. Even those that said just use flour, water, yeast, and salt, always said knead for 10 to 15 minutes and then let the dough rise until double in bulk (couple of hours). ALL WRONG! I kept searching for the right dough recipe, but the secret is just flour, water, salt and a very small amount of yeast, combined with an 18 to 36 hour rise at room temperature in a bowl tightly covered in plastic wrap. No kneading, unless you want to knead for one minute before putting it in the greased bowl, and two minutes when it comes out of the bowl (see why just ahead). You do need a 1/2 inch thick pizza stone and a broiler (thinner stones will break) because the secret is to get very high top heat, just like a pro wood-fired brick pizza oven.

What's great about Jim's method is you can literally make the dough in 5 minutes, then let it rise at room temperature for at least 18 hours and it's ready. Takes time, yes, but very little work. Sometimes I throw it together before bed at night and it's ready by 4 pm the next day. I can remember watching Mario Batali on TV and he added sugar, olive oil, and white wine, and then he kneaded for 20 minutes with a rest or two. That's unnecessary, and the crust isn't as good. I watched many pizza makers on Martha Stewart doing similar things, but none worked as well as Jim's method. The most important things are the 18 to 36 hour rise at room temperature and using a pizza stone under a broiler. Just make the dough the day before and follow Jim's instructions. But I do recommend using King Arthur bread flour (blue bag) or a 50/50 blend of King Arthur and Antimo Caputo OO flour, the latter if you like a finer crust texture. Make sure you're not using old flour.

I do deviate from Jim's instructions a bit because my wife and I like a slightly thicker crust. I do one minute of kneading before the bowl, two minutes of kneading once out of the bowl, and then I don't stretch it as thin when I shape it. I make sure to keep the rim fatter, and then I do a second rise for 1.5 to 2 hours prior to adding the toppings and baking/broiling in our electric oven on a preheated pizza stone (see the pictures I've posted here). Do keep on eye on it because, with the pizza just 4 inches from the electric broiler, it goes fast -- in about 5 minutes.

Jim has a lot of good choices for recipes, but we have our own favorite: Sizzle up a little garlic and fresh chopped basil leaves in quality olive oil (careful not to burn) and use that for a sauce. Next, top the pizza dough with fresh mozzerella cheese and the best quality tomatoes you can get (but not too many pieces), add a good amount of fresh chopped basil leaves (more than you'd think), and then top everything with fresh goat cheese. I grate it on after it's been in the freezer for 40 minutes, but you can also just break off pieces of it. Finish with a little dry fine herbs or oregano flakes. Bake/broil. And when the pizza comes out of the oven, let cool for 4 or 5 minutes and then finish with drizzled olive oil and gourmet sea salt before serving. We have found this pizza unbeatable. And here's a tip: don't use too much cheese or too many tomato pieces. You can get away with more basil than you'd think, but the secret to great pizza flavor is to keep it balanced.

NOTE: Some people add basil leaves when the pizza comes out of the oven, but it tastes much better with the chopped fresh basil leaves baked in. Also, if using an electric oven, the broiler will likely shut off after the oven reaches 500 degrees (not hot enough). But you can foil this feature by opening the door a few inches for 20 seconds, and then closing it again. The broiler will then go back on. Even though the oven heat drops, the stone will stay hot. I usually have to do this twice during the 5 minute baking period, and Jim explains this on page 18 of his book. In any case, get this book and you'll soon be making great pizzas. I told some friends about this book and they had never made pizza before. They achieved great success on their second try, and then successfully made calzones after that. It's really that easy!
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on May 18, 2012
Love this dough. I can fix it in the morning before work and leave it on the counter for the day and it does a pretty good dough that evening. My other dough we like needed a few minutes in the mixer and then resting. This is really no knead and great! It is even better if you give it the full raising time and you will have nice blisters and perfect bubbles in the crust. The book was worth the price just for the dough. The pizzas are a great added bonus :)
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on June 8, 2013
I STRONGLY encourage you to buy Jim Lahey's book "My Pizza". He includes his no-knead dough recipe which is super-easy and is *incredibly tasty* - similar to neapolitan, yet lighter, crispier, and bubblier.. You'll make the best tasting pizza you could imagine - and you'll blow away any local pizza joints, even top notch neapolitan ones, as longs as you have a good pizza stone and pizza peel. Book parts (1): The easy & magic dough and sauce (basically squish some san marzano tomatoes by hand) recipes; part (2) tomato sauce based recipes [traditional staples (neapolitan) and some very unique creations] part (3) white (béchamel) sauce based recipes [Leek and sausage pie, cauliflower pie, corn & cherry tomato pie, broccoli rabe pie]; part (4) NO SAUCE recipes: birds nest [shaved asparagus, quail egg, taleggio cheese], his 'Popeye' pie [gruyere, mozz, spinach, olive oil, ..], squash w/ pumpkin seeds pie, poached artichokes pie, etc.. ; part( 5) toppings to get more freaky with and even a 'bonus' section part (6) Toasts, soups, and salads that perfectly compliment this master baker/chef's pie creations... A MUST HAVE for any creative pizza lover. The only hard part is deciding which to make - You will want to make EVERY ONE of these pies at once.

The only criticism I have is he seems to have left out a MAJOR (last step) to the dough preparation (the book is so great though, that I will not budge from 5 star rating). I noticed this because it differs from most online versions of his dough making process. His "Step 3" stops where the individual balls are formed. Then "Step 4" only talks about how to preserve the dough in the fridge and bringing it back to room temp when ready. For pizza making on the same day, the book neglects to tell you to proof the rounds in a plastic wrapped pan for an additional hour before using. This is an unfortunate CRITICAL oversight. The dough will NOT handle and stretch properly without the final proofing step. ( The book goes straight from flouring the rounds seam side down to either "preserving for 3 days in fridge", or to 'shaping the disk'... ) If you are making pizza on the same day, after page 26 "step 3", proof the dough for another hour at room temp (~75*F) for one more hour before moving to page 29 'shaping the disk'.
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on March 21, 2012
When I ordered this book I wondered whether I would be able to make pizza that looked like this....well, Jim Lahey has done it again. He has succeeded in translating a restaurant/professional recipe into home kitchen language. I tried the basic tomato first and it looked and tasted incredible. I then added a few slices of mozzarella to the next one, and it was as good as any that I have ever eaten out. Thank you Jim Lahey.
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on March 26, 2012
I'm a total Lahey fanboy - longtime customer and fan of Sullivan Street Bakery, excessive user of My Bread, and most recently a student at Jim's sourdough class. Not entirely objective, but... I strongly recommend this book for Lahey fans and just plain old pizza fans alike. The dough is nearly effortless and fool-proof (and I went a little off-script and substituted some whole grain flour and beer to enrich the flavor). The pizza recipes are hits - I've made four of them and they were all wonderful (shiitake and walnut and popeye are favorites, but just plain tomatoes taste great, too). The (very sparse) leftovers even tasted great the next day. Definitely proof that you can make great pizza at home with plenty of heat and the right ingredients. You'll be proud to pull these out of the oven and serve to your family and friends.
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on April 15, 2015
Probably great if you like baby octopi, and the like. Very difficult for the average/below average cook like me. This book does not cover what we might call traditional pizza as far as the toppings that he recommends. Maybe if you are a fabulously skilled baker it would be useful. His "My Bread" was vastly better and included pizza.
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