Author Topic: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie  (Read 36360 times)

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Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #60 on: January 21, 2012, 12:53:07 PM »
Thanks Johnny and Matt!

Any idea how much starter I should use (very active, 100% hydration) or IDY or ADY? I can get cake yeast but do you think it is imperative for this style?

Johnny - I would use .3 IDY and 2% starter if you want to use both for a 24 hour cold ferment. All starter might not produce the type of crumb that we are after - I guess it depends on your starter's lift power. L&B might use CY, but I have no idea.

John


scott123

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #61 on: January 21, 2012, 01:09:39 PM »
John,

It's a beautiful pizza, but if you're striving for authenticity, I think you missed the mark in two areas.

First, there's not a chance this dough uses less than 12.5% protein flour. If you like the tender crumb, then by all means, go lower, but to get the characteristic chewiness, it has to be higher protein flour.

Secondly, this isn't cooked sauce (bold mine)

http://pmq.com/digital/20100607/36.html

Quote
Considered one of the best Sicilian slices in all of New York City, L&B Spumoni Gardens (spumonigardens. com) in Bensonhurst is right down the street from Coney Island and has been serving up old-fashioned spumoni since the 1930s, and pizza since the mid-1950s. Currently run by six members of the Barbati family, L&B is held in high regard by crust and sauce lovers alike, with customers claiming that the secret is definitely in the sauce—a secret that th the owners hold tight. “We use us San Marzano tomatoes, and it’s not really a cooked sauce, so it tastes really fresh,” says L&B president Lou Barbati.

Now what he means by 'not really' is obviously open for interpretation, but I take this to mean that the tomatoes have been cooked a bit during canning. The BPT video shows a sauce color that looks considerably cooked, but I think that's just lighting.  Just about every video I've seen shows the kind of bright red sauce that one sees from SMs out of the can.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #62 on: January 21, 2012, 01:27:05 PM »
John,

It's a beautiful pizza, but if you're striving for authenticity, I think you missed the mark in two areas.

First, there's not a chance this dough uses less than 12.5% protein flour. If you like the tender crumb, then by all means, go lower, but to get the characteristic chewiness, it has to be higher protein flour.

Secondly, this isn't cooked sauce (bold mine)

http://pmq.com/digital/20100607/36.html

Now what he means by 'not really' is obviously open for interpretation, but I take this to mean that the tomatoes have been cooked a bit during canning. The BPT video shows a sauce color that looks considerably cooked, but I think that's just lighting.  Just about every video I've seen shows the kind of bright red sauce that one sees from SMs out of the can.

Yes, I completely agree I might need a higher protein flour for authenticity and the tighter crumb. I have some coming in that is 13.5 (Giusto's). I will use that next time and post the differences.

And I think that there is a huge difference in what you quoted as "not a cooked sauce", and what a cooked sauce is to a Sicilian. A cooked sauce might include pork, bones, etc. and cooked for 3-4 hours - or all day. I reduced the tomatoes for a fraction of that time. From my perspective, there is no way straight San Marzanos will get to the consistency I see in the pics of the final product after a 15 minute bake, which is dark and thick. Maybe they have a specific product that is thick to begin with.

John

Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #63 on: January 21, 2012, 01:32:29 PM »
@scott123 & @dellavecchia: In person, the sauce is very bright red, no question. It is also both very acidic and very sweet at the same time, with a huge punch of flavor. They claim it is "uncooked" or mostly uncooked or whatever -- seems they are deliberately obscuring the facts a bit to maintain their secret. I can understand that, but obviously we still want to know :)! They may very well have something made for them...

I asked the other guy who does NYC pizza tours (not the guy in the vid in this thread) to look into it as I am pretty sure he can see what flour and tomatoes they use. When this info will be forthcoming I have no idea, but I will gently pester him :). To reiterate, he said he thought it was "low protein" flour (as far as NYC pizza flour goes) and he is one of the most knowledgeable people about NYC pizza (the ingredients and methods) there is. I am not saying this is the case (at all), I just wonder why my friend thinks it may be -- he must have seen something at some point to make him think this.

@dellavecchia: If firm enough my starter easily triples so it may very well be strong enough. I am gonna give it a try when I have enough extra loot to get the deli cheese and some fresh pecorino (right now I am just using stuff I happen to have on hand as money is tight). Thanks so much for giving me something to go on. So glad you used pretty much the same pan I will be so that the formula should carry over pretty well. Since I generally hand mix and knead getting the denser crumb will be a challenge for sure.

What kind of rolling pin (the heavy, handled kind or the gentle, solid wood tapered kind) are you/did you use and how hard did you roll it/press it out? Good idea to approximate the sheeter.

In a gas oven with a drawer broiler and without a convenction setting what might you think a good bake time and temp would be? Even with a blue steel pan I still have trouble getting the bottom to brown as fast as the top of square pies :(.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 01:40:53 PM by johnnydoubleu »

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #64 on: January 21, 2012, 01:36:32 PM »
http://pmq.com/digital/20100607/36.html

Scott - That article says they cook a full sheet for 10-15 at 500, then another 10-15 at 650. That is a lot of cooking. Do you think this is just because of the sheer volume of dough that is in a full pan? Or do you think that oil and sugar should be left out of the equation, the thickness factor jacked up even more, and try to get a 20-30 minute bake?

John

scott123

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #65 on: January 21, 2012, 02:13:10 PM »
And I think that there is a huge difference in what you quoted as "not a cooked sauce", and what a cooked sauce is to a Sicilian. A cooked sauce might include pork, bones, etc. and cooked for 3-4 hours - or all day. I reduced the tomatoes for a fraction of that time. From my perspective, there is no way straight San Marzanos will get to the consistency I see in the pics of the final product after a 15 minute bake, which is dark and thick. Maybe they have a specific product that is thick to begin with.

John, that's an interesting theory about what Sicilians perceive to be a 'cooked sauce,' but we're talking about a family here that isn't Sicilian American. On their about us page

http://www.spumonigardens.com/aboutus.html

They list the pizzeria's patriarch as hailing from Torella Dei Lombardi, in Campania, not that far from Naples.  Now, it's possible that someone married a Sicilian somewhere along the way and that this recipe hails from that side of the family, but I think it's important to remember that Sicilian pizza's ties to Sicily are pretty tenuous, at least from a modern perspective.

Take a look at the tomatoes. As wonderful as SMs are, how common are SMs in Sicily?  From what I know about Sicilians, I would think using a Campanian tomato could be unpatriotic  ;D I've seen countless Sicilian American recipes, and not once has a SM tomato ever been mentioned.

scott123

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #66 on: January 21, 2012, 02:19:18 PM »
Scott - That article says they cook a full sheet for 10-15 at 500, then another 10-15 at 650. That is a lot of cooking

I noticed that as well. I'm 99.9% certain that's an error made by the author of the article- or maybe some kind of misinterpretation.  Unless the man v. food video is omitting part of the bake, it appears very much like a straight 15 minute bake.  The LBEMP video does do some pan time and then time out of the pan, so maybe, like the total cheese coverage, there might be some historical precedent, but I really don't see L&B getting that much oil on their decks.

Offline sum1else

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #67 on: January 21, 2012, 02:38:55 PM »
John, that pie looks great. Thanks for the super detailed instructions. But you need more pecorino!! I think you can never have too much! (disclaimer: I eat pasta cacio e pepe three nights a week)

I agree with Scott that the sauce likely isn't cooked. Have a look at my pie. IMHO, the sauce looks pretty close to the real thing, and I didn't cook it. I think its just about getting the right amount of water out. I do think its definitely possible that they add tomato paste. I will be using sugar in my next dough. I think thats a good call. Also, there's no way L&B cooks a pie twice. I watch them like a hawk when I go and I've never seen anything like that happening.

Scott: I tried my local deli's cheese and it turned out to be the fake "fresh" mozzarella, it tasted like a cheap Fior de Latte-not like Polly-o or grande flavor. I will try another deli next time. Because of this, the pie tasted like a grandma.

Here's the pie I made yesterday. I was trying to see whether I could make an "emergency" L&B pie. The result is that I failed. The crust texture was way off, and my cheese selection was wrong. If I wasn't going for an L&B pie though, this would be a great way to make a regular sicilian or grandma. The pie was awesome, just not L&B awesome. I think my sauce and pecorino decoration was spot on. If I had used the same recipe as the first time (no knead method) with these toppings, I would be so very close.



AT Flour (100%):    571.17 g  |  20.15 oz | 1.26 lbs
Water (71%):    405.53 g  |  14.3 oz | 0.89 lbs
IDY (.4%):    2.28 g | 0.08 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.76 tsp | 0.25 tbsp
Salt (2%):    11.42 g | 0.4 oz | 0.03 lbs | 2.05 tsp | 0.68 tbsp
Grapeseed Oil (3.5%):    19.99 g | 0.71 oz | 0.04 lbs | 4.44 tsp | 1.48 tbsp
Total (176.9%):   1010.39 g | 35.64 oz | 2.23 lbs | TF = 0.165

Started with 85F water, mixed and kneaded by hand 2 minutes. Rose for 1:45 in a bowl. Covered the dough ball in 1tbsp oil, then stretched (very roughly, to get out most of the air) and pan rise for 15 minutes. Topped and baked exactly 15 minutes.

The sauce here is uncooked and based on restaurant depot DOP tomatoes. I scooped the tomatoes out one-by-one with a ladle into my blender, and any extra puree that came with it went into the blender. This made it a little thicker than last time. Last time I only used tomatoes--no puree. Perhaps I should make a new thread for an emergency sicilian?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 02:43:29 PM by sum1else »

scott123

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #68 on: January 21, 2012, 03:03:44 PM »
Yup, that's not a happy L&B crumb, Tyler  ;D Glad it worked out well for you, though.  Wasn't the crust a little taste deprived?

John's got the right idea about cheese.  If you can't get Grande/Grande clone, then Boar's Head is your next best bet.

Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #69 on: January 21, 2012, 03:30:16 PM »
@sum1else: What do you think accounts for the diff in the crumb vs your other try? I mostly don't use a mixer for dough (make a lot of bread Tartine style and have such a small kitchen it is cumbersome to break out applicances) so I am likely to take a similar approach to you, but in consideration of what @dellavecchia is doing as well. Between the two of you things are getting pretty close. Pretty darn cool guys :)!

@all: I usually go to L&B 2-3 times a year in the summer (it is close to me but not that close). Is anyone close enough that they could take a peak in the dumpster there (for tomato cans etc.)?

I wonder if the twice baked thing is stemming from confusion about them putting the pie directly on the deck for a bit, which I have def seen them do.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 03:33:52 PM by johnnydoubleu »


Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #70 on: January 21, 2012, 04:58:58 PM »
John, that's an interesting theory about what Sicilians perceive to be a 'cooked sauce,' but we're talking about a family here that isn't Sicilian American.

Scott - Yes, good point. Still, I have no reservation in saying that a Neapolitan would have the same attitude to a long cooked sauce. The "sugo" is a southern Italian dish and known to Sicilians as well as NP's.

Johnny - Looking forward to seeing your starter-only attempt. It may not be authentic, but the taste is phenomenal. I bake mine in the middle of a gas oven, and get plenty of browning on the bottom. I would try the lowest rack - 450 is my limit for 15 minutes.

Tyler - That is a short dough! I think it is amazing that you got the spring you did in such a short period of time.

So I guess you guys may be convincing me that the sauce is not reduced. Johnny's description of "bright and sweet" at the same time describes the sauce I made exactly, but it may be they are draining them really well and adding ingredients cold. If that is the case, I would leave out the paste.

John

Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #71 on: January 21, 2012, 05:07:55 PM »
@dellavecchia: From http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/06/l-and-b-spumoni-gardens-best-sicilian-square-pizza-slice-brooklyn-nyc-review.html:

Quote
"The cheese acts as dam against the deluge of sauce and keeps the dough relatively arid. It doesn't seem to do much else. It is applied in such sparring amounts that it barely registers on the palate and is no match for the dense layer of San Marzano tomato sauce. The latter is almost preposterously sweet but also lipsmackingly tart. While the sauce is perfumed with oregano, it is mostly just intensely "tomatoey." If you didn't grow up on it, it may seem strange and alien to you, falling into the category of tastes that need to be acquired. If you did grow up on it, it is a taste that is required. As much a part of life as the rattle of the elevated train and the heat of summer."

Also in regards to me feeling that the dough really isn't that wet (or moisture evaporates from it like lightning):

Quote
"But whereas most Sicilian crust at least aspires toward airiness and chewiness, the dough at L & B is dense and fractures rather more abruptly. It is not leaden, there is some give, but it is altogether more brittle, the bottom deeply burnished."

Offline sum1else

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #72 on: January 21, 2012, 05:33:49 PM »
Scott-the crust was lacking, but still tastier than a Sicilian from let's say Rays or Abitinos. I'll look for boars head. My deli was out and only had the store brand.

Johnny, the difference in crumb is probably caused by so many things. I utilized a short rise, kneaded this time, and I was very rough with the dough.

John-  remember I use a very forgiving flour and I used hot water to force the yeast to start fast.


Offline Jose L. Piedra

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #73 on: January 22, 2012, 04:15:00 AM »
Great thread and nice looking pies all around.

Here are some opinions and observations for whatever they're worth:

-Unless there's something I *really* don't understand, the claim in the PMQ article that they're baked for 10-15 minutes at 500 and then for another 10-15 at 650 seems preposterous. I'll say that they look exactly the way I would expect a square pie made with standard bread flour to look after 15-18 minutes in the oven at 500.

-Cooked v. uncooked sauce: Uncooked sauce on top of a square pie will tend to have a distinctively fruity, almost jam-like taste (whatever the type of tomato used) that won't be to everyone's liking. Try it and decide for yourself. Sicilian traditions do tend to call for a cooked sauce, but L&B has little in common with traditional Sicilian pizza other than shape and the order of toppings, and so looking to Sicilian traditions for clues as to what they do with their sauce may not prove to be all that productive.

-In the pseudo-L&B vid, you can see the guy actually drizzle oil from the bottle onto the dough even though he already flipped it in the oiled pan. I wonder what, if any, actual purpose oiling the top of the dough serves, and whether or not this step can or should be skipped. 

-The same video has the guy doing the last few minutes of the bake directly on the oven floor in order to "crisp it up". I wonder exactly what he means by that. Does it imply that the bottom would be soft or soggy if he didn't? (I have a hard time imagining how that could happen after a twenty minute bake unless the dough is decidedly under-kneaded).

JLP
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Offline sum1else

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #74 on: January 22, 2012, 12:46:44 PM »
Jose,

I agree, there's no way they cook it that long. As to the sauce, there's probably some room for everyone to choose their own flavor. I think that guy uses too much oil, but what do I know. For his "crisping" comment, remember in that video he isn't using an oven anything like what L&B has (see photo). L&B has built these stands inside their deck and it looks like there's only an extra 2 inches between the pie and the top of the oven (they can fit 4 pies in one oven). They must be transferring a lot more heat than this guy is able to.  That's my theory anyway..

Also, another cool thing that L&B has (I've never seen anywhere else, but I don't know if its unique) is the spatula you see in the bottom of the picture. It has notches cut out of it so that the L&B guys can grab the pan with the spatula and pull it out, then turn it 180 degrees with ease. Very nifty.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2012, 12:49:01 PM by sum1else »

Offline Jose L. Piedra

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #75 on: January 22, 2012, 11:26:06 PM »
Good call about the ovens at the two places- they're radically different and it probably helps explain a few things.

JLP
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Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #76 on: January 29, 2012, 05:23:06 PM »
This time I had 13% protein flour, and mixed it to the near-window pane stage. Used CY and an overnight cold ferment for flavor. I used uncooked San Marzanos with sugar, oregano, pepper, and salt added. The cheese was sliced too thick, and it poked through the sauce unfortunately even though I had a ton of it. And I used more percorino. But I think I nailed the crumb. If I could get my hands on a better mixer, I might even be able to oxidize the dough even more.

John

scott123

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #77 on: January 29, 2012, 09:06:21 PM »
I literally just walked in the door from visiting a Brooklyn Sicilian pizzeria (Mr. Bruno's), who claims to sell a pizza that's better than L&B ("L&B isn't the same since they changed owners."). Based upon the appearance of their slice and yours, I think you nailed it.

Btw, there's absolutely nothing wrong about cheese poking through sauce  ;D

The owner did stress the importance of getting a pie straight from the oven, so it looks like, at some point, we're going to have to go back.

The cheese on this particular pie appeared to have full coverage, and the owner confirmed that he uses uncooked San Marzanos.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #78 on: February 06, 2012, 07:06:06 PM »
While I am not officially obsessed with this pizza, I just can't get enough of it. KABF with a 2 day cold ferment.

John

Offline sum1else

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Re: Reverse Engineering L&B Spumoni Gardens' Square pie
« Reply #79 on: February 06, 2012, 08:39:32 PM »
Looking good! I made one this weekend but burnt it. It still tasted good, just not very pretty