"American Pie," a pizza cookbook
[The Chowhound Team split this cookbook tangent from a thread on th Ontario board called "Toronto's best slice." It's original location is here:
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The famous pizza purveyor under the Brookyn Bridge is Grimaldi's, one of NY's best. My personal NY fave is L&J Spumoni in Brooklyn. I like it because it is made a little thicker on baking pans and the cheese goes all the way to the edge...yummy.
You fellow pizza freaks should read Peter Reinhard's book "American Pie". It looks at pizzerias in both Italy and the US, then gives you home recipes.
"American Pie" is ok as a travelogue, but the recipes leave A LOT to be desired. Though published in 1984, Evelyne Slomon's classic "The Pizza Book: Everything There Is to Know About the World's Greatest Pie"—sadly, now out of print—is still the gold standard against which pizza cookbooks are measured. (Fortunately, an updated, expanded version is in the works.)
If you're PASSIONATE about GREAT pizza, you need to dive into the discussion forums at pizzamaking.com. Trust me: these guys and gals will have you turning out world class pizza in no time! While most of the regulars are dedicated amateurs (in the sense of passionate practitioners), there are more than a few professionals, including the aforementioned Ms. Slomon and Tom Lehman (aka, "The Dough Doctor," who teaches the American Institute of Baking's "Practical Pizza Production Technology" seminar).
Yes, Reinhart wrote The Bread Baker's Apprentice; yes, he teaches bread-baking at Johnson and Wales University; yes, he knows a thing or two about bread dough; and, yes, you can bake a decent pie following Reinhart's directions. Here's the thing, though: while the recipes in American Pie will make a make passable pizzas using commonly available ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, but they will not make a GREAT pizzas because they do not provide information about style-specific ingredients, such as 00 flour for Neapolitan or High Gluten flour for NY-style, and techniques that are the key to making GREAT pizza.
Case in point: Every recipe Reinhart provides uses all-purpose flour, an entire envelope of yeast (= 7g = 2 1/4 tsp.), employs the "throw in all the ingredients into the bowl at once and mix them together" dough-making technique, and most use a very short (less than 4 hour), room-temp. rise. Authentic Neapolitan pizza, OTOH, uses 00 flour which is made from a different grain and has a different protein and starch structure than all-purpose flour, includes a preferment, and incorporates a 10 minute riposo in the mixing process; NY-style pizza requires at least bread flour, though high gluten flour is much more preferable, to achieve the characeristic "bite," uses very little yeast (typically 1/2-3/4 tsp. per lb of flour = less than 1/3 of an envelope), and benefits from a two-stage mixing process with a 15-20 minute autolyse between stages: both Neapolitan and NY-style need a 24—in some cases up to 48—hour cold fermentation to fully develop the gluten structure and achieve maximum flavor and extensibility.
Another case in point: Reinhart states he never got the whole Chicago-style pizza thing, which is probably why he states that Chicago-style dough doesn't benefit from an overnight rise. (In an exchange on Pizzamaking.com, he concedes he's wrong on that point.) His ingredients list for Chicago-style reproduces an old—and erroneous—Jeff Smith (aka "The Frugal Gourmet") error that's been floating around for years.
If you're new to pizza-making, "American Pie" is a good starting place; if you want *GREAT * pizza, dig up a copy of Slomon's book and check out pizzamaking.com.
I don't know which version of American Pie that you are reading, buy my version addresses all of the different types of dough. AP flour is NOT used for every recipe in American Pie.
Also, I find the mixing instructions in the book to be quite specific. I like that he gives both hand and food processor mixing instructions.
With regards to fermentation times, Reinhart gives both long and quick versions for many of the recipes. He makes it quite clear that the pizzas are superior with their proper fermentation times, though.
It is not a perfect book, however. As you stated, his opinion of deep dish pizza leaves a lot to be desired. Also, he doesn't let his yeasts bloom before using them, something that I always do.
I still stand by this book for it's passion, entertainment value and communicating the basic recipes and some exciting topping ideas.
I will have to try and find Slomon's book on EBay or something.
BTW, I love pizzamaking.com!
I have "American Pie", and it's a very good book on pizza. However, of the two pizza books I own, I think "Pizza-Any Way You Slice It" by Charles and Michele Scicolone is a better cookbook.