Author Topic: Friday Night Pizza Pictures  (Read 4959 times)

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Offline pftaylor

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Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« on: March 11, 2005, 07:19:39 PM »
Here are some pictures for the members who want to see what I consider a real homemade NYC style pizza to look like. Grande whole milk cheese, dry spices, and San Marzano tomatoes. NYC pizzerias don't junk up their pies with all purpose or even bread flour, provolone cheeses, ketchup like - looking sauces, and feeble looking mozzarella. They do use, however, quality ingredients across the board.

It is also not a true Italian neapolitan pie. Never meant to be one. That day is coming as I prepare for the Caputo challenge. Check out the killer oven spring, superior char & foldability in everyway and I'm certain better taste due to competent layered crust structure. You don't need two hands to keep this slice from drooping. I was able to learn in months, what should have taken me years to aspire to. All due to the help from the knowledeable membership.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2005, 09:37:54 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2005, 07:23:03 PM »
These are pictures of a NYC style slice. Call it NYapolitan. Classic NYC style pizza is generally made with high gluten flour.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2005, 06:48:09 PM by pftaylor »
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Offline Crusty

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2005, 09:39:54 PM »
That is a prize for all to hold up as a standard !!!  Great work PFT.  Hey, nobody gets fired for using Grande cheese, Penzey spice and San Marzano Tomatos.  Do you use your grill for anything other than pizza ?  Just curious.

Best regards,

Crusty

Offline ilpizzaiolo

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2005, 12:44:44 AM »
the pizza's look very nice. I would like to make one suggestion. And I apologize if you are already doing so. When assembling the pizza, put your slice mozzarella down first (whether you are using fresh mozzarella, or grande) then lightly spoon the tomato sauce over top. When cooking in something other than a brick oven, or when an oven is not quite hot enough, the additional cooking time will cause the butter fats in the cheese to break, Putting the sauce over top will help prevent that. just a suggestion. this is what grimaldis and totonno's both do. In naples they would never do this, but in naples they have super hot ovens and this is not an issue. But having traveled the same road alot of you are traveling, have the right amount of moisture and not letting the pizza dry out is key, to both pizza napoletana and the brick oven pizza of new york city

 ciao

 - ron

Offline snowdy

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2005, 03:44:55 AM »
pftaylor... you da man!!  8)

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2005, 06:29:46 AM »
Crusty & Snowdy,
Thanks for all the kind words.  I would never cook chicken, pork, beef, fish, or anything else along those lines. Those violate the "Vera Pizza Napoletana" rules and I doubt that Patsy's or any great brick oven joint cooks those things.

Psych! Only kidding! Of course I cook all kinds of things. In fact everything. The beauty of living in Florida is that I can cook outside 365 days a year. That's why I invested a couple of grand to buy a TEC grill.

Ron,
A special thank you for the tip. My grill time is directly dependent on how long I preheat the grill. The pizza pictured was grilled for slightly less than 3 minutes. I have gotten the grill to fully cook a pie in less than 2 minutes but that is problematic in terms of warping the hood badly. I will have to try putting the cheese down first. Come to think of it both Grimaldi's and Patsy's on 34th and 3rd put their cheese down first. I am open to any constructive criticism at whatever level of detail you would like to share. In fact, I'm honored that you choose to comment on my humble offering. If I knew what I didn't know, this journey of pizza making sure would be a lot easier. I am here quite simply to learn.

As you well know, there are perhaps dozens of pizza professionals who frequent this site and happily dispense words of wisdom to those of us who make pizza at home. Most of our membership seem to appreciate the opportunity to interact with master pizzaioli, who like yourself, have been practicing the art of pizza making for many years. I consider it a priviledge. I can only imagine how much you have learned by researching pizza in Naples for 15 years. Wow!

Keep the tips coming. Most of us know and appreciate that pizza making is a lifetime investment.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2005, 09:29:17 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline varasano

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2005, 09:02:43 AM »
It seems to me that just since I joined up in January, the pictures members have posted have improved A LOT. These seriously look great.  Good going.

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2005, 09:32:53 AM »
Jeff,
Thank you for the kind words.

I joined in December of last year and between you and me, I believe we were the primary driving factors around the awareness of intense heat. You do it with a modified oven and I do it with a grill. Completely different approaches to the same general goal of producing a convincing homemade version of a Patsy's Pizza.

I started down the path of 800 degree pizza grilling a few months before joining. I detailed in another post the trials and tribulations of what I had to go through to get relative equal grill heat for the top and bottom of the pizza sufficient to produce a credible product. In early January I would have gladly admitted that you were further down the path of intense heat. It was clear to me, however, that you were behind on your choice of ingredients and preparation techniques which limited the quality of your product as much as my lack and mastery of available heat limited mine.

Since I have not seen a recent photo of your pizzas I cannot discern if you have made progress in those areas. Perhaps we have both improved since then. I know I have. I also know I am constantly learning from the general membership - not just one member. There is such a wealth of available knowledge here that would go wasted otherwise.

I do owe you a great deal though around the concept of a biga or poolish. I'm still not convinced that Patsy's uses anything other than commercial yeast and high hydration levels to produce their ultra light crust. I must say that my crust has taken on a very flavorful taste since I created a Caputo based Tampa culture. I seriously doubt I will ever try an Italian culture (from Sourdo) but I am ready to incorporate your Patsy's culture once I'm able to stabilize it. Between the two of us we should be able to collaborate on a perfect replica of Patsy's. In pizza making, two heads are better than one.

That's my singular goal.

Peace.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2005, 06:29:32 PM by pftaylor »
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Offline varasano

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2005, 02:01:22 PM »
Ya know i tried the grill a few times years ago but only at a friends house and they started to get sick of my experiments and I switched to the oven.  But it seems you have worked out the issues. All these things take a lot of trial and error to work out. I think you may have to top a bit too hot compared to the bottom, just a little bit.

As far as the ingredients go, I still have to try a few more things. To be honest, the escalon tomates did not do it for me and I'm back to Cento. I have even used some DOC San Marzano and keep coming back to the Cento. I have the Sir Lancelot here, but I haven't tested it yet.  My big challenge right now is really the cheese. I can't find a fresh mozz that's any good.

I see in the posts that you still are not sure about the Patsy's culture. You should definitely by their dough when you are in NYC. and culture it.  I notice that you are making a distinction between a biga and a starter. I've seen others describe the difference, but I've seen several confilcting explainations. Can you tell me how you are using the term.

I'm pretty sure from talking to the waiter that Patsy's does add some commercial yeast to the dough. I'm going to do several experiments using pizzanapoletana's 'very little yeast' idea, some with commericial yeast and starter and others with starter alone. I'm curious to see how that comes. I'm going to use KA Bread flour just so that I'm not changing too many thing right now and can tell the effect of the method. I probably won't get to test flours for a couple of months.

Jeff

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2005, 02:49:31 PM »
Jeff,
I have tried a thousand times to "fix" the ratio of top to bottom heat and that's as close as I have been able to come. You are correct that the gap between the two is slightly too large. But it's close enough to focus on other bigger issues for now. The problem as I see it is that there are so many variables to get right that I can't spend too much time on any one because they are all intertwined. Change one and you have to adjust a series of others. I have been attacking and upgrading each aspect of reproducing a Patsy's pizza with a vengence. These things take time to resolve but slowly I have come a very long way.

Regarding cheese, I know you are not a fan of Polly - O. But have you tried their 2lb log of Fresh Mozzarella. It has nearly all the properties of true NYC Fresh Mutz. It also has a rather short expiration date range which means it is not made with tons of chemical additives to retard aging. It is their flagship product offering and it tastes like it. Available at Sam's Club for about $6.00. It has handily beaten all the other fresh mutz I have ever tried for pizza.

I do not necessarily draw a distinction between starter, poolish, and biga. Other than this: A poolish seems to be more watery than a biga. A biga can be more viscous than a starter. A starter could actually be a fully processed chunk of dough (with salt, sugar, etc.) whereas poolish and bigas only have flour and water. At the end of the day, for all intents and purposes, they all perform the same task. They add flavor and perhaps a slight crust handling edge. The viscosity I use is based on a refreshment of equal weights of flour and water. With water weighing about twice as much as flour for the same volume. For that reason, I believe your poolish is much wetter than my biga.

The yeast booster question is a good one. The ultimate answer very well may lie with adding the slightest amount of commercial yeast per pie. I'm talking about maybe 1/10th of a teaspoon. If that.

Another area you may want to consider is how much poolish to use. It seems that you are in the 40% range. Pizza Napoletana seems to think a range of 1% - 5% is sufficient. My experience, though limited, progressively went from a half cup, then a 1/4 cup. Now I'm all the way down to 1 Tablespoon of biga per pie. Granted I whip the biga into a frenzy which allows me to not have to use as much for leavening. Even that small amount injects enough flavor to notice a big taste difference.

I think the ultimate reason for the great Patsy's crust lies in a combination of things all of which are done right. Hell, they've had 70+ years to get it right. However, their hydration percentage is supposedly much higher than any of their coal oven competitors. I am at about 68% hydration right now and it's about as wet as I can go with KASL. I have heard whispers that they may be at 70%.

We may have to end up buying their brand of flour in 55lb sacks to climb all the way to the top of the hill. If not, we may never get there. But it will be fun trying.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2005, 06:46:30 PM by pftaylor »
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2005, 03:27:07 PM »
pft,

All the terms you mention, including a few you didn't, have become bastardized over time that it is easy to see how one can get confused. I have tended to use the term "starter" as a somewhat generic term and to differentiate between one that does not have commercial yeast as opposed to one that does as a "natural" starter. Technically, the generic term for all the forms of "starters" is a "preferment". You might find it helpful to see how King Arthur defines the terms, along with some explanatory background, at http://ww2.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/4a1eb4311b0be08b2b590b39ac3f2c77/download/KAF-04-009%20Preferments.pdf.

Peter

EDIT (3/15/13): For a King Arthur replacement article on preferments, see http://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/water.html
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 06:13:08 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2005, 08:56:29 AM »
Pete-zza,
Thanks for the knowledge.

I originally choose the word biga because it was Italian. Since pizza is Italian I felt it was more appropriate than the other words such as poolish, starter, etc.
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Offline DKM

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2005, 09:05:53 AM »
Very nice!

It looks like it could be from a NY elite pizza shop.

In fact, I need to make one.  NOW!

DKM
I'm on too many of these boards

Offline varasano

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2005, 11:11:52 AM »
Hey pfTaylor,

A few quick things.

I've never seen the polly-0 fresh, but I'll look for it.

Playing games with aluminum foil is the best way to adjust heat.  The shiny side really reflects heat.  If covering the stone with foil on the bottom is keeping the bottom too cool, try using foil strips with gaps or a sheet with holes poked in it or something. Over time you will solve this issue for sure.

Patsy's dough is not that high of a hydration.  I've never worked on percentages the way you guys do, only by feel, so I can't give you numbers. Maybe I might have to get more scientific and start measuring more carefully. But I can tell you for sure that Patsy's in not a very wet dough. I've bought at least 5 doughs from them and I've even taken one to Atlanta and baked it in my oven.  It's highly elastic, the most windowpaned and blistered doughs I've ever felt, by quite a margin.  But it's a fairly dry dough actually. In fact until recently I was always trying to get a drier dough to match Patsy's and that's why I think I had so much trouble getting a mixer to handle it. The wetter doughs are much easier on the machine. Right now I use the DLX mixer and I love it. But now that I've gotten my dough wetter and wetter, I could probably go back to the Kitchen Aid and actually get it to work. But even as I'm adding water to my dough and improving my pizza, I'm aware that I'm actually moving away from the Patsy's drier dough. The mystery continues...

Re: Starter vs. Biga, vs Poolish: Ok, I see how you are using the terms. I use the term starter for any natural (sourdough) yeast mixture. Anything other than commercial yeast is a starter to me.  Poolish is wetter, like a batter. Biga or Levain is drier, like a dough. But neither has salt or commercial yeast. Just flour, water, yeast. That's it.

I haven't tried a pizza without commerical yeast booster in a long time. But maybe now that I've got a lot of other things going right, I'm going to try it. I'm going to try the very little yeast method very soon, one with commerical yeast and one without. But I won't get to it this week.

Jeff



Offline bortz

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2005, 12:52:11 PM »
Another PF masterpiece.
Is that dried parsley or oregano sprinkled on top? ???

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2005, 12:56:24 PM »
It's an Italian seasoning mix from a local Italian market called Mazzaro's. Probably has a little bit of everything in it. I generally use it in my sauce and when my poor little basil plant can't keep up.
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Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2005, 07:32:10 AM »
Jeff,
Very interesting comments about Patsy's. Especially the hydration levels. I have never felt their raw dough so I cannot even venture a guess. Here's a data point though; a NYC friend of mine who bought their dough from the 34th & 3rd location claimed that the dough was really wet because he needed flour to keep it from sticking to the back of his hands as he attempted to toss it (about 1/2 hour after buying it).

I wonder if the flight to Atlanta dried out your dough sample? As you know there is no humidity on a plane. Or was it noticably drier upon purchase? I knew their crust was really light but I thought the heat from the coal oven dried the excess water. Their oven is supposedly kept hotter than the other joints as well with more frequent stokings throughout the day. Also, the guys on eGullet firmly believe that Patsy's uses a much higher hydration percentage relative to the other well known coal oven pizza joints in town and OO in the dough mix.

Will this madness ever end? Somebody must know the truth. It's like searching for a UFO - lots of people believe in them but nobody can accurately describe why to the level of specificity we need. It might be helpful to go at this in a slightly different way - through the process of elimination. If you can clarify some ingredient, dough management, and procedural things you may have noticed from previous visits, we could slowly but surely reverse engineer their dough. Let's write down what we know. General areas we would need input on are around:
- Use of High Gluten Flour
- Weight of Dough Ball
- Size of Pizza Served (I think it's 18")
- Guesstimate on either High, Medium, or Low Hydration Levels (Water vs Flour percentage)
- Use of Fresh or Dry Yeast, Salt, Sugar, and OO
- Use of Starter With or Without Booster Yeast
- Room Temperature or Refrigerator Rise (I remember seeing plastic tubs of dough balls in the prep area)
- Guesstimate of Total Rise Time (same day or overnight)
- Cooked or Fresh Sauce
- Brand Names of Ingredients
- Anything else?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote "When you eliminate the impossible, and all that's left is the improbable, therein lies your answer."
« Last Edit: March 14, 2005, 09:33:50 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline varasano

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2005, 10:09:52 AM »
The 33rd street location might as well be pizza hut. They sold the name to a corporate chain and the pizza stinks.  You have to go to 117th and 1st Ave. That's the only Patsy's I'm talking about. The two places are not even remotely related.

Offline varasano

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Patsy's investigation
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2005, 10:27:17 AM »
I saw 50lb bags of flour that said "Hi Gluten" but they looked like some no-name brand. I couldn't see.  But there was no King Arthur logo, that's for sure. I didn't see any other kinds of flour.

The waiter said they add yeast to the dough. He said it's just flour, water, yeast, salt. He didn't mention a starter or rolling in an old dough.  However the fact that the dough cultures more or less proves that there is a starter in there.

I felt the dough the minute I got it. It's not a wet dough.  And the days I bought the dough were some of the best pizza's they've served me. The dough 'sits high'. It's not a dough that flattens out like pizzanapoletana suggests on his doughs. This is another sign of a drier dough. One dough was in my fridge fro 4 days and still sat high, smelled wonderful and stretched beautifully. The doughs were sealed in plastic for the plane because I wanted to maintain the hydration level.

I saw a case of tomatoes that said "Sassone" but I looked on the net and could not find any tomatoes nor restaurant supply with that name.  I'm not a huge fan of the Patsy's sauce, so I never paid as much attention to it. I want to make Johnny's sauce.

I'm 90% sure I saw them pull a dough out of a proofer which is like 50F.

The dough stetches very, very quickly. Watch the pizza guy and you'll see it pulls out in just 2 or 3 turns.

That's pretty much all I know. I couldn't resist and I've got a "very little yeast" dough rising right now. 3% culture, just a pinch of baker's yeast.

Jeff



Offline pftaylor

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Re: Friday Night Pizza Pictures
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2005, 10:31:02 AM »
Jeff,
I understand your position. I am well versed on the differences between the original location and the mini-chain ones. I have been to the original many times and only stop in at the others when I am time constrained which seems to happen often in NYC.

However, I have had a better than average experience there. Have you eaten there lately? While not anywhere near as good as the original, it wasn't a bad pie. It wasn't a coal-fired pie either. That location is the only Patsy's that doesn't use a coal oven. They were forced to remove it and put in gas. Other than Nick's and Di Fara's it was the best gas oven pie I've ever eaten.

The buyer of the Patsy's name has a rich history of pizza making as part of their family. They are not a big corporate chain who are in it for just the money. The Angelis/Tsoulos clan back in '95 licensed the Patsy's name for the location at 34th & 3rd. Since then they have opened up five more with somewhat varying quality levels. The Angelis family are the owners of Nicks in Forest Hills - which make killer pies for a gas oven. The Tsoulos family is headed by the brother-in-law of Nick Angelis.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2005, 11:06:16 AM by pftaylor »
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