“Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day” is the latest offering from the “In Five” series by authors Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. As a longtime fan of their work I was excited to learn about this book, which is filled with delicious recipes for things like deep-dish pizza, Mexican-style corn flatbread and individual breakfast pizza. We’ve tried several of the recipes and so far our favorites are the plain Margherita pizza with American-Style Pizza dough (a fluffy, slightly sweet dough) and the Roasted Root Vegetable Pizza. The later is perhaps one of the best pizzas we’ve ever made at home and could just as easily been called “Rainbow Pizza” with all the colors from the beets, potatoes, parsnips and carrots.
For the most part “Artisan Pizza” delivers on the promise of making high-end, homemade pizza possible on a weeknight. The premise is this: create a big batch of dough, store it in the fridge, then use it to make pizzas over the course of several days. More than this, the dough is a no-knead dough – just mix it and store it. I always have trouble with this part of the “In Five” approach since, as a traditionalist, the mere idea of not kneading my dough makes my hands want to twitch. But I forced myself to follow the authors’ instructions and didn’t knead our pizza dough. After mixing I had a jagged, sticky dough that looked nothing like the smooth rounds I’m used to, but the resulting pizza crust was delicious. In fact, both my husband and I agreed that the American-Style Pizza Dough is our new go-to pizza dough. Period.
I love the idea of being able to whip up a gourmet pizza at the end of a busy day, but in some cases the recipes in this book fail to give you a true “In Five” experience. The Roasted Root Vegetable Pizza, for example, took about 1 1/2 hours to make. The authors tell you to put your diced veggies in a cold oven before turning it to its highest setting.”They will roast as your oven preheats your baking stone,” they say. It might just be our oven but this did not work for us at all. Our oven reaches 500 degrees F in about 15 minutes, by which time the vegetables were still raw. It took another 30 minutes of roasting before they were soft enough to eat on top of a pizza. Add that 45 minutes to the 30 minutes it took to peel and dice so many vegetables in the first place and you certainly don’t have an “in five” experience. Also, it was only after roasting the veggies and getting to the assembly stage that I realized I was only going to use 1 1/2 cups of the 7 cups of veggies I’d just prepared. The authors tell you to save the rest of the vegetables for another pizza or a salad, which is great, but a better solution would have been to list the vegetables as a separate recipe that could then be used as a pizza topping, or to state on the ingredients list that only a small portion of the vegetables would be used. Despite these minor annoyances the resulting pizza was incredibly delicious and lesson learned: read through the entire recipe beforehand. Had I done that I could have roasted the veggies in advance, then whipped them out for a delicious 5 minute pizza made with stored dough.
Overall “Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day” is a wonderful cookbook with a wide array of dough, topping and even a selection of dessert recipes. Chapters include: Pizza and Flatbread Are the Fastest Breads We Make; Ingredients; Equipment; Tips and Techniques for Perfect Pizza and Flatbread Made with Stored Dough; The Master Recipe; More Doughs and Great Savory Sauces; Thin-Crust Pizzas and Flatbreads; Pita and Dips plus Flatbreads and Soups from Around the World; and Dessert Pizzas and other Treats from Enriched Dough.