Author Topic: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas  (Read 56671 times)

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Offline briterian

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Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« on: November 28, 2010, 10:57:28 AM »
My wife just came back from a OSU/Michigan football last night (go bucks) with a few slices of left over Tommy's.  She did this last year and it always  renews my interest in trying to duplicate.  The crust is very crunch, crispy and light.  I was wondering if anyone has any tips on the forum on a recipe that might try to replicate.  This pizzeria has 4 locations and has been around since 1952.  Check out these two photos.  The bottom of the crust is very unique.  Thanks,,


Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2010, 02:22:39 AM »
Update (10/1/13): I made a lot of breakthroughs with this style of pizza during the summer of 2013 (nearly three years after writing this post). My documentation of these breakthroughs begins at Reply #285 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12446.msg273582.html#msg273582). Then, at Reply #332 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12446.msg281349.html#msg281349), I provide a very thorough, step-by-step set of instructions that should help you make a near-clone of Tommyís pizza.

Just realize that the body of information is always changing and evolving. Someday Iíll probably make even more breakthroughs (or someone else will), which will make these recent breakthroughs a little less important than they are right now. But right now I feel like this new information represents a very solid foundation for anyone who would like to clone Tommyís pizza. So follow the above links and have fun making some Tommyís pizza in your own kitchen.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Every once in a while I take a stab at replicating Tommy's, but so far I've never come close. However, I think I'm slowly heading in the right direction after messing around with a cracker-crust dough I made a couple days ago. The dough itself isn't even close to producing a Tommy's-esque crust. This dough is giving me a relatively crunchy crust, when I'm looking for crispy and slightly bready/chewy/flaky. Nonetheless, I tried something new tonight, with the same dough, that I think brought me a step closer to figuring out Tommy's crust. Tonight I par-baked the skin for 4 minutes on a perforated aluminum pan at 500 degrees on the bottom rack of an electric oven. This gave me some big bubbles that are very characteristic of Tommy's, but I think it would have come out better with a 5-minute par-bake.

The pizza I made tonight was 12 inches, and the dough weighed 10 oz. I think thatís pretty close to what youíd get at Tommyís; maybe a little thinner than their stuff.

The dough formula I used was similar to one of the cracker-crust formulas on this site:

16 oz. All Trumps flour
6.5 oz. Water
1 tsp Salt
1-1/4 tsp ADY
1 TBS Canola oil
Pinch of Sugar

(I didnít express it in bakerís percents because I think thatís pretty useless when youíre working with only a pound of flour.)

Like I said, I already know this dough formula is not even close to what Iím shooting for. On my next attempt, Iíll use 7 oz. water and maybe 2 tsp yeast. I probably need to add a lot of sugar, too, even though I hate putting sugar in my dough. Obviously, with all the blistery bubbles on the bottom of Tommyís pizzas, the dough should ferment for a long time. (Man, so many different variables to figure out on this one.)

Iím using Grande mozzarella and well-drained San Marzano tomatoes right now because those are my normal ingredients, but I most certainly would not use either of these things if I was selling a pizza like this. It would just be a waste of good, expensive ingredients on a pizza that doesnít really require them. Besides, I know Tommyís doesnít use those ingredients.

This one is pretty tough for me to figure out because Iím much more proficient with pizzas made from softer dough, hand-stretched and baked on stone. And while I know Tommyís used deck ovens once upon a time, Iím pretty sure they use conveyors now. (Ick!)

I might have to make a trip over to Tommyís sometime soon to re-familiarize myself with their pizza. Even though I think most pizza in Columbus sucks, Iíd love to get behind the scenes at Tommyís for a day or two. Maybe Iíll go apply for a job there.

Iíll keep working on this in the coming days, and Iíll let you know if I get any closer. If I do, Iíll start taking pictures to upload. (Donít count on it, though.) If you have any ideas, please share.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 08:30:06 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2010, 10:21:14 AM »
(I didnít express it in bakerís percents because I think thatís pretty useless when youíre working with only a pound of flour.)

AimlessRyan,

It certainly isn't obligatory for one to convert recipes to baker's percent format but it does help others to make larger or smaller size pizzas and to otherwise scale the recipe up or down, whether done longhand with pencil and paper and calculator or using either the Lehmann dough calculating tool or the expanded dough calculating tool (http://www.pizzamaking.com/dough_tools.html). Also, some people don't know how to convert recipes to baker's percent format or may be too bashful to ask. Since I don't know how anyone will use any recipe I post, whether it is mine or someone else's, I try as much as possible to post the baker's percents for the recipes.

Peter

Offline briterian

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2010, 10:37:28 AM »
Thanks Aimless Ryan.  Let me know if you have any photos to share.  Pete - any ideas on the 'almost' croissant style of crust from Tommy's?   I feel like the recipe needs more oil added to it.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2010, 10:42:25 AM »
Pete - any ideas on the 'almost' croissant style of crust from Tommy's?   I feel like the recipe needs more oil added to it.

Brian,

I have not had any experience with the Tommy's crust. Sorry.

peter

Offline briterian

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2010, 10:54:47 AM »
Thanks Pete. Let me if there are any 'comes close' recipes from the huge assortment of recipes in the cracker crust section.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2010, 12:11:02 PM »
Thanks Aimless Ryan.  Let me know if you have any photos to share.  Pete - any ideas on the 'almost' croissant style of crust from Tommy's?   I feel like the recipe needs more oil added to it.

I think you may be right about the oil; maybe I'll double the oil with my next batch. Also, I suspect a bread flour might be more appropriate than the high-gluten flour I'm using. And I'm betting Tommy's gives it some good proofing time on the pan, too, which I didn't do. (Maybe even a day or two in the cooler after sheeting. What do you think?)

I know it's not wise to make so many changes from one batch to the next, but like I said, the dough I made isn't even close.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2010, 12:39:09 PM »
According to their web site, they stil use "old world brick ovens." Even though I said I thought they'd switched to conveyors, I was thinking I might be wrong. Seems like I remember seeing both a conveyor and a deck oven in the front of the UA store last time I was there (a year or two ago). If that is what I saw, I didn't pay attention to what was going in and out of them.

Having read that, I'm going to put a stone back in the oven now. Which brings up a new question for me: Should I bake directly on the stone or should I keep using the perforated pan? We'll see. I'm gonna go make some dough now.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2010, 10:37:43 PM »
I tried again today with some changes to the dough formula as well as some slightly different prep procedures. I’m happy to say I got some good results and learned some new things, but I’m still a long way from replicating Tommy’s. Here’s the formula I used today:

Flour (100%):    453.56 g  |  16 oz  | 1 lbs
Water (43.75%):    198.43 g  |  7 oz  | 0.44 lbs
ADY (1.67%):    7.57 g | 0.27 oz | 0.02 lbs | 2 tsp  | 0.67 tbsp
Salt (1.23%):    5.58 g | 0.2 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1 tsp  | 0.33 tbsp
Oil (5.95%):    26.99 g | 0.95 oz | 0.06 lbs | 6 tsp | 2 tbsp
Sugar (.1%):    0.45 g | 0.02 oz | 0 lbs | 0.11 tsp | 0.04 tbsp
Total (152.7%):   692.59 g | 24.43 oz | 1.53 lbs | TF = N/A.

I made changes in the amount of water, yeast, and oil. Water was 6.5 oz; now it’s 7 oz. Yeast was 1.25 tsp; now it’s 2 tsp. Oil was 1 TBS; now it’s 2 TBS. Everything else is the same as before. (Flour is still All Trumps high gluten.)

After mixing the dough into a pretty cohesive mass, I covered the mixing bowl and put the bowl in the oven on “dough proof” mode (100 degrees). After proofing for two hours, I removed the bowl from the oven, placed the dough onto my work surface, and scaled it into six dough balls of just over 4 oz each. I rounded each dough ball as well as I could and set them on the counter with the seam side down. After letting the dough balls rest for several minutes, I placed two of them on a cutter pan, covered them, then placed them back in the oven to proof for a little longer. I put the remaining dough balls in a zip-lock bag and moved them to the fridge to retard.

After less than an hour, I removed the two dough balls from the oven and set the oven to bake at 500 degrees, with a stone on the bottom rack. (I originally planned to let the dough balls proof for a lot longer, but I was really hungry and curious.) After coating each of the two dough balls with flour, I used my fingertips to flatten each dough ball to about six inches in diameter. With another coating of flour on each piece of dough, I placed one atop the other and used a rolling pin to roll them together into one dough skin. The skin was just over 10 inches in diameter.

I used a fork to dock the dough, then I waited for the oven to heat up. Once the oven reached 500 degrees, I gave it a little more time for the stone to heat, then I peeled the dough skin directly onto the stone, where I let it par-bake for 4 minutes. After removing the par-baked skin, I topped it with sauce and cheese, then peeled it back onto the stone, where I left it alone until the cheese had melted sufficiently.

OK, now what I learned from this pizza…

After the par-bake, I really thought this pizza was gonna end up merely edible, but it actually turned out pretty good. Definitely too crunchy, but it wasn’t bad, and it was a step closer to Tommy’s.

Here’s why: Mostly because I used the lamination technique with two dough balls. This lamination technique gave me the two layers of crust that is so characteristic of Tommy’s; it gave me a crispy/crunchy bottom layer with bubbles separating it from the softer, chewier top level of crust. And there are at least two reasons why I would suggest doing it this way instead of the roll-fold-roll-fold-roll technique that seems to be pretty common among users on these boards. First of all, I doubt that the roll/fold technique creates the same texture. Second, the roll/fold technique simply requires too much work; it’s an inefficient method for a pizzeria that’s trying to crank out one pizza after another. Even in a pizzeria with a fully functional sheeter, it’s just too much work. That tells me pretty clearly that Tommy’s doesn’t do it that way. And if they don’t do it that way, I’m not going to do it that way, because I think it’s pretty counterproductive to attempt to replicate anyone’s pizza by using procedures you know they don’t use.

Also, I doubt that Tommy’s (or any other successful pizza chain) par-bakes their crust. Aside from the extra work required to par-bake, you end up with a lumpy, mountainous par-baked skin, which is really difficult to top and creates even more unnecessary work. If they did it this way, they almost certainly would have gone out of business decades ago.

So I learned two very important steps in replicating Tommy’s pizza today:
1)   DO use a laminated dough procedure, and
2)   DON’T par-bake the skins.

So what am I gonna do next? Well, I’ve had two dough balls on the counter (covered) for the last few hours. Soon I’m going to knock them down and roll them out the same way I did earlier today. Then I’ll dock the dough and trim it, if necessary, and find a way to keep it in the fridge all night without drying it out. (EDIT: ACTUALLY I’M NOT GOING TO DOCK THE DOUGH. I DON’T THINK TOMMY’S DOCKS THEIR DOUGH, SO I’M NOT GOING TO DO IT, EITHER.) Tomorrow I’ll get it out at least half an hour before I intend to use it, probably late in the afternoon, then do pretty much what I did today, but without the par-bake. I’m very curious to find out what kind of differences I’ll see with another day of fermentation. Blisters on the bottom, perhaps? Hope so.

I hope this has all made sense and I also hope I‘m not full of it.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2010, 12:32:27 PM by AimlessRyan »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2010, 10:55:48 PM »
AimlessRyan,

You did a nice job with your write-up. I, too, did some experimenting with the layered/lamination approach for a cracker-style pizza. I decribed my results at Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5173.msg43961.html#msg43961.

Peter


Offline Papageorgio

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2010, 10:33:15 AM »
When you mention a "croissant style" the first thought that came to mind was adding some Crisco to the mix.

If it doesn't work then you have found one more way how NOT to make the dough. (Thomas Edison's method of invention.)

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2010, 12:59:01 PM »
Thanks Pete-zza. I know you're loving the fact that I used the dough calculator to express the formula in baker's percents this time, unlike my first post (even though both of these formulas are pretty useless so far). I'm gonna check out your link now.

Papageorgio: When you say Crisco, do you specifically mean solid shortening, or do you just mean oil in general?

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2010, 01:33:37 PM »
I, too, did some experimenting with the layered/lamination approach for a cracker-style pizza. I decribed my results at Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5173.msg43961.html#msg43961.

That's cool, Pete. (Can I call you Pete?) I just read your first two posts on that thread, and I can see very clearly why you linked to it here. Basically all the things I said I'm planning to do are what ended up working really well for you (two skins rolled together, with flour between them; no par-bake; baking directly on stone from start to finish; lotsa fat). The only real difference I can think of is that yours was a lot thinner than what I'm shooting for. (But that's good because I'll try it that way soon.)

I'm gonna go read the follow-up responses now. Thanks.

Offline PizzaHog

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2010, 03:08:29 PM »
Well, I've never eaten a cracker crust pie nor a Tommy's but love the idea of a flaky crust so figured that's reason enought to try something different.
My thought was to try a cracker crust, but thicker, and see what happened.  The pie did not work out quite that way due to the difficulty I had in rolling out the dough with a crappy rolling pin and then getting it rectangular after the folding/re-rolling.  When I finally got it in the pan there was so much "waste" to trim off the pie ended up back to a thin crust!
I tried this formula, doc'd the dough with fork, used oil in the dough and to lube the pan, no parbake, did roll and fold twice, about 20hrs at room temp ferment (high 60's this time of year).
Flour (100%)   
Water (38%)    
IDY (1%)    
Salt (1.75%)    
Oil (3.5%)    
Sugar (1.2%)    
Edges were crunchy, bottom less so-more crispy, but not flaky.  Before I attempt this again I definately need a new rolling pin and a round pan.   

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2010, 04:14:44 PM »
OK, so I just finished another pizza. Made it with the dough that I rolled last night and refrigerated overnight, and I'm definitely getting closer to Tommy's with each pizza I make. This one was really good, but I still have a long way to go. I got a blistery bottom this time, though it was far from the pic in the original post, and I ended up with a much crispier crust, too (not so crunchy this time). Here are some things I can tell you for sure now about replicating Tommyís pizza.

DO NOT par-bake.
DO NOT dock the dough.
DO NOT use a pan. (You might be able to make it work with a pan, but I'm getting real good results peeling directly onto the stone.) (Edit: Changed my mind here. After thinking about it a little more, I'm almost sure Tommy's does use some kind of pan.)
DO NOT roll and fold. (This might get you a nice crust, but it probably won't be a Tommy's crust.)

DO use two dough balls that are each a little more than half the weight of your desired dough skin (for each pizza).
DO flatten each dough ball with your hands, then coat them with flour before rolling them together with a rolling pin.
DO roll the dough at least 16 hours before you intend to use it if youíre going to refrigerate it. Two days is probably better. (This is what gives Tommy's the blisters on the bottom. If youíre not going to refrigerate it, Iíd say roll it out at least a few hours before you intend to use it. Iím gonna do that right now for tonightís dinner.) (Edit: This seemed to make sense when I wrote it, but Iíve since realized this leads to inconsistent results.)

I took a few pictures of this pizza, and I'll try to get them up here soon. I probably have a few other things to say about the latest pizza, but I want to get working on tomorrowís dough ASAP. Iím going to use King Arthur all-purpose this time with everything else pretty much the same.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 12:01:23 PM by AimlessRyan »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2010, 04:25:29 PM »
Thanks Pete-zza. I know you're loving the fact that I used the dough calculator to express the formula in baker's percents this time, unlike my first post (even though both of these formulas are pretty useless so far).

Ryan,

I have to admit I did like the fact that you used the dough calculating tool this time  ;D. In fact, it wasn't until I saw your dough formulation with baker's percents that I was reminded of the Lehmann cracker style dough formulation that I directed you to and could see some of the similarities to what you did. Otherwise, I might have missed the connection.

One of the things I learned about cracker style doughs is that once you get into the 45-50% hydration range, it gets harder to achieve a really crispy crust. I think you really have to use something like a lamination approach. Otherwise, you may end up with a tender style cracker crust rather than a crispy one, or one that has both attributes. All forms are acceptable but I personally prefer a crispy crust.

You might find it interesting is that I used a similar lamination technique to make a Chicago deep-dish pizza where I was trying to get a flaky crust. I actually used the lamination method twice, one as described in Reply 12 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1585.msg14590.html#msg14590, and another as described in Reply 22 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1585.msg14755.html#msg14755.

It's fine to call me Pete if you'd like.

Peter

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2010, 04:33:24 PM »
DO roll the dough at least 16 hours before you intend to use it if youíre going to refrigerate it. Two days is probably better. (This is what gives Tommy's the blisters on the bottom.

Ryan,

You can see how I handled a cracker style skin for refrigeration at Reply 16 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5762.msg49138.html#msg49138. Also, if you ever have a problem rolling out a cracker style dough, especially one with low hydration, Reply 16 offers a nice solution.

Peter

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2010, 05:59:22 PM »
I've tried to post some pics a few times already. Having no luck yet.

Hocus Pocus!!!

(EDIT: Yay!!!)

These pics are all from the pizza I made this afternoon. The first one is from right after the pizza came out of the oven. It looks a little underbaked in the pic, but it was fine. However, another minute in the oven wouldn't have hurt it. I was so worried about getting the camera ready to go that my pizza sensibilities got all wacked for a moment. This is only the second time I've ever photographed a pizza I've made. (And no, I didn't bake this pizza on the screen. It's just there to keep steam from condensing on the bottom of the pizza.)

Second pic is a little out of focus, but I was trying to get a good bubble profile. I took another pic of a different bubble that would have been great if it was in focus, but it was horribly out of focus. Anyone familiar with Tommy's should be able to tell from this pic that I'm getting more of a gritty texture than Tommy's (on the bottom layer of crust). That might be the part that will give me the most trouble as I continue trying to replicate Tommy's. It's also why I'm using King Arthur all-purpose flour for the next batch, instead of All Trumps high gluten.

In the third pic, you should be able to see the tiny blisters on the bottom of the crust. It's doesn't even compare to the blisters/bubbles on the real Tommy's pics in this thread's original post, but the same dough gave me no blisters yesterday. So I'm learning. And, of course, I cut the pizza into rectangles, which is how just about every independent pizza joint in central Ohio does it. (Some, including Tommy's and Donatos are narrow rectangles, like in the pic, while others, like Joseppi's, are closer to square.) EDIT: Actually I think Tommy's is more of a square cut. It's been a while.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2010, 07:12:13 PM by AimlessRyan »

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2010, 08:35:11 PM »
I use a bamboo skewer to pop those bubbles in the middle of the pie, it lays them right down.  I only get them in the kitchen oven, not the WFO, I wonder why?

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Tommy's Pizza (Columbus OH) - Any recipe ideas
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2010, 10:08:24 PM »
Tonight's Lesson

I made another pizza tonight with yesterday's dough. Rolled a 2-ply, 10" skin at about 5:00 and let it proof at room temperature for 4 hours in a zip-lock bag. At 9:00, I sauced and cheesed it on a wooden peel, then slid it onto the stone at 500 degrees.

What I learned: This doesn't work. The two skins essentially merged into one. There were a few bubbles, but this just wasn't a step in the right direction. It wasn't even worth photographing.

I was heading in the right direction with the pizza I made earlier today. Rolling the dough and then retarding it for a long time seems to be one of the keys in replicating Tommy's. So tonight I'm going to divide this new batch of dough, then roll it and refrigerate it. I suspect tomorrow's pizza will resemble Tommy's a good bit, and the following day's pizza (using dough from the same batch) will be even closer.


 

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