When I first started to play around with the commercial Lehmann NY style dough formulation to adapt it to home oven use, in September, 2004, I had had a few NY slices in NYC but hadn't paid attention to how thick the crust thicknesses were. So, I did not really know what thickness factor most closely represented the NY style. You will also note that the original Lehmann NY style dough formulation, which now appears at http://www.pmq.com/tt2/recipe/view/id_151/title_New-York-Style-Pizza/,
does not recommend any dough ball weights or thickness factors. That is the way that Tom Lehmann pretty much does it for all of the dough formulations he posts. He almost never volunteers dough ball weights or thickness factors, even though he is arguably the "father" of the use of thickness factors. I believe he leaves it to pizza operators to decide what size pizzas to make and what crust thicknesses to choose. In my case, I simply decided to use a thickness factor of about 0.10. My recollection is that that value was based on an article that Tom Lehmann or Big Dave Ostrander wrote in which a "thin" crust was assigned a thickness factor of about 0.10. I have tried many other values since that time but, for some reason, I still like using a thickness factor of about 0.10.
Several years after I started experimenting with the Lehmann recipe, I decided to send Tom Lehmann an email to have him recommend a dough ball weight for a 14" or 16" pizza based on his NY style recipe. I did not consider Tom to be an expert in NY style pizzas, since he does not have strong connections with the metro NY area either as a citizen or working professional, but I thought it might be useful to close the circle on his recipe with the dough ball weights. He replied with a suggestion that I use 13.5 ounces of dough for a 14" pizza and 17.75 ounces of dough for a 16" size. Those numbers translate into a thickness factor of 0.0870 for the 14" size and 0.08829 for the 16" size. The Lehmann recipe is for a NY "street" or "slice" style, so presumably those thickness factors are for that particular style.
Along the way, I also got some inputs from Evelyne Slomon--the author of the pizza cookbook The Pizza Book
and a long time friend of most of the old time NY pizza masters--on typical dough ball weights and corresponding pizza sizes used at famous pizzerias like Totonno's, Lombardi's and John's. She made a point to remind me that they did not use weights in making their pizzas. Everything was done by volume measurements, just as she does with her cookbook (published in 1984). But from the data she provided, I calculated a thickness factor of 0.085-0.091 for Totonno's, 0.075-0.0796 for Lombardi's, and 0.0589-0.0629 for John's. I wouldn't place great reliance on these numbers, since they are based on Evelyne's recollections, but the values give you an idea of the range of typical values that might apply to the thinner, "elite" NY style. I might also add that when I ate at a Grimaldi's Arizona pizzeria, I learned from one of the managers that an 18" pizza (also an elite style) was made using a 14-ounce dough ball. That translates to a thickness factor of 0.055.
I think it is hard to say without doing a survey what thickness factor best represents the NY style. So, my best advice is for people to try out different values to see what works best. Even then, there can be variations based on whether one opens up a dough ball to have a large rim or a small riim, or the skin is not exactly the desired size, or one does not use a bowl residue compensation factor and ends up with a slightly smaller dough ball, and so on. I have also learned that even the experts, like Peter Reinhart, define their own NY styles. For example, for Peter Reinhart's NY style dough formulation that appears in his book American Pie
, I calculated a thickness factor of 0.117-0.119. That is for a NY "street" or "slice" style. Even I think that is much too high for a NY style.
EDIT (3/22/13): For the updated link to the PMQ recipe, see http://www.pmq.com/Recipe-Bank/index.php/name/New-York-Style-Pizza/record/57724/