Author Topic: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar  (Read 1923 times)

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Offline clkou

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Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« on: October 18, 2011, 09:32:44 AM »
I'm interested in trying to reverse engineer the pizza from Coletta's in Memphis or something very similar. In general, I like very doughy crusts and there's is probably the best I can remember eating. There's actually a recipe on the Food Network but Scott feels like it's probably "too dumbed down". There's some background of what led me to this point in "From Soup to Nuts - Pizza Chronicles" for anyone interested.

Any help with coming up with a recipe or something similar would be appreciated. Also note that I'm limited to 550 degrees at the moment in my oven.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 09:34:53 AM by clkou »


Online scott123

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Re: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2011, 09:54:41 AM »
Also, anyone know what style Coletta's is?

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/07/colettas-in-memphis-tn-home-of-bbq-barbecue-pizza.html

Peter, you have lots of experience with high oil doughs.  Any tips?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2011, 03:35:40 PM »
Peter, you have lots of experience with high oil doughs.  Any tips?


Projects like this are extremely difficult, especially if you have never touched or eaten the target pizza or do not have access to insider information, an ingredients list (more on this below), Nutrition Facts, or ingredient types and brand names. This pretty much leaves you with photos and maybe some videos, which are often hard to decipher to get to dough formulations to experiment with, and hardcore research. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to devote to a full-court press in reverse engineering and cloning the Coletta’s pizza. However, I will try to offer suggestions and advice to cklou so that he can conduct whatever research and experimentation he thinks will help him achieve his end game.

Like scott123, I am suspicious of recipes that are posted on the FoodNetwork (FN). Invariably, they seem to presuppose that most home cooks and bakers are not smart enough to be able to do what the original authors of the recipes (in this case, Jerry Coletta) do in their own establishments. So, recipes tend to get dumb-downed for the “clueless” home baker or pizza maker. Also, there may be a natural reluctance on the part of the authors to reveal their actual recipes and trade secrets on a website that has the volume of traffic of a large and popular outfit like FN. Some pizza operators will reveal their recipes in order to get attention and free publicity or to draw traffic to their restaurants but family owned pizzerias tend to be more protective of their recipes and methods. For example, a pizza operator like Coletta’s, which has been around since 1923 (about 88 years), may be happy to get some free publicity but not at the expense of giving away the family jewels in order to get it. Also, I suspect the star of the show for the FN pizza is the Elvis BBQ part, not the dough.

But when you are given lemons, you try to find a way to make lemonade. So, for now, it looks like all we have is the Coletta’s FN recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bbq-with-bobby-flay/barbecue-pizza-elvis-pizza-colettas-italian-restaurant-recipe/index.html. I did some conversions, and using the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html and also the Mass-Volume Conversion Calculator at http://foodsim.unclesalmon.com/, I came up with the following dough formulation as my best estimate of a baker’s percent version of the FN dough recipe. For purposes of the dough formulation, I used the King Arthur brand of all-purpose flour as a proxy for the generic all-purpose flour recited in the FN recipe.

Coletta’s FN Dough Formulation
All-Purpose Flour* (100%):
Water** (49.5019%):
ADY (1.51847%):
Salt (1.19579%):
Olive Oil (11.5692%):
Total (163.78536%):
466.75 g  |  16.46 oz | 1.03 lbs
231.05 g  |  8.15 oz | 0.51 lbs
7.09 g | 0.25 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.88 tsp | 0.63 tbsp
5.58 g | 0.2 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1 tsp | 0.33 tbsp
54 g | 1.9 oz | 0.12 lbs | 12 tsp | 4 tbsp
764.48 g | 26.97 oz | 1.69 lbs | TF = N/A
*King Arthur all-purpose flour is used as a proxy for the generic all-purpose flour, using a Medium flour Measurement Method in the Mass-Volume Conversion Calculator
** One-quarter of the water is used at 110 degrees F to rehydrate the ADY, with the rest (3/4 cup) being used with the rehydrated ADY to make the dough
Note: Dough is for a single 16” pizza with an associated nominal thickness factor of 0.134116184; no bowl residue compensation

It will be noted from the above dough formulation that the total dough batch weight is 26.97 ounces. That is an amount for making a single 16” pizza (which is an inch larger than Coletta’s largest pizza) and translates into a thickness factor of 26.97/(3.14159 x 8 x 8) = 0.134116184. As a frame of reference, that thickness factor is almost the same as used by Papa John’s pizza (see, for example, Reply 311 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg156236.html#msg156236). If an actual Coletta’s pizza does not have a crust roughly as thick as a Papa John’s basic pizza, that would be a pretty good indication that the above recipe is not what Coletta’s uses in its own restaurant (apart from the different pizza size). Also, almost 12% olive oil would manifest itself in the form of a very tender crust because the oil helps retain the moisture in the dough. The lack of sugar in the dough formulation would manifest itself by a lighter than normal crust coloration. The crust is also unlikely to be on the sweet side.

Overall, the above dough formulation reminds me of a Chicago deep-dish style dough but used to make a flat pizza rather than a deep-dish pizza in a pan. The approximately 12% oil is a bit on the low side for a deep-dish dough but there are deep-dish doughs that contain as little as about 8% dough. So, you may well get some crust characteristics that are reminiscent of a Chicago deep-dish crust or maybe even a thicker version of a Southside Chicago flat pizza (often called a cracker-crust). For an example of the latter type of crust, see the recipe at the PMQ Recipe Bank at http://www.pmq.com/Recipe-Bank/index.php/name/Chicago-Cracker-Style-Pizza-Crust/record/57734/. Note the similarity of the ingredients and quantities, including total fat but with less yeast.

The only way that I know of to test the above dough formulation for accuracy is to actually go out and buy some pizzas from Coletta’s. I would buy the simplest pizza that Coletta’s makes, which appears to be the cheese pizzas sold at the S. Parkway Coletta’s location (http://colettas.net/lunch_menu.html). I would order an uncut 15” pizza and weigh it as soon as possible after purchase. I would also try to estimate the amount of cheese and sauce, by weight or by volume. Typically, a Papa John’s pizza baked in a standard home oven loses about 7-8% of its unbaked weight so that might also be true of a Coletta's pizza. It might also help to scrape everything off of the pizza as much as possible and then weigh the remaining pizza crust. The data that is collected this way should help determine whether the FN recipe is genuine or not. For more direct comparison purposes, I would perhaps use the expanded dough calculating tool to calculate the dough ball weight for a 15" pizza rather than the 16" pizza referenced in the FN dough recipe. I would use the abovementioned thickness factor for this purpose.

In visits to Coletta’s, I would also try to get information on how the dough is managed (including whether the dough is cold fermented or fermented at room temperature) and how the pizzas are baked, including the type of oven used (e.g., deck oven or conveyor oven), bake times and temperatures and whether the pizzas are baked in pans or disks or screens or directly on the stone surface of a deck oven. These are important to determine what changes might be needed to adapt a commercially produced Coletta's pizza to a home oven environment.

Peter
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 08:41:59 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline clkou

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Re: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2011, 04:36:26 PM »
Wow, thanks for the detailed response. I live 3 hours from Memphis but I'll definitely try to stop by and get as much information as I can the next time I'm in the area ... and to re-verify it tastes as good as I'm remember :)

I'll also give that recipe a shot. Aside from reverse-engineering this recipe. Do you have any tried and true recipes that are American style and very "doughy" that you could recommend for a standard electrical 500 to 550 degree oven?

Offline clkou

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Re: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2011, 04:46:11 PM »
Oh, by the way, according to this article in 2006, the dough recipe was a secret and only known by three individuals. So, either they had a big change of heart in 4 years or the recipe isn't the same :)

Online scott123

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Re: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2011, 05:01:45 PM »
Great post, Peter.

Jason, from what I can see, I think the two biggest immediate hurdles are flour brand and thickness factor.

I know that as you go down South, a penchant for biscuits drives lower protein All Purpose flours, at least it did, but I'm not sure where TN falls in this spectrum.  Jason, what brands of All Purpose do you have access to at your supermarket? If I had to take a guess, I'd lean towards a higher protein AP.

From looking at the photo on slice, I'm certain that the thickness factor isn't .13. It's hard to tell without knowing how much oven spring is achieved, but since this is probably a bit dense, then my best guess would be a thickness factor of .09. Jason, I'd figure out what size pizza you plan on making, plug it into the dough calculating tool and then put a thickness factor of .09.

I can tell by looking at the undercrust that this is a pizza pan.  Do you have a pizza pan? Now, whether it's a pan baked on a deck OR a pan in a conveyor, or just a pan in a traditional oven, that's a good question.  I would start with a pan on an oven shelf close to the bottom burner.

The other thing that caught my eye in this recipe was the pre-form knead.  Are there really pizzerias out there that knead the dough right before forming the skin?  This has to be an error in the translation.

Lastly, Jason, it would be nice if you could expand a bit on your perception of 'doughy.' Doughy like a bagel? Dense? Moist? Chewy?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 06:18:01 PM by scott123 »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2011, 06:40:07 PM »
clkou,

What I found interesting in the article you referenced is that Horest Coletta went to Chicago to learn about pizza. I am not as certain as scott123 on the thickness factor. Based on what I have seen on this forum, a Chicago deep-dish style dough can have a thickness factor in a range of around 0.11-0.14. Yet, the finished crust can look quite thin. When I look at the Coletta's pizza shown in the Slice article, it seems to have cracks. Such cracks are quite common in the finished crust of a Chicago style pizza. My practice is to try a recipe as it is given, and then assess the results to see if measures up to expectations in terms of being a true replica of a target pizza. If it doesn't pass the test, then I look elsewhere for a solution.

I agree with scott123 that it is a good idea to identify the types of flours available in the Memphis area, or possibly TN in general. I recall when I was investigating flours for making a Weisenberger clone (they are in Kentucky) that the White Lily flour was a very popular flour. It has long been rumored that some Chicago deep-dish style pizzas used flour that was like a cake flour. I can't say that Coletta's is using something like a White Lily flour, which is called an all-purpose flour despite its lower value of protein than most other all-purpose flours, but I wouldn't rule it out at this point. The White Lily flour would yield a light colored crust, and the absence of sugar in the dough would pretty much insure that the crust remains quite light in color. Interestingly, White Lily's postal address is in Memphis (http://www.whitelily.com/ContactUs/).

It would be helpful to nail down whether a pan is used to bake the Coletta's pizzas in their restaurant, as is discussed in the FN recipe. A weak flour lends itself well to use of a pan, whether a deck oven or a conveyor oven is used. I didn't catch the pre-form knead that scott123 mentioned but with a high-oil dough such as used to make a deep-dish pizza you can rework the dough pretty much up to the last minute, and the skin can be formed by pressing the dough into the pan or rolled with a rolling pin before fitting into the pan. I am not sure whether roughly 12% oil is high enough to allow this to happen. I know with higher oil doughs it is quite easy.

I, too, would be interested in knowing how you describe "doughy". When I think of doughy it is usually in the context of the dough not baking long enough, either because the bake temperature is too low or the pizza is not baked long enough or there are too many things on the pizza for the dough to bake completely. I am not talking about a gumline type of doughiness. The last time I experienced a doughy characteristic in a pizza was a Mellow Mushroom pizza I had recently in Florida. The doughy characteristic was limited to the center of the pizza, not near the rim. I actually like that characteristic. I can't think of any recipe I have used that tries to intentionally capture a doughiness in the finished crust. I view it as more a baking issue than a formulation issue.

Peter


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering Coletta's or Similar
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2011, 08:30:26 PM »
This video,
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&amp;v=d839Xn_m0Bg" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&amp;v=d839Xn_m0Bg</a>
, does a pretty good job of showing what a Coletta's pizza looks like. It can also be seen that the oven is a deck oven and the larger pizzas are baked in pans. It looks like the small pizzas are baked directly on the stones of the deck oven.

Peter


 

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