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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passion for pizza,
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A search for Pizza Perfection, and how you may achieve it,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)I'm sure there are other books devoted to the pizza, but this is the one which all true foodies will want. For starters, it's written by Peter Reinhart, a major American authority and writer on bread baking. Then, there are connections in the story to culinary luminaries such as Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Paul Bertolli, and David Rosengarten.
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.
The second half of the book is dedicated to recipes and techniques for making pizzas at home. Given the great variety of wood, coal, gas, and electric ovens used to make pizza commercially, it's hard to imagine that with a reasonable amount of dilligence, people cannot get very good results from their home ovens. The biggest difficulty is that the typical home oven cannot manage more than about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Reinhardt offers three methods to improve your chances with a home oven, both with and without the convection oven.
As Reinhart is a recognized expert on bread baking, I find no basis for my questioning his recommendations. And, since many of his colleagues believe the crust is five times more important for the quality of the pizza than all the toppings put together, I have to believe Rienhart's advice will be a golden addition to your pizza skills.
If there is any question in your mind up to now, be aware that this book deals only with the real deal. There are no short cuts here. The recipes part has chapters on:
The Family of Doughs including Napoletana, Roman, New York, Chicago, Sardinian, and Focaccia dough
Pizzas, including Mapoletana, neo-Neapolitan, Roman, Grilled, Sardinian, and Pita.
The classic American pizza represented primarily by New York City is a neo-Neapolitan pizza, but people in Chicagoland live and die by their deep dish pizzas. This is the source of Reinhardt's conclusion that one's perception of the best is affected greatly by what you grew up with.
If you don't like chatty books and you just want the recipes, this may not be the best book for you, but if you want the history, the general techniques, plus an excellent presentation of all the classic recipes, this is the book for you, especially at the very reasonable list price for a very well composed hardcover book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pizza feelings put into words..............,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)I'm a pizza fan (eater and amateur baker) and I've endlessly explored the possibilities of reinventing pizza at home. I thought I was doing a pretty good job until I made the pizza crust Peter Reinhart has in his book "the bread bakers apprentice". I was hooked on pizza. After that, I bought a couple of books including Pizza Napoletana, American pie, Figs table...in view of further expanding my knowlege. What I love most about this book is that Peter Reinhart gives you an incredible overview about the different aspects of regional pizza. I've learned to appreciate and respect all tipes of pizza while conserving my favorites. With this book, you learn that the important thing is to respect each countries version of pizza, the quality of the ingredients and the feeling you put into it. Tradition and memories play an important part in the liking of any pizza. I strongly recomend this book. I do put in a note of warning: don't expect to find a picture book. You'll have to rely on the authors colorful narrating to create the picture in your head. At fist, when I flipped the books pages, it was a drawback, but when I started reading it........ Wow.... I realy don't miss the pictures all that much....To resume my comment: If you're realy into pizza, the technical and philosophical aspect of it all, this book will be a treasure of your library..........buy and enjoy
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All about taste,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)Reinhart's quest for the perfect pizza has resulted in the holy grail of pizza books.
Reading it will give you an understanding of what makes a good pizza good as well as how you can make excellent pizza at home. Reinhart has the ability to describe what dough is supposed to look and feel like at its various stages of development; he helps you develop a sense of what's happening.
I've made all of the doughs he describes--except the sourdough--and they all taste good. The descriptions of what to expect from each dough gives various reasons for why you might make one over the other. Eventually, Reinhart, says you will find a particular kind of dough that you focus on.
The book itself is beautiful, ragged edged pages and excellent typography.
There really isn't another book like it. It is what all good baking books wish they could be: A combination of clear instruction, insight, knowledge and explanation that results in food that tastes good.
5.0 out of 5 stars American Pie review,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)I am a confirmed pizzaholic, been trying recipe's for years and eating pizza all over the world. This book is the greatest pizza source ever. Great recipes and terrific stories as well. Peter knows his stuff and knows how to tell you with pizazz.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master Pizza cookbook,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)Peter Reinhart became my baking idol after baking from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". I couldn't imagine that he could write a book that could top that one, but he did with "American Pie".
Once you try grilling pizza you'll never go back to spending 1 hour preheating your baking stone. It is the best way to make a pizza. Don't let it intimate you...the dough want fall into the fire. I was able to achieve great results with a gas grill.
Everything that I've tried was delicious and can't wait to try the rest of the recipes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect book for perfect pizza,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)I have loved pizza for more than 50 years and Peter Reinhart's American Pie is nearly as good as any pizza I've had from San Francisco to Naples. His recollections of pizza from his youth to his travels around the U.S. and Italy in search of the best pizza kept me turning the pages while my mouth watered for another "perfect" pizza. I learned of new pizza destinations, even nearby, and new versions to try at home. But most important I learned what it takes to make great pizza. It might be the reason why so many people who make their own in my backyard wood-fired oven say it is the best they've ever eaten.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Perfect Pizza, See American Pie,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)As a person who can devour pizza five nights a week, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this Pizza Pie masterpiece. Peter Reinhart takes his reader around the globe with insights on pizza as well as marvelous recipes. He does the leg work, while you the reader, reap the benefits. As I turned each page, I wanted to try my hand at each delicious delight. Oh the cheese, the sauce, that crust! Mr. Reinhart gives his reader a new perspective on an old favorite. It's as if he is right there with you, in your kitchen, handing you the ingredients and reminding you why pizza is more than just a delicious comfort food. This book makes a great gift for any pizza lover or food connoisseur. The author's writing is captivating and the photos are irresistible. Enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Mr. Reinhart!,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)This item was bought as a birthday present for my husband. He absolutely loves it as has his nose buries in it whenever he has a moment. Great purchase and great gift.
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutly excellent,
This review is from: American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Hardcover)i never thought i would be making pizza, this is not just a recipe book, each entry will tell who where its sourced and the advantages of each. we'd borrowed it from a friend, copying one recipe was not good enough so we bought our own, this is a book you can sit down and read.
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American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza by Peter Reinhart (Hardcover - Nov 4 2003)
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