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Oh boy, if you like to eat pizza, if you've ever wanted to make pizza, or if you're a veteran pizza chef, you'll find a treasure trove of information in The Elements of Pizza. I learned so much about the history of pizza and loved getting a peek into Italian flour mills and mozzarella farms and meeting pizza experts.
Forkish also introduces us to all kinds of different types of pizza--Neapolitan, Roman, Chicago, New York, grandmother pies, and more--and tells us what makes each one unique. Then he gives us his secrets for a great pizza crust. I was pleased to see that his last tip is "be guided by your own tastes." So true and something we don't often see in cookbooks.
After a great discussion on ingredients and equipment, Forkish turns to techniques and recipes. No matter your experience level, you'll find something new in the chapters about making and shaping the dough. I have a dough recipe I love, but I plan to give some of his a try. They vary in their proportions of liquids to flour, in the time you let the dough rest, in the type flour you use, and other details. There's even a gluten-free crust.
Next are the sauce recipes. Here's where I started. I have never been satisfied with my own sauces and tend to use a canned version. I read all the text leading up Forkish's Basic Tomato Sauce (see the scan below; click to enlarge), which he says he uses most often. It's so dead easy, I was sure it'd be a hit. His sauce is unspiced (except for salt), so I added pepper, oregano, basil, onion, and garlic to mine. We found the sauce to be a little thin and not popping with a noticeable tomato flavor.
Despite my disappointment with the basic sauce, I'm going to try his New York sauce (minus the sugar) next. That one is cooked down, which we will probably like better. I may also throw in a little tomato paste, which should increase the tomato flavor and act as a thickener.
Now for the pizza recipes themselves. One thing to know is that Forkish geared this book to the home cook, which means you don't need a fancy pizza oven to have success. In fact, the subtitle to his book is "Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home." The Elements of Pizza contains some mouth-watering ideas for topping your favorite savory pie. The recipes are divided into Italian, New York, artisan, and more. There are plenty of vegetarian options, but I didn't notice any vegan.
Some of the more interesting (and I mean that in a good way) pizzas that I either want to try as is or to be inspired by are the the following:
- Pomodoro Royal with Cheese (a very plain pizza with whole basil leaves)
- Vodka Sauce and Sausage Pie
- Spring Onion Pie (uses fresh mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses)
- Artichoke and Bacon Pizza
Recommendation: This a book to buy and have on your shelf. Even if you consider yourself to be a good pizza maker, there is always something else to learn. Ken Forkish's The Elements of Pizza is a great resource that will stand the test of time..
Forkish is the owner of a bakery, a pizzeria, and a combo restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Check out his website for more information. Forkish also has a YouTube channel, where he talks about baking bread and now about making pizza. Here's a short video that introduces the pizza cookbook:
Note on the scans: The recipe and photos are from The Elements of Pizza and are used here in the context of a review. All rights remain with the copyright holders (Ken Forkish, Alan Weiner, 10-Speed Press).
Published by Ten-Speed Press, April 19, 2016
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)