Pizza Making Forum

Reviews & Opinions => Cookbook Reviews => Topic started by: benk72 on December 19, 2018, 12:22:01 AM

Title: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: benk72 on December 19, 2018, 12:22:01 AM
What are your top 3 books that you've learned the most from or have inspired you.

Right now the only books about pizza I have are Mastering Pizza and The Pizza Bible and I would rate them in that order.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: Gene in Acadiana on December 19, 2018, 01:36:42 PM
Peter Reinhart's American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza really stepped up my game when it first came out in the early 2000s. This might have been the first real serious pizza book written, or at least it was the first one I was aware of. After a lot of trial and almost as much error, it really helped me understand both the history of different types of doughs as well as the way to prepare and cook them.   

But looking back, the book's one major flaw was that it didn't really explain that if you want to make a true Neapolitan (which was my goal), you simply could not achieve it in a conventional home oven at those low temperatures. Only after years of struggling and experimenting did I realize this. When I finally got my WFO which reached those temperatures I went back to the basic Neapolitan recipe from his book that I struggled with for years and it came out perfect.   
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: jsaras on December 19, 2018, 04:01:44 PM
The Reinhart book is filled with SO much misinformation that it makes it hard to recommend, unless you just want to read his road-trip pizza eating stories in the front. 
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: nickyr on December 19, 2018, 09:16:08 PM
The Reinhart book is filled with SO much misinformation that it makes it hard to recommend, unless you just want to read his road-trip pizza eating stories in the front.

Could you provide examples? Iíve got the book and would like to avoid being misinformed!
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: jsaras on December 19, 2018, 10:53:28 PM
Could you provide examples? Iíve got the book and would like to avoid being misinformed!

NY dough would never have 2.8% sugar and 6% olive oil.  Reinhart's "Napoletana" dough is made with AP flour; 1.53% salt (way too low for the style) and has a hydration of 69.54% (too high for the style).   Itís also not made with malted AP flour.

His "Neo-Neapolitan" dough (supposedly like Grimaldi's, Taconello's and Totonno's, but it's not even remotely similar to those places) has 1.875% honey (none of the NY pizzerias use honey), 4.23% oil (way too much, it should not contain oil at all) and 67.2% water (too high for the style). 

One would think that with all the traveling and tasting that he did he would offer up recipes that reflect the great regions he visited and the real way that those pizzas are made. By offering his recipes as being authentic representations of those pizzas, he has in fact done a disservice to those who have not had the opportunity to taste the real thing and thereby know the difference.

Aside from that, there are errors and omissions in the book. You cannot use the same amount of yeast for a 4-hour dough as you would in a 2-day fermented dough.  Thatís not going to work.  Given his skill as a breadmaker, his lack of comprehension about fermentation is puzzling.




Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: hotsawce on December 21, 2018, 02:04:53 PM
Pizza bible is far better than mastering pizza. Vetri may be a phenomenal traditional chef but that book has so much misinformation in it.

I don't like Beddia's pizza but I like his book - primarily for the inspiring topping combinations.

What are your top 3 books that you've learned the most from or have inspired you.

Right now the only books about pizza I have are Mastering Pizza and The Pizza Bible and I would rate them in that order.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: nickyr on December 21, 2018, 04:44:28 PM
Wow thanks for the warnings!
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: tinroofrusted on December 29, 2018, 05:49:05 PM
My top 3 are:
1. Flour Water Yeast Salt by Ken Forkish
(Bread and pizza)
2. The Pizza Bible by Tony G.

3. Mastering Pizza by Marc Vetri

All three are great books.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: jsaras on December 30, 2018, 12:19:45 AM
My top 3 are:
1. Flour Water Yeast Salt by Ken Forkish
(Bread and pizza)
2. The Pizza Bible by Tony G.

3. Mastering Pizza by Marc Vetri

All three are great books.

I got the Vetri book for Christmas.  Iím working through it.  Itís been a good read so far.  Thereís plenty of technical detail, which I havenít tried to dissect too much for its accuracy, but you can tell that heís actually made pizza before.

Although all the veterans of this board have developed their own unique approaches based on their tastes and experience, I still think that the basic Lehmann formulation is the best springboard to begin oneís journey.  I bet that if you were to calculate the arithmetic mean of all the pizza formulations that have been tried, youíd probably wind up with the Lehmann formulation.  I ferment the dough differently (RT with either ADY or SD), I use a little more salt, and I mix by hand or food processor, but thatís just my application of it.

Someone once said that if Charlie Parker were to rise from the dead, he could sue every jazz musician of the last 60 years for plagiarism and win.   Thatís true of the Lehmann formulation as well IMO.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: Fiorot on December 30, 2018, 12:40:33 AM
I got the Vetri book for Christmas.  Iím working through it.  Itís been a good read so far.  Thereís plenty of technical detail, which I havenít tried to dissect too much for its accuracy, but you can tell that heís actually made pizza before.

Although all the veterans of this board have developed their own unique approaches based on their tastes and experience, I still think that the basic Lehmann formulation is the best springboard to begin oneís journey.  I bet that if you were to calculate the arithmetic mean of all the pizza formulations that have been tried, youíd probably wind up with the Lehmann formulation.  I ferment the dough differently (RT with either ADY or SD), I use a little more salt, and I mix by hand or food processor, but thatís just my application of it.

Someone once said that if Charlie Parker were to rise from the dead, he could sue every jazz musician of the last 60 years for plagiarism and win.   Thatís true of the Lehmann formulation as well IMO.
Totally awesome post dude.!!! With taste indeed.    Risky here it seems thank you for your bravery.
Title: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: jsaras on December 30, 2018, 02:25:39 AM
Totally awesome post dude.!!! With taste indeed.    Risky here it seems thank you for your bravery.

Iím not denigrating anyone, including myself.  The Lehman formulation is 95% on the way to the goal for most people.  It the obsessives like myself and the regulars here who work at it tirelessly to nail down that last 5%, and itís almost entirely to please ourselves.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: DoouBall on January 04, 2019, 07:12:40 PM
I'm going to cheat a little in my reply  :P

My top 3 pizza books are:

1) TxCraig1's thread on his entire pizza making process in his garage:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=20479.0

I know, I know, it's not a book. However, I learned more useful information from this thread and sub-threads on mixing dough and baking pizza than any pizza book out there.

2) The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani

Excellent for learning more about flour types and exploring many styles of pizza outside of Neapolitan such as Chicago thin and thick, Sicilian, etc. People tend to knock on Tony for some reason, but his restaurant puts out some of the best pizzas in the SF Bay Area, and his book is _very_ comprehensive and coming from a pro in the industry. I learned a ton from this.

3) Mastering Pizza by Marc Vetri

I would not learn to do Neapolitan Pizza from this book - the recipe isn't that great and the two resources above are far better.
However, I think despite that despite the criticism, this book has a few gems that make it well worth getting.
-Roman Pizza Dough is excellent and the best I've tried for making the thin and crispy Roman Pizza.
-His tomato sauce recipes are easy to make and very tasty. They feel like pro versions, and not dumbed down.
-He provides instructions for both baking in a WFO (or high temp oven) as well as in a home oven.
-His toppings ideas for Roman and Neapolitan pizza are excellent and well worth adding to your repertoire.

All that being said, I think that books generally aren't your best resource for learning to make pizzas. Your best bets are

-Read pizzamaking.com
-Take a class if available in your area
-Watch YouTube videos from the experts
-Practice Practice Practice

Also, don't underestimate the benefits of getting a high temp oven and a high quality mixer. They will make all the differences in the world and save you a ton of pain. I wish I had gotten both years ago. Good luck!
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: norcoscia on January 04, 2019, 07:21:03 PM
My top 3 are:
1. Flour Water Yeast Salt by Ken Forkish
(Bread and pizza)
2. The Pizza Bible by Tony G.

3. Mastering Pizza by Marc Vetri

All three are great books.

Cool, I got Mastering Pizza by Marc Vetri from my wife for Xmas, I need to check it out!
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: jsaras on January 04, 2019, 07:57:25 PM
Vetriís use of sourdough is radically different than what I do.  He uses a LOT of starter (above 40%). 

The other formulations that mention ďstarterĒ (but not sourdough) use ADY or fresh yeast at above 50%. 

However you look at it, his ideas of fermentation are different than what Iíve ever done.  Iíd be curious to see what results someone gets.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: tinroofrusted on January 06, 2019, 03:24:19 PM
I did get the Vetri book for Christmas also (seems our loved ones know what we want!).  So far the only thing I've tried is using some freshly milled wheat flour in my dough (at about 10%). I sifted out some of the bigger pieces.  I didn't find it so life-changing as Vetri does but it was good and I'm going to try it again.  I also am going to try the Al taglio style too.  I haven't had much success with that style in the past. 
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: DoouBall on January 10, 2019, 11:42:19 AM
tinroof - I tried Vetri's al taglio without much success. It came out pretty dense and bready tasting.

I had much better luck with antilife's recipe and using 90% caputo chef's flour, 10% semola and a little malt to add color in home oven. I also had great results with Central Milling High Mountain High Gluten flour. I used the stretch fold hand mixing method at first with decent results, but getting a spiral mixer made the biggest difference. Here's the general description of the flow.

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=40750.msg468131#msg468131

I'm baking at about 575F on a stone in a home oven for about 10-11 minutes.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: Park.Pizza on January 14, 2019, 01:29:22 PM
I thought the elements of pizza was a good book.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: vdempsey on September 24, 2019, 09:35:48 PM
I thought the elements of pizza was a good book.


To anyone who purchased The Elements of Pizza, what are your thoughts on this book?

I just purchased it and will be trying out the Ovenight Levain Pizza Dough.  My only concern is that Forkish uses all the levain starter which is 250g into his pizza dough recipe which sounds like a lot for an overnight fermentation.  I shall soon find out if it works.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: hotsawce on September 25, 2019, 11:48:07 PM
terrible. and i got it for free.... all of his books are pitched like they are geared towards serious bakers but the recipes are not "serious recipes." a quick glance shows they are not well thought out



To anyone who purchased The Elements of Pizza, what are your thoughts on this book?

I just purchased it and will be trying out the Ovenight Levain Pizza Dough.  My only concern is that Forkish uses all the levain starter which is 250g into his pizza dough recipe which sounds like a lot for an overnight fermentation.  I shall soon find out if it works.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: vdempsey on September 26, 2019, 03:02:04 AM
terrible. and i got it for free.... all of his books are pitched like they are geared towards serious bakers but the recipes are not "serious recipes." a quick glance shows they are not well thought out

Wish I asked this question first before I purchased the book. Oh well, but will still try out the Overnight Levain Pizza although not as excited to rush into it.

Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: mjp on November 11, 2019, 02:35:23 PM
Vetriís use of sourdough is radically different than what I do.  He uses a LOT of starter (above 40%). 

The other formulations that mention ďstarterĒ (but not sourdough) use ADY or fresh yeast at above 50%. 

However you look at it, his ideas of fermentation are different than what Iíve ever done.  Iíd be curious to see what results someone gets.

This is a really interesting observation because he does the complete opposite for non-starter leavening. After having a lot of success with Peter Reinhart's dough recipe I decided to experiment using Vetri's Naples dough in Mastering Pizza. The recipe calls for 0.1 gram (1/32 tsp) of ADY for a single 270 gram dough ball. The end result was unsurprisingly dense with little rise. I am truly puzzled by the yeast ratios in this book.

That said, it is a pretty great book with lots of know-how. I'm just not entirely sure his recipes were fully vetted before printing.
Title: Re: Top 3 Pizza books
Post by: Velojerry on December 26, 2019, 09:42:07 AM
I got the Vetri book for Christmas.  Iím working through it.  Itís been a good read so far.  Thereís plenty of technical detail, which I havenít tried to dissect too much for its accuracy, but you can tell that heís actually made pizza before.

Although all the veterans of this board have developed their own unique approaches based on their tastes and experience, I still think that the basic Lehmann formulation is the best springboard to begin oneís journey.  I bet that if you were to calculate the arithmetic mean of all the pizza formulations that have been tried, youíd probably wind up with the Lehmann formulation.  I ferment the dough differently (RT with either ADY or SD), I use a little more salt, and I mix by hand or food processor, but thatís just my application of it.

Someone once said that if Charlie Parker were to rise from the dead, he could sue every jazz musician of the last 60 years for plagiarism and win.   Thatís true of the Lehmann formulation as well IMO.

Thanks for the book recommendations, this will help expamd my experience. I was mostly inspired, however, by "Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day: The Homemade Bread Revolution Continues"by Jeff Hertzberg M.D., ZoŽ FranÁois, et al. | Oct 25, 2011

Probably not a contender for for the more serious pie makers, it is a fun romp through pizza immersion with lots of side-trips through related species of oven baked flat "breads". It helped me look at making pizza as a lot of fun, and not so competitive. I can't vouch for the total accuracy, my copy is an advanced reader copy and likely had revisions in the first printing, an authoritative text would be a nice addition.