I’m an avid cookbook collector, but I always gravitate towards books that are more than just collections of recipes, preferring to learn more about the background and general techniques involved in the topic than just cook blindly from a list. For these reasons, I grabbed Peter Reinharts pizza recipe cookbook American Pie as soon as I heard about it!
This book has been out for a few years now, but is well worth tracking down.
American Pie is subtitled “my search for the perfect pizza”, and true to the name the first part of the book tracks Peter’s travels around the world, hunting down great pizza at some well known international destinations. I enjoyed reading about the different pizza styles and toppings in different cities and continents, but if I have one criticism of the book it is that as travel writing, it is a little ‘tame’. Not many great adventures, but I guess that’s not really the point. Many American locations are also featured, with some great descriptions of well known pizza joints like Pizzeria Bianco and their techniques.
The second section of the book is where it gets good though. Peter dedicates nearly 40 pages to different dough styles alone, including many of the recipes described in the first section of the book. This focus on dough is in line with Peter’s statement that for him, a good crust is 80% of the enjoyment of a pizza. For me, it might be a little less than 80% but it’s certainly the most important factor! Delayed fermentation doughs are introduced together with standard enriched doughs, thick and thin crust, and so on. A good recipe for sourdough pizza dough is included, with instructions on raising and maintaining a sourdough starter from scratch.
Following the dough recipes, there is a good range of sauces and other toppings like pesto, flavored oils, purees and so on. The sweet and sour onion marmalade sounded good to me but my first attempt was a mess!
Rounding out the latter section of the book is a large collection of pizza recipes, with most of the recipes from the earlier travel section of the book recreated.
American Pie is available on Amazon for under $20.