Author Topic: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF  (Read 142427 times)

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Offline giotto

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #120 on: June 10, 2005, 09:07:31 PM »
First and foremost, I totally disagree about what CAN'T be done.  I have thoroughly enjoyed moving forward in this forum, despite what many excellent professionals have told me personally about making pizza at home, especially NY style where pro ovens are far beyond what we have at home.  I was told to stay away from high-gluten flour as well.  I remained steadfast, of course, as did so many at this site, and listened to every secret from the PROs. I included the incredible research done here at this very forum.  In time, many of us experienced results that dominated past preferences, and I thank this forum for the results.

Just because something has been done a certain way for 100's of years does not mean that it CAN'T be done any other way, or that it can't be bettered.  In America, we simply can't help ourselves-- we were born to modify and push the button.  Are these words meant to negate information developed over 100's of years?  OF COURSE NOT-- we strive to develop the past with what we know today.  Impossible... no; but definitely probable.

Regarding delayed fermentation, where did Reinhart learn of it?  Did Reinhart not say that every restaurant he visited during his visits in Italy mixed American flour... could it be that the best of the best are experimenting as well?  Based on Reinhart's comments of Bianco's in Arizona (of all places), the best of the best is certainly experimenting. 

Do you remember, Pete-zza, what Chris Bianco shared with you?  He said "sometimes it just doesn't come out right!"  I remember this one comment well... I have one heck of a memory bank, and I was so impressed with the distance that you went in calling Chris Bianco up.  Do you also remember his comment that he "mixes" flours, including the use of Giusto's flour?  I do. 

Do you remember what Reinhart said was Bianco's secret?  Was it the oven?  Absolutely NOT.  Oh, I am so thankful for my photographic memory.  I don't have the book in front of me; but I know the secret-- it was within HIM!  And my best moment was when I heard Abatardi mention it as well.  YES... thank you Chris Bianco for passing on your propensity to experiment and your most important secret of all-- the power of one's passion and the result that develops from one's heart!  Oh and then there's Einstein... Imagination is the most important thing!  Ah, what did he know, right? I never confuse technique with wisdom, nor should anyone ever try to negate it with emotion.

Is it so bad that someone has found good fortune out of Neapolitan here in San Francisco at a reputable pizzeria like A16... and I'm not referring to just money?  Did not Reinhart say that at times he felt guilty knowing he could do it better?  How dare him... Yes, how dare him for being so daring... I thank him for his propensity to push the button.

As far as making excellent pizza in an oven, did I not say earlier that I made an exceptional pizza out of Caputo in my near 600F oven?  And I mean it was excellent.  Is it worth paying 5x more for a 50lb bag vs. other excellent flours I have enjoyed? Not sure; I'm not finished EXPERIMENTING.

I have no issue of working out a kink that shows an irregularity in a batch-- but to say NEVER, is to say GIVE UP, and the world would NOT be what it is today if we gave up so easily!

Regarding what Pete-zza suggested as far as how to exactly mix dough DOES not apply to A16, and shots should not be taken accordingly.  Regarding Pete-zza's research, I applaud him as always.  We have all made our way through many limitations in the past, and I will stick by that track record at this site.  The bar has been raised world-wide because of a similar propensity to share and exceed.  To say we don't listen... is just the opposite of the truth.  We listen, except when it comes to CAN'Ts based on only the past, opposed to experimentation with new methods and new learnings that are available today.  To say STOP, HALT, YOU"RE not doing it the one and only way I'm telling you is to merely hold back one's abilities-- there is NO one way, anywhere!  There are preferences in every place in the world, including Naples.

Christophe has an EXCELLENT pizza.  HOW can this be possible?  Afterall, he has DEVIATED from practice, much as many ITALIANS have in their very homes.  I still remember the experience that Tyler Florence had in Italy-- it was made in a square pan from home and I believe from Caputo.  Tyler said it was the best pizza he had ever had.  Living in NY, maybe he's never had great pizza before... now that's IMPOSSIBLE.  

I THANK YOU PFTAYLOR for your suggestions and I thank you as always, Pete-zza, for your research.  Please do not every hesitate in passing along your insights.  I am one that will never stop learning.  I will definitely look more closely at the details you have shared because I have made excellent pizza crust from Caputo that I described in detail earlier using the fermentation steps mapped out at the time.  If the problem was fermentation, I would have had problems with the Cornicione earlier as well.  I can easily summarize that experience according to Reinhart's statement "excellent crust does not get in the way... if it stands out, that may be a bad thing."  Well, let me tell you, when I did it right, it did not stand out-- it was one with the pizza, hard to describe as suggested by another (see I listen to what's really important) and it melted.  It was a Zen thing.

I was planning to show you the pictures from my wonderful experience at A16.  And I was also hoping to share with you some additional insights that were willfully given to me regarding their process and interactions of salt and other ingredients. 

As you suggest, Pete-zza, this session is about re-engineering A16's pizza, which is a version here in America of making Neapolitan pizza, and one that Abatardi and others have had a good fortune with and that I continue to look forward to.  One thing is for sure, I don't expect to point out a one-time weakness, only to hear one person try to blow it out of proportion, and lose perspective of the many fine work others have done! 

For NOW, I'll come back another time when I'm over this and we're ready to move FULL STEAM ahead.

Okay, I'm over it.  This is not from a brochure; but instead, it sat at my table.  Let me me begin with my appetizer.  These meatballs are NOT made from a few minutes in the oven.  They follow a process that takes 2 days to ensure full taste and it was all their, made from pork and other fine ingredients. 
(https://home.comcast.net/~keck-foundation1/meatballs.jpg)

They have a very unique stretching process.  I will cover this at another time.  But I can tell you that even when a person being trained deviated and stretched in the air, the result looked magnificient.  I was happy to witness the flexibility of the Caputo flour at this stage.  Although, on more than one occassion, I watched a dough get tossed out by the trainer.  But this usually occurred because toppings were seen as too heavy.

Here's one in the making, as it takes on the traditional color of the Italian flag:
(https://home.comcast.net/~keck-foundation1/create-marg.jpg)

Even with a wood fired oven, steps are taken to get that personal presentation. You may remember in American Pie that Reinhart mentioned a tendency to get that sudden spark of fire with a flick into the wood by one pizzeria.  That along with some levitation in the air was used.

And here's what sat before me, a bianco with some Arugula I requested:
(https://home.comcast.net/~keck-foundation1/neapolitan-pizza.jpg)

ONE of the more difficult things to accomplish is to develop a crispy crust that can be bent without breaking.  It's a matter of timing.  IF I were in NY, I would have eaten it bent, side to side as with the bottom piece here:
(https://home.comcast.net/~keck-foundation1/Neo-NY.jpg)

BUT since I wasn't in NY, I rolled it up and ate my last piece like this:
(https://home.comcast.net/~keck-foundation1/neo-eat.jpg)

In my last batch, I added less salt than usual because I tried to do my own calculation for more pizza doughs.  As we all know, salt impacts yeast during fermentation and slows it down as I was reminded today.  I'll tell you later how this pointed out a flaw in my process after I go back to using the amount of salt that I should have been using, and apply the process suggested accordingly.  The cornicione at A16 was excellent, despite nominal size.  And I look forward to constructively moving forward to re-create it as I've done successfully before at home with the Caputo flour, as have many others.


 
« Last Edit: June 11, 2005, 11:02:03 AM by giotto »


Offline friz78

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #121 on: June 10, 2005, 10:40:09 PM »
Giotto,
I loved your most recent post.  Your writing style and insight is exemplary in every way.  You are such a valuable asset to this A16 experiment, particularly because of your close proximity to A16 and your willingness to make regular visits there.  Your pictures are phenomenal and bring back fabulous memories of my one and only visit to A16 just a month or so ago.  Like you, I could care less if Christophe Hill's techniques duplicate exactly how it was done 100 years ago in Naples, or if he didn't train in the exact right location of Naples.  All that matters is that he is producing one of the finest pizza products, if not THE finest, in America today.  NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

I certainly hope you plan to share every juicy detail and every single tidbit possible from your latest visit to A16.  You are clearly one of the main drivers in making the A16 experiment go.  I look forward to helping and contributing as much and as often as I can.  In the meantime, more details from your latest visit are enthusiastically welcome.  Were you able to confirm, as I did, that they first "hydrate" the yeast in the mixing process?  Pieguy mentioned this earlier and I was told of the same technique by one of the pizzaiolo's at A16 the day I visited there.  I'm still curious as to how/why this has an impact on the dough.
Friz
« Last Edit: June 10, 2005, 10:44:28 PM by friz78 »

Offline friz78

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #122 on: June 10, 2005, 10:56:06 PM »
Giotto,
Those meatballs look awesome as well!!  I would love any more information you have on how they do their meatballs at A16.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #123 on: June 10, 2005, 11:09:11 PM »
giotto,

Like you, I'm reasonably confident that in due course we will find ways to improve our Neapolitan pizzas using the Caputo 00 pizzeria flour in a home setting. What I am most interested in seeing us achieve is a dough formulation and procedure that will produce high quality pizzas on a consistent basis.  Not a good one on one day, and a lousy one on another. How to do this is the challenge.

Having researched the Caputo 00 pizzeria flour and having experimented with it, as well as with other 00 flours, I think I have a pretty good understanding of what the Caputo 00 can can do and what it can't do. For example, I know that the Caputo 00 flour, and other 00 flours as well, can be used to make a room-temperature fermented dough over the course of say, an 8-12 hour period, and yield a good end product. This is the classic approach and it is well proven. I also know that a Caputo dough can be leavened with a preferment as well as with commercial yeast, or even a combination of both.  You were away, giotto, when I did a lot of experimenting with the use of different preferments and the Caputo flour, but if you go to the Caputo 00/Caputo Biga thread where I reported on my many experiments, you will see some interesting facets of the Caputo flour and its many capabilities. I was especially impressed with the intensity of flavor that can be achieved from a Caputo dough leavened solely with a natural preferment and fermented/ripened for long time period (over 40 hours in some cases) entirely at room temperature. Were it not for Marco's contributions on this formulation and technique, I doubt that I would have found it on my own, and I am grateful to him for having shown me the way.

I also know that the a 00 dough can be retarded. I haven't had as much experience in this regard with a Caputo dough, but I have had a fair amount of experience with other retarded 00 doughs. When I last used this approach, it was because I had to make several dough balls to make several pizzas, and retardation was a convenient way of organizing and orchestrating things from a dough management standpoint. This is what prompted my question about why A16 does it. I'd like also to know more about what happens in a Caputo dough during retardation in order to identify potential problems and, armed with that knowledge, look for potential solutions. I know that the color of a crust shouldn't be all that important, particularly when everything else is in good order, but I'd like to look for ways to solve that "problem" also. I'd also like to find ways to make a more tender crust and crumb--a problem that seems to plague many of our members, who bemoan the cracker-like crusts that sometimes emerge from their ovens.

I tend to be conservative in nature with modest expectations and I know that there are not a lot of silver bullets in life, and that includes pizza. Yet I saw pftaylor make great strides with his breakthrough Raquel dough--breakthrough because it was done in the home with standard equipment, not the highly specialized, high-cost commercial equipment used by professional pizza operators. And I thought that a Lehmann NY style dough I made using a natural preferment, an autolyse, and a long room-temperature fermentation produced one of the better NY style pizzas I have ever made--maybe because I had doubts that it could even be done. So, this leads me to believe that we will collectively find a way to unlock some of the mysteries of the Caputo flour/dough and produce high quality pizzas that can be reproduced reliably and consistently by our members in their home ovens. I think we have the basic framework. We may never achieve the distinction of a true Neapolitan pizza as emerges from a high-temperature wood-fired oven, but I think we will be pleased with our results nonetheless.

Peter

Offline giotto

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #124 on: June 11, 2005, 02:00:39 AM »
I'm very happy to see the conviction to move forward.  Like I said before, you guys are great, and I feel fortunate to part of a group that shares your desire to take on this endeavor.

First Pete-zza, let me say that I'm truly amazed at how often you have called 00 flour "retarded". That's just mean, mean, mean.. just kidding.  On the serious side, I am the kind of guy who researches as well.  While I happened to find A16 as a very interesting point of re-entry in hopes that I could help at the time, I was tracking many many parts of this site over time regarding Neapolitan before re-entering with comments regarding A16.  I can also say that A16 can do it right consistently, and that is why they are in business.  As I mentioned above, even Chris Bianco mentioned to you that he had his days when he was unable to get his results.  And while you and I both experimented a great deal with NY style, I'll tell you right now, we don't do it exactly the same, including the baseline.  But we have learned from all the information how to meet our taste buds.

Without a doubt, we all want more consistency and we will get there.  But please keep in mind that I am a perfectionist.  I will say something isn't right, and nobody, and I mean nobody else seems to catch it.  I believe this applies to so many in this session (and this site as a whole) who become the author of what they eat, especially to this level.  And when we experiment, as I did in this last batch, it makes it all the worst.  But that should not prevent or preclude ingenuity or genuine interest in deviating from the norm.  A16 has proven, as we have witnessed in the past, delayed fermentation at non-room temp definitely works.  And it ain't a once-in-a-while thing.  And when you read my notes below regarding my impression for their desire to meet the tastes of where they live, as well as their incredible passion to make their meatballs just so with another form of delay, I think you'll start to get them-- sort of like Chris Bianco says in American Pie that you can get him.

As usual, I very much look forward to all the permentations of tests, including room temp.  I think it's great that some try it one way, while others try it another.  This tends to increase our awareness.  But please do not dismiss the fact that I made some deviations, and I need to find out exactly which one caused the problem.  I added 1 tsp of sugar to 22 oz of flour.  I made multiple 13 oz doughs, while cutting back the salt significantly-- a big mistake in fermentation.  I also used active yeast, and I treated it quite differently than A16, as I learned this time around.  I have no problem admitting to my screw ups (for sake of a better word). But I will keep my options open.

Friz, I am so happy you ask about the yeast.  I have to admit, it was difficult for me to comprehend hydration of yeast in this environment.  It just seemed to me that this would be an extra step that could definitely cause some delays in productivity.  Cutting corners is what companies do best, sometimes, despite the end results.  But then, I still remember how I reacted the first time I learned that Bianco made his entire batch of dough by hand.  YES, A16 does indeed use hydration.  I'm fortunate that I checked again.  And now I can share a more granular set of steps with you:

1) The entire liter of water is warm (not hot).  Less than 100F. 

2) The yeast is added to the liter.  Hmmm... I have always separated mine, keeping the larger body of water cool while I bring a tablespoon or so of it to a higher temp.  Then I asked a really bad question... is sugar added FOR THE YEAST?  I think that was the first time that I ever received that particular look-- you know, the one that says "are you going to ask me if I throw in some whisky too... how dare you?".  So the answer on that one was emphatically NO.  BUT I was told that they allow it sit for about 15 minutes.  Your past notes are haunting me on this one.

3) So now I wondered about the salt.  Normally I add salt to the bulk of cool water to mix it thoroughly.  I mentioned that salt must be kept separate from the yeast.  So did they add it directly to the flour?  The smile was back.  I was wrong; but hey, I was back in business.  The reason they let the yeast go so long is to ensure that it shows this level of fermentation.  BUT with the warm water, they need to initiate a delay; but only after the yeast has illustrated its initial development.  SO they add the doggone salt to the water, after the yeast has showed that it is alive and well, to ensure that they get a thorough mix (can you see him tapping me on the head).  I had the desire to thoroughly mix it  partially right;  but my overall temp was much different, and now I understood their strong interest in salt.  

As to why do they delay their fermentation in the refrigerator?  I was so enthusiastic with the last pat on the head, I forgot to ask.  Hey, there's nothing like getting a 1/2 credit for the wrong solution.  Based on what I've seen, however, it can be this... Yeast activity is further delayed with colder temps; and even as good as Caputo is, you can see their propensity to keep the fermentation down to modify the taste even further.  You ask why... well, it isn't just the sugar that comes out of delayed fermentation-- it's the bacteria, the acids, the very stuff that helps derive a sour taste. This is San Francisco, and we love any bit of sour taste in dough that we can get, even if it's just a small taste (and hence why Christophe suggests 3 days is even better).  He knows his customers.  Oh, that's right, this is just a guess.  FURTHEMORE, it comes at a higher cost to make the dough wait several days; but as you'll see with the meatballs, these guys don't cut corners.  Is it likely to taste different than Italy.  Yep.  Do we care?  Nope.  Is it consistent?  Yep.  Do we still want to know all the secrets of how they do it in Italy?  Yep.  For now, though, I need to experiment with the tune that I get.

4) The whole thing is then added to the flour.  They start with only about 1 kilo (just over 2 lbs) of flour, and then move their way up by hand of course.

I think you know the rest concerning the dough... except the part where you gotta get some Hoaagarten beer on tap-- I'm sure they have other kinds of brewski (oopps, their goes my upbringing again) to follow suit to their Italian style, along with an incredible list of wines; but this beer has a suitable ending (that's better). 

Okay, here's an even more suitable ending.  You ask about the meatballs.  It's really cool.  Hmmm... Is anything sacred?  Not here, these guys must have been the drivers of open code (be prepared to be surprised again, Abatardi).  The least I can do though is bury this stuff here, so unless someone is willing to read to this level, they ain't going to get it.  I'm sure you are all aware of a triple bock beer by the monks.  Well, these babies follow a triple bock meatball process, with another delayed fermentation.  First, you take some pork and whatever grabs your interest... this week it happened to be lamb.  Add your dry ingredients (I'm going to focus on the process; but I'll mention parsley as a good addition, with basic seasonings).  Once you put them together, place them in the oven.  At our measly amounts, 15 minutes was suggested for 500F.  Next you steep them for (ready for this) 1 1/2 to 2 hours in tomato sauce (when you read my original notes, you'll know some good tomatoes to start with).  Then they go through a delayed process.  I don't think I'll get any arguments why a time delay requires the refrigerator on this one.  Yah wanna know why they delay it though?  If you've read this far, you're as sick as I am.  They literally want to get the entire taste through the meatballs.  Like it wasn't good enough to let it meander in the sauce.  This relates to Grandma's good ol' saying that "it's always better the next day."  Then they put it back in their fire pit to warm it up, and then (and only then) do I finally get to taste these delectable meatballs.  Man, and at lunch, you get it for just a few bucks.  They are going the distance beyond what a vast majority would go at home. 

Okay, I need to break the meatballs out so everyone can see it.  For now, I'll just put a reference to it above, and maybe some will read this last sentence.  These guys deserve so much attention.  I feel good though, because on the bus today, I convinced a noble woman who lived in the area to try A16 out.  This is a restaurant that really gives a hoot about every cranny.  They have a lot of heart and they go after perfection-- this I believe is the secret to really great food.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2005, 02:41:16 AM by giotto »

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #125 on: June 11, 2005, 04:29:25 AM »
Peter (Pete-zza)

In the other thread you have rightly pointed out the differences in falling numbers and what this indicates.

Now it is proven that enzymes, as well as yeast, work better and faster at room temperature. However with commercial yeast, this process happen too fast, and thus the enzymes do not have time to work on the damaged starch.

The principle of retardation is that with a large amount of yeast we introduce also more enzymes in the dough. At this stage, once in the fridge, whilst the yeast get slowed down a lot, the enzymes get slowed down slightly less (but they still get slowed down), however for the large quantity of enzymes as well, the maturation of the dough, happen faster then the fermentation.
The proper retardation needs of at least three fermentation room, the first at -10 celsius, the second at +2 and the third at 12-16, then finally the dough needs to be brought at room temperature at around 25 celsius.

Going back to the caputo flour, you have rightly pointed out that it has a low amylasse activity, thus it is not ideal for retardation purpose. On the other hand the retardation technique would be really beneficial for strong flour with high amylasse activity (low falling number).
Do not forget that high hydration also speed up the enzyme activity and salt on the other hand slow it down.

I would also like to point out to Giotto, that I agree with him that experimenting to find a better product is possible, but it doesn't make sense when the product has already reached the optimum.

Look at the difference between Ciro's cross section and A16 cross section. It is not hard to achieve a bready crust, it is hard to achieve a fluffy one.

Ciao

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #126 on: June 11, 2005, 10:58:12 AM »
giotto,

First, a housekeeping item. It was Marco Bianco, Chris' brother, who told me that even they have doughs that don't always turn out right, and they don't always know the reason.

I'd like to talk a bit about salt and sugar in the context of A16, although my comments have applicability in general.

Like you, my practice has been to keep salt away from yeast. The reason I did this was because I understood that salt, being hygroscopic in nature (it absorbs water), would suck liquids away from the yeast, through permeating the cells of the yeast (through osmosis), and render the yeast less effective in the fermentation process. By analogy, it would be like turning a grape into a raisin. A couple of our members, I believe it was Marco and DKM, pointed out to me that it was not improper to combine yeast and salt if the salt was first added to the water and dissolved in it (as by stirring), and, indeed, this was quite common in the making of pizza doughs at the professional level. By first dissolving the salt in water, the salt would get its fill of water or other cellular liquids and its impact on the yeast would then be negligible. When I did some further research on this matter, I saw that it was common even among pizzaioli in Naples to combine dissolved salt with yeast. I was further comforted to read materials produced by yeast producers such as SAF that the newer strains of yeast they now produce have greater tolerance to salt than earlier versions and that it was acceptable to mix disasolved salt and yeast so long as the time of physical contact was not excessive.

That said, I believe that salt plays a greater role in the context of doughs, such as a Caputo 00 dough, that are fermented for long periods at room temperature. A lot of things have to be just right, or otherwise the final dough will produce poor results. The amount (and type) of yeast has to be just right, the hydration level has to be just right, the temperature has to be just right, and the amount of salt and its management has to be just right. We all know that salt toughens the gluten in dough,which is desirable to get a good gluten structure that can effectively hold gasses, but it also has an effect on the protease enzymes in dough, which act, if unrestrained, to soften the gluten and, in the extreme, turn the dough into a gummy mess. If this analysis is correct, then this suggests that high levels of salt are needed to toughen the gluten while at the same time keeping the protease enzymatic activity in check, and slowing down the rate of fermentation. This becomes even more important when the dough is a high hydration dough, which speeds up the fermentation process, and the room temperatures are elevated, which also speeds up the fermentation process. To get a dough that can withstand long periods of room-temperature fermentation, beyond say, a 10-12 hour period that is fairly typical of a Caputo 00 dough, all of the abovementioned factors have to come together just so to get the desired end results. I believe these are the points that Marco has been trying to drum into our heads.

What is not entirely clear to me at the moment, however, is whether we need elevated salt levels for a fermentation delayed dough, such as used at A16 and also in many of our experiments at this forum. By introducing delayed fermentation, we have, so to speak, changed the rules of the game on the Caputo doughs, and maybe the rules on salt management can be also altered as a direct result. In other words, maybe we can look and treat salt just as we have done with other fermentation delayed doughs, with reduced salt levels. Maybe this is an area that can be further explored, either through further cross examination of Chef Christophe or our own experiments. 

Turning now to the matter of sugar. I don't think this is as great an issue from a fermentation standpoint with the Caputo 00 flour, in relation to other flours, because the Caputo 00 flour has low amylase enzyme activity and low levels of starch damage, which suggest that the extraction of sugar from the flour and its conversion to forms usable by the yeast takes place at a slow and measured pace. Again, this may be a factor that plays more directly into the scenario discussed above in relation to room temperature fermented doughs. In either case, however, there has to be enough residual sugar in the dough once the fermentation process has concluded to be able to promote better coloration at the crust level and to produce better crust and crumb texture, etc. It is this thinking and analysis that leads me to wonder whether it is worth increasing the amylase enzyme content of the Caputo 00 flour for a delayed fermentation application, either alone or in conjunction with other possible measures that might lead to better results. Clearly, A16 doesn't seem to think that such measures are necessary, but having a very high temperature wood-fired oven in itself avoids many of the issues we face in a home oven environment. To me, this is just another example where we have to innovate to overcome obstacles put into our path.

Peter

« Last Edit: June 11, 2005, 02:46:18 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline giotto

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #127 on: June 11, 2005, 12:26:46 PM »
While we certainly have our bready styles in America, including disasters that mimic road kill and cardboard boxes, it really is possible to attain other results right at home.  All in all, this site covers a myriad of styles.  No style is easy to do right.  With regard to this re-engineering project, my earlier comments attest to the "transparent" nature of this style of crust, with a relatively thin, slightly crispy, yet non-dry texture that "doesn't get in the way" (i.e., characteristics that are attributable to A16).  Optimum is an illusion when it comes to personal taste.

Time to move forward.  I tried less salt, Pete-zza, as mentioned earlier.  That batch didn't work for me.  I have also tried sugar, which did work fine in one batch.  The little bit of sugar that I used here, actually 3/4 tsp for 3 doughs, was used during initial yeast hydration, and was comparable to the 1/4 tsp per 13" dough used in the past.  I keep it's hydroscopic nature in mind for obvious reasons.  As far as malt, I'll look forward to seeing it lifted from paper and placed into a test.  Like I have said, it's great when different people try different tests to move this along, and it's worked in other applications. I look forward to your test.   

In the end, I can reach an excellent texture and taste without worrying about color.  The color is for presentation, which I need to put aside in my tests.  A grill or other firing alternative may be used to get those char spots if I want to head for even more of an authentic look.  For now, I need to stick to the strict timing that I used in the past, as well as the same amounts of salt.  For now, I'm signing off to get some light, and then I'll return to my focus on texture and will let you know how my test goes.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2005, 01:18:59 AM by giotto »

Offline giotto

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #128 on: June 11, 2005, 08:52:10 PM »
PFTaylor:

Let me just say that I've found patience to be more of a necessity than a virtue when it comes to Caputo vs. my high gluten.  But it pays off.

Here's a reprint of your first 6 Mandatory Stretching Steps:
 
1 - Place dough ball in flour bowl. Dust both sides well. Dust prep area with flour.
2 - Flatten ball into a thick pancake-like shape with palm of hand, ~ 2" thick. Keep well dusted.
3 - Press fingertips into center and working toward the rim until skin is 10 inches round. Keep well dusted.
4 - Place hands palm down inside rim and stretch outward while turning. Stretch to 12" round. ]
5 - Place skin over knuckles (1st time dough is lifted off bench) and stretch to 16"+/-
6 - Pat excess flour off skin. Place on floured peel and dress with favorite toppings.

#4 is what caught my eye, just as it caught my eye at A16. It was pull at one end with right hand, while holding down with left palm at other end, then turn.  I usually just skip this step. But in an effort to develop a better cornicione or outer edge in the pizza, I decided to put it back into the game plan.   

I took my last dough from the same batch that I've had trouble with in the past.  This time I exercised #4, and took a little more time with my palm in #1 to mimic A16, after leaving it out for 2 hours.  Other than stretching the pizza too thin, I got an amazing cornicione... a bit too amazing.  Incredible.  I ran it to the pool.

I also decided to turn the broiler on once my oven reached 550F (to the 2nd highest level).  And I followed a step that caught my eye with A16-- before taking the pizza out of the oven, I lifted the pizza up with my peel to the top broiler heating element for about 10 or so seconds.  This deepened the outer brown spots.  I could have obtained dark char spots if I wanted; but all too often, everyone yells "burnt." Well, at least they aren't saying "hold the prosicutto."

So now I just need a bulletin board that says "stop trying to make a 15" pizza."  I got carried away and made it way too thin for my liking.  One time around with the the pull/turn was all that was needed at this size. Sometimes people wonder why tradition gets deviated.  Well, in this case, I'm able to make only one pizza in my oven safely, and these little pies ain't gonna cut it for long.

I hope to run some temperature gauge tests with broiler between 4 to high.  For now, I agree that stretch is to be moved up on the totem pole in importance.  Thanks much for the suggestion.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2005, 08:57:17 PM by giotto »

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #129 on: June 12, 2005, 10:27:21 AM »
giotto,
While a robust stretching regimen cannot take a mediocre dough and turn it into a fabulous one, I have proven to myself that it can take a good dough and turn it into a great one. The stretching procedure one employes makes a huge difference.

I believe you are on the right track with your comments above. Next time at A16, pay particular attention to the entire skin stretching procedure they use and that alone will potentially fill in a big gap. Reverse engineering home pizza making efforts, in my experience, need to focus just as much on stretching as anything else. It is often overlooked for some reason. My humble results skyrocketed once I learned this important lesson.

Also, I realize the A16 dough does not use a biga, poolish, preferment, mother, chef or any other sort of natural starter but it seems to me that a good portion of the mixing procedure I have read about here seems to point in the direction that a good preferment could otherwise take it. The mixing steps you and Friz78 have detailed might be accomplished with a much simpler regimen where a preferment is added early in the process. With a lot less variability as well. The A16 mixing regimen is so precise that it leaves a huge chance for failure if it is not followed exactly. If the mixing process were to be simplified, as I think it can, we could increase the odds for a consistently great cloning result.

I would also be willing to bet that if you could buy a raw piece of dough from A16 and culture it over a couple of weeks, you could duplicate the flavor exactly. That is what fellow member Varasano has done with Patsy's Pizza. I can speak with authority about the Patsy's preferment as Varasano was gracious enough to provide me with a small sample. After eating the real thing while in NY, I can attest the flavor of my home effort is spot on. The crust is indistinguishable. Texture was improved for some reason as well. I don't profess to completely understand why it works, it just does.

I would be interested in what the head chef at A16 would have to say about incorporating the use of a preferment. In my opinion, while we may never achieve the exact look of an A16 pizza, due to the lack of a wood burning oven, we can duplicate the taste through this approach.

The intent of my suggestion is to not thwart all the progress that has been made to date but rather to express another perspective on how to achieve the goal of cloning an authentic A16 pie.

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 12, 2005, 10:31:51 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline JimBob

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #130 on: June 12, 2005, 10:28:26 AM »
Last night I made another neopolitan but my wife wanted me to load it up with NY style toppings.  I should have made it on a screen, it was so heavy that I had to push it off the peel onto the stone.  The other problem was the additional liquid generated by the extra toppings.  The crust did not hold up too well with the extra liquid and I could not leave it in the oven long enough to let the liquid evaporate before the crust was finished.
JimBob

Offline giotto

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #131 on: June 12, 2005, 06:07:16 PM »
JimBob:

How funny, I was just thinking along those lines as I was remembering a comment one of my Aunts made about her pizza experience while in Naples.  When I told her the style I was working on, she commented "oh that thin stuff... we didn't like it much." 

I've placed a great deal of thought into my Aunt's comment.  The other day I was at a small pizzeria with a great ambiance called "Gumba's".  They load it up on their Vegetarian and the big beautiful tomatoes on the pizza immediately caught my eye.  The original Italian owner is back, and I can only assume that he had an Italian mother who often echoed the same words as my Aunt used to say when I was a kid "Eat up... You need meat on those bones."  What amazes me about Gumba's is that their crust can hold up fairly well considering the fresh toppings.  This is a different style though; but one I enjoy at times.

Then I remembered those wonderful meatballs at A16, and I thought "hey, I can have my heavy toppings and Neapolitan pizza as well" and I can do it in the same fashion as any other multi-course meal, with increased flexibility.  So here I was today enjoying my meatballs, which had fennel and juices from a sauce incorporated into them.  First I had a couple by themselves-- excellent.  Then I had them mixed in with some pasta.  Well, let me just say, it was one of those experiences where something works by itself; but isn't quite right when mixed directly with something else I enjoy. 

My conclusion. Flexibility can develop into a good thing.  Neapolitan style in general is simplicity; but that does not prevent enjoyment of heavier raw, grilled or sauteed vegetables, as long as you separate them out and enjoy them as a pre-cursor to your pizza.  In some cases, you may enjoy them more.  The same standards apply to heavier sauteed meats.  Otherwise, I need to head for a different style crust-- unless of course I want to be heard next door.

PFTaylor:

I have A16's technique down to a final art as far as watching how they stretch the dough. Fortunately, when I read your notes, I decided it was worth the try since your steps were the same and #4 was my only deviation (as highlighted in my past response).  I've seen International champs toss dough beyond my wildest dreams, and they can make one kick butt looking pizza without following the very step that I was leaving out-- and the same has been true for me in the past.  The same also holds true when working with room temp vs. cooler dough.  I've seen many pros of mama-papa pizzerias work with dough while it's still cool, without any issue.  But they are setup for their procedures.  When it comes to this flour, I'm not taking any chances for now-- I'm working with room temp dough and the initial stretching will be done on the table as per above.

I'll check Christophe's reasoning behind not working with mother starters, etc.  I've found that once pizzerias have their procedures down, they can create the same result time and time again.  As for trying to work with an existing dough, it does not guarantee a consistent result due to so many other factors. Two different doughs will not make the taste of the first. And then there's hydration levels, humidity, temps, mixing procedures, additional amounts of flour required, etc.  Even with mother starters, I end up spending an incredible amount of time when working by hand, and I need to start adding amounts of flour that go beyond original measurements.  Since flour is my one constant that all other ingredients rely on, it does not always guarantee the same results.  In contrast, I am aware of it's advantages as well.

I would LOVE to see what kind of results I can get with dough made from A16; BUT without any deviation, other than to place it in my oven.  This is something that I recommend to anyone trying to test out a whole new procedure.  For me, I have found the oven to be a TOP consideration that is so often overlooked when making a crust.  Simply moving pizza around in the oven, testing different temps, times, screen vs. other holdings, etc., can make a world of difference. One thing is for sure, if you can't recreate someone's crust with their dough to a level that you are satisfied with in the oven, you'll never know if you have the right dough when making it yourself. 
« Last Edit: June 13, 2005, 12:29:52 AM by giotto »

Offline JimBob

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #132 on: June 12, 2005, 09:25:10 PM »

My conclusion. Flexibility can develop into a good thing.  Neapolitan style in general is simplicity; but that does not prevent enjoyment of heavier raw, grilled or sauteed vegetables, as long as you separate them out and enjoy them as a pre-cursor to your pizza.  In some cases, you may enjoy them more.  The same standards apply to heavier sauteed meats.  Otherwise, I need to head for a different style crust-- unless of course I want to be heard next door.


giotto,

We learned that simplicity is the key.  Today I made another one only this time I used some of the same toppings but very sparingly.  What a difference!  This time the flavor of the tomatoes and crust came through along with the other toppings.  It came off the peal with ease and cooked up fine.
JimBob

Offline friz78

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #133 on: June 12, 2005, 10:45:55 PM »
I was finally able to find some time to contribute to the A16 experiment today.  Waking up this morning, I immediately set out to make a batch of dough.  I used the most recent Giotto recipe in this thread that was modified by Pete-zza for a thickness factor of .093.  To clarify the exact recipe was as follows:

100%, Caputo 00 pizzeria flour, 7.62 oz. (a bit less than 1 3/4 c.)
57.3%, Water, 4.36 oz. (a bit more than 1/2 c.)
2.4%, Salt, 0.18 oz. (between 7/8 and 1 t.)
1.79%, Extra-virgin olive oil, 0.14 oz. (a bit less than 7/8 t.)
0.30%, IDY, 0.023 oz. (a bit more than 1/5 t., or about 9 pinches between the thumb and forefinger)
Total dough ball weight: 12.32 oz. (for a 13-inch pizza)
Thickness factor (TF) = 12.32/(3.14 x 6.5 x 6.5) = 0.093

I made five dough balls so I just multiplied the quantities for the above mentioned recipe by five.  My family wanted pizza this evening, so I decided to use three of the five dough balls with my first ever same day room temperature fermentation.  I let three dough balls sit at room temperature for 9 hours before baking.  I punched the dough down three times during the course of the 9 hour room temperature rise, being careful not to over knead or over handle the dough when I punched it down.  I had never used a same day rise, so I had no idea how it would turn out.

Here is a synopsis of the techniques I used and pictures of the finished product.

MIXING TECHNIQUE:

1.)   Hydrate/mix yeast, olive oil, salt and water for 15 minutes (Water temperature was slightly under 100 degrees).  I dissolved the salt in the water for about 1 minute, then added the yeast and then shortly thereafter added the olive oil.
2.)   Gradually add flour to water mixture in KitchenAid mixer.  The paddle attachment was used for this mixing.  The mixer was set on level 1 and mixing was halted immediately after the flour and water were barely mixed.
3.)   This produced a very wet and sticky dough that I removed from the mixer and transferred to a floured bench for hand kneading.
4.)   The dough was hand kneaded for approximately two minutes
5.)   After hand kneading, the finished dough ball was placed in a stainless steel bowl and covered with plastic wrap and secured with a rubber band around the rim.
6.)   Dough was left to rise for 9 hours before shaping

STRETCHING TECHNIQUE:

1.)   Dough was removed from bowl and transferred to well flour service
2.)   Dough was spread first with fingers to about 5 inches
3.)   Dough was gently “slapped” around the perimeter and in the middle to about 6 inches  (this was a technique that I watched a pizzaiolo use at A16 when I was there)
4.)   Middle of dough was held in place with left hand and, with right hand on the edge, pulled gently with the right hand.  Dough round was rotated and aforementioned process was repeated around entire edge of dough round.
5.)   Dough ball is now at about 11 inches
6.)   Briefly pick up dough round and hand toss for about 20 seconds.
7.)   Dough ball is now at 13 inches after brief hand toss. 
8.)   Gently transfer dough round from bench to peel.
9.)   Dress and place in oven

COOKING TECHNIQUE:

1.)   Dressed dough round was place on a pre-heated pizza stone.  The stone was preheated for one hour at 550 degrees
2.)   Pizza stone was located on the lowest rack in the oven
3.)   Pizza was cooked on pre-heated pizza stone for 4 minutes and 30 seconds


Summary:

It’s debatable what to attribute to the success of this pizza, but I’ve narrowed it down to two key factors:  The same day fermentation and/or the slightly shorter bake time.  Although my previous efforts with the A16 experiment were very good, they were a bit too crispy in texture with not enough chew.  In reading Giotto’s post on this matter, I realized that I had been too reliant on the judging the TOP of the pizza for doneness instead of the bottom.  Hence, I was getting good browning but too much crisp.  This time, I shortened my bake time by about 30 seconds and it made all the difference in the world.  Also, the top of the pizza was predictably not as browned as previous attempts earlier in this thread.  In the end, I am more than happy to give up the aesthetic browning appearance for the wonderful chew and soft crisp that this crust provided.  My wife declared this pizza the finest that I have made.  At the risk of falling prey to overstating results, I would agree with my wife.  This pizza was a home run in virtually every respect except for browning.

I would also like to add that, in reading various posts that declare Caputo flour more “temperamental” or a bit trickier to deal with than KASL, I must say that I have not found this to be the case at all.  In fact, I have yet to make a pizza with the Caputo flour that wasn’t a cinch to handle and didn’t taste great.  I certainly can’t say the same thing for some of my early attempts with NY style pizza using KASL.  Maybe it’s just me and I’ve been very fortunate.  But I would tell people who are reading this thread and considering experimenting with Caputo flour that you shouldn’t be intimidated or concerned about this flour, as it has been a pleasure for me to work with in every respect.

Last but not least, while tonight’s pizza was a great Neapolitan pie, I can’t say it resembled the unique taste and flavor of A16.  There is indeed something quite unique about A16 and I’m not sure how to attain that unique flavor.  Perhaps pftaylor is correct about a starter that originates with A16 dough could be the answer to attain their unique flavor.  We certainly know that there is nothing unique or magical about the ingredients that they use.  Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a great tasting Neapolitan pizza, the above recipe and technique outline is a great resource for anyone, in my opinion.
Friz 
« Last Edit: September 15, 2005, 09:34:57 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline giotto

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #134 on: June 12, 2005, 10:52:23 PM »
JimBob:

Most excellent.  Appreciate your experiences on the excruciating questions below. This feedback on texture really helps people on the web distinguish what's important to them, and the stats help distinguish variations for those of us experimenting.
 
Texture:

Attributes that stood out, good or bad:
* crispy vs. brittle?
* light vs. went down like a lead weight?
* chewy, soft or airy?
* straight as a board vs. some elasticity?
* lasting impressions when you reached the outer edge?


Oven: 

- temp? Did you employ broiler or a blower?
- time approx?
- screen, stone, etc?
- bottom vs. top of oven?
- final color?

Crust:

- weight of dough vs. crust size?
- water hydration (below or above 57%)?
- oil & salt % or amounts relative to flour?
- other ingredients (e.g., sugar)?
- delayed fermentation via refrigeration?


Many Thanks.


« Last Edit: June 12, 2005, 11:09:54 PM by giotto »

Offline friz78

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #135 on: June 12, 2005, 10:54:04 PM »
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Offline friz78

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #136 on: June 12, 2005, 10:58:00 PM »
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Offline friz78

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #137 on: June 12, 2005, 11:03:16 PM »
3

Offline friz78

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #138 on: June 12, 2005, 11:07:07 PM »
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF
« Reply #139 on: June 12, 2005, 11:55:31 PM »
Friz,

My recollection is that A16 uses ADY, which is usually rehydrated in warm water, and that it was pieguy who suggested IDY and also rehydrating it in water. So, I take it that whether one uses ADY or IDY it should be rehydrated in water. Is that correct?

Also, I noticed in step 1) of your mixing technique you call for hydrating/mixing the yeast, olive oil, salt and water for 15 minutes. This suggests tossing everything into the bowl at the same time. Is this the way it is done at A16? I know it would save time and simplify things doing it that way, but I would think that it could be done just as simply by rehydrating the yeast and water for the bulk of the 15 minutes and then adding the salt and, if you wish, the oil. Or the oil could be added once the initial mix starts and the flour has had a chance to start hydrating. Doing things this way would seem to be better for the yeast and improve hydration of the flour.

BTW, my experience when I made my first 00 pizza dough a few years ago--also a room-temperature dough--was very similar to yours. I was using the Bel Aria 00 flour and, it too, produced a light-colored crust--which I took to be normal. The Caputo 00 flour is better because it is a stronger flour than the Bel Aria 00 flour and can tolerate a longer room temperature fermentation. Under normal room temperatures, you should be able to get out to 12 hours or more before the dough starts to overferment. The one place where I found the Bel Aria 00 flour to be better than the Caputo 00 was for making pizzas within an hour. Many a time I did this when all I wanted was a quick bite to eat.

Peter