Omid - Do you have any opinion on what percentage of salt Da Michele is using since they use the madre method?
Dear John, you asked, "Do you have any opinion on what percentage of salt Da Michele is using . . . ?" I have no idea, for there are many ways to skin a cat!
But let me quickly ascertain some points that can be extrapolated from the famous Youtube video (
) and from some other sources:
1. Da Michele, according to the video, uses the tap water of Naples. Having tasted it, I can indecisively conclude that it is hard water, containing high carbonates or mineral salts, over 400 parts per millimeter (PPM). (According to the City of San Diego, San Diego's water has about 229 to 325 PPM, which is one of the highest in the nation.) And, it is said that salts such as magnesium and calcium indurate the gluten in dough.
2. Da Michele, per the video, uses Caputo flour "Pizzeria tipo 00", which contains about 12.5% protein according to Caputo's own data sheet that was disseminated some years ago.
3. Da Michele, per the video, utilizes forcella mixer with a low RPM, implying that gluten formation during mechanical kneading is slow and gentle.
4. Da Michele, according to the video, uses pasta madre
(i.e., "sourdough"), with the addition of baker's "yeast" during cold season. (An Italian friend of mine conveyed to me the quoted translations.)
5. Judging by the consistency of the dough in the video, Da Michele indubitably hydrates the flour at a high rate, in excess of 58% but probably below 67%. (I could be wrong.) I have personally witnessed their dough balls, during summer, going flat, akin to a pancake, inside the proofing trays. Nevertheless, the dough balls seem to stably hold their composition.
6. Da Michele, as stated in the video and in the Washington Post interview, applies long fermentation (at least 15 hours at room temperature in the cellar below the pizzeria). As seen in the video, fermentation takes place inside a large metal tub placed in the cellar (where the temperature is probably between 71° and 74° F during summer, and lower during winter). In addition, the tub is covered with a large lid that is not transparent to light waves. (Check out on the net the effects of absence of light waves on yeast cells fermenting sugar. There might be, however, no correlation in this case.)
7. Having tasted Da Michele's pizza, the crust usually has an exquisite texture, gentle flavor, and whispering sourness—intimating that the fermentation and levitation are not carried out in an overpowering manner. Also, indicating that the dough's acidic content is low, which in turn insinuates that the cellar's ambient temperature is probably below75° F.
8. At last, an Italian friend of mine, who is a brick oven builder, alleges that Da Michele does not put out the fire in the brick oven when the pizzeria is closed, and that they would not be able to produce the same pizza without
the oven, which is well-seasoned and privileged with old age. This is a good point, if true!
So, given the scanty and fragmentary nature of the data above, can we inductively infer how much salt Da Michele uses? Probably over 2% but not exceeding 3.00%. Just a cautious conjecture based on inconclusive and incomplete data! Good luck in replicating Da Michele's dough, and please let me know about the outcome. Good night!