Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 86906 times)

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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #100 on: March 31, 2005, 11:37:30 PM »
I agree with Friz on the thickness matter. There's something screwy going on with the way a DiFara dough ball can weigh 22.6 oz. and make a 16-inch pizza with a crust as thin as pftaylor's photos show, and without a gigantic rim.

When I made the DiFara dough clone that produced such good results, I used very little yeast. But from the time I set the dough aside to rise, at around 8 PM, it hardly budged for a few hours thereafter. It wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I saw, to my surprise, that it had risen substantially. That dough was a 60%/40% high-gluten/00 dough, but maybe using a 75%/25% 00/high-gluten flour combination, as DiFara uses, the resulting dough will behave in the same lethargic manner as mine did. If Dom DeMarco uses his dough within a few hours of making, maybe there is little rise in his dough and it will produce the thin crust that we observe in the photos. After all, 99% of the weight of a dough ball, even after fermentation, is attributable to flour and water. The weights of the yeast and salt are minuscule by comparison. So, it has to be something about the way the yeast works--or doesn't work--to produce a dough that will have a thin crust when baked.

Maybe we also have to think about what role the salt plays in this situation. If a lot of it is used, but not so much as to produce an overly salty crust, the fermentation could be arrested to the point where the dough doesn't rise all that much. That might help explain the lack of oven spring also.

Peter



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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #101 on: April 01, 2005, 06:21:35 AM »
I offer the following perspective about Dom's dough:

First, there is a chance Dom could have mixed my dough just after my request.  I would not have put it past him. He is a mad scientist sort of and judging by how caked with flour his hands are he could have hand mixed a small batch just for me. He did ask one question of me which leans in another direction however: "When will you be using the dough?" I thought for a moment and replied by Wednesday - thinking I could bribe the hotel chef in Rochester to allow me to bring my own skin to the kitchen (wrong - health code violation). After bringing out the dough he suggested that I freeze it until I need it. Then he assured me "you and your dough be okay that way." Based on that comment I thought to myself, at the time, that he must have pulled a piece out of his dough tray for me. But which was it? A round or a square? Is there a difference? That question needs to be answered on another visit.

Upon inspecting the dough later that night it appeared it could have benefited from further kneading. It wasn't a good looking finished piece of dough by my standards. For instance, it had one area where the flour was not entirely absorbed by water. So I used the ancient kneading method discussed on this site and finished working the dough. The next evening the dough appeared to be more bubbly and normal looking - at least according to my standards. But the first night the dough appeared unfinished and most similar to dough containing little to no yeast. I thought to myself, at the time, the dough may have been rushed in the mixing process. It offered very little snap and could not hold a ball form very well. Limp, heavy, and soft comes to mind. Absolutely no elasticity was present. In contrast, Jose (Patsy's) hand-stretched the skin to about 16" and placed it on the peel for dressing. By the time the pie was served, it shrunk to just under 15". More elasticity than my home pies for certain.

Second, Dom has a generous hand and could have given me a huge chunk of dough. Since he measures everything by hand he may have carved out a bigger than usual chunk for me. While imprecise, he could have pulled a chunk out of the mixer from an unformed batch. When I was at Patsy's I ordered one dough ball. Jose ended up giving me two for the price of one out of generousity. Dom has this same trait in spades.

Lastly, his round pizzas, while considerably thicker than Patsy's near bursting latex balloon like thickness, are still rather thin. No where near as thick as a Scilian pie. Perhaps a little thicker than what I normally make at home. Dom's dough just sort of lies there and is quite unassuming. They don't appear to be full of energy. I chalked up the thickness differences to mainly around the different flours used. Dom doesn't appear to take a great amount of effort to stretch his dough. He sort of gets it to about the right size then focuses on the toppings. I would charecterize his dough stretching approach as being just get it close enough.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2005, 10:15:20 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline dinks

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #102 on: April 01, 2005, 12:44:11 PM »
PETER:
  Good Morning my learned friend. I only have a little time & patience this morning. I will not go into food science theory I will leave  that up toyou to do that. I am responding to #100 posting of yesterday.

  COMES NOW:

 The last sentence of the 2nd paragraph; Yeast works~ or~doesn't work............. Dough that has had a full fermentation & then rolled-out into a round as in a thin-crust pie does not proof,however, if it did somewhat it simply shows the a full term fermentation did not occur to begin with.
  Oven-spring, if a full ferm. has taken place then the yeast lies dorment it's power is dead till it is activated by a fold(Punching it down).
   As you know Peter, fermentation begins (Fundamentally speaking) when the mixer is turned off. However, it takes a full 20 minutes for the dough to begin its rise because it takes that long for the chemical activety in the concoction to function. Hence, if a double is to occur in 1 hour at 80 degrees It will take place in 1 hour & 20 minutes theoritically speaking.
  Peter, I will not go into the role that salt plays because you know that subject as well as anyone else.
  As far as oven spring is concerned Peter, I mentioned one reason why not, the 2 nd is... wilth all that topping on the pie It would not get very far up anyway.  I f you want oven spring  add steam in to the oven at the beginning, but you will never get a crisp pizza by doing that excercise.
  I am wondering Peter wih all the experimenting that goes on with various flours why hasn't DURUM wheat been mentioned??/ It just may surprise some that perhaps that is the flour that some of these New york pizza joints use with HI~G.
  Peter, I am tired now, I need to take my nap. Have a nice day my friend.
     ~DINKS.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #103 on: April 01, 2005, 01:36:19 PM »
DINKS,

As usual, thank you for your thoughtful response.

What threw me off the scent yesterday was the notion of making a thin crust with an amount of flour(s), water and the remaining ingredients that would produce a dough ball weighing 22.6 ounces--for a 16-inch pizza. What complicated matters even further was the notion of making a dough from dough hook to shaping in only a few hours, as is believed to be done at DiFara's. Based on pftaylor's further elaboration on the subject this morning, our premises will likely require revision.

I took into account the fact that there would be a delay in the yeast becoming acclimated to its surroundings before initiating fermentation. But if the dough production time was say, 2 hours, that wouldn't leave much time for a full fermentation. That is basically what prompted me to question what the yeast was doing, along with considering the possible effects that the amount of salt might have on the finished dough and its behavior once it got into the oven.

You mentioned the role of toppings in restraining oven spring. But one of the curious things, DINKS, is that the DiFara pizzas with few toppings (Margherita and plain cheese) that were depicted in pftaylor's photos had very thin crusts. This leads me to believe that the amount of dough used to make a standard pizza is less than 22.6 oz., and that Dom DeMarco may have indeed been generous in the amount of dough he gave to pftaylor.

As for the unpopularity of durum wheat flour for pizza making, I don't have an answer for that. I think most people associate durum wheat with pasta making, particularly the imported Italian durum wheat (I believe the Italians call it grano duro tenero). I do know that semolina, which is coarsely ground durum wheat, is commonly used with other flours, including high-gluten flour, in pizza making. I have had pizza made using both of those grains and the crust is indeed quite good. There have been recipes posted on this site for pizza dough using semolina flour, in case you are interested.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 08, 2006, 11:17:58 AM by Pete-zza »

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #104 on: April 01, 2005, 03:49:53 PM »
At the risk of stirring the pot too much....I'll do this anyway.

The longest-running discussion of DiFaras that I'm aware of is on Chowhound.  There are many regular customers there and the cheese blend  Dom uses is a frequent topic.  So many people have so many different ideas (all based on personal visits) that I'm beginning to suspect that Dom has his own inside joke about telling different people different things.

In an effort to set the record straight I started a new thread over there.  It should be interesting:

http://chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/63856.html

---Guy

 
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #105 on: April 01, 2005, 04:01:41 PM »
Guy,

I, too, have my suspicious side. For example, when pftaylor mentioned the Pecorino Romano cheese, that was the first time I had heard of that cheese being used at DiFara's. What I recalled was seeing a big wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a photo taken at DiFara's. The information I have collected on the cheeses used at DiFara's is as follows: a 75%/25% combination of the Grande brand of full-fat mozzarella cheese and the Grande Ovoline fresh fior-di-latte mozzarella cheese or possibly a buffalo mozzarella cheese imported from Italy, a dusting of grana padano cheese, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side. There's no reason why a Romano cheese can't be used. It is a good cheese, but it isn't what I understood to be used at DiFara's. 

It will be interesting to see what you learn at chowhound.

Peter

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #106 on: April 01, 2005, 04:10:17 PM »
I've been to DiFaras twice.  Both times Dom was way too busy for me to feel comfortable asking him questions.

But based on watching him make a dozen or two pies, I only saw him use 3 different cheeses.  Two of them he slices by hand onto the pie (using a hand-held box grater/slicer), and one hard cheese he shreds with a bench-mounted hand-turned grater.  That's the cheese he puts on after cooking (and the same he'll give you a paper plate-full as extra), which I assumed was Parmesan.  When discussing this on Chowhound, I was firmly informed that it was grana padana, not  parmesan.

But others there say he uses Parmesan, so I just don't know.

As for Romano, this thread is the first mention I've ever heard of that.

It's fun to have a mystery...

---Guy
« Last Edit: April 01, 2005, 04:17:07 PM by PizzaBrewer »
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #107 on: April 08, 2005, 03:07:35 PM »
In a recent post on this thread (Reply #59), I described a DiFara clone dough based on using a 60/40 ratio, by weight, of All Trumps high-gluten flour and Caputo 00 flour, a relatively high hydration percentage (65%), a small amount of salt (1/4 t.) and a 16 hour overall period of fermentation/ripening. When that dough was made into a pizza following the instructions given at the abovementioned post, I came out with what I deemed to be an exceptional pizza.

The recipe I used that produced such good results was as follows:

5.07 oz. All Trumps (General Mills) high-gluten flour (about 1 c. plus 1 2/3 T.)
3.38 oz. Caputo 00 pizzeria flour (about 3/4 c. plus 1 t.)
5.49 oz. water (around 65% hydration) (a bit less than 3/4 c.)
1/4 t. salt
Slightly less than 1/4 t. IDY

Subsequently, we learned from pftaylor that Dom DeMarco at DiFara's uses predominantly Caputo 00 flour and a lesser amount of All Trumps high-gluten flour, in a roughly 75/25 ratio. Based on that input, I decided to make another DiFara clone dough using that ratio of flours (by weight). I also decided to increase the amount of salt and to slightly reduce the total fermentaition/ripening period. For purposes of the dough, I used the 14-inch pizza size, and a thickness factor of around 0.09. The final recipe was as follows, including the baker's percents:

Flour (100%), 6.50 oz. of Caputo 00 flour (about 1 1/2 c.) and 2.17 oz. All Trumps (a bit more than 1/2 c.)
Water (60%, temp. adjusted to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F), 5.20 oz. (2/3 c.)
Salt (1.5%), 0.13 oz. (between 5/8 and 3/4 t.)
IDY (0.25%), 0.022 oz. (a bit less than 1/4 t.)

Because of the small amount of dough involved, I chose to knead it entirely by hand. When done, it had a final weight of 14.04 oz. and an internal temperature just shy of 80 degrees F. I placed the dough into a plastic storage bag and set the bag on my kitchen counter late last night. By early morning, about 10 hours later, the dough had spread into a pancake-like disk. It was soft and a bit moist but not nearly as wet or moist as the previous dough that had a considerably higher hydration percentage. I was able to reball the dough without having to add any more flour. I then returned the dough to a bowl (covered) for about another 4 hours, during which time the dough at least doubled. It was still soft and a bit moist and it exhibited a tendency to bubbling. but I was able to easily shape the dough into a 14-inch skin. The dough was a combination of extensible and elastic at the same time, but it handled well.

After dressing the pizza, it was baked for about 6 minutes on a pizza stone that had been preheated for about an hour at 500-550 degrees F. I thereupon moved the pizza to an upper oven rack position to continue baking for about another 1-2 minutes under the broiler, which I had turned on about 4-5 minutes into the baking process.

The photos below show the finished product. Overall, I was quite pleased with the results. The crust was soft and delicate in the middle, with a nice lightness, and crunchy at the rim--which had a quite open and airy structure. I thought the crust had a very nice taste. As between today's pizza and the last one I liked so well, I think I preferred the last one a bit more--but not by much. They were both quite good. As for the increased amount of salt that I used for today's dough, I can't say that I noticed a big difference in terms of dough performance or crust taste. The lower hydration percent made for a bit tougher time kneading, but the finished crust was still open and airy.

I think what today's experiment taught me most is that it is possible to make a decent dough and crust using a combination of flours that ranges quite widely between a 60/40 ratio of high-gluten and 00 flours and a 75/25 ratio of 00 and high-gluten flours. It is also possible to use a lower hydration percent than the 65% previously used and get an open and airy crumb. I also believe it is possible to make a decent DiFara dough clone on a same-day basis, without requiring an overnight stay on the kitchen counter. I suspect that one could start the dough early in the morning and use it later in the afternoon of evening, with respectable results. To get an even lighter and more delicate crust, it should also be possible to use an even lower thickness factor, possibly around 0.07-0.08, which is similar to that used by pftaylor in his Raquel recipe.

Peter

« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 04:41:15 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline dinks

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #108 on: April 08, 2005, 03:35:05 PM »
PETER:
  Good Afternoon. Thank-you, I enjoyed reading your blow by blow descriptio of how you made your pizza. The photo & pizza look XLNT.
   I was not aware Peter that 65% hyration is considered a bit much. Just this morning at 4:30A.M. I mixed my poolish  from yesterday & Dough together & I used total approx 67% hydration & it is not  a wet dough. I hate wet dough it is so hard to handle. Mine is sitting in the refridge till early morning tomorrow. I decided to make a extra slight amount so that I can use as a "ALTUS", for the next batch I make next month. I never tried that technique. I am to lazy to start & keep a sourdough concoction so I decided to see if this technique has any merit. Good luck & have a nice day my friend.
    ~DINKS.


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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #109 on: April 08, 2005, 03:56:44 PM »
PETER:
  Sorry I made a arthmetic addition error. I added up my altered recipe & it read 57.5%  hydration. I omitted also that I employed a 60 minute autolyse as well. My dough came out a little better than usual. I used 2/3rds hi-g & 1/3rd durum.
  ENJOY!!!.
  ~DINKS.

Offline MT

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #110 on: April 08, 2005, 04:17:29 PM »
Peter

Could you confirm the weights in the 75/25 blend version?  Things don't seem to add up correctly.  I get a finished weight somewhere near 16.222.  It may well be me but something seems amiss.

Offline dinks

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #111 on: April 08, 2005, 04:31:17 PM »
MT:
  Good afternoon. You are correct. It does add up to that amount. Iwent thru the numbers this is what I learned. The yeast amount is ..22 not as written .022. also he just forgot to add the weight of the  "OO" flour. All I can say is "BIN DARE & DUN DAT"  once or twice.
  Good Luck & have a nice day my friend.
   ~DINKS..

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #112 on: April 08, 2005, 04:31:18 PM »
DINKS,

As a practical matter, I tend to view 65% as somewhat the outer limit for pizza doughs like the Lehmann NY style dough. In the case of the Lehmann dough, Tom Lehmann himself sets the outer limit at 65%. Flours like the Caputo 00 flour are usually used for doughs with a hydration percent around 50-54% or thereabouts, although some pizza makers use a much higher hydration percent, almost to the point where the dough is really quite wet and almost incapable of handling by hand. You will need to use a dough scraper or something like that. With a combination of 00 flour and high-gluten flour, getting to 65% takes a bit of work.

I have found that I can go beyond 65% hydration if I start mixing the flour into the water very gradually, whether using a wooden spoon or the paddle or hook attachment of a stand mixer. If you pause now and then to let the flour absorb the water, you can get a higher hydration overall. Certainly, using an autolyse also helps you get a higher hydration also. But I have discovered that if I specify recipes with very high hydration levels, people start to have problems with the dough being too wet. Usually they get over this with experience, but it can be a problem in the meantime.

For those who are wondering what an "altus" is, it is a mash that is associated mostly with rye and pumpernickel doughs. According to what I have researched, the altus mash is made by slicing and trimming the crusts from leftover bread (like sour rye bread), soaking the trimmed bread in water for several hours or overnight under refrigeration, squeezing it dry, and adding small amounts to the bread dough. Altus intensifies the flavor of breads like pumpernickel and rye bread and helps them retain moisture. When using altus, the recommendation is to allow for a little extra flour in the recipe. The mash keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator.

Dinks, I have never tried using an altus, so I hope you will report back to us whether it has a place in our pizza making efforts.

Peter

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #113 on: April 08, 2005, 04:36:27 PM »
MT,

You are correct. The total flour weight is around 8.70 oz. The Caputo 00 flour weight should be 6.50 oz. If you add the weights up you should get close to 14.04 oz. (or a bit less because of rounding). I will go back and correct the post. Thanks for keeping a sharp eye.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 04:43:15 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline dinks

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #114 on: April 08, 2005, 04:46:38 PM »
PETER:
  Hello again. Yes Peter, your desciption of an Altus is 101% correct. However my friend that is the European (GERMAN) version & that is where it was pioneered. However, I used the American interpretation where you use up to approx 25%  of the new dough with old dough from a previous batch. That is what I plan to do. I will start with a much lower amount & work upwards till I can get a feel for it. Oh, by the way its formal name is "ALTUS BRAT" It is a pre-ferment. Just a variation.
 Have a nice day my friend.
~DINKS>

Offline Scagnetti

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #115 on: April 08, 2005, 06:06:13 PM »
At the risk of stirring the pot too much....I'll do this anyway.

The longest-running discussion of DiFaras that I'm aware of is on Chowhound.  There are many regular customers there and the cheese blend  Dom uses is a frequent topic.  So many people have so many different ideas (all based on personal visits) that I'm beginning to suspect that Dom has his own inside joke about telling different people different things.

In an effort to set the record straight I started a new thread over there.  It should be interesting:

http://chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/63856.html

---Guy

 

Well Nina W, a well known Chowhound expert on DiFara's, has posted the definitive cheese ingredients in a DiFara's pizza:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/64284.html

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #116 on: April 17, 2005, 06:43:01 PM »
In honor of Dominic I offer up a home version of his devine calzone...
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #117 on: April 19, 2005, 08:51:50 AM »
pftaylor great shots!!! are you related to Ansul Adams???  The pictures give off this old world, hard work, realism. Just looking at the pizza masters hands tell the whole story, history and hard work. Nice investigation that oven looks like it has really worked hard all its life in his shop... I've never heard of that brand of tomato has anyone ever tried them???

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #118 on: April 22, 2005, 09:44:14 PM »
I really do feel that any reproduction effort should be targeted at Dom's famous "square" pie as well. To provide suitable inspiration, I took a traditional shot at a round and a square Di Fara tonight.
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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #119 on: April 22, 2005, 09:44:57 PM »
And the round...
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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

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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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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 »
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
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Online 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


 

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