Author Topic: Charring and the Marketplace  (Read 3139 times)

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Offline Pizza De Puta

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Charring and the Marketplace
« on: August 21, 2012, 11:08:10 AM »
Many photos on this website document pizzas with a considerable amount of char.  This char is considered desirable by many forum members and is caused primarily by intense heat of the ovens in which they were cooked.  I think they look great.

However, I'm concerned that pizzas served out here in California with even minor amounts of char would be returned by customers complaining that their pizza was "burned."  Most of the pizzas served out here have an anemic blonde crust--not a good thing, I know, but that is what people have become accustomed.  Does any readers have marketplace experience regarding the serving and acceptance/rejection of "charred" crusts?
RE


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 11:52:05 AM »
RE,

I remember that one of our members, by the forum name of giotto, talked about one of his favorite pizza chains in the Bay area of California called Amici's East Coast Pizzeria that made pizzas ("East Coast style") with a lot of char, to the point where diners would often complain and want to send them back. Because of these complaints, Amici's went so far as to make note of the char matter at its website (and most likely on their in-store menus). I checked today, and as you will see at http://www.amicis.com/menu.asp, there is a note that reads as follows: NOTE: If a darker crust is not to your liking, please specify "light crust", although the result may be undercooked for some tastes.

You can see a video that discusses the Amici's pizzas, and how they look, including the degree of char, at the About page at http://www.amicis.com/about.asp. At the time giotto posted, he said that Amici's was using a Woodstone oven. The video obviously shows the use of a gas-fired oven.

Peter

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 12:13:21 PM »
Many photos on this website document pizzas with a considerable amount of char.  This char is considered desirable by many forum members and is caused primarily by intense heat of the ovens in which they were cooked.  I think they look great.

However, I'm concerned that pizzas served out here in California with even minor amounts of char would be returned by customers complaining that their pizza was "burned."  Most of the pizzas served out here have an anemic blonde crust--not a good thing, I know, but that is what people have become accustomed.  Does any readers have marketplace experience regarding the serving and acceptance/rejection of "charred" crusts?

Interesting. I would think char is char, and burned is burned. Massive jet-black carbon in huge swaths is burnt. Micro spots of leapording is artisanal. I think you make the pizza that you want and that tastes good, and people will take it for what it is. If you serve golden crusts half the time, and charred ones the other half, then I think people would balk.

John

cornicione54

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 12:17:26 PM »
I love the idea of being able to dial-in your own desired level of char in the same way you can specify broth intensity/noodle hardness etc. at some ramen joints.  It would be highly dependent on the cooking method/oven though, I'm sure.

Offline pizzaboyfan

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 12:22:10 PM »
I spent years ordering my pizza "well done", hoping for a bit of char.
Why not offer your pizza like a steak house offers steak ?
Pale, Medium, and Dark, with a note that "The chef recommends Dark, with a bit of char"

Perry

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2012, 02:08:42 PM »
I spent years ordering my pizza "well done", hoping for a bit of char.
Why not offer your pizza like a steak house offers steak ?
Pale, Medium, and Dark, with a note that "The chef recommends Dark, with a bit of char"

Perry

Oh my god that would be such a nightmare, both for the person tending the oven and for the person assembling the pizzas. With steaks, if you let one get too done, you just change which ticket it goes with. But if you let a pepperoni, onion, and black olive pizza get overdone, there's no way to shuffle orders because no one else ordered that combination. So someone has to remake it, and someone else has to be careful not to screw it up again. This could potentially happen dozens of times a day, even with a very attentive staff.

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 03:14:12 PM »
I well remember when wood burning pizza ovens made their first debut in Chicago. We were not accustomed to seeing a pizza with char, so it was a common place thing to hear people complaining that their pizza was burned, over done, etc. With time and education people were educated to a different type of pizza, and today Chicagoans are much more accepting of char on their pizza. There is also a group of people who won't consume pizza, or any other food with char as this results in the development of carcinogenic (cancer causing) compounds. Pick your poison, I'll have mine with extra cheese!
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Online JD

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 05:19:35 PM »
I moved from NY to MS and recently went to a wood burning pizza place in Arizona with some co-workers. I thought the Neapolitan was cooked perfectly, with a light char (no large dark spots). I asked my fellow co-workers what they thought of the pizza and said it tasted burnt and could hardly eat it. One guy complained. Sigh. Mine was perfect (as was theirs). Different strokes
Josh

Offline Pizza De Puta

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 05:43:57 PM »
I moved from NY to MS and recently went to a wood burning pizza place in Arizona with some co-workers. I thought the Neapolitan was cooked perfectly, with a light char (no large dark spots). I asked my fellow co-workers what they thought of the pizza and said it tasted burnt and could hardly eat it. One guy complained. Sigh. Mine was perfect (as was theirs). Different strokes

That's EXACTLY what I'm worried about!

A 4-5 minute bake may be the goal of the majority in this forum for NY pie, but I wonder if the charring would provide both the BEST and MOST HATED crust at the same time!!  Nightmares anyone?

I've started five small businesses over the years and still own three of them.  Avoiding customer service issues is vital to both profit and sanity.  I set policies that minimize blow-ups every chance I get.  With the Internet and communication now instantaneous, preventing trouble before it happens is more important than ever, because every gripe can become a public abortion.  I want to be able to provide the NY experience but still need to play it somewhat safe in order to satisfy the desires/tastes of the market I'm serving.  A 4-minute NY bake produces fantastic, crunchy crust with charring--which could be polarizing to customers.  Drop back to a safe 8-minute bake and its a blonde, unexciting, mediocre pizza they can buy almost anywhere.  This issue has the potential to paint a business and its owner into a very difficult corner.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 06:00:19 PM by Pizza De Puta »
RE

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 06:25:12 PM »
OK, we're talking about NY style pizza here, not Neapolitan. NY style pizza baked in a gas or electric oven should not have issues with excessive charring. Or am I missing something?


Online scott123

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 06:27:24 PM »
RE, one of the reasons why 4 minute NY style pizza is like printing money is because of it's universal appeal. The bake time is low enough to give you the great oven spring that everyone loves, while not being so low that you end up with char. Char is niche. The moment you get anything in the way of char, you'll cut out a segment of customers that will think it's burnt. If people want char, they go to a Neapolitan pizzeria, not a NY style place.

Below is a 4 minute pie (Pizza Town).  This is just the tiniest bit too much char.  Just less than this is about as much char as you'd want, and wouldn't get any complaints from customers as to being 'burnt.'

Offline Pizza De Puta

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 06:37:29 PM »
I'm having trouble with the crust blisters burning (charring) at this point with a 5:45 bake time.  I'm afraid if I crank it up any hotter, there will be more charring.  I don't want to have to dock the pie, either.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 06:39:44 PM by Pizza De Puta »
RE

Online scott123

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 06:48:04 PM »
No, you don't ever want to dock NY style. Are these blisters in the rim? It is acceptable, if you have any noticeably large bubbles in the rim, to pop them as you're forming the skin.

Online scott123

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 06:55:10 PM »
Here's an undercrust shot of a 5 minute pie (Chau).  You can't do any better than this.

Offline Pizza De Puta

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 08:20:54 PM »
OK, popping the large blisters on the rim, got it.

Yes, the bottom of the slice you show from Chau looks good, Scott.  I don't think anybody would complain about that.
RE

Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2012, 09:00:37 PM »
Yep...that is nice. Notice he's able to pick the whole pie up by his thumb.
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Online scott123

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 10:04:00 PM »
Notice he's able to pick the whole pie up by his thumb.

Yup, I'd say that's within 90 seconds of being out of the oven. Another 90 seconds and he couldn't do that.

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2012, 08:05:35 AM »
I don't see it so much as N.Y. style pizza v/s whatever, but what is both regionally accepted and customer accepted. You can have a blond colored N.Y. style pizza, that is a given fact, no, you cannot have an authentic N.Y. style pizza without the char. In this case we're catering to customer demands/preferences, not what's authentic or not. This is what separated home pizza bakers from retail establishments, especially the box stores. At home we can make whatever we want, however we want it....if you don't like it, tough! But at the store you can't do business that way, so like it or not, we've got to prepare and serve the pizza the way the customer wants it, it may not be to our liking, but then again, we're not paying for it either, we're just paid to make it their way. This is frequently a serious road block to "newbies" just getting into the pizzeria business. One of the things that I always tell someone interested in opening a store (pizzeria) is that you must be like an honest politician (whatever that is), you don't have a vote in the matter, but instead your job is to represent the desires of your constituents (by giving them the pizza that they want).
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2012, 08:12:34 AM »
Tom,

When you talk about char in the context of the NY style are you talking about the rim or the bottom of the crust, or maybe both? I see a lot of what is sold as the NY style, particularly the NY street style, as having light top crusts/rims.

Peter

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Charring and the Marketplace
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2012, 08:59:01 AM »
Peter;
Most of the char that I see on N.Y. style pizzas is on the raised edge as a result of blister/bubble formation. Like wise, there might be a few on the bottom, but not a fully or even heavily charred bottom. At AJ's here in Manhattan (Kansas) they serve a N.Y. style slice (its' a slice operation) that has a very good, solid bake with good browning, but no real char across the entire bottom and outer edge. The result is a large slice that can be picked up and eaten using only two fingers, and has a decided crunch when eaten. I might add that AJ's was voted best pizza in Manhattan two years ago. I should also add that it was open competition, meaning that anyone/everyone could get in on the action, chains, independents, and home pizza bakers. How good is it you ask? Adam Peyton, the owner, has been in business now going on his fifth year, and he is presently opening his third location. That is success in anybody's book.
BTW: I do not consider N.Y. style pizza to be crispy by any stretch of the imagination. We developed Adam's pizza to be extraordinarily crispy because that is what his customers want and expect with their pizzas.
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