The Lo Duca brothers are good friends of mine so I have a level of access that I wouldn't otherwise. You may recall (I mentioned on Slice) I get to bake in their ovens if I wish which is pretty cool (done a "00" square actually, which was fun).
My guesstimate of 500 is because the deck doors get open quite a bit. I really wish I had an IR thermometer gun. They tend not to crank their oven all the way -- somewhat shy of it.
I will stop in and try to get a better handle times and temps so that we can be more exact. I generally don't get too specific with my questions out of respect but I am sure 99% of what I would ask they would be happy to answer. They are good dudes and they respect my passion for pizza as well.
I should also add that I think if you mix/ed less (and oxidize the dough less -- I'll try to find a ballpark for the mix time for the slice I linked to) and use a slightly lower temp you'll probably get better color on the top of the crust. The coal oven NYC places (Lombardi's, Totonno's, Grimaldi's) leave people with the impression that one should try to achieve something similar (charring etc.) in a gas deck. Personally I prefer a slightly lower temp bake that is less acrid and I think most consumers outside of coal oven/WFO pizza nazis also prefer a more golden pie as opposed to a pale one with charring -- otherwise the bigger chains would attempt to make this kind of pie. Joe Average, IMO, is unlikely to prefer a charred acrid pie. Anyway, point is that cranking the oven is not always a silver arrow so to speak. What some people think adds character to a pie, many think has off flavors.
(It's funny) The pizzas that pizza snobs tend to revere, IMO, are not the type of pies that the greatest number of people would be receptive to. Just like most people (Americans) don't often eat foie gras donuts, raw fish or ramps. What gets food writers (that have to cover this stuff endlessly) excited and resonates with them is often very different than what resonates with the general public. My point here is that what the pizzarati like and laud and put on top ten lists, is not always what regular folks expect in pizza. Not saying any of this is good or bad or anything -- it is what it is.
Thanks for posting that the Lo Duca brothers are good friends of yours. I can understand you do have a level of access that you wouldn’t otherwise. I forgot you mentioned on Slice that you did get to bake in their oven. That is cool!
Interesting that you guesstimate around 500 for their deck ovens, because the deck doors do get open quite a bit. I have asked different slice joints in NY what temperatures their deck ovens bake their pizza at and usually they have told me around 525 degrees F. I guess the deck temperatures do fall when the deck doors are opened quite a lot. I have even seen that at MM in Washington, DC. They weren’t baking NY style pies, but their ovens take quite a while to bake one pie. When I visited MM in DC they weren’t really busy either. I am almost positive that each deck oven bakes differently too. My small double deck Baker’s Pride GP-61 countertop oven varies widely if temperatures are taken on different part of the deck. In the center of the deck the temperatures are lower, but along the sides of the deck they can be 50 degrees or more higher in temperature. I guess since the heat rises along the sides of my deck oven, that is why the sides of the deck are higher. I am still trying to figure that out, where is the best spot to slide my pies onto and where to slide them during the bake, when rotating.
I can understand you don’t want to be too specific with your questions to the Lo Duca brothers. It would be interesting to find out what they think their deck oven temperatures are across the deck though if you wouldn’t be giving out too much information about their temperatures.
I only mixed the first experiment longer to see what would happen. I know I probably over oxidized the dough. I am just trying to find out though experiments how much mix times different doughs can handle. I thought since the first experiment had so much oil, maybe I would needed a longer mix time, but know that probably isn’t true. I like to push things to the limit to see what happens. When I mix the dough this morning for the next experiment, it will be for a shorter mix time. If I ever get consistent results with these experiments it would be interesting to mix a bigger batch in the Hobart instead of my Kitchen Aid mixer. They both operate about the same, but my Kitchen Aid does takes longer to make the dough look about the same.
For awhile I did have my deck oven temperatures higher and found out most customers don’t like char on the bottom of pies. They think they are burnt. Most of my customers never even heard of WFO’s, or have eaten Neapolitan pies, or any pies baked in a coal fired oven. I have only really tasted pies baked in a WFO for the first time a little over a year ago. I do enjoy them very much, but they are a whole different kind of pizza than a NY style. I know most regular people would prefer NY style pizzas and know most of the pizzas that are made are more like NY style pizzas even if they aren’t that good. Just around the small area where I live, there are many NY style pizzerias. I have tasted many and most of the owners are Italian, but for some reason the crusts have no flavor or taste like cardboard. I don’t know if they never learned what doing different things can happen with different doughs, but they seem to stay the same in making their doughs. Maybe that is the way they learned. They use things like Grande cheese and top tomato products on their pies, but their crusts are surely lacking in flavor.
This is a serious pizza making forum and out of all the great pies members produce here, they are nothing like what is available to the public, at least not in many areas. WFO pies are another breed and the attention to detail that members here on the forum give to their pies is amazing. Probably if the general public looked at those pies without knowing what they might taste like, they probably would prefer regular NY slice pizzas. This forum has evaluated my knowledge about what can be done to produce better pies. Pizzas I thought were good before I became a member of this forum, now sure don’t compare. I agree Joe Average is likely to prefer a golden pie over a charred pie.
Two times recently I was in NY and tried Best Pizza in Brooklyn. Their pies in my opinion are very good, but then they also bake in an old converted coal fired oven that is now a wood fired oven. I know I wouldn’t be able to make the same pizza in my deck oven.