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Better Baking with Jim Lahey

Alison Tozzi Liu

March 07, 2017

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We caught up with Jim Lahey of New York City’s Sullivan Street Bakery and Co. (and the first-ever winner of the James Beard Outstanding Baker award in 2015) for some tips on becoming a better home baker and making award-worthy pizza in your home oven.

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Never judge something by how it looks.

“While appearance is important, people focus far too much on how something looks and are more eager to take a photograph and post it on Instagram. Taste it first!”

Always taste your baking “failures.”

“It’s only a mistake if you learn nothing from it. Even if it’s really atrocious, taste it and find one thing about it that’s redeemable. For example, if you make a loaf of bread and it’s burnt on the outside and raw in the middle, you might find that the fermentation is good.”

Trick your home oven into thinking it’s a blazing pizza oven.

“It’s all about tricking your oven into getting hotter than usual. You have to be very careful, but setting a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven, where it’s the hottest, gets the pizza stone to approach 600 degrees. Or if you have a top broiler, you can put the stone on the racks, turn on the broiler, and charge up the pizza stone to get it hot before you cook your pizza.”

Get the recipe for Jim Lahey's cauliflower pie, made with his famous no-knead pizza dough.

Ready for seconds? Read the rest of our baking coverage here.

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Alison Tozzi Liu is editorial director at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.