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.