What I Learned About Pizza in Peter Reinhart's Free Online Class

What I Learned About Pizza in Peter Reinhart's Free Online Class

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Coco Morante
Jan 28, 2015

Winter weather provides the perfect excuse to crank up the oven to 500ºF and make some artisan-style pizza! If you want something better at home than you can find in a delivery box, then we have a great online class for you.

In a 90-minute series of video lessons, Peter Reinhart will teach you everything you need to know to make perfect pizza. Best of all? Not only is this mini class free of charge, but so are the class materials, including recipes for pizza doughs, sauces, and finishing oils to top off your pies.

About the Instructor

In case you're in doubt, Peter Reinhart has serious bread cred. A renowned baker turned prolific author and beloved instructor, he literally has volumes to say on the subject of baking artisan breads. If you're looking to learn the basics, The Bread Baker's Apprentice is the perfect place to start.

Reinhart's formative experiences in Pennsylvania shaped his ideas about the perfect pizza. As a teen, he worked at Mama's Pizzeria, a Bala Cynwyd institution since the 1950s that is still open today. Later on, as he pursued his culinary career, he learned many other styles of pizza, four of which are outlined in the main series of five lessons. Gluten-free folks are included too —there's a bonus lesson for a rice flour-based crust that's crispy and golden-brown.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

What I Learned

While many of the recipes from his books require hard-to-source flours and exacting technique, the ones in this Craftsy online class use ingredients you'd find in any grocery store. With some bread flour, water, salt, and yeast, you can make his Napolitana dough for authentic, Italian-style pizzas. Add some sugar and oil and you've got what he calls an "American Neapolitan" variation, the perfect base for the Meat Lover's pizza he demonstrates first thing.

In the dough-making section of the course, my main takeaway was that in order to make good pizza dough, you've got to keep playing with your food. Poke, prod, and stretch the dough, monitoring its gluten formation as you go. It'll transform from a fairly brittle, break-apart mess to a strong, springy dough with integrity and strength.

If you're planning a pizza meal and want to use what you've learned, you'll need to plan a day ahead — Reinhart's doughs require a one-day-long fermentation in the fridge, where they'll develop lots of flavor during their long, slow rise.

Take the free mini-class:
Peter Reinhart's
Perfect Pizza at Home at Craftsy

There are lots of valuable tips sprinkled throughout the lessons. For one thing, you don't have to knead the dough to death. A few fold-and-turn moves (you'll want to watch closely), along with some hands-off waiting time, and the dough becomes supple and smooth. Another tip —Reinhart uses oil, not flour, to keep his hands from sticking to the dough for most of the process.

Alright, I've given away enough of the goods here. Go forth and watch the master at work, and then make a beautiful pizza of your own to share!

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