Long time, no talk; good to hear from you via email.
I too have enjoyed the pizza at A16. Although, I don't believe it is better than NY; but then, I don't believe NY is better than Chicago, and conversely, I don't believe that Chicago is better than NY. Basically, I enjoy them all for what they are and feel fortunate when I get the best of the best per style. And because I live in the SF bay area, I enjoy A16 as much as any pizza I've had and feel like they are saving me a trip to Naples.
With that said, I'd like to shed some light on A16's formula. First, let me say that all numbers I give relate to their propensity to work in smaller batches. Although they use a machine to initially bring it together, all kneading is done by hand. And I really appreciate how each person owns a station, and only one person puts the pizza on the peel and that same person operates the oven for pizza only-- that's the only job that person owns. Another uses the oven for meatballs, etc.
All numbers below for A16 relate to a final production of 10 9.5 oz dough balls, or 95 oz of final dough.
I'm always amazed at how much chefs are willing to share about their bread and butter (or oil in this case). Christophe is certified from Naples; yet like so many others, he deviates from standards to make his personal touch. Although he uses oil, the amount of oil he uses seems pretty negligible to me. He recommends Fratelli Cucchiara Primus Gentile Extra Virgin Olive Oil. He uses 30g, which translated is about 1 oz, or 2 TBL of oil (6 tsp), to reach the final results above.
With regard to yeast, he recommends very little, which didn't surprise me. I normally use 1/2 tsp active yeast per 20 oz of flour, and I need to punch it down at least twice over 2 days. I often put several fork marks in it also to avoid huge bubbles in my 600F oven-- but then, I like to put the dough in before I place any toppings on it. A16 uses 5g of instant dry yeast, to reach the final results above. My calcs translate this to about .18 oz or about 1 tsp of instant yeast. For my usual 20 oz of flour, this would give me 1/3 tsp of instant yeast, which translates fine for my 1/2 tsp of active yeast. I see no problem in this, and the person who helps make the dough agreed.
With regard to salt, 40g is recommended, which is 1.4 oz or 8 tsp or 2 TBL + 2 tsp. I remember that this seemed a bit high to me. But I noticed the dough is a bit elastic (it ain't taffy) when they work it. Since I know World tossing champs use very high amounts of salt to meet their elasticity goals, whenver I see someone working the dough to form it into a pizza, I suspect higher amounts of salt anyway.
They use 1 liter of water, which is 33.8 oz.
You can figure out the flour from here. Unfortunately, they converted the amount of Caputo Pizzeria Flour to lbs for some reason, and it appears that 59 oz of flour is used, to give them about 57% water. The next time I'm up there, I am going to verify this number; although it works out with the 95 oz final results. With an ounce of oil, their hydration remains low. Although, I think you need to account for their oven, which requires only 2 minutes and is discussed below.
ITALBRAND Italian Peeled tomatoes pureed in SALT is also recommended. The pizzaiolio also told me they definitely put salt in with the ITALBRAND tomatoes, and I certainly agree with the results at home. There are 2 different brands, one is much more expensive because it is DOP, and both are available via Whole Foods. They both produce an incredibly perfect thin consistency once you puree them (thin avoids that pasty look), and you need do nothing else.
750F is recommended for the oven, with 2 minutes for the result. Although, I noticed that the last time it was at 800F. The Person handling the oven places all toppings on the pizza, and then places it on his floured peel before placing it in the open design. Like other places with fire, they have an edge on the charred taste. My oven runs close to 600F. And I have to be real careful when not using sugar, since sugar gives me a nice browning without over exposing it.
For those interested in other ingredients, here are some tidbits. They don't use buffalo mozzarella. They put only a small number of fresh small mozz balls around the sides, and one bit in the middle, as do I when working with fresh mozz. I've been perfectly happy with Grande (Whole Foods, Cupertino, CA) and fresh cow's milk from Trader Joes (which needs some salt), who also now carries buffalo mozz (although Whole Foods Buffalo mozz is less watery).
Other A16 topping recommendations include: Costa dei Rosmarini Olive nere snocciolate (pitted black olives), La Recca salt-packed anchovies, and Italfoods Whole Greek Oregano, ITALfoods crushed chiles-- this combined with just the ITALBRAND pureed tomatoes, no mozz.
I think the rest is covered above, including pounding down twice during 2 days, before splitting into 9.5 oz dough balls. I noticed that Pennmac is now making Caputo available in 5 lbs for $3.95. I go through Whole Foods Bulk Department, who orders it for me in 25 kg (over 50 lbs). Cost me $39, which is $31 more than I pay for Pendelton hi-gluten from Cash & Carry. Even though ITALBRANDS is in South SF, you need to order Caputo via a distributor.
Note: Your numbers below when multiplied by 10 check out. Since A16 kneads by hand, as do I, a bit of extra flour is added and the .05 difference per dough will work out just fine.