During my birthday romp around Cardiff and Bath a couple of weekends ago I studied the proliferation of celebrity bread books with a sinking heart and noticed that the wonderful Kitchens shop was awash with bannetons, evens lames.
At the equally wonderful Toppings book shop in Bath I bought Guiseppe Mascoli & Bridget Hugo’s Artisan Pizza on the strength of the reputation of their Franco Manca pizzeria in Brixton Market. I’m not criticising but, from my point of view, it’s rather disappointing.
They start off saying that at the shop they use only sourdough bases but in the book they give only two doughs one of which is a yeasted poolish for tray baked pizzas, and two versions, sourdough and yeasted, of the other – a mere three pages on dough. The rest of the book, apart from the odd feature on how to make sausage, is toppings. Also, their recommended method for home baking is the skillet on top of the gas followed by a blast under the grill which doesn’t really interest me.
Couple of years ago I got a bit of training work from an ambitious group of business partners who were setting up a pizza restaurant. It was mainly promises, promises – we were going to have a life-long relationship as the chain expanded – but they paid up promptly for the course I ran and no damage was done so nothing to complain about. It can be useful being long in the tooth.
Anyway the most useful thing about that episode is that it made me put a bit of work into pizzas and, obviously I’m not saying that toppings are not important and I am still guilty of over-loading, but the key to great pizza is the base. So while there’s some interesting stuff in the book and it might be perfect for some people, it’s not really the one for me.
Should I splash out on Gabriele Bonci’s book? I’ve got a £10 Amazon voucher niggling at me …
Over at Jeremy’s he’s got an interview with Antonino Esposito: http://www.stirthepots.com/2014/03/antonino-esposito.html