The Elements of Pizza, by Ken Forkish (2016)

The Elements of PizzaIn my continuing search for a better pizza dough recipe, I discovered this new offering that takes homemade pizza to a new level. It opens with an exploration of the differences between the classic pizzas of Italy and its best delicious derivatives in North America. Breadmaking expert Forkish presents what I dare to call the terroir (normally referring to wine) that makes each region’s specialty unique and delectable – the geographical nuances of taste and culture. In its birthplace of Naples, Forkish tells us, the original recipe included eggs and sugar, but not tomatoes. The form we know and love today emerged about 300 years ago, and the pizzaiuolos (pizza makers) of Naples hold firm to the tradition of pizza as a working class food made of simple and fresh ingredients that combine to create amazing flavours. How about a pie featuring artichokes and melted mozza, then drizzled with fresh ricotta once it’s out of the oven. Yum! The subtitle reveals Forkish’s intention: “Unlocking the Secrets to World-class Pies at Home.” We learn about the super-thin crusts, and extra long “al taglio” or sheet pizzas that are popular in Roma. Italian immigrants brought the staple with them as the emigrated to North America, and we learn about its evolution in New York City, the development of the Trenton (NJ) tomato pie, and other touches that make American pizza a different dish from its Italian sibling. Different cheese and ovens give our pizza a chewier texture. Chapter 2 provides clear guidelines on how to make an honest Roman, Neapolitan or New York style pizza – size, looks, texture, and toppings. Subsequent chapters guide the reader through techniques, ingredients for crust and toppings, and finally, equipment. At the very least, a pizza stone, and even better, a pizza steel. Who knew? Not surprisingly, Chapter 6 is devoted to pizza recipes, complete with suggestions on what dough to use for different types of pizza, from rectangular pan pizzas to super-thin round crusts, as well as recipes for same-day pizza and two options for 48- to 72-hour doughs in both Italian and American style. Each recipe includes time for first and second fermentation, and a sample schedule that suggests when to start the process and when you can actually make the pizza pie for putting in the oven (Enzo’s recipe has a 12-hour span). In Chapter 7 we get into the fun stuff – suggestions for making your pizza divine, from basic pizza marinara using a simple tomato sauce to spring onion pizza to the surprising combination of mortadella and pistachio, to name just a few. There are full-colour photos sprinkled throughout, and most of the recipes have a photo though it’s sometimes just a feature ingredient rather than a photo of of the final creation. A helpful metric conversion chart and a five-page index including ingredients and styles complete the package. An excellent choice for those who want to up their pizza game. My thanks to publisher Ten Speed Press for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

One Response to The Elements of Pizza, by Ken Forkish (2016)

  1. Just by coincidence, I purchased this week American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza by Peter Reinhart. I may have to seach out Forkish’s book to compare. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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