Author Topic: A16  (Read 5597 times)

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Offline TXCraig1

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A16
« on: February 27, 2011, 12:30:00 AM »
I’ve wanted to try A16 for a while, and luckily, the opportunity presented itself ahead of some meetings I had in San Francisco last week. We got there about 8:30 on Friday night and waited about 45 minutes to be seated. Luckily it worked out that we could sit at the bar in front of the ovens.

We started with the burrata and a prosciutto tasting (sorry no pics) both of which were wonderful. The Berkshire prosciutto was out of this world. It had a richness and marbling that rivals some of the best jamón ibérico I’ve tried. Next we tried the Manila clams – they were the tiniest clams I’ve ever seen – you can’t tell from the pics just how small they were unless you remind yourself it’s just a normal size bowl.  They two were excellent though I would have liked a little more Calabrian chilies and a little less Seville orange.

Finally, what I came for in the first place, Margherita pizza. It was good – no question about that – maybe in my top ten, but definitely not top five. Not really a lot of flavor in the crust, and it was just a little tiny bit on the tough side. It looked nice though with some leoparding, and while perhaps a little too charred, that really doesn’t bother me. I would certainly take it over no char. The sauce was well balanced.  Lastly, it could have used just a little more mozz.

They push the dough out by hand and stretch it a little on the table but do most of the work on the knuckles. Average amount of sauce for a Neapolitan. It was interesting the way they balance the handle of the peel on a brick placed just below the oven opening and bridge across the workspace to the counter where they slide the pie onto the peel. 2:30 bake time. The “longer” bake time did dry the sauce a little.

Overall it was a very yummy meal, and I would go back. Everything I saw come out of the kitchen looked great. They were roasting a Berkshire pork chop in the WFO that night that just looked incredible. I wish I had been a little hungrier.

Craig
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 12:46:40 AM by TXCraig1 »
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: A 16
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 12:46:12 AM »
Nice review Craig.  The pie and clams look great.  Looks like the pie could use a bit more cheese though.

Chau

Offline JConk007

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Re: A16
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2011, 07:37:38 AM »
Agreed a little scant on the cheese. I love the cockles, small clams, they serve them locally here in NJ at a place called the station I order them every time I go there, they look great!
John
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scott123

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Re: A16
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2011, 08:04:53 AM »
Great review, Craig.

Maybe it's the 2:30 bake time, but the fermentation looks a little bit off, like a too much yeast, too little time scenario. That would explain the lack of flavor.  This would probably impact it's digestibility as well. Craig, how did you feel afterward? A little fuller than normal?

Offline norma427

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Re: A16
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2011, 09:10:32 AM »
Craig,

I agree, you really gave a pleasant and interesting review!  :) It is always nice to hear about another big pizzeria and how their pies are.

Thanks,

Norma

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: A16
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2011, 09:15:28 AM »
The pale coloration should be an indicator of a long, cold fermentation time - but I think you really have to try hard to make Caputo pizzeria flour flavorless. Or the salt level is very low. How was the crumb?

John

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Re: A16
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2011, 09:41:19 AM »
The pale coloration should be an indicator of a long, cold fermentation time - but I think you really have to try hard to make Caputo pizzeria flour flavorless. Or the salt level is very low. How was the crumb?

That's pale?  I was thinking it was looking kind of brown.  I've always pictured Neapolitan to have a stark contrast between the black-ish leoparding and white non-leoparded areas. I did a little digging, and, assuming they haven't altered their process, you're right about the long cold fermentation, though.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1298.0.html

A long cold fermentation is going to increase the residual sugar, which, in itself, encourages browning, and when you push the clock to 2:30, that's only going to decrease the white/black contrast/increase browning. It still doesn't explain for the lack of flavor, though.  A 2-3 cold fermented dough should have plenty of flavor.

I guess when I made the observation that the dough looked off, it was based on the assumption that a16 is Neapolitan pizza. The more that I read about it, though, I can see they're taking a different route.  Sure, it's Caputo, but 3 days cold ferment is well outside the Neapolitan model.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: A16
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2011, 09:52:32 AM »
Sure, it's Caputo, but 3 days cold ferment is well outside the Neapolitan model.

And well beyond the limits of caputo pizzeria flour in my opinion. I would think that after day 2 there would be nothing left to "brown". But if you look in the A16 cookbook, there are pictures of pies that have less of a pale color.

John

Offline scott r

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Re: A16
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2011, 10:06:07 AM »
but I think you really have to try hard to make Caputo pizzeria flour flavorless.
John

John, this comment is interesting to me.    I used to always think that caputo flour with its fancy blend of wheats from two different continents would of course have an amazing flavor.   I also remember Marco saying that it had better flavor than other italian options.    Funny thing is, when I finally set out to really do flavor comparisons of different flours fermented to the exact same point (that is appropriate for each flour), my findings were just the opposite.   For me the best flavored flours were standard off the shelf american flours.     I wonder if you have done similar tests, or if maybe like me you just assumed that caputo is one of the better flavored flours.    


Offline dellavecchia

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Re: A16
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2011, 10:21:16 AM »
John, this comment is interesting to me.    I used to always think that caputo flour with its fancy blend of wheats from two different continents would of course have an amazing flavor.   I also remember Marco saying that it had better flavor than other italian options.    Funny thing is, when I finally set out to really do flavor comparisons of different flours fermented to the exact same point (that is appropriate for each flour), my findings were just the opposite.   For me the best flavored flours were standard off the shelf american flours.     I wonder if you have done similar tests, or if maybe like me you just assumed that caputo is one of the better flavored flours.    

Scott - My experience is that when cooking with american flours at 850-900 degrees (60-90 seconds) in a WFO, I need a much longer fermentation to match the flavor I get from an 18-24 hour caputo proof. I believe there is a thread where Larry (thezaman) does some tests in this area with the same findings.

John
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 10:23:54 AM by dellavecchia »

Offline scott r

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Re: A16
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2011, 10:37:37 AM »
Yes, of course caputo flour which has no malt and very low protein is going to take less time to get to its perfect level of proofing, but I think if you give many american flours a little more time to reach their optimum level of proofing you might find that the american flours actually have more flavor.   Also, maybe I am crazy and my findings were wrong.   I did the tests a few times, so I feel pretty confident, but with pizza you never know.   I think thats what keeps me so interested!   

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: A16
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2011, 10:39:01 AM »
When you guys are talking about "flavor", are you talking about strictly the flavor imparted by the flour itself, flavor attributed from using a starter, flavor from a longer cold fermentation, or a combination of the above.   I would think a fair test would be to do an emergency dough using commercial yeast and a short room temp ferment.   That or just take a spoonful of each and see what tastes better straight from the bag.   ;D  

Chau

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: A16
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2011, 10:40:45 AM »
Yes, of course caputo flour which has no malt and very low protein is going to take less time to get to its perfect level of proofing, but I think if you give many american flours a little more time to reach their optimum level of proofing you might find that the american flours actually have more flavor.   Also, maybe I am crazy and my findings were wrong.   I did the tests a few times, so I feel pretty confident, but with pizza you never know.   I think thats what keeps me so interested!   

Thanks very much for the advice Scott. Is there any particular american flour you would suggest for the WFO?

John

Offline scott r

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Re: A16
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2011, 10:53:45 AM »
If you are doing 60 second bakes you definitely need to go with unmalted flours, which are hard to come by in our area.  For that I would recommend looking at products from central milling or giusto, but i think in the end the caputo pizzeria or roma 00 flour is going to be your best choice because they are locally available.    When I did my tests I was using 2 minute bakes, and at those speeds the american flours didn't brown too much like they would with a 60 second bake.  Harvest king, all trumps, pillsbury 4x, and full strength all tasted better to me than caputo pizzeria.  I did my testing with very slow room temp ferments (18 hours plus) and did batches with both an ishcia wild yeast starter and commercial yeast.   When judging the flavor of a flour I am talking about the Wheaty nutty flavor that comes from the flour itself.  With all the flours I tested the flavor imparted from the sourdough culture, or (sourness) was about the same, and the flavors of fermentation with the commercial yeast were also about the same.  Again, I was quite surprised that the flavor caputo brought to the table seemed lower than the others, so I even tried using it later in fermentation.   Still, the american flours won out for me and my wife (the true judge!).  
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 10:59:15 AM by scott r »

Offline scott r

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Re: A16
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 11:02:29 AM »
I also want to point out that I am not knocking caputo or other 00 italian flours.   There is definitely something about how they handle ultra high heat environments that is useful to me, and they do have a special texture they impart.   I still use them in blends with other flours all the time, especially for controlling browning.    

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: A16
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2011, 11:03:28 AM »
Scott - Thanks so much for the insight. I am going to try out some CM or Giusto's in the WFO this spring. If you ever want to come out to the suburbs to try some tests in the WFO, I am more than happy to oblige.

John

Offline scott r

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Re: A16
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2011, 11:05:41 AM »
Thats exciting news.   Please let me know what your findings are once you try them out.    I definitely want to meet up, and I already have plans for a meeting with us local boys in the works....and a special celebrity guest.   ;D


Offline dellavecchia

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Re: A16
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2011, 11:06:46 AM »
Fantastic! Please keep me informed.

John

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A16
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2011, 12:47:31 PM »
Great review, Craig.

Maybe it's the 2:30 bake time, but the fermentation looks a little bit off, like a too much yeast, too little time scenario. That would explain the lack of flavor.  This would probably impact it's digestibility as well. Craig, how did you feel afterward? A little fuller than normal?

Thanks, Scott.

I'm not sure I'm a good subject for a "fullness" test as I'm no stranger to overeating. That being said, I felt fine and had no trouble sleeping that night.

Craig
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A16
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2011, 01:02:10 PM »
The pale coloration should be an indicator of a long, cold fermentation time - but I think you really have to try hard to make Caputo pizzeria flour flavorless. Or the salt level is very low. How was the crumb?

John

It certainly wasn't "flavorless." As you know, I'm partial to naturally fermented doughs, so maybe I'm a little biased. That being said, it still came across as a little thin on flavor even for commercial yeast. I'd think you're probably right and that it is a relativly low salt dough.

The crumb was fair: small to medium size holes fairly evenly distributed. It was a little denser than the pies I make.

Craig
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scott123

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Re: A16
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2011, 01:02:38 PM »
Regarding Caputo, I don't buy into the 'Italian' flour concept.  You basically have your malted flours and your unmalted flours as well as your high protein (14%) flours and medium high protein (11-12.5%) flours. Unmalted medium high protein flour is going to work one way, while malted high protein flour is going to work another. If Americans had easy access to a domestic unmalted medium high protein flour, it would produce results identical to Caputo.

I also don't really subscribe to any particularly inherent flavor of wheat. I believe that it takes a certain amount of time for a flour to fully hydrate (most likely longer than 8 hours), and, before that time, it can taste starchy and bland, but, once it's fully hydrated, further fermentation doesn't bring out any more wheatiness, just byproducts of yeast activity and enzymes, which for relatively low yeast long ferments, is mostly enzymes.  Enzyme activity is predominantly sugar generation. The more enzyme activity, the more residual sugar is generated, the more maillard reactions/browning you get, the 'nuttier' the flavor. I firmly believe that the component with the greatest impact on a bread's final flavor is sugar, by a landslide.  Maillard reactions involve protein and sugar, so protein plays a part, but I believe sugar to be the star player.

Malted flour burns too quickly at high temps because of the excess of enzyme generated sugar (and sugar in the malt itself).  Unmalted flour is pale and tasteless at lower temps/longer bake times because of the lack of enzymes/sugar.  This is the sole reason why unmalted Caputo is better for WFOs and malted American flours are superior for NY style temps.

Sugar deprivation and fast bake times produces char.   Instead of sugar based maillard reactions creating golden brown hues, NP crusts go from white to black- leoparding.  The predominant flavor that's associated with unmalted doughs cooked at high temps is char. The predominant flavor that's associated with malted doughs is maillard compounds (nutty, toasty, umami, etc.).   Humanity, as a whole, is hardwired to enjoy maillard browning.  There's umami (glutamates) in mother's milk. Char, on the other hand, is an acquired taste.  Expresso, whiskey, and dark chocolate all derive their flavors from char and all generally require an adult palate to appreciate. Charred Neapolitan is the connoisseur's pizza. Golden Brown Delicious (GBD) NY pizza is the pizza for the masses.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A16
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2011, 01:06:51 PM »
When you guys are talking about "flavor", are you talking about strictly the flavor imparted by the flour itself, flavor attributed from using a starter, flavor from a longer cold fermentation, or a combination of the above.   I would think a fair test would be to do an emergency dough using commercial yeast and a short room temp ferment.   That or just take a spoonful of each and see what tastes better straight from the bag.   ;D  

Chau

When I talk about flavor, I'm referring to all of the above. To my taste, the flavor from the flour itself is probably the least significant of the components and the yeast flavors and products of fermentation the most important. I think the smell also contributes meaningfully to how I perceive the flavor.

Craig
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A16
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2011, 01:36:25 PM »
I firmly believe that the component with the greatest impact on a bread's final flavor is sugar, by a landslide.  

I would agree so long as yeast is not a variable. That is, you're using commercial yeast. To me, when you move to a sourdough starter, the products of the yeast and bacteria have the greatest impact.

Quote
Char, on the other hand, is an acquired taste.  Expresso, whiskey, and dark chocolate all derive their flavors from char and all generally require an adult palate to appreciate. Charred Neapolitan is the connoisseur's pizza. Golden Brown Delicious (GBD) NY pizza is the pizza for the masses.

That is a great thought. I might have to borrow it. You hit the nail on the head. Don't forget great big red wines in that list! 

Craig
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Offline andreguidon

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Re: A16
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2011, 06:58:27 AM »
Scott and John, have you guys tried 5Stagioni flour ? i liked it allot, i has a mixture of soft and hard wheat that works great for longer fermentation, holds better than caputo and the taste for hi heat bakes are very similar....

i used the Blue (superiore).... now im waiting for the new importer to start importing....
http://www.molinoagugiaro.it/italiano/5stagioni-pdf/farine.pdf
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scott123

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Re: A16
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2011, 12:31:48 PM »
Andre, I have haven't had the chance to work with it.  It does make sense that the 13% protein of the Superiore would stand up better to longer fermentation than Caputo, which, as far as I know, is lower than 13.

It's also refreshing to see an Italian miller that's so transparent about specifications. Although they seem to be sticking with the Italian custom of incredibly vague packaging.  What's up with that?  ;D


 

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