Author Topic: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles  (Read 1022 times)

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Offline clkou

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From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« on: October 14, 2011, 11:10:15 AM »
So, my goal is to eventually own my own mom and pop Italian American restaurant ... or should it be American Italian? :) ... I'm VERY satisfied with my spaghetti and lasagna as those are family recipes that have never disappointed over the years. However, we've always gone out for pizza , but pizza is still a huge passion of mine. My goal is to come up with a pizza recipe I'm really proud of and is a cut above the rest to complement my other dishes.

Through my research, I think I've been getting better with each attempt. So far, my fiancee agrees. Like several of you, I'd bet, I spent a lot of time studying Jeff Varasano's detailed article on pizza theory. Below are a couple of pictures from my last creation from earlier this week.

I thought it was very tasty - specifically very doughy which is how I like it. My main complaint or criticism is the bottom of the dough is very light and sometimes the construction is flimsy in an amateur way, but I think that's mainly because of my lack of heat. If I had more heat, I am hoping it would char and firm up more. But despite that limitation, I really do like the taste.

I'm making six large pizzas for a party Saturday night. This iteration will have at least 2 elements I haven't had before and possibly 3. Instead of using bread flour, I got some Antimo Caputo Italian Superfine "00". Also, instead of just baker's yeast, I've been growing and feeding an Ischia starter and added it to my dough. This is my first experience with a culture, but it appears to be doing well so far. As far as how it will do in the pizza, I have no idea, but everyone SAYS it helps take the pizza to the next level, so hopefully it'll do that for me too if all goes well.

The last element I'd like to add for Saturday is a LOT more heat. I've been turning my oven on broil to try to get my stone as hot as it will get on the upper most rack. Unfortunately, it's just a standard home electrical oven and 550 degrees on a good day is the best I can manage. I ordered one of those kettle grill converters and if it gets here today or tomorrow, I'm going to attempt to use it with a Webber grill. Some people have claimed they can get temperatures around 800 to 900 degrees. I'm a little skeptical if I can get that much heat, but I guess in theory if I can get anything above 550 degrees is still progress.

Below are some pictures of my 6 dough balls shortly after I finished needing and shaping. They weighed in around 533 grams each. This was taken a couple of days ago before they've risen. I'll plan to get some pictures of them after they've risen plus the finished product.


Offline Jet_deck

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2011, 12:36:03 PM »
.... I got some Antimo Caputo Italian Superfine "00". ...

My experience, on my propane fired pizza oven, 00 flour needs heat, alot of heat.  I was never impressed with 00 flour below 850 degrees.

Your experience may vary.
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline scott123

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2011, 01:39:15 PM »
Jason, it's one thing to take an everything but the kitchen sink approach when baking pizza for yourself, but if you're striving to sell pizza eventually, I find it helps to choose a style and stick with it. You've got what looks like an American thickness factor and bake time, a lean NY dough and are considering using Neapolitan flour and starter. Each style leverages particular ingredients, processes and equipment to showcase it's best traits.  Combining everything, is, imo, counterproductive.

It's hard for me to tell what style you are gravitating towards, but, looking at the pizza that's available in the Nashville area, there seems to be a tremendous opportunity for someone selling a good NY style slice.  Mafiaoza's looks okay, and I'm sure they sell a lot of pies, but, with our help, I think you can do better.  Joey's is an embarrassment. With that little competition, if you can make a good NY style pizza by this forum's standards, it will be like printing money. To do this, though, you need to focus.  This means no Caputo flour or starter. I'm going to catch some flack for this, but Neapolitan pizza is a niche market.  Most midwestern American's raised on Domino's and Pizza Hut will consider Neapolitan pizza to be burnt and soggy.  The American markets that support great Neapolitan pizzerias are almost always already saturated with great NY style places and have consumers looking for something unique. No offense, but this is not Clarksville.

Don't get me wrong, if Neapolitan pizza is your passion and you want to completely master it and open an Italian restaurant that sells Neapolitan pizzeria, if your heart's in it, you'll make money.  But, it won't be the kind of money or the kind of appreciation you'll see with an Italian restaurant selling NY pies.

Offline clkou

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 02:15:34 PM »
Thanks for the comments. Mafiaoza's is actually my favorite place to eat pizza in Nashville but I did not particularly like Joey's or Pizza Perfect or Christopher's Pizza or even Mellow Mushroom. Don't get me wrong, I love pizza, so it wasn't awful, but I'd rather look for other places than go back to any of those others. In Clarksville, my favorite place is the BlackHorse Brewery - get some beer chips and cheese as an appetizer and pizza as the main course and you're in heaven :)

You've given me a lot to think about. I don't really have a master plan yet per se. I'm just experimenting with different ingredients, methods, strategies, and ultimately, whichever one produces the best pizza that I like is probably the one I'll go with. I don't know what the starter will do for me, but many people claim it makes their pizza taste better so that's why I'm trying it. I'm not really trying to market to any style or audience. I'm just focused on taste and quality. I feel like if I can make a pizza that I like better than the competition and I can genuinely stand by it, it'll sell if I do everything else right. That's ultimately why I want to do this in the first place - because I want to make food that I LOVE and have others LOVE it too :)

Like I alluded to before, I like a doughy texture in the crust but a firm base to support it. I do like thick - not Chicago deep dish thick, but I like a doughy outer crust and not too thin in the base. I also like a sweeter tasting dough. I've been adding more sugar than most recipes and many don't call for any sugar. I'm not exactly sure what you call that style, but that's what I like. To me, the dough is also like 75% of the battle. Not to say sauce, cheese, and toppings aren't important, but I feel like if you have a REALLY solid, good tasting dough, you almost have to try to mess it up at that point :)

That's why I love Mafiaoza's and BlackHorse so much because I REALLY like their dough and crust.

Offline scott123

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 03:11:56 PM »
Jason, the Blackhorse Brewery is American style and Mafiaoza's is NY.  In all of my years, I've never heard of a pizzeria adding starter to American style dough.  There's a handful of NY places that do, Apizza Scholls in Portland being one of the more famous, but, it's only a very small fraction and I can guarantee you that Mafiaoza's doesn't.  The irony about Jeff Varasano's recipe is that he spent all that time trying to recreate Patsy's starter only to eventually find out that Patsy's doesn't use starter.  'Some' people will say that starter makes a better pizza, but, believe me, it's not 'many.'  It's a little like anchovies.  There's a few people who obsessively believe that great pizza 'has' to have anchovies. Most people, though, feel otherwise, and, if you're starting a business, you really should be catering to the majority.

I'm not saying that you should never work with a starter, just that starter is way outside of the realm of your current favorite pizza, and, if you do want to experiment, you should definitely do it after you've mastered non starter doughs, since starter is extremely advanced pizzamaking. Walk before you run.

The leading forum recipe for American style pizza is probably the Papa John clone.  That's, imo, a good jumping off point.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 04:13:21 PM by scott123 »

Offline clkou

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2011, 03:38:28 PM »
I'll have to check out the Papa John clone thread, but my only trepidation there is Papa John's isn't one of my favorite places to get pizza from :) ... There's a place here called Michael's that's probably my second favorite after BlackHorse. If I could make a pizza as good or better than Mafiaoza's, I'd be in business. Although, when I eat Blackhorse or Mafiaoza's, I don't think "I'm eating American style" or "I'm eating NY style", I'm just thinking "This pizza is damn good!" I don't know if that's a liability or strength to think that way.

You may be right about not needing starter. Again, I just got it to see what it does for my pizza. In fact, for this last batch, I still used regular yeast in addition to the starter. But, if I use it or don't use it, I want to it to be because it helps or doesn't help my pizza, not because hardly anyone adds starter to American style dough :) I also want to experiment to try to find out why or IF something makes the pizza taste better or worse. Are you predicting that the starter will make my pizza taste worse by what I consider good? Or that it just won't make enough of a difference either way to worry with it?

Offline scott123

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2011, 04:11:20 PM »
Jason, I don't mean to rain on your experimentation parade, but a lack of awareness of styles is a liability.  Especially for someone thinking about going into business, but even for a home baker who might wish to recreate the pizza from their favorite pizzeria. There's a great deal of flexibility to pizza making, but each style has certain rules.  Once you know a pizzeria's style, reverse engineering their pizza becomes a lot easier. Also, if you're going to sell pizza, you really need to be a pizza expert, and, to do that, styles are the building blocks of that knowledge.

For what it's worth, Papa John's recipe doesn't necessarily have to make a replica of Papa John's pizza  ;D It's just a jumping off point. Since NY style is more my thing, I could help you reverse engineer Mafiaoza's easier than Blackhorse, but I'm sure some of the American experts on the forum would be happy to help you reverse engineer Blackhorse's pizza. In my experience, reverse engineering is almost always the best way to get your feet wet, because it gives you something concrete to shoot for and chances are there's someone else on the forum who's already made that pizza.  Another aspect of the reverse engineering process is that you almost always improve on the original and make it yours.

I can't really tell you if you'll prefer starter or not. Do you like sourdough bread better than non sourdough? What I can tell you, is, that, as a beginner, you're going to want to troubleshoot issues such as browning, oven spring and proper fermentation and, because you're using starter and all the variables it introduces, it will be close to impossible. Starter is incredibly complicated. Right now, you want simple.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 04:13:08 PM by scott123 »

Offline clkou

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2011, 01:47:52 PM »
If I was going to try to reverse engineer a pizza, there's actually a place in Memphis called Coletta's that has the best pizza I can remember eating. The crust had decent volume and was very doughy. I went with my cousin's husband, who is a chef manager for a Hotel chain, and even when we started eating the complementary rolls, he was like, "Wow, these rolls are good - very doughy" :) I went there based on a recommendation from someone at work in Clarksville and the place delivered. That's really what I'd ultimately like to have: a restaurant with food so good that people can't wait to recommend it to their friend and family and then it delivers :D

Anyway, the party is today. The dough has risen a lot. Hopefully the starter complements, not hurts my pizzas. Unfortunately, I haven't seen my kettle grill adapter arrive, so it looks like 550 degrees best case for me and a light base.

Offline clkou

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2011, 09:32:17 AM »
As I predicted, the pizza's turned out tasty and every last slice was eaten, but the crust was very light due to the lack of heat. I really would have liked to see the result in an oven that produced 900 degrees or so. My party was running behind and I didn't get to take as many pictures as I wanted, but there are four down below.

It turns out Colettas pizza dough recipe is actually online. At a glance, it doesn't appear to be anything cutting edge, but I'll still plan to give it a shot:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bbq-with-bobby-flay/barbecue-pizza-elvis-pizza-colettas-italian-restaurant-recipe/index.html

Offline scott123

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2011, 10:30:58 AM »
Jason, I'm glad your event turned out well.

Restaurant recipes can frequently get mangled when converted to measurements/ingredients suitable for the home baker.  That being said, Coletta's converted recipe can certainly tell us a few things.

Roughly speaking, we're looking at 50% hydration and 13% oil.  Papa John's clone is 7% oil and this is double that, taking you even further away from Neapolitan and NY style pizza.  All of the pizzerias you've mentioned as your favorites produce American style pizza, and Coletta's, with the high oil content, puts it in an extreme American territory, imo.

Out of all the styles of pizza, Neapolitan, by far, takes the biggest investment in time and equipment. A Weber grill with an insert will never produce Neapolitan bake times- at least, not without some serious mods.  If you can't hit less than 90 second bake times, using Neapolitan 00 flour is a complete waste of time.  Since Neapolitan pizza involves the most work, I think you could save yourself a massive amount of time and energy by just visiting a local Neapolitan pizzeria and seeing if that's a direction you want to take.  If it's not, then you've save yourself from a gargantuan amount of time. I did some digging and found two places:

Bella Napoli
(615) 891-1387
Belmont/Vanderbilt
1200 Villa Place Suite 206
Nashville, TN 37212
www.bellanapolipizzeria.com

and

Porta Via Italian Kitchen
(615) 356-0001
Sylvan Park
21 White Bridge Road
Nashville, TN 37205
www.eatatportavia.com

Neither are that authentic, but they're authentic enough to give you an idea if that's the direction you want take.


Offline clkou

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2011, 10:46:01 AM »
Thanks again for the reply.

My family has touted the virtues of Bella Napoli recently and I have seen their pizza but haven't personally eaten it yet. It definitely looks tasty. I'm probably going to head towards some more American styles like you said regardless. I think based on my work so far that I have a good recipe to try whenever or if ever I get the heat I need. Now, I'd really like to focus on something good I can make with the heat I have.

I'm going to give that Coletta's recipe a shot. Do you have other good recipe recommendations to try at 550 degrees or lower that you think I'd enjoy based on what I've posted so far?

Offline scott123

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Re: From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2011, 02:05:04 PM »
Jason, I did a little digging and found some photos of Coletta's pizza.  Previously, I saw the high oil quantity in the recipe and jumped to the conclusion that it was American, but, now that I see photos, it's too thin to be American.  I think it's going to be one of the regional Midwestern styles (St. Louis?). Regardless of what style it is, it's still light years away from ischia starter and 00 flour.

I'm certain that the Food Network recipe has been too dumbed down to actually get you all the way without some help. Both Peter (Pete-zza) and Tom Lehmann (The Dough Doctor) have extensive experience with high oil crusts, so I think they'd be in the best position to guide you through reverse engineering Coletta's crust. This discussion is a bit buried and circuitous. I would start a new thread with the link to the Food Network recipe, along with some photos, asking for suggestions for reverse engineering. Mention your preference for dough-y crusts as well as your other favorite local places and they'll be able to recommend some American recipes to try.


 

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