Author Topic: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann  (Read 5008 times)

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Offline Jackie Tran

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NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« on: May 02, 2010, 08:26:27 PM »
If you guys have been following my posts, you'll note that I started making pizzas 6 months ago using Jeff Varasano's recipe and technique.  Though I have made other types of pies, when it comes to NY pizza, the JV recipe is my go to recipe.   And I actually use a modified version of his recipe b/c I haven't done an oven hack, 2) I use my own starter culture and not Patsy's culture, and 3) Jeff does not list a specific hydration ratio but rather tells the user to add flour until the dough feels right, so  the true hydration ratio can be higher than what the recipe is listed at. 

After reading post after post about the famous Lehmann dough, I finally decided that I needed to know for myself.  So this is my first Lehmann dough.   I originally did not have the intention of comparing the 2, but since there are big differences, i thought I would go ahead and post my results.  I took the baker's percents from Peter's hand kneaded Lehmann recipe found here,
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg5674.html#msg5674, and plugged it into the Lehmann dough calculator to make a 250gm doughball.  My final dough ball weight was 243gm.
I don't have KASL but I do have Sams's club High Gluten flour so that's what i used.

Other than the hydration ratio, I kept true to the recipe.  The recipe calls for a 63% hydration ratio but hand kneading the dough was beginning to feel on the dry side to me, so i stopped adding flour and was at a 66% hydration ratio.

So for reviews sake, the Lehmann dough recipe is as follows.
Flour 150 gm HG flour
Water 100 gm (66.6%)
ADY 1/10th tsp (0.25%)
Salt 1/2 tsp (~1.7%)
OO 1/3 tsp (~1%)

Salt, OO, ADY was mixed with the water, and 80% of the flour was added and thoroughly mixed.  The dough was autolysed for 30min, and the rest of the flour was mixed into the dough using my typical hand kneading technique found here at reply #2.
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10789.0.html

The dough was at room temp for a total of an hour during the kneading process and then cold fermented for about 36hrs, proofed at room temps for 8 hours until bake.  Pie was dressed and rim was painted with OO and baked on a pizza stone at a stone temp of 650F with the top broiler running.  Pie was turned every min and finished at 3mins.  The rim was then browned using the metal peel directly under the broiler and that took about 45 seconds or so. 


Pic 1 me stretching the lehmann dough out.
Pic 2 windowpaning was actually pretty decent. 243gm ball stretched out to 12" pie.  Pretty thin.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 11:35:36 PM by Tranman »


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2010, 08:31:00 PM »
Pictures of the Lehmann crumb.

1st impressions:  One of the nicer looking pies I've made.  The dough was fairly easy to handle and easily tossable at 66% hydration.  Nice amount of oven spring.  The crust was crisp on the outside and the crumb was soft with a small amount of chew to it.  Flavor was OK.  I was very happy to eat this as it tasted different from my usual JV pie.  The texture of the crumb was more like a white bread compared to the JV pie.  Overall, nice recipe and I was satisfied with my first attempt of the dough.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 10:39:38 PM by Tranman »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2010, 08:37:43 PM »
OK now for the Varasano NY pie.    Again, this is a modified JV recipe using starter and a pinch of ADY.  Oil was added as well.

flour 130 gm
Water 96 gm (96+8/130+8 = 75%)
Starter 16 gm (12%)
Salt 3 gm (1/2 tsp)
ADY 0.25% (1/16 tsp)
oil 3.5gm (1/2 tsp)
Total 249gm - 5% bowl residue = 236 gm ball

Same hand kneading technique was employed.  Dough was at room temp for around 1.5h total prior to a 36h cold ferment.  Dough was taken out after 24h of cold ferment, stretched and folded several times to trap air for big airbubbles, reballed and back into fridge.

After 36h, dough was taken out and proofed alongside the Lehmann dough for about 8h at room temp.  Stretched out to a 12" pie and baked at a stone temp of 700 turning every min for a total bake time of 3 min.  another 45 sec or so was spent browning the rim near the broiler as usual. 

Here are the pics below.

Impressions of the crust.  Crust was very airey and had a lot of oven spring to it.  Slight crisp to the outside (less than the Lehmann dough) but had more chew to it.  Had the typical SD taste to it.   I have made and eaten so many of these pies I already know what they will taste like before they even come out of the oven. 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 09:31:37 PM by Tranman »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2010, 08:57:15 PM »
Comparison of the 2 doughs and some notes.   

Eventhough both are classified as NY style pizza, both are very different doughs.  I'll try to compare and contrast the differences and what or why I think caused the differences. 

First off both have the appearance of NY pies, both foldable, had the same amount of droop, crusts was slightly crunchy on the outside, soft & moist on the inside. 

Now for the differences. As far as crispness, the Lehman dough had a better crunch to it.  I suspect that this is due to the difference in hydration ratios (66% lehmann vs 75% Varasano).  This also explains the overall browning of the Lehmann dough.  Slightly better color.

Crumb structure:  Lehmann dough had a tighter cell structure.  This is likely due to using just ADY for the Lehmann recipe while I used about a 12% starter plus a pinch of ADY for the Varasano pie.  The JV pie was lighter & airier.  This extra spring and lift in the JV pie is also likely due to the higher hydration ratio.

BIG airbubble factor:  the JV pie has a few large bubbles due to a stretch and fold technique done 24 hour after cold ferment.  I usually do this to all my pies but did not on the Lehmann dough as to try to stay true to the recipe posted by Peter.   Without this technique, the JV dough would have still had more oven spring but would just lack the giant air pockets. 

Chewiness:  The JV pie had more chew to it for sure.  I would say it was more like a artisan SD bread while the Lehmann dough had a more soft pretzel like consistency to it.  Again, I believe this difference is mainly due to the starter and possibly the extra folding the JV pie got.

Moistness: both were surprisingly equally moist despite an 9% difference in hydration ratio. 

Flavor: the JV pie wins here for taste.  Better flavor and texture (chewiness) likely do to the starter used.  The Lehmann had ok flavor by itself but side by side there was a big difference.   I was really surprised here b/c about a month or so ago, I did an experiment comparing my starter with ADY for a 4 day cold ferment and both doughs were equally sour.  So apparantly you can get flavor out of ADY after 3-4 day cold ferment.  
You can read about that experiment here.
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10658.0.html

The Lehmann dough was very refreshing and new to me as I was starting to get a little tired of eating so many JV pies.  I found myself eating more of the Lehmann pie tonight.  When I asked my wife to try the new crust, she said it was good but the other one was better.   I like  the crunchiness of the Lehman pie and will likely drop my hydration ratio on future JV pies.  I am also curious about repeating the challenge but using Starter in the Lehmann dough this time.

I was fairly satisfied with the results of this test and learned a lot from it. 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 11:43:19 PM by Tranman »

Offline norma427

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2010, 08:57:50 PM »
Tran,

Nice writeup and delicious looking pies.   :) I enjoyed looking at the pictures.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2010, 09:07:54 PM »
Thanks Norma.  I always appreciate your feedback.  Since you were brave enough to show yourself on video, I decided to show myself as well.   Look at the focus and concentration! Pizza making is SERIOUS business.   :-D

Norma, since I am curious in repeating the Lehmann dough with starter, is there percentage or formula you recommend?  I know you started a post but it looks to be very popular (and long)  :-D.  just asking for an easy button here.   :angel:
 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 09:18:40 PM by Tranman »

Offline norma427

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2010, 09:30:20 PM »
Tran,

This is the formula for 1 pie using the poolish.  Here is the easy button. http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg90226.html#msg90226 You sure do look intent on opening the dough, and I enjoyed seeing a picture of you.   :)  I think that video will come back to haunt me..LOL

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2010, 09:38:02 PM »
Thanks Norma,  I like to stretch the dough very thin.  I'm use to working with a higher hydration ratio around 75-80%.  At that rate and thiness factor the dough can easily tear if it's not opened up evenly.  So I was being my usual self with the Lehmann dough even though it was at 66% hydration.  Much easier to work with at 66%.   :-D

You were fine in the video.  I find seeing pictures of people on forums sort of like seeing pictures of radio personalities for the first time.  They never look like what we expected them to in our minds b/c we have pictured them a certain way based on their voices.  Keep making those videos.  I hope to someday make a video, but that's way down on the list. 

Thanks for the easy button.  I'll check it out and report back.  I may also just convert the amount of IDY to starter using my conversion I've worked out and post another lehman pie (starter vs ADY).

Online Pete-zza

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2010, 09:59:53 PM »
Tran,

Nice job although I can see that your "illness" has not responded to treatment  :(.

You are correct that the pizzas you made represent two different but complementary NY styles. As I have noted before, the Lehmann NY style dough formulation is a commercial straight dough formulation that was developed for the independents/mom and pop pizza operators, the types of operators that PMQ was created to serve. These folks use deck or similar ovens to bake their pizzas. The bake temperatures can range from about 450-525 degrees F. By contrast, Jeff's dough formulation represents his attempt to simulate the Patsy's NY "elite" style. It will be a more artisanal style and call for a much higher oven temperature, which Jeff achieved by altering the clean cycle mechanism of his oven. Although I think that the Lehmann dough formulation produces a tasty pizza, Jeff's pizza should taste better and also have a better crust/crumb structure. The use of a natural starter or preferment is a good part of the reason for the success of his pizzas.

I often cite the Lehmann dough formulation because of its simplicity and ease of execution. It will produce a solid, functional dough. I think it is a good starting point and a good learning experience for newbies and others who want to make a good NY style pizza and do so in a reasonably short period of time. As adapted to a home environment, a Lehmann dough can be made by all of the dough preparation methods, including using a stand mixer, food processor, bread maker, and by hand. If someone wants to modify that formulation, whether it is to use commercially leavened preferments, natural starters/preferments, or room temperature fermentation rather than cold fermentation, or multiple stretch and folds, these modifications are quite doable and should improve upon the basic Lehmann crust. Many of our members have already demonstrated that. In fact, Norma is a good example of what can be achieved with her poolish version of the basic Lehmann NY style dough formulation.

Peter

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2010, 10:09:58 PM »
Peter, I always look forward to your feedback.  Thank you for that.  I'm glad that my results are consistent with the intended purpose of the 2 doughs.  Yes, just when I think I'm going to be making less pies, I end up with other experiments and projects.  I shamefully admit I baked pies 3x this week, about every 2-3 days.  :-[

I'll do some more reading and see about making a Lehmann dough using starter.  To be honest the Lehmann dough, despite it being a recipe for beginners, had me nervous.  I was concerned that it wouldn't turn out well, but true to my character I would have posted results good or bad. 

I was concerned that I had deluded myself into thinking I was getting better at making pizzas only to produce a terrible copy of the Lehmann pie.  I really didnt want to excuse it as a first time and maybe it'll be better next time sort of thing.  But as it is, practice does make for improvement. 

Thanks for the roadmap to the Lehmann recipes as I don't always enjoy wading through your threads.  They are always so popular thus always so long to read through, but definitely very informative.    ;D


Online Pete-zza

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2010, 10:18:27 PM »
Tran,

A lot of what I do is project oriented, usually with a plan, so I prefer to keep everything together rather than starting a new thread to cover a particular stage of the project. That approach also allows me to find things faster.

Peter

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2010, 10:22:28 PM »
Tran,

A lot of what I do is project oriented, usually with a plan, so I prefer to keep everything together rather than starting a new thread to cover a particular stage of the project. That approach also allows me to find things faster.

Peter

Oh I know, I was really kidding with ya and hope you didn't take any offense to my joking.  Your projects and efforts have really help countless members successfully learn how to make pizza at home.  And that's just the folks who bother to write in and say thanks.  I'm one of those so "Thanks!"

Offline pizzadoughboy

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2010, 09:59:03 AM »
Great write up and great looking pies!  After my NY street style is complete I planned on finishing my Sicilian then my Thin "crackery" crust then Deep Dish then the Elite type....but you might have me rethinking my order.   ;D

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2010, 11:37:31 AM »
Great write up and great looking pies!  After my NY street style is complete I planned on finishing my Sicilian then my Thin "crackery" crust then Deep Dish then the Elite type....but you might have me rethinking my order.   ;D

Thanks PDB.  I think you'd be better off doing the elite type after your NY street since they are both NY style but that's just me.  The elitists will always set themselves apart and there's no reason to tackle it early if you want.  I say make whatever makes you happy and eat pizza.  After all it's just pizza.   :chef:

Sicilian is also a good choice to follow NY street as well b/c of the similarity in recipes. 

Offline sear

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2010, 10:39:05 AM »
good write up , thanks !
im trying my own variation of the varasano recipe, dont laugh when you see how i did it  :-D
i got my culture on the way too. i fear you are contagious and it can be transmitted through the pizza making forum  :pizza:

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:05 PM »
good write up , thanks !
im trying my own variation of the varasano recipe, dont laugh when you see how i did it  :-D
i got my culture on the way too. i fear you are contagious and it can be transmitted through the pizza making forum  :pizza:

Thanks sear.  You know if I only had access to some of that magic NY water I wouldn't have to practice so dang much.   :-D

I promise not to laugh.  Let's see it!  ;)  BTW what culture did you get???

Offline sear

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2010, 01:27:49 PM »
Thanks sear.  You know if I only had access to some of that magic NY water I wouldn't have to practice so dang much.   :-D


you want some too ?  ;D

"I promise not to laugh.  Let's see it!  ;)  BTW what culture did you get??? "

i posted in my " finally made a good pie thread" , i ordered the san francisco one


Offline Glutenboy

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2010, 03:19:14 PM »
After all it's just pizza.

How daaaare you?!  :-D  No, seriously, Tran, I have a question.  I've noticed that both with my formula and Varasano's, you felt compelled to add oil.  I'm sure it changes the outcome of the experiment.  Mind if I ask why?  I'm just curious if there's some quality you're getting from the addition of oil that you're reluctant to part with.

- GB   :chef:
Quote under my pic excludes Little Caesar's.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2010, 03:40:27 PM »
How daaaare you?!  :-D  No, seriously, Tran, I have a question.  I've noticed that both with my formula and Varasano's, you felt compelled to add oil.  I'm sure it changes the outcome of the experiment.  Mind if I ask why?  I'm just curious if there's some quality you're getting from the addition of oil that you're reluctant to part with.

- GB   :chef:

Good question GB.  I would say the majority of my pies are made without oil.  When I had tried your recipe, at the time I was starting to experiment with oil, so I chose to add just a bit.    I will on occasion add just a bit, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 tsp per 250-300gm ball. 

With this pie, I added it for the Lehmann dough so thought I would go ahead and keep this somewhat the same and added it to the JV pie.  From what I've read it is suppose to make the dough a bit more extensible? and the crust a bit more soft/moist. 
   My thinking is that the "elite" NY'ers and the Neopolitans are cooked at high temps and for short periods thus decreasing moisture lost.  While the rest of the wannabes are baking at lower temps and for longer resulting in a dryer crust.  I usually bake around a stone temp of 700 for 3 min.  I have done it at 750+ for 2 min and just like my pies a bit more crusty so I opt for a slightly longer bake time and lower temp.  Occassionally I'll get a somewhat dry crust with the doughs with starter eventhough my hydration rate tends to be 70%+, so I thought the oil could help with the dryness issue since I'm a wannabe.  To be honest, the few times I've added the oil, I couldn't really appreciate the difference. 
  As a matter of fact, in typing up these experiments I have to go back to my notes to see what I did exactly and I was rather surprise that I added oil to the JV formula.  Eventhough I didn't recall doing so, I stuck with the notes and listed it.   
 
While we are on the topic of oil in the dough, let me just add that the Lehmann pie was the first I painted oil on the crust.  Just wanted to see if it makes for a crispier crust or not.  It may and I may try it again.  On the JV pie above, I painted 1/2 of the crust with oil and after it came out the oven, I couldn't even tell where the oil started or stopped.  I also couldn't appreciate the difference in either, one way or the other on that pie. 

GB, your pies will always be memorable to me, but I have never been able to duplicate the look of your pie.  Even with a recipe, the differences in the kneading process, the flour, the oven, the baking technique is all unique to each pie maker.  I've always been curious if you paint the crust of your pies with oil or not. 



Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: NY style pizza throwdown: Varasano vs Lehmann
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2010, 11:18:40 PM »
UPDATE:  Made a Lehmann Pie tonight using starter instead of ADY.  Basically a typical Lehmann recipe except I increase the hydration ratio to 67%, use 15gm (10%) starter for a 250gm dough ball, HG flour, and hand kneaded as usual. 

The dough was at room temp for about 1.5 hours, then at 60F for about 8 hours, then cold ferment at 45F for about 10 hours, proofed for 1 hour, then baked. 

Right away I noticed a difference in the oven spring, the improved texture, and flavor compare to the regular Lehmann dough.  The texture was better, chewier but not too much, and flavor was better.  I felt that it could have used one more day in the fridge for and even better flavor without being too sour. 

Overall, I was very pleased with the pie and it was better than my Patsy's 20% starter dough, which I won't even go into detail about. 

Topped with Boar's head pepperoni and NM roasted green chili.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 11:20:37 PM by Tranman »