09 April 2016

Weekend Cooking: The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: The Elements of Pizza by Ken ForkishIf you're a long time reader of Weekend Cooking, then you might remember that I make a lot of pizza, especially on the grill. I'm of the school that says there's always more to learn, so when I saw that Ken Forkish, a James Beard cookbook winner, had a new pizza book (hitting the bookstore shelves on Tuesday), I knew I had to take a look.

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.

Copyright with Ten Speed Press, Ken Forkish, and/or Alan WeinerAfter 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.

Copyright with Ten Speed Press, Ken Forkish, and/or Alan Weiner

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
Okay, I'm with you, if you're thinking you don't need a cookbook to tell you what toppings to put on your pizza. That's fine because the heart of The Elements of Pizza is really in the information about techniques, ingredients, equipment, and history. As you'll find out in the following video, Forkish did a lot of research when he put together his book, and his respect for tradition while accepting the modern is clearly evident.

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
ISBN-13: 9781607748380
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 4/9/16, 6:35 AM  

If you give this book such high marks I know it's good. I am also a fellow pizza lover and this book appears to have something for everyone. Great. Now I want pizza and its only 6:30! Better finish she my coffee first 😀Good morning!

rhapsodyinbooks 4/9/16, 6:41 AM  

I have a dough recipe I love that also uses cornmeal. I think it greatly adds to the taste. Unfortunately, Jim is a non-cornmeal guy. But on the good side (sort of) we both eat so much when it comes to pizza that it is easy to justify making two different ones at once!

Mae Travels 4/9/16, 7:46 AM  

Interesting that despite all the good parts, this book doesn't seem to offer a good pizza sauce recipe. All the other things you said make it sound worth looking at or even buying.

After trying lots of from-scratch sauce recipes I eventually went back to the commercial kind. Sometimes I just use a brush and spread a very thin layer of tomato paste mixed with olive oil on the crust and let the veggies talk!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Jackie Mc Guinness 4/9/16, 8:42 AM  

IMHO all the ingredients must be under the cheese and light on the tomato sauce. I'm a traditionalist as well, must have mushrooms and green peppers.
I have had pizza in italy and they are light on the sauce as well.

If in Montreal and you want a pizza, pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers you ask for an "all-dressed"

I posted a pizza from our favourite place in Toronto this week.

bermudaonion 4/9/16, 8:44 AM  

I've never been great at making pizza at home so I should probably check this cookbook out.

Beth F 4/9/16, 8:51 AM  

@jackie: exactly! I don't think there was ANYTHING wrong with the sauce we tried. It just wasn't what we were used to. That's why I think the New York sauce will suit use better. On the other hand, the lighter sauce was easy to make and is, as you say, much more authentically Italian.

Katherine P 4/9/16, 9:04 AM  

This sounds good and while I probably don't need a cookbook for toppings (my family is a cheese and pepperoni only) I like the idea of making a better pizza at home. I'll definitely check this cookbook out!

Trish 4/9/16, 11:09 AM  

Years ago we started making pizza fairly frequently but then stopped for some reason. Not really sure why. I've had it on my list for a few months to make pizza because I know the girls would LOVE to help (plus, pizza!), but we just haven't. I've put this one on my wishlist (because I need another cookbook like I need...well, you know).

Curious about your dough recipe--so I don't have a bread maker. If I used your recipe, would I mix all the ingredients and then let it rise once? Or punch it down and let it rise again?

Vicki 4/9/16, 11:13 AM  

I used to make my own pizza, but haven't in years. I plan on getting a copy of this book.

Les 4/9/16, 11:45 AM  

We make personal sized pizzas almost every Friday night, but I cheat and use the premade crusts and sauce. I'll be curious to hear how your sauce turns out the next time you try it.

olduvaireads 4/9/16, 12:05 PM  

We love pizza and I started making my own only a year or so ago, thanks to the Smitten Kitchen cookbook which finally convinced me that I could indeed do it! One tip that I especially like from her more recent post about it http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/10/lazy-pizza-dough-favorite-margarita-pizza/ was that she strains the canned tomatoes before blitzing them. And that makes a HUGE difference. Also she adds in a splash or two of red wine vinegar, a hint of sugar (just to brighten it up) and a minced garlic clove. So while it may be thinner than commercial ones, I still like to do my own!

Margot 4/9/16, 12:44 PM  

We like making our own pizza too. After trying so many sauces, I like the little cans of Contadina. I still am not where I want to be with my dough, but I probably need a brick oven to get my ideal.

Deb in Hawaii 4/9/16, 1:23 PM  

I love pizza but always cheat and buy the pre-made dough at Whole Foods. ;-) This sounds like a fun book--I love the stories and history behind food and I like seeing different ideas for toppings to spark my inspiration. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

Claudia 4/9/16, 1:31 PM  

I love, love, love my pizzas now, after years of experimenting. Doing Deb's recipe (Smitten Kitchen) in a cast iron pan, with various toppings. This week it was bacon and mushrooms on smoked mozzarella and Parmesan, with halved grape tomatoes on the top. Though I'd probably enjoy browsing thru that book!

My Cozy Book Nook 4/9/16, 2:43 PM  

You had me at "mozzarella farms" :)
Seriously, this sounds like a fantastic read and valuable resource for my Italian kitchen.

Esme 4/9/16, 7:44 PM  

I do not think I have ever made my own pizza dough. TJ has a decent whole wheat one that I like so I always resort to that one. Thank you for this. Enjoy your weekend.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 4/10/16, 10:43 AM  

I'd love to check this book out. It seems like one I'd like.

Thanks for stopping by. I read all comments and may respond here, via e-mail, or on your blog. I visit everyone who comments, but not necessarily right away.

I cannot turn off word verification, but if you are logged into Blogger you can ignore the captcha. I have set posts older than 14 days to be on moderation. I can no longer accept anonymous comments. I'm so sorry if this means you have to register or if you have trouble commenting.


All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2016. All rights reserved.



To The Blogger Guide, Blogger Buster, Tips Blogger, Our Blogger Templates, BlogU, and Exploding Boy for the code for customizing my blog. To Old Book Illustrations for my ID photo. To SEO for meta-tag analysis. To Blogger Widgets for the avatars in my comments and sidebar gadgets. To Review of the Web for more gadgets. To SuziQ from Whimpulsive for help with my comments section. To Cool Tricks N Tips for my Google +1 button.

Quick Linker



  © Blogger template Coozie by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP