326 of 331 people found the following review helpful
A passion for pizza,
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This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)I bought this book, having never seen it before, because of my appreciation for author Peter Reinhart's other excellent works, as well as a desire to make good pizza of my own. I have Bread Baker's Apprentice and Crust & Crumb, and because these books are specifically about bread, I assumed that American Pie would be all about the crust. This was a gross misconception on my part; this book is much more than a tome on pizza crust.
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 fasinating 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. I have not tried all of these, but those that I have tried have not disappointed. I'm getting rid of my old crust recipe.
The toppings and sauces section contains two recipes for nice sauces, neither of which I have attempted yet but will. Where it gets interesting is his "Specialty Toppings" section -- there are things there that I would never dream of putting on a pizza, such as pureed butternut squash, as well as tried and true items such as sauteed mushrooms and garlic oil. While some of these will not appeal to everyone, there is something interesting bound to tempt everyone.
Included is a brief breakdown of baking scenarios and how to deal with them -- home oven/no stone, convection oven and stone, etc. He covers all the bases.
Finally, the actual complete pizza forulas he gives reflect his quest to find a pizza that meets his unwavering standards. Many of the recipes are clearly a result of his trip to Italy, such as Pizza Vesuvio, and others are accounted in his domestic travels. Again, I have not tried them all (and with eggplant as an ingredient in some of these, it's doubtful I ever will), but those I have tried are so far and away better than what I made before.
All this said, an underlying thought I had was that the search for the "perfect pizza" was Reinhart's search. He was going for what *he* considers a perfect pizza, and that could very well be different than that of many of his readers. He seems to prefer a thinner, crisp crust that is mildly charred, with a good crunch and a finely tuned sauce and toppings combination. If you prefer a thick, chewy crust, you may feel like he is "off the mark" in his search. It is important to remember this when working your way through this book and finding your own "perfect pizza".
If you like pizza and want to make pizza of your own that is just flat-out outstanding, this book will serve you exceptionally well. Even if you don't find what you would consider "perfect pizza" here, you'll find something that's a great foundation.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2010 12:22:43 PM PDT
Ed Angell says:
This might very well be the best review of a book that I have ever read.
Posted on May 9, 2012 12:16:53 PM PDT
G. Mugrabi says:
I love this review and agree to all of its content. I've made some AMAZING JAW dropping pizzas from the recipes in this book. I would only add that I use this book as a reference for finding the best Pizzas in the places that I travel to. That's how I've learned about Nick's Pizza in NY or pizza bianco in phoenix - the best Pizzas I've ate so far. So, by having this book, you actually have a reference to the best Pizzas in the US and Italy - for me, it is a huge benefit of this book.
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