Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 71374 times)

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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #120 on: April 22, 2005, 11:29:22 PM »
pft,

Thanks for the additional photos. I, too, had the privilege recently of seeing the master at work during a visit to DiFara's while on vacation this past week. I will have more to report once I have had a chance to compose my thoughts.

After all the photos you have taken, there wasn't much for me to photograph, but I did take a couple--one of a standard cheese and tomato pizza and one with just about everything on it.

Peter


Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #121 on: April 23, 2005, 10:15:14 AM »
Pete-zza,
I can't wait to learn more.

Hopefully Dominic had time to share with you.

This should be good. Real good.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #122 on: April 23, 2005, 02:26:35 PM »
I suppose that it was only fitting that I should make a visit to DiFara's during my recent vacation trip to NYC. Over time, much had been learned about the mystical Dom DeMarco pizzas, but I had not personally seen one or eaten one, and there were still a few things about his dough that remained unanswered.

I chose a mid-day time to make the trek out to Brooklyn to DiFara's, hoping that I would be able to spend more time with Dom DeMarco and ferret out the few remaining pieces of the DiFara puzzle. As it turned out, the place was quite busy, with many people lining up against the counter to place their orders. Nonetheless, I was able to speak at some length with Dom about his pizzas and techniques and to confirm some of the information previously provided by pftaylor from his recent visit to DiFara's. In particular, Dom confirmed the roughly 75/25 ratio of Caputo 00/All Trumps flours. He also indicated that a typical dough ball for making an 18-inch pizza weighed 1 3/8 lb., or around 22 oz. I later calculated that the thickness factor for such a dough ball weight and pizza size was 0.086. This places the DiFara crust squarely on the thin side (by comparison, a NY "street" style crust has a thickness factor of around 0.10). When I asked Dom how much water he used for his dough, he said it was 1 part water for 2 1/2 parts flour, by volume (as with all his measurements). He said that the dough was not wet, although I later calculated the hydration percent to be around 65%.

The most interesting part of our conversation centered on the dough and its short fermentation cycle. Dom indicated that his dough requires only 1 to 2 hours of rise time, and no refrigeration. As readers of this thread know, this has long puzzled me. When I mentioned that I had never been able to produce a decent dough based on his flour combination in such a short period of time, and that I only got good results by letting the dough ferment overnight or over several daytime hours using small amounts of yeast, he said that he used to use an overnight rise (along with a very small amount of yeast), but that he abandoned that approach long ago. Sensing my puzzlement, he proceeded to pull out a drawer under his oven, where several dough balls were rising in a warm, humid environment. This was a new piece of information in the puzzle but it was the answer to how he could make a usable dough in such a short period of time. I should have figured this out since I knew from my own experiences in making 00 doughs for my "Last-Minute" pizzas that it was possible to make a passable pizza within an hour using my homemade proofing box at high temperatures and humidity. That approach was also behind my "Pizza with Egg" experiments (as detailed at another thread). The crust wouldn't be great but it would pass muster.

That last comment is key to unraveling the DiFara mystery. What is most unique about the DiFara dough is its non-uniqueness. There is nothing new in the DiFara dough. It does use a combination of 00 and high-gluten flours, but blending different flours has been done for decades, if not longer, and even his combination of 00 and high-gluten flours is not novel. What makes the DiFara pizzas stand out from the crowd is the use of very high quality toppings, quite possibly among the very best available anywhere. And in generous quantities. In a sense, the toppings serve as a distraction from what is otherwise a quite ordinary crust. To be sure, some of the inherent deficiencies of the crust are overcome by using a high oven temperature, which will produce a chewy crust with decent char and coloration and modest oven spring, but underneath it all is a rather plain and uncomplicated crust. I am certain that Dom could improve his crust quite significantly if he were to use a long fermentation time, either at room temperature or under refrigeration. Clearly there is no incentive to do this when people will line up for hours to get at his pizzas as they are now made.

None of the above is intended to be a criticism of either Dom DeMarco or his pizzas. He was very gracious and generous in sharing his pizza making techniques, as I am sure he has done countless times before with others. There is nothing duplicitous about the man. He is a master of pizza making, one of a dying breed. He paints the canvas of his pizzas like Michelangelo painted the Sistene Chapel. I, along with my son and his family, sampled one of his multi-topping pizzas (the one shown in the second photo of my earlier post), and it was very good indeed. It was soggy in the middle because of the large quantities of moist vegetables (which were precooked) but the crust was otherwise quite good. Next time, I will try a simpler pizza, which should be a better test of the crust quality and character.

I think it is safe to say that we now know pretty much what goes into the DiFara dough and pizzas. The dough is made up of a 75/25 ratio of Caputo 00 flour and General Mills All Trumps high-gluten flour (by volume), and water (local municipal water) is used at 1 part per 2 1/2 parts flour (also by volume). As indicated above, the dough is subjected to a 1 to 2 hour rise in a warm, humid environment. For a typical 18-inch pizza, the dough has a weight of around 22 oz. That yields a thickness factor of 0.086. The yeast used is fresh baker's yeast. No oil is used in the dough, but a Felippo Berio olive oil (the kind in the yellow can, not the next level up in the green can) is used on the pizzas themselves. Dom says he uses whatever cheeses are available to him at any given moment, but they usually include bufala di mozzarella cheese imported from around Naples (which he puts on pizzas in small pieces), a "fresh" fior-di-latte (cow's milk) cheese (I believe it is the Ovoline cheese from Grande), a whole-milk mozzarella cheese from Grande (which is grated in strands rather than shreds or dice), Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and/or grana padano cheese, served either on the pizza as it bakes or on the side. The tomato sauce (uncooked) is made by blending imported Vantia DOP San Marzano tomatoes and fresh tomatoes (quite possibly in a blender or food processor) and adding either or both of fresh oregano and basil, whichever happens to be available.

Armed with all of the above information, I plan sometime soon to make a dough that incorporates much of that information. I did a quick calculation of a weight of dough for a 14-inch size pizza (the largest size my pizza stone can handle), and it looks like my earlier recipes were quite close and may only require tweaking. I will most likely use either an ovenight or all-day fermentation since I don't have the capability of very high oven temperatures (Dom DeMarco uses around 700 degrees F) to compensate for a dough of lesser quality. At some point, I may also experiment with using a natural preferment. This is solely for the purpose of achieving a hopefully better flavor profile.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 09:45:34 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #123 on: April 23, 2005, 04:28:52 PM »
Pete-zza,
Sounds like you had a nice visit with Dom. I'm glad for you. You also confirmed a number of my observations and introduced and completed others. Thank you for taking the time to memorialize your visit and sharing with the community.

It appears you had an opportunity to spend quality time with the master even though he was busy. What amazed me about Dom was how efficient he was. Not slow, plodding, or old. Everything was measured precisely, unless it was with respect to his toppings which were dispersed with a heavy hand. I noticed no movement which didn't result in an action which produced something. He had no "nervous" energy.

Thinking back on my visit, I remember Dom only using one door of his stacked oven for cooking. I frankly thought the other oven doors were either broken or he didn't want to bend down for fear of not getting back up. But I never saw him utilize but the one oven door which was about chest height for cooking. Now we know what he uses the big bulky oven for - proofing dough. Nice pickup.

Did you have an opportunity to try a square slice? According to the locals, the round pies are good but the square slices are the best. The round pie I ordered, during my visit, tasted good simply because of the toppings. I cannot truthfully say that I admired the crust at all. I detected a very faint bitter taste. Somewhat similar to the bitter taste I encountered when I tried to initially use Caputo Pizzeria 00 flour in my home pizza making efforts. I quietly extrapolated to myself that Dom did not put forth much effort to his dough mixing or preparation process. Accordingly, I decided to focus my post pie eating discussion with Dom on topics other than crust.

Partially as a result of my experience at Di Fara (and Patsy's in Harlem), I was determined to pursue an ultra-high quality ingredient path for my home pizza making. The twist I would add to the equation would be to produce an ultra-high quality crust to match the superiority of Dom's toppings. Essentially, Pizza Raquel is exactly the result of that thought. It can either be viewed as a high quality ingredient Patsy's pizza or a Di Fara pizza with a high quality crust. Your choice, it doesn't matter to me.

In the end, it all adds up to my interpretation of what a Patsy's or Di Fara pizza could be if they used ultra-high quality ingredients across the board combined with painstaking mixing and preparation techniques. I would love to know if there is a NY pizza joint which has that as their mission statement - to make the highest quality 2nd generation American pizza possible.

What Dom has that cannot be reproduced in any home setting is the sense of being a neighborhood pizza joint. He is admired by the people of Brooklyn for his pizza discipline and you get the sense that he would do it all over again because he loves what he does. I admire that accomplishment more than any other.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2005, 06:00:50 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #124 on: April 23, 2005, 05:11:17 PM »
pft,

I did not have a chance to try a square slice but plan to do so on a future visit. I agree with you that Dom seems always to be aware of where he is in his pizza making without having to write anything down. One customer was fearful that Dom would forget him and his three slices. Dom would jump from one pizza to another and from one slice to another, and from one customer to another, leading one to wonder whether he knew what he was really doing. He moved in measured paces and was calm throughout and the customer got his three slices, as ordered. The man operates in his own zone, seemingly oblivious to everything going on around him.

As far as improvement of the DiFara crust is concerned, it is fairly clear to me that using a longer fermentation time would be a big help. Also, one could also use a preferment and, I suspect, an autolyse. In a sense, this would be moving the dough recipe in the direction of your Raquel/Sophia recipes. I don't know if this would be good or bad, but it certainly seems doable, especially since you have already demonstrated that your recipes work for both high-gluten and 00 flours. Combining the two flours should also work.

One thing that could stand improvement at DiFara's is the cleanliness of the place. I saw no efforts to keep the general eating area clean and, after eating a gloppy pizza, I asked Dom where the rest room was so that I could wash my hands. I'm reluctant to describe what I saw, other than to say that it is best avoided if one has expectations of cleanliness. I did get to see the kitchen, however, including the Hobart mixer and some sauce that was cooking for use on the square pizzas.

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #125 on: April 23, 2005, 05:47:15 PM »
Pete-zza,
I never ventured to the back but it wouldn't take much to convince me of your statements. If I were a health inspector I'm not sure where I would begin or end at Di Fara. Everything seems to be self serve including cleaning up the area you plan to eat in. It's either gross or charming and authentic depending on your point of view.

I am ready to experiment with various combinations of flours and hydration percentages all in the hope of producing a superior Di Fara pizza. I will be in travel status all next week in upstate NY but I look forward to resolving whatever questions you deem most pressing upon my return. 
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #126 on: May 02, 2005, 09:45:54 PM »
Having returned from a trip recently to NYC and a visit to the esteemed DiFara's, I thought that it was appropriate that I conduct some more experiments on a DiFara clone. I will forewarn you at the outset that I am not going to report that I discovered every last tidbit of information on the DiFara dough and pizza and can completely replicate them. In fact, I concluded that not only was that not possible, it might not even be desirable. As I reported earlier, I concluded that, absent an oven that can deliver temperatures above 700 degrees F, it was not possible for me to do in my home oven what Dom DeMarco does in his pizzeria. It's not that his dough is complicated or that I don't have enough information about the DiFara dough. I know more than I would ever need to know. And Dom's dough is utter simplicity. It is a dough made within 1 to 2 hours. I know that whenever I have tried to make a 00 dough within 1-2 hours using the Caputo 00 flour, as good a flour as it is, what I will get is a crust that looks and tastes like cardboard. Where Dom succeeds with such a dough is that he can overcome any deficiencies in the dough through the use of his high-temperature oven and using the highest quality toppings in copious amounts.

So, rather than court failure, I decided that I would try to come up with a dough that, from a technical standpoint, would actually be better for me to use in a home setting than a DeMarco dough. My first attempt was to make a same-day dough using the same blend of flours as Dom DeMarco uses (a 75/25 blend, by volume, of Caputo 00 flour and All Trumps high-gluten flour), a hydration of around 65% (which I calculated from information provided to me by Dom), and a long room temperature fermentation. Originally I had planned on a roughly 8-hour fermentation period, but other matters distracted me and I ended up with a fermentation period closer to 12 hours. I had no difficulty making the dough and although it wasn't the nicest dough I have ever made, I had no problems shaping and stretching it out to 14 inches in diameter, the largest size my pizza stone can handle. I dressed the pizza in a simple tomato (San Marzano) and cheese fashion (using fresh mozzarella cheese) and baked it for about 5 minutes on the pizza stone, which had been preheated to around 500-550 degrees F for about an hour. The pizza was then baked for about another minute under the broiler, which had been turned on about 3 minutes into the baking process. The first photo below shows the finished product.

While the first pizza tasted OK, the crust was only so-so. It was still a bit cardboardish in texture, without much browning on the bottom, and not particularly inspiring as to induce me to show more photos of it. I think that part of the shortcoming of this pizza was the lack of olive oil in the dough. I can't say that had I used olive oil I would be singing the praises of the pizza. But the results did suggest that I should use olive oil the next time. Also, the room temperature fermentation may have been too long, especially at around 75 degrees F, although I did not detect the usual telltale signs of overfermentation.

So, I decided that for the next (second) pizza I would use basically the same recipe as the first pizza but that I would go full out and use olive oil, an autolyse, and a roughly 24-hour fermentation period in the refrigerator. I also decided to substitute KASL high-gluten flour for the All Trumps high-gluten flour used to make the first pizza. For the autolyse, I used the Prof. Calvel autolyse, the details of which were given by fellow member DINKS in an earlier post. I decided to use this particular autolyse technique in order to gain more experience with it, with the intention in due course of trying either or both of pftaylor's and Varasano's versions of autolyse to do a comparison with the Calvel autolyse.

In essense, the Calvel autolyse entails combining 1/3 of the flour and 1/3 of the water with the yeast (in this case, IDY) and, after they have been mixed together thoroughly, adding and thoroughly mixing in the rest of the flour and water. The dough at this stage is then subjected to an autolyse rest period, in this case, 30 minutes. After the autolyse rest, the oil is added and mixed in with the dough, and then the salt.

After all the above steps were dutifully completed, the dough was subjected to a second rest period (not technically an autolyse) of about 15 minutes. The dough was then lightly oiled, put into a container, covered, and then put in the refrigerator. The recipe that led me to this point is as follows (together with baker's percents):

100%, Flour, 5.94 oz. Caputo 00 flour (about 1 1/4 c. plus 4 t.) + 1.98 oz. KASL (1/2 c.), for a total of 7.92 oz.
65%, Water, 5.15 oz. (2/3 c.) (temp. adjusted to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F)
1.5% Salt, 0.12 oz. (a bit less than 5/8 t.)
0.50%, IDY, 0.04 oz., 3/8 t.
1%, Olive oil, 0.79 oz., about 1/2 t.

The total dough ball weight for the dough prepared from the above recipe was 13.70 oz.

When the dough ball was removed from the refrigerator after its 24-hour hibernation, I put it on my kitchen counter, covered it with a sheet of plastic wrap, and let it rise until it reached about 65 degrees F (about 2 hours at a room temperature of about 75 degrees F.). The dough handled beautifully. It was easy to stretch to just about any diameter I wanted without fear of ripping or weak or thin spots forming. These results attest to the benefits of using an autolyse. As with the previous pizza, I dressed is simply--essentially the same toppings as used on the first pizza--and the pizza was baked the same way as the previous pizza. This time around, the pizza was much better. The crust was soft and tender in the center, yet chewy and crunchy at the same time, especially at the rim. The flavor of the crust was also good, although not as good as those I have made using a natural preferment. But I believe the results are headed in the right direction. The second pizza is shown in the second and third photos below. It will be noted that the crust did not have a significant amount of bottom crust browning. However it was actually a bit darker than the second photo below shows.

I expect my next effort may involve using a natural preferment, and I may revisit on of my earlier successful efforts that came out of Friz's work to clone the DiFara dough.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 27, 2006, 10:19:08 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline scott r

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #127 on: May 03, 2005, 02:06:04 AM »
On my last visit to a bunch of NY pizza shops Di Fara's was my least favorite dough of the trip.  Now I know why.  I am very excited to see you take his flour blend with a high hydration,  and run with it.  Something tells me this is going to be a magical recipe.

Offline jjsb22

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #128 on: May 17, 2005, 08:14:11 PM »
Recently I had the opportunity to look inside the side door of DiFaras and while I did see the Caputo flour the other flour I saw was General Mills Full Strength flour. On that same day I also met inside the store Dominicks supplier. The guy alleged that he was has been supplying him for the last 20 years. Any way my point is that the GM Full Strength flour has a protein % of 12.6 while the All Trumps has 14.2. I am not sure of the effect this may have on the dough but I thought you might like to know this.  I think the lower protein % flour is better for thicker doughs such as his square slice. I wonder if he does possibly make 2 different doughs.

jjsb
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #129 on: May 17, 2005, 09:17:17 PM »
jjsb,

Thank you for the additional information and welcome to the forum.

I think you may well be right on the use of the two flours. When I mentioned the All Trumps flour in connection with the pizza Dom DeMarco was making for me, he did not correct me. It's logical that a Sicilian pizza might benefit from a lower protein flour. I know the sauce for the Sicilian is different from the one used on the regular pizzas. When I went through the kitchen on the way to the rest room I saw a pot of sauce cooking on the stove. I asked the fellow in the kitchen what the sauce was for and he said it was for the Sicilian pizza. Upon further cross examination, he said that the Sicilian sauce was the only pizza sauce that is cooked.

Peter


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #130 on: July 18, 2006, 02:12:10 PM »
Recently, after being away from a DiFara style dough for quite a while, I decided to make some DiFara clone test doughs based on everything I had learned during the reverse-engineering of the DiFara dough. As long-time members will recall, pftaylor and I confirmed from Dom DeMarco himself that he uses only 1 to 2 hours of fermentation for his dough balls, keeping at least a partial supply of “ready-to-use” dough balls in the bottom section or drawer of his gas oven. To assist me in my efforts, I consulted with member scott r, who is my “go to” guy on anything involving a dough using both 00 flour and high-gluten flour, in my case the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour and the King Arthur Sir Lancelot (KASL) high-gluten flour.

After thinking things through after consulting with scott, I finally ended up making four different DiFara clone doughs for four different pizzas. All used a 75%/25% combination, by weight, of Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour and KASL. Except for the last pizza in the series (“Pizza 4” below), in arriving at the baker’s percents for the different doughs, I used the same principles as I normally use in making any “emergency” few-hours dough, including using above-average amounts of yeast. Normally, I would also use very warm water, but I decided against doing that since I suspected that Dom DeMarco does not go through the step of adjusting water temperature in making his dough. I also used tap water, as I suspect Dom also does. I had originally intended to make a fresh yeast version of one of the doughs but gave that up since I couldn’t locate any fresh yeast anywhere.

Because of the small dough weights involved, 6.75 ounces, all four doughs were made in my food processor, combined with some hand kneading at the end because the dough weight was even too little for my processor (14-cup Cuisinart) to knead thoroughly. All four doughs were based on a thickness factor of 0.086, as I had previously calculated, and a pizza size of 10”. The four doughs and pizzas can be summarized as follows, including the baker’s percents I used.

Pizza 1: A dough consisting of the Caputo/KASL flour blend (100%), Water (60%), Salt (2%), and Instant dry yeast (0.83%). Originally, I did not intend to use this dough but rather made it solely to see if the quantities of the ingredients were correct to allow the dough to about double in a roughly 2-hour time period. When it did, rather than throw the dough away as I originally planned to do, I decided instead to reshape it and put it in the refrigerator to see how it would respond to the cold fermentation after being fermented at room temperature. The dough remained for about 2 days in the refrigerator before using. The dough for Pizza 1 was the only one that was cold fermented. It was allowed to warm up at room temperature for about an hour before using.

Pizza 2: A same-day, few-hours dough consisting of the same ingredients and baker’s percents as with Pizza 1 but in which the dough was allowed to ferment/rise, at room-temperature only, for only 2 hours.

Pizza 3: A same-day, few-hours dough consisting of the Caputo/KASL flour blend (100%), Water (60%), Salt (2%), Oil (2.45%), and IDY (0.83%). The main difference with this dough was the use of oil, and it was the only dough to use it. The dough was allowed to ferment/rise for 2 hours.

Pizza 4: An 8-hour, room-temperature fermented dough consisting of the Caputo/KASL flour blend (100%), Water (60%), Salt (2.4%), and IDY (0.25%). It will be noted that the amount of salt was increased for this dough and the amount of IDY was reduced, to allow a controlled fermentation over an 8-hour period. The main purpose for trying this version was to see if the finished crust would benefit from the much longer room-temperature fermentation. In retrospect, it appears that this dough could have sustained several more hours of fermentation. I did not punch down the dough at any time, although I suspect that that would have been an option.

All four of the doughs were well-behaved throughout their respective fermentation periods and were easy to shape out to the selected 10” size. The dough for Pizza 4 was a bit more elastic than the others, but with a bit of rest on the peel it conformed to the final desired size. All of the doughs were a bit on the damp side, which meant that I had to be careful that they didn’t stick to the peel. I’m sure I could have overcome the slight wetness by using bench flour, as does Dom, but I try not to do that with my doughs as a general proposition because I don’t want the crust to develop a bitterness in the crust because of the raw flour. All doughs were shaped to the 10” size by tugging and pulling from the edges after using my fingers to partially open the doughs, which appears to be the way that Dom shapes his doughs. I did not attempt to use my knuckles or even gravity to shape the doughs and I did not toss any of the dough skins.

For purposes of baking the four pizzas, I decided to construct a “mini-oven” within my standard home oven, using a pizza stone placed on the lowest oven rack position, six 6” x 6” unglazed quarry tiles on the next-to-the top oven rack position, and four similar tiles on the sides, two on each side. The first photo below shows the mini-oven configuration. In preparation for baking the pizzas, I preheated the oven/mini-oven for one hour at about 500-550 degrees F. 

For the sauce and cheeses, I tried to use essentially the same “quality and quantity” approach as used by Dom DeMarco, as I have come to understand them. For the sauce, I pureed whole tomatoes from a can of Famoso DOP San Marzano tomatoes, along with some fresh, seeded tomatoes and fresh basil (a mixture of Napoletano and Genovese Italian, both from my garden), fresh (from my garden) Italian oregano, dried Sicilian oregano, a bit of Sicilian sea salt, and sugar. Because the sauce was on the thin side, I drained it in a colander to remove some of the water.

For cheeses, I used a combination of bufala di mozzarella, fresh Mozzarella Fresca brand mozzarella, a part-skim low-moisture mozzarella cheese (Frigo brand, by Saputo), and freshly-grated imported grana padano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, both of which I put on the pizzas once they were done baking. The bufala and fresh mozzarella cheeses were intentionally used in fairly good-sized pieces to keep them from cooking too fast and breaking down. I put the Frigo mozzarella cheese, which I sliced into strips using a box grater (as does Dom), and placed the strips on top of the other cheeses to shield them somewhat from the oven heat. I placed fresh basil on the pizzas before baking and also afterwards. I also used Coluccio Sicilian olive oil on top of the pizzas before baking.

All of the pizzas baked in about the same time, with about 6 minutes on the pizza stone within the “mini-oven” and about a final minute on top of the upper layer of tiles. The mini-oven appeared to work flawlessly.

I was quite pleased overall with the results, but Pizza 4 and Pizza 1, both of which had prolonged fermentation, one at room temperature and the refrigerator and the other at room-temperature for many hours, stood out from the pack. The crusts were soft in the middle, easily foldable, and firm at the rims, with a bit of “tooth” and chewiness in the rims, and with good coloration both top and bottom. In the photos that follow, I show the bottom of only Pizza 1 but all crusts had similar crust color development. As between Pizza 1 and Pizza 4, I thought that Pizza 4 was the better of the two, perhaps because it seemed to have a softer crust yet be chewy at the same time and with good crust color. Of the four pizzas, the one I would rank last was the one (Pizza 3) that used olive oil in the dough. The crust was almost bread-like and didn’t quite have the nice coloration of the other crusts. This came as a surprise, and I still don’t know why it didn’t show better.

My next DiFara clone test dough will most likely be a long room-temperature fermented dough but in which I alter the ratio of the Caputo/KASL flours. When I first started the DiFara reverse-engineering project, I had heard from a reliable source that Dom DeMarco used a 50/50 blend. He later said that it was 75/25. I think I will try 60/40, and I may shoot for an overnight fermentation, as I always suspected that Dom did before he informed me otherwise.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 09:51:59 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #131 on: July 18, 2006, 02:22:16 PM »
The "mini-oven".....




Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #132 on: July 18, 2006, 02:27:08 PM »
Pizza 1 (2-hour room-temperature and 2-day cold fermentation)....
« Last Edit: July 18, 2006, 03:38:53 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #133 on: July 18, 2006, 02:34:31 PM »
Pizza 2 (2-hour room-temperature fermentation)...


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #134 on: July 18, 2006, 02:43:16 PM »
Pizza 3 (2-hour room-temperature fermentation, with olive oil). I forgot to take a slice photo but it looked like all the others...




Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #135 on: July 18, 2006, 03:29:06 PM »
Pizza 4 (8 hours room temperature fermentation: my favorite of the four pizzas). The pizza wasn't as round as the others because I accidentally hit one of the left upright tiles with my 14" peel as I was loading the pizza into the mini-oven :).


Offline scott r

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #136 on: July 18, 2006, 04:25:34 PM »
Peter, I too am puzzled about the pizza with the oil.  In my experiments using that amount of oil in lower temp ovens improves the product, and does not produce a bready crust.  Actually, I think the pies that I made you when you visited had that same percentage of oil.  Do you think it is possible that that dough got a little more kneading than the rest, or had any other differences in the mixing process? The issue with the coloration of the crust really has me wondering if something else changed with that dough.

After reading this post I would love to do more comparisons myself of oil vs no oil, but unfortunately I am not going to be able to make any pizzas until sept.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #137 on: July 18, 2006, 04:57:22 PM »
scott,

I tried to use the same procedures for all the doughs although it is possible that there were some differences in kneading due to the fact that my food processor had a hard time making cohesive balls out of the ingredients, which required me to do some hand gathering/kneading. About the only thing that strikes me that may have been different with the pizzas themselves was the amounts of cheeses used. As you will note, Pizza 3 has more cheese on it and it runs to the edge, whereas the others stop short of the edges. The "overcheesing" was not intentional. I was just trying to be generous, as Dom is with his pizzas. Because of the increased amount of cheese with Pizza 3, I suppose it's possible that the bake turned out differently, but there was no doubt that Pizza 3, and particularly the crust, was not as good as the others. I was confounded by Pizza 3 because I too have often used olive oil in a dough that is baked in my standard home oven.

Another thing I noticed that may be relevant is that the mini-oven seemed to run hotter than my oven alone. Whether it seemed that way because I was making a smaller pizza than normal is hard to say, but I do know that the pizzas seemed to cook really fast once I put them on the top layer of tiles toward the end of the baking time. I liked the way that all the pizzas baked in the mini-oven, especially from the standpoint of the top and bottom crust browning. I didn't have to use the broiler at all. Maybe the mini-oven was operating at a higher temperature than my oven alone. I do know that it took forever for the oven/stone/tiles to cool down once I turned the oven off but, then again, my kitchen was quite warm to begin with because we have been having outdoor temperatures hovering around 100 degrees for several days straight. Even my basil has been stressed by all the brutal heat, even though I have kept it in the shade most of the time.

Peter

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #138 on: July 22, 2006, 02:07:14 PM »
Following up on my recent series of DiFara’s clone pizzas, I decided to make a version of the dough using 60% Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour and 40% KASL, both by weight. Also, I decided to use a 12-hour room-temperature fermentation. In my case, I made the dough late at night (around 11 PM) and let the dough set on my kitchen counter overnight, with the intention of making the pizza (which I will refer to as Pizza 5) for lunch. Because of the long room-temperature fermentation, I used the following baker’s percents for the dough for Pizza 5.

Pizza 5: 60/40 Flour blend (100%), Water (tap) (61%), Salt (2.4%), and IDY (0.25%).

The dough for Pizza 5 was prepared in the same manner as my previous doughs, using my food processor. The total dough weight was 6.75 ounces, as before, and the thickness factor (TF) was 0.086, also as before. When time came to make the pizza, I had no problems whatsoever in shaping and stretching the dough out to 10 inches. The pizza was sauced and cheesed in the same manner as with the prior pizzas discussed in the recent posts, except that I did not use any bufala di mozzarella cheese (which I had run out of). Instead, I used more of the Mozzarella Fresca fresh mozzarella cheese. The pizza was baked in the “mini-oven” for about 6 minutes and for about another minute on top of the upper layer of tiles of the mini-oven. The oven and mini-oven had been preheated for about an hour at around 500-550 degrees F.

The photos below show the finished Pizza 5. I was very pleased with the pizza. The crust was chewier and crispier than the other pizzas, especially toward the rim, but the crust flavor was very good, and I actually liked the chewy, somewhat crispy character of the crust. I would rank Pizza 5 up there with Pizzas 1 and 4 as previously discussed. What especially pleased me was knowing that the dough would tolerate 12 hours of room-temperature fermentation, at a time when my kitchen room temperature was quite high. Also, I am convinced that it is possible to adjust the mix of Caputo and KASL flours to achieve a range of doughs that will produce very good results. In fact, increasing the amount of KASL relative to the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour should permit a longer room temperature fermentation time, and also a slightly higher hydration ratio.

Peter

Offline snowdy

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #139 on: August 18, 2006, 08:27:53 PM »
Peter,
Keep up the good work man, you freakin rule :)
my brother recently moved to NYC and has been to di far a few times now and says its really good but a bit "greasy" for his tastes. He still likes lombardi's the best due to the lack of grease. I myself figure that if im going to be eating pizza its bad enough for me already, the grease is only a bonus  :P

got a question for you... after being to di fara... what do you think? are you able to make just as good of tasting pizza since you know all the best toppings to use as well and that his crust is only average? Or is there still some age old ninja secrets dom is using that makes his stuff amazing? I know he has the oven, but otherwise... your stuff looks pretty damn good.

Dave


 

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