I am always on the lookout for a great new pizza place, but nothing beats making a pizza at home where you have completely control of the crust and the toppings, making your pizza as thick or thin as you like and piling on all your favorite toppings. That said, making a pizza at home takes a little practice because you need a good crust recipe to start off with. Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is a fine place to start, a book dedicated to making good quality pizza crust easy and accessible. The book comes from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, who are behind other bread books, such as Healthy Bread in Five Minutes A Day, that similarly seek to make artisan style breads accessible to home bakers – even those pressed for time. The overall concept is simple: spend a few minutes mixing up a big batch of dough, using part to bake right away and storing the rest in the fridge or freezer to be ready at a moment’s notice.
The introduction starts out with an excellent overview of ingredients, including detailed information on flours, cheeses and various toppings. There is also some good information about the equipment needed to bake top quality pizza and how to best utilize your oven. This section, according to many pizza lovers, is worth paying special attention to because preparing your oven well can make the difference between an okay pizza and a great one. The final portion of the introduction – which is really a second introductory chapter – is done in a question and answer format to answer any anticipated pizza-making questions that readers might have so that you feel well prepared to start the process.
From there, the book gets into the dough and sauces recipes, setting the foundation for all of the pizzas in the book. Once you have those two elements mastered, you’re ready to take on any type of pizza, thick or thin, heavily topped with meat or simply dressed with cheese. The flatbread recipes are equally delicious, offering readers a lot of variety from relatively few doughs. There is even a chapter on dessert pizzas and tarts using en enriched pizza dough that is a little sweeter than what you’d use for the book’s other recipes. There is a tremendous amount of detail in the recipes and the instructions, so bakers of all skill levels will find them easy to follow and are definitely set up for success when trying a new recipe. The recipes seem to speak for themselves when you read the toppings that accompany any bread dough in the book, but the photos that are included are mouthwatering.