Mastering Pizza - The Baking Steel

Marc Vetri is the chef and founder of Philadelphia's critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants and the driving force behind the Vetri Community Partnership, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower children and families through fresh food, hands-on experiences and education. In his spare time he writes cookbooks, great cookbooks. 

Joining the Vetri library of Il Viaggio di Vetri: A Culinary JourneyRustic Italian Food, and Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto (all of which are on my bookshelf) is Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Italian Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone.

Mastering Pizza written with David Joachim is a revolutionary guide to making pizza at home, offering a variety of base doughs so that your pizza will turn out perfect no matter what kind of oven or equipment you have. The author tackles the topic with his trademark precision, making pizza available to anyone. The recipes - gleaned from years spent researching recipes in Italy - have a variety of base doughs of different hydration levels, which allow home cooks to achieve the same results with a regular kitchen oven as they would with a professional pizza oven.

The book covers popular standards like Margherita and Carbonara while also featuring unexpected toppings such as mussels and truffles - and even a dessert pizza made with Nutella. With stunning photography from Italy and helpful step-by-step photos to demystify the pizza making process, this book is all you need.

Not one to mince words, I'm going to lay it all out here. I've been drowning in work, illness and issues with my son and the last thing I wanted to do was tackle an elaborate process to make a few recipes from this book. If you'll remember I'm just coming off a bagel battle. The devil on my shoulder whispered, "buy pre-made dough, no one will know." Note: I have only bought pre-made dough once in my life from a pizza shop in NY so I'm not sure where that devil gets off telling me that. But then the devil on my other shoulder, who looks and sounds remarkably like Julia Child said, "you'll know, make the dough" - I did, make the dough.

In all seriousness, Marc's recipes vary from a dough that requires several days to ferment to those that can be made the same day or in less time. With two batches of bagels down already by 7:30 a.m., I started the pizza dough on Thursday at 8 a.m. last week and by 5 pm that night I had spectacular pizza.

I made the Naples dough for one but doubled it so that I could make a Margherita pizza for Andrew and a meat lover's style for Jim. I whipped up Marc's marinara sauce and preheated my oven and the Baking Steel (more on this below) to 500 degrees.  In less time than it takes to call for delivery, I had the Margherita pizza in the dining room waiting for a photo, while I put in the meat lovers. But then the phone rang and I ran to my office to pick it up, when I returned to the kitchen - I heard rumblings from the dining room. Andrew was devouring the Margherita pizza and saying it was the best I had ever made. I did grab a cropped shot of what was left before he finished it off. and even managed to steal a bite - it was crispy, flavorful and fresh. 

When I finished up Jim's pizza, I took a photo of it and hid it from Andrew. It's like a constant state of  camping mode in my home - I have to tie food up in a tree or hide it from the  boy. I reheated my husband's pizza on the steel later when he came home. Jim is a pizza snob being a New Yorker raised on pizza, and he loved it.

Vetri is the master and his books are absolutely must haves. Just because I was not up to tackling what I thought would be something labor intensive or difficult, doesn't mean I wasn't jonesing for this book and excited to cook from it. I shared how I was feeling to let you know that even if you have many balls in the air and devils on your shoulder, you too can have a fresh ball of dough made quickly for a great dinner. Marc has a schedule of classes at his restaurant. I have uncovered a few events related to this book and have placed those on our calendar. I have recommended that this title be one of our monthly options in our Eat Your Books Cookbook Club later this year.

If you want to make perfect pizza at home you need Mastering Pizza, but you also need the Baking Steel which you can use for bread baking, bagels and so many other things. 

Andris Lagsdin is the genius behind the Baking Steel and is the author of his own cookbook Baking with Steel: The Revolutionary New Approach to Perfect Pizza, Bread, and More (I'm working on getting this book indexed and would love to do a promotion for our members). I own a smaller Baking Steel and have been using it for my bagel baking, it has made all the difference. Andris sent me a larger size  steel to review with Mastering Pizza. The smaller Baking Steel lives in my oven and now it has a roommate. Nothing I have used, makes a crust like the Baking Steel. I'm excited to use the product for other jobs - grilling for smashed burgers, cold stone type ice cream mash ups and more.

Special thanks to Andris and his team for providing me with a steel to use for this post as well as providing one in our giveaway below. If you buy a steel, be sure it is an original Baking Steel - it makes a difference. 

Thanks goes out to Ten Speed Press for sharing the materials necessary for our   which takes you inside this title. The preview features the following :

 

 


The publisher is offering three copies of Mastering Pizza to EYB Members in the US and Baking Steel will provide one steel to one Grand Prize winner out of those three. Two of the entry options is to answer the following questions in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Visit Baking Steel and tell us which product you would like to own.

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 23rd, 2018.

125 Comments

  • dvajefink  on  9/16/2018 at 3:42 PM

    Ohhhh so many choices !! stuffed pizza bianca ,the different doughs , but the very first Mushrooms,rosemary and fontina cheese!!!! would LOVE a pizza steel! Thank you!

  • Lmocooks  on  9/16/2018 at 3:46 PM

    Delicat squash and guanciale

  • Lmocooks  on  9/16/2018 at 3:47 PM

    I would love a griddle baking steel

  • FireRunner2379  on  9/16/2018 at 4:14 PM

    I really need this book in my life! I'd love to try the recipe for Prosciutto, Fontina, and arugula pizza! Also, the Home oven Nutella-stuffed pizza sounds amazing!

  • RSW  on  9/16/2018 at 4:15 PM

    Sourdough old school Naples dough at 60% hydration Baking Steel

  • FireRunner2379  on  9/16/2018 at 4:17 PM

    The item I would most like to have from Baking Steel is The Big, its a bit thicker and would retain the heat better!

  • lean1  on  9/16/2018 at 5:08 PM

    The item I would like is the Original baking steel. I love making pizza and that steel would really improve my pizza. I would like to make the Potato and basil on page 158. I hope I win!

  • demomcook  on  9/16/2018 at 5:24 PM

    Mortadella ricotta pizza fritta. Hope your son feels better very soon, Jenny!

  • HalfSmoke  on  9/16/2018 at 5:53 PM

    Very interested in the Whole grain naples dough at 70% hydration.

  • HalfSmoke  on  9/16/2018 at 5:55 PM

    Already have two baking steel griddles. Would love the large griddle.

  • LarissaPrusak  on  9/16/2018 at 5:56 PM

    This book is a dream for a sourdough and yeast crazy person! And a Nutella Pizza! My grandkids will love me even more if I make that Pizza. And vegetable ash, oh boy, that would taste good in bread too.

  • sgump  on  9/16/2018 at 6:03 PM

    Funny--I'd made my choices before looking at others' comments, but I'm in perfect alignment with RSW: the sourdough old school Naples dough at 60% hydration and the "original" baking steel!

  • lauriesk  on  9/16/2018 at 6:06 PM

    I would make PIzza bianca

  • Veronik  on  9/16/2018 at 6:23 PM

    I'm very curious about how well the griddle would work on an induction cooktop. And I'd love to try ut some whole grain doughs!

  • ravensfan  on  9/16/2018 at 7:08 PM

    Fennel sausage, Bitto cheese, and sunnyside-up egg (Lombarda)

  • ravensfan  on  9/16/2018 at 7:10 PM

    Baking Steel 16" Round

  • ebs  on  9/16/2018 at 8:20 PM

    Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary, and sea salt (Maurizio)

  • ebs  on  9/16/2018 at 8:25 PM

    I would love to have the original baking steel

  • MiMi60  on  9/16/2018 at 8:50 PM

    Fresh pears and guanciale (Pera)

  • LSanders  on  9/16/2018 at 8:50 PM

    Large griddle, pizza bianca

  • MiMi60  on  9/16/2018 at 8:53 PM

    I would love a griddle baking steel

  • JMelnick  on  9/16/2018 at 9:19 PM

    The fennel sausage pizza with roasted fennel and tomato sauce sounds delicious.

  • sweetchefgirl  on  9/17/2018 at 3:07 AM

    Fennel sausage pizza sounds amazing!

  • vickster  on  9/17/2018 at 7:20 AM

    So many dough recipes! This book looks like a must have! I would try Prosciutto, Buffalo Mozzarella and Parmigian Reggiano first. And I would buy the Original Baking Steel.

  • sarahawker  on  9/17/2018 at 8:20 AM

    Butternut squash with crispy sage and Taleggio (Zucca al taglio)

  • sarahawker  on  9/17/2018 at 8:21 AM

    I would love to own the Baking Steel skinny griddle.

  • emortaln  on  9/17/2018 at 10:00 AM

    Margherita

  • kmn4  on  9/17/2018 at 11:31 AM

    Prosciutto, Fontina, and arugula (Parma)

  • kmn4  on  9/17/2018 at 11:39 AM

    I would like The Big baking steel.

  • patioweather  on  9/17/2018 at 12:06 PM

    Focaccia

  • stephlinde  on  9/17/2018 at 1:27 PM

    Whole grain naples dough, I'm always looking to improve my whole grain crust!

  • jmay42066  on  9/17/2018 at 3:09 PM

    Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary, and sea salt

  • jmay42066  on  9/17/2018 at 3:10 PM

    Baking Steel 16" Round

  • linded  on  9/17/2018 at 4:02 PM

    I’d like to try Stuffed Pizza Bianca with mortadella, prosciutto cotto and mozzarella, cooked on a skinny griddle. I can get all the fresh imported meats and cheeses at a local Italian grocery/restaurant nearby. Yum!

  • JMelnick  on  9/17/2018 at 5:05 PM

    I would love The Big Baking Steel!

  • Mor6890  on  9/17/2018 at 7:27 PM

    Margherita the classic.

  • jenlhawes  on  9/17/2018 at 7:34 PM

    Pizza Bianca and large baking steel!

  • matag  on  9/17/2018 at 8:48 PM

    Home oven pizza rossa

  • matag  on  9/17/2018 at 8:50 PM

    Baking Steel 16" Round

  • jezpurr  on  9/17/2018 at 9:06 PM

    Home oven crème brûlée pizza!!!^_^

  • sandy1  on  9/17/2018 at 9:52 PM

    the focaccia

  • riley  on  9/18/2018 at 1:26 AM

    Modernist Cuisine Special Edition Pizza Bianca

  • Kimberleysteer  on  9/18/2018 at 5:22 AM

    Can’t go past a classic Margherita! I have been following baking steel for a while now and have always wanted to replace my pizza stone with something better!

  • Siegal  on  9/18/2018 at 9:58 AM

    I love focaccia!!

  • Siegal  on  9/18/2018 at 10:26 AM

    I would like the big baking steel!

  • mpennington  on  9/18/2018 at 11:54 AM

    I would like the mini steel and I would make the margherita pizza - it''s always been my favorite

  • rchesser  on  9/18/2018 at 12:00 PM

    Sourdough old school Naples dough at 60% hydration.

  • klahaneridge  on  9/18/2018 at 12:24 PM

    I'd love to try the Stuffed pizza bianca first!

  • klahaneridge  on  9/18/2018 at 12:28 PM

    I’d love to own the Modernist Cuisine Special Edition Baking Steel.

  • verorenee  on  9/18/2018 at 6:03 PM

    Potato and basil pesto

  • bpruett  on  9/18/2018 at 7:27 PM

    I love the amazing pic of the Margherita pizza. That is what drew me to Eat Your Books. Single Naples dough ball at 60% hydration, home oven fresh berry mascarpone pizza al metro, and pretty much all of the recipes. That baking stone looks awesome too.

  • FSullivan  on  9/18/2018 at 9:01 PM

    We want to try the Margarita pizza and the pizza dough.

  • davisesq212  on  9/18/2018 at 11:40 PM

    I would go first for the Prosciutto, Fontina, and arugula (Parma) pizza. Such a perfect mix of toppings.

  • EmilyR  on  9/19/2018 at 2:00 AM

    Old school Naples dough at 70% hydration, but really all of them.

  • EmilyR  on  9/19/2018 at 2:01 AM

    ...also the big baking steel!

  • rchesser  on  9/20/2018 at 10:18 AM

    I would love to try the big baking steel.

  • hibeez  on  9/21/2018 at 7:33 AM

    Butternut squash with crispy sage and Taleggio.

  • Dannausc  on  9/21/2018 at 7:07 PM

    Pizza Bianca

  • Dannausc  on  9/21/2018 at 7:09 PM

    The original baking steel

  • t.t  on  9/21/2018 at 11:21 PM

    Home oven Neapolitan pizza

  • t.t  on  9/21/2018 at 11:24 PM

    The big baking steel

  • Su2cool  on  9/22/2018 at 9:55 AM

    berry mascarpone pizza al metro sounds wonderful,

  • debbiehb  on  9/24/2018 at 12:57 PM

    Cast-iron Neapolitan pizza

  • banba1  on  9/24/2018 at 1:07 PM

    Wow! All those doughs! I'd try the sourdough.

  • kelliwinter  on  9/24/2018 at 10:50 PM

    you can't make pizza til you master Al taglio dough at 80% hydration

  • infotrop  on  9/25/2018 at 10:51 AM

    Whole grain old school Naples dough at 70% hydration and also at 60% hydration so I can understand the difference

  • amylou61  on  9/25/2018 at 1:47 PM

    I'd try the Cast-iron Neapolitan pizza. Yum!

  • kimtrev  on  9/25/2018 at 5:48 PM

    Prosciutto and Arugula Stuffed Pizza

  • kimtrev  on  9/25/2018 at 5:54 PM

    I would love the Modernist Cuisine Special Edition

  • NancyLynn  on  9/26/2018 at 6:06 PM

    I would make the Wood oven pizza, since I have a little wood burning pizza oven on my patio.

  • threefourpfeif  on  9/26/2018 at 9:43 PM

    I'd try the Home oven Nutella-stuffed pizza first

  • kkarin  on  9/27/2018 at 7:44 AM

    Pizza bianca cooked on a new baking steel griddle!

  • Brancica  on  9/27/2018 at 7:47 AM

    Focaccia for dure

  • eatysmith  on  9/27/2018 at 10:15 AM

    Pizza bianca!

  • eatysmith  on  9/27/2018 at 10:17 AM

    Obviously, a pizza rocker is key! https://shop.bakingsteel.com/collections/accessories/products/pizza-rocker

  • lisambb  on  9/27/2018 at 2:20 PM

    Sourdough old school Naples dough at 60% hydration. I love my bakiing steel. It has made a huge difference in how well my pizza turns out.

  • RoseMGenuine  on  9/27/2018 at 8:42 PM

    Fennel sausage and roasted peppers pizza. I love anything with fennel

  • Laura1  on  9/28/2018 at 6:22 PM

    Pizza bianca

  • Nancith  on  9/28/2018 at 10:22 PM

    Fresh pears and guanciale (Pera)

  • love2chow  on  9/29/2018 at 2:57 PM

    Sweet corn, shishito peppers, and buffalo mozzarella (Pannocchia al taglio) - cooked into a calzone. Hard to decide between the 16 inch round (maybe someday I will get a Big Green Egg) and the Modernist Cuisine special edition baking steel.

  • jluvs2bake  on  9/29/2018 at 8:10 PM

    cast iron Neapolitan pizza

  • jluvs2bake  on  9/29/2018 at 8:16 PM

    Baking Steel Griddle. I already have a baking steel, and I LOVE it. I wish I had one about 30". But the big griddle -- oh, yes!! That's on my next wish list!! Fantastic!

  • MissisG  on  9/30/2018 at 9:29 AM

    Foccacia

  • Sfgordon  on  10/1/2018 at 12:55 PM

    I would try the Pecorino cheese and black pepper (Cacio e pepe al taglio) pizza!

  • Sfgordon  on  10/1/2018 at 3:56 PM

    I would like to try the baking steel griddle!

  • elysek  on  10/1/2018 at 11:31 PM

    PIzza Bianca

  • klrclark  on  10/2/2018 at 10:30 AM

    Butternut squash with crispy sage and Taleggio

  • klrclark  on  10/2/2018 at 10:41 AM

    Definitely the Moderinist Cuisine Special Edition Steel

  • MamaEnki  on  10/2/2018 at 3:56 PM

    Potato & Basil Pesto and the BIG steel

  • tennyogirl  on  10/3/2018 at 2:45 PM

    pizza fritta

  • tennyogirl  on  10/3/2018 at 2:50 PM

    baking steel griddle

  • sallansd  on  10/3/2018 at 5:07 PM

    the Sourdough Roman dough recipes look interesting

  • sallansd  on  10/3/2018 at 5:11 PM

    those Baking Steel Griddles look handy too

  • ADeeRD  on  10/3/2018 at 9:31 PM

    So many doughs to try! would like to try the Caprese pizza fritta-

  • fbrunetti  on  10/6/2018 at 4:27 PM

    Mussels and fennel sausage pizza Original baking steel

  • hirsheys  on  10/7/2018 at 8:32 AM

    I would love to try the sourdough base dough.

  • hirsheys  on  10/7/2018 at 8:33 AM

    I would love to try the sourdough base dough. Also, the original steel would be great.

  • choppergirl  on  10/7/2018 at 6:51 PM

    Wood oven pizza Romana and the Moderinist Cuisine Special Edition Steel

  • Lafauvette  on  10/12/2018 at 4:43 PM

    prosciutto and arugula pizza

  • Maefleur  on  10/12/2018 at 6:17 PM

    I'd try the mussel and fennel sausage pizza, and would love the original baking steel.

  • Shana.  on  10/12/2018 at 6:34 PM

    Speck with radicchio, apples, and Gorgonzola

  • BMeyer  on  10/12/2018 at 7:18 PM

    Prosciutto, Fontina, and arugula pizza

  • Lusciouslsi  on  10/12/2018 at 7:54 PM

    Oh take me right to 6) Roman Dough!! I love a thin, crispy crust!!! Show me how to do it right! And w/a steel... I’ll have the right tools. The Patata Pesto looks heavenly! but I am sooo intrigued by the Pera (pears and guanciale)!

  • aalainya  on  10/13/2018 at 5:21 AM

    The radicchio, Apple and Gorgonzola sounds perfect for fall. So good.

  • Shelley.b  on  10/13/2018 at 8:02 AM

    Pizza blanco

  • Shelley.b  on  10/13/2018 at 8:04 AM

    The big baking steele

  • PeavineBlues  on  10/13/2018 at 9:16 AM

    Big baking steel

  • dusksunset  on  10/13/2018 at 3:59 PM

    Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary, and sea salt

  • killi  on  10/13/2018 at 6:00 PM

    Any of the pizza dough recipes really. I tend to stick by my tried and true recipe. But the Sourdough old school Naples recipe sounds intriguing.

  • rlgreen91  on  10/14/2018 at 10:55 PM

    Fennel sausage, toasted fennel, and tomato sauce!

  • jnstewart  on  10/15/2018 at 10:45 AM

    Prosciutto, Fontina, and arugula (Parma). Prociutto and arugula are one of my favorite food pairings.

  • dcradicrn  on  10/15/2018 at 10:44 PM

    I would start with the Whole Grain Sourdough pizza dough as I’ve been unsuccessful with my previous attempt. I would love the Basic Baking Steel. I’d even be tickled pink with a Reconditioned Baking Steel. I’ve read so many good things about baking with them!

  • tararr  on  10/16/2018 at 12:03 PM

    Pizza bianca

  • NaomiH  on  10/17/2018 at 9:27 AM

    Single Naples dough ball at 70% hydration -- this is the first dough I would make. I would love to experiment with them all!

  • NaomiH  on  10/17/2018 at 9:29 AM

    The original baking steel - my sister has this and I'd love one too.

  • KarenDel  on  10/17/2018 at 11:49 AM

    Pecorino cheese and black pepper (Cacio e pepe)

  • KarenDel  on  10/17/2018 at 11:53 AM

    I'd like to have the Modernist Cuisine Special Edition steel from Baking Steel

  • jim.windle  on  10/17/2018 at 12:25 PM

    Pizza bianca

  • herosky  on  10/17/2018 at 8:02 PM

    I'd try Fried mini-calzones first. I'd also like to have the pizza rocker.

  • LaurenE  on  10/18/2018 at 6:39 AM

    Fennel sausage, Bitto cheese, and sunnyside-up egg (Lombarda)

  • LaurenE  on  10/18/2018 at 6:56 AM

    griddle baking steel

  • RickPearson54  on  10/20/2018 at 9:56 AM

    pizza bianca

  • orchidlady01  on  10/21/2018 at 12:55 AM

    Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary, and sea salt

  • orchidlady01  on  10/21/2018 at 1:00 AM

    I would get the Baking Steel 16" Round. https://shop.bakingsteel.com/collections/steels/products/baking-steel-round

  • sequoia55  on  10/21/2018 at 2:19 AM

    I would like The Big baking steel.

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