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Peter’s Blog, August 8th — Alright, Controversy!!

Written By Peter Reinhart
Thursday, 09 August 2012 Peter's Blog

I’m packing and getting ready for the big book launch over the next two weeks in SF and the Bay Area, so will keep this short.  The schedule is listed below in my previous Peter’s Blog, if any of you can make it to any of the classes or book signings. There are still a few seats left for the classes but you’ll have to call the venues for more info.

But this week I think we’re going to have to address the controversy that emerged in the Comments section of my last posting, thanks to someone named Scott007 and a few other voices, including another Scott — Scott123. It’s actually kind of exciting — apparently, I’ve pissed a few people off and am not sure why but would sure like to find out what I did (if you aren’t up to speed, please check out the Comments thread in the recent Peter’s Blog — last time I checked there were 14 comments).  So, what I’d like to do is open up the discussion here on this posting, via a new Comments section, the one on this posting, and ask any and all of you to chime in.  If I’ve trashed NY pizza culture, as Scott123 accuses, or passed on misinformation about pizza methodology or dough science, let’s get it all on the table so we can clear it up.  Scott(s), how about getting specific and make your case — I hear that 123 is a well respected pizza authority so maybe I have something to learn from you. None of us have a monopoly on the whole truth and Pizza Quest was created to be a forum for the sharing of our mutual pizza journeys and celebration of artisanship. I’m open to learn from you but also would like to know the actual specifics of where you think I went wrong, rather than generalized attacks.  The only rule for this discussion is civility — I reserve the right to edit out ad hominum attacks, unnecessary language, and nasty language.  But differences of opinion — sure, I’m okay with that. So, for those who want to play along, go ahead and express yourselves — but let’s do it respectfully, please.

I won’t be posting another Peter’s Blog till I return at the end of the month, but will try to join in the Comments section from the road if my i-Pad and local WiFi will allow it. In the meantime, let’s get to the heart of it — we’re on a search for the truth (or, perhaps, truths). Let the discussion begin….




For you to have such a religious experiences consuming these fasted baked pizzas and not find a way to translate that glory and wonder to your audience… It’s saddens me. It would be like the first person discovering how to make chocolate, coming back to civilization and giving them the recipe for carob. Even if they didn’t have the ingredients for chocolate, it was that person’s sworn duty to motivate their followers to track those ingredients down- by ANY means necessary. You’ve stood in the holiest of shrines, with God’s light beaming down upon you, and you saw a glimpse of the promise land of shorter bake times. Even if you had absolutely no idea how to get there, you still should have tried to motivate your people towards that ultimate goal.


And that was 2003, when viable materials for fast home oven bakes were in their infancy. In nine years, the Red Sea for faster home bakes has parted. Neapolitan can’t be reliably done in every home oven, but New Haven and pre-95 New York can. It’s a brave new world. Everybody’s trying every trick in the book to achieve these sacred times- some safe, some a little less safe:

but many, many victories. There are certain home ovens that can’t pull off fast bakes no matter what, but for the vast majority, there’s hope.

I’m making a huge deal out of this, less because you should have known this in the book, but more, because, in the last 8 years, you should have connected the dots. Exhibit A:


Peter Reinhart: …and your oven is hot enough to bake them in about a minute or so, which is pretty fast- that’s Naples style heat

Kelly Whitaker: Yeah, yeah. So we’re coming- this one’s about to be pulled right now

Reinhart: -almost done already

Whitaker: It’s- one more turn here

Reinhart: In a home oven someone could use a pizza stone and crank up their oven, and, just get it as hot as they can get it,

Whitaker: Definitely, definitely

Reinhart: Instead of one minute it may take 5 minutes, but, same idea

Whitaker: Absolutely, same idea.


First of all, there’s not a retail pizza stone anywhere that, can, with a ‘cranked’ oven, broach the 7 minute bake barrier. More importantly, retail baking stones, for anyone that cares about pizza, are done. Hoop skirt. And of even greatest importance of all? One and five minutes are in no way the ‘same idea.’ These are not the words, in my opinion, of a person with their finger on the pulse of the future of pizza. Not the words of the author of BBA. From that author, I expect more.

Bake time is great pizza’s most important ingredient. There’s not a recipe on the planet that can compensate for a longer bake. If you’re not teaching and/or inspiring your students to hit the bake times where the bliss happens, you’re not, imo, the leading force in the pizza community that you could be.


Yes, I’m aware that we’re having this discussion under the gracious auspices of a wood fired oven manufacturer and I’m well aware of your own wood fired oven adventures. A wood fired oven pretty much makes any bake time possible. But everybody should get to play in the fast bake time sandbox, even those that aren’t in the position to pay a couple thousand dollars for an oven.

Planting seeds

And yes, I’m also fully aware that your audience is mostly the home baker, and most home bakers don’t really care that much about pizza bliss. I’m not expecting you to tell people to replace their stones with something superior or that if their pizza doesn’t come in under a certain bake time, it’s garbage, but I think your flock deserves to be made aware of the better options out there. “That way’s great, but, hey, this way’s great, too!” or “For those that want to go the extra mile, here’s what you can do.”

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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

Peter’s Books

American Pie
Artisan Breads Every Day
The Bread Bakers Apprentice
Brother Junipers Bread Book
Crust and Crumb
Whole Grain Breads

...and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on