American Flatbread – Good Pizza

Goodlifer: American Flatbread - Good Pizza

Time to ‘fess up… how often do you eat frozen pizza? It’s undeniably an attractive meal option for any busy person; it’s quick, it doesn’t require any special skills or thought to make, it’s not too expensive, and is there anyone out there who doesn’t love pizza? Problem is, most frozen pizzas really aren’t very good, and they tend to be full of junk — preservatives and other ingredients you certainly don’t need to be consuming. Happily, there is another way.

American Flatbread makes frozen pizzas, but they’re as similar to the grocery store brands as day is to night. For starters, the crust contains organically-grown wheat flour; in fact, all of these pizzas contain a high percentage of organic ingredients (they are not certified organic). A look at the list of ingredients will quickly let you know that these are ingredients you would use if you were creating pizza from scratch in your own kitchen — fresh parsley, fresh onions, fresh garlic, red wine, extra virgin and GMO-free olive oil, etc. No preservatives, no coloring, no dough conditioners (dough conditioners are chemicals added to dough — usually dough mixed in large quantities — to improve texture, appearance, and shelf-life). In short, these pizzas are distinctly lacking in junk ingredients. But what’s even better is the way they taste.

An American Flatbread pizza.

An American Flatbread pizza.

These are thin crust pizzas with a genuine grain presence, and what strikes you immediately upon biting into one is the sense of balance. You don’t find varieties here dripping with cheese or loaded with six kinds of meat; more doesn’t always mean better. You can see and taste the toppings, whether it’s the sauce, a blend of cheeses, herbs, caramelized onions, or mushrooms. But there are temperate quantities of toppings on American Flatbread pizzas. You feel satisfied (and happy) after you’ve eaten a couple of slices, but the amount of toppings won’t make anyone concerned about their diet recoil in horror. (Full nutrition information for all varieties can be found on the site.)

"Good food helps" — indeed.

“Good food helps” — indeed.

Inspired by his grandmother, who used a wood-fired stove to cook, George Schenk (pictured in top photo) built his first primitive wood fired oven, using field stone from his land. Guessing it wouldn’t be capable of baking a loaf of bread he made a flatbread. People liked the flatbread, and in 1987 a ten-ton oven was built on the outdoor patio at Tucker Hill Lodge, where Schenk & co baked under the stars. The following year, a new oven was built which incorporated ideas from the traditional clay ovens of rural Quebec, most notably the earthen dome signature to American Flatbread ovens today. By 1990, loyal flatbread fans lined up to enjoy their own meal of pure ingredients transformed by rock, clay, and fire. To accommodate American Flatbread’s increasing popularity, the current bakery at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield, VT was built. The first night of operation, 110 people showed up; soon after, the restaurant offered two nights of service.

American Flatbread’s bakery at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield, VT.

American Flatbread’s bakery at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield, VT.

American Flatbread makes both family size and individual size pizzas. I especially enjoy the Cheese & Herb (no sauce) and the Revolution (so named because it was their first pizza to have tomato sauce). Currently, the company is undergoing some changes. Locally, I can only find their pizzas frozen, but they have a handful of restaurants in Vermont and Virginia (some with very limited hours), as well as one opening in Portland, OR this summer. If you live east of the Mississippi, you should have a fairly easy time finding these pizzas frozen; west of the Mississippi, it may be more difficult, although distribution is increasing. Check the website to find a place near you.

About author
Stephanie Zonis was born with a spoon in her mouth — a tasting spoon, that is. She began cooking (especially baking) at a very early age, and for a short time even ran a highly illegal baking business from her long-suffering parents’ house when she was in high school. After acquiring a Master’s Degree in Foods, she eventually discovered the Internet in 1997. She’s been writing about food and developing recipes, especially where chocolate is involved, ever since. During those few moments when she’s not cooking or writing or thinking about food, Stephanie enjoys reading, walking, political discussions, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary. She has been a member of a medieval re-creation group for longer than she’ll admit and loves absurdist humor.
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