Author Topic: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?  (Read 2201 times)

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Offline Bende

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Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« on: March 28, 2013, 09:24:52 PM »
Hey guys,

I'm fresh off a glorious weekend in New Haven, where I hit up Pepe's. Bar, and Modern.  All fantastic, especially Pepe's.  I'm now really anxious to try to replicate the style.  I've got some plans in place - a "neo-neopolitan" dough recipe from Peter Reinhart that calls for bread flour and some honey, and some tips on mixing fresh and aged mozzarella with parm reg.    I'm also planning to stretch the dough very thin, all the way out to the crust, as opposed to the usual method of trying to capture some air bubbles in the rim of the pie.

I'll post some pictures in a few days, but I'd love some tips if anyone has any experience trying to clone the New Haven style pies.

Ben



Offline scott123

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2013, 09:55:18 PM »
Ben, first thing, throw away American Pie (or any other Reinhart pizza dough recipes). Don't even give it away.  Nobody deserves that kind of misinformation.

Second, oven setup is, by far, the most critical aspect of achieving a reasonable facsimile of Pepe's at home.  You'll never mirror the extremely dry nature of coal in a home oven, but you can match the intense heat/short bake time with the right hearth material and the right oven. Tell us about your oven. Peak temp? Gas or electric? If gas, does it have a broiler in the main compartment?

Third, you've got to start tracking down Pepe's ingredients. Bromated Full Strength flour is a big part of the equation, as is the Cento Italian tomatoes (ROA1 can code), along with wholesale grade mozzarella, sliced into square slices on a slicer.  Boars head, sliced at the deli, is a good jumping off point.

Offline Bende

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2013, 10:50:23 PM »
Peter - Polish's pies look spot on!  But unfortunately no room for a WFO in a west village studio.

Scott123 - appreciate the help.  I'm working with a gas oven that tops out at 550, and a 1/4 baking steel and an extra stone if needed.  Broiler in the main oven, at the top.  Haven't quite mastered the broiler method but it sounds like that's what you might be recommending.  Just purchased a heat gun to help guide my efforts.

My go to is King Arthur Bread Flour.  What do you think?  No good?  Any tips on a dough recipe / fermentation approach?

Really appreciate the guidance,

Ben

Offline scott123

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 11:29:33 PM »
Ben, PolishPizza is baking those pies in a home electric oven.

Gas puts you a little further behind the 8 ball when it comes to dryness, but I think you can work around it. Basically, for Pepe's:

Coal - dry, best
Wood - slightly less dry (but still can be pretty dry if using especially dry wood), 2nd best
Electric - wetter than wood (theoretically)
Gas - wettest

If PP can do those pies (and better) in an electric oven, you should be able to come close with gas.

We'll know better once your IR thermometer arrives, but I don't think 1/4" steel is going to cut it. If your oven can reliably preheat the plate to 575+, maybe there's a chance, but if it's closer to 550, then you're going to need 1/2".

Another big factor in PP's success is pizza size/rim to non-rim ratio. You won't create that magic, that aesthetic, with a 13.5" pizza (on a 14" plate).  He's doing 18".  It depends on how large of a plate your oven can handle, but you want to be at least 17" to match that.

Normally, when suggesting flours for NY style, I tell people that KABF is an acceptable substitution, but... for NH... PP is already making a sacrifice working with electric, and you're taking a further hit with gas. Every little bit counts, and I think KABF will be a slight drop from Full Strength.  Now... obtaining FS in the west village. That's going to be tricky.  Do you have access to a vehicle?  Restaurant Depot in Brooklyn might carry it.  How motivated are you?  >:D  I've known people that have taken 50 lb. bags of flour on subways.  One of the granny carts would help.

I guess, if you absolutely HAVE to use KABF, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but there's not a lot of wiggle room on the plate thickness if your oven doesn't get hot enough. Also, if you're going to want to do more than 1 pie at a time, the thermal mass in 1/2" plate is going to be critical for recovery.

Here's a rough sketch of the dough

58% hydration
2% salt
.6% IDY
.07 thickness factor (use the dough calculator)

Knead 1/2way between cottage cheese appearance and smooth
48 hour cold fermentation
3 hour temper
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 08:59:50 PM by scott123 »

Offline Bende

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 08:53:56 AM »
Really appreciate the help, Scott.

So I think its time to invest in a 1/2 inch steel.  I'm assuming you'd recommend the broiler method to get as much heat as possible? 

Can you recommend any high protein / full strength brands?  Maybe I can find some for delivery online.

Thanks for the dough recipe.  Looks be relatively low hydration, which is the name of the game with this style of pie I guess.

Ben

Offline scott123

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 06:07:47 PM »
Ben, technically speaking, high hydration is the name of the game for NH, but, because of the wetness of the home oven environment, in order to get the right texture, we have to make  a concession and lower the hydration dramatically.

Full Strength is the brand name. Other comparable brands of flour include:

Spring King
Occident
Pillsbury xxxx patent flour
King Midas Special
Superlative
Commander
Majestic
Springup
Perfect Diamond (I think this is 12.5%ish, but not sure)

You're probably going to have a hard time finding any of these flours online, and, even if you did, shipping would be cost prohibitive. It's been a while since I've researched flour distributors in NY, but, if I recall correctly, beyond Restaurant Depot, there are one or two in Brooklyn.  If they are delivering to a restaurant in your neighborhood, perhaps they could drop you off a bag.

Also, you're going to get a lot of curt responses, but you might want to, in your cheeriest manner possible, inquire to see if any local pizzerias might sell a bag of flour.

As I've said to others, when you get the 1/2" steel, size it carefully. You want it touching the back wall and almost touching the door, with space on the sides for air flow.  Be aware of any lips on the shelf that might decrease from the back to front space. I find it best to make a cardboard dummy for sizing to make sure the plate is as deep as it can possibly be (to the nearest 1/16th of an inch, if possible), while still being 100% certain that the door closes.

Online apizza

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2013, 08:36:06 PM »
Ben, my humble opinion.
 Keep the American Pie book. It's for those of us starting the quest.  Take small steps. I suggest you let this thread continue to help you in your education.  Probably, as you may know by now, this forum has a wide scope of opinions. Read and evaluate.
Marty

Offline scott123

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2013, 09:17:26 PM »
Keep the American Pie book. It's for those of us starting the quest.

Misinformation serves neither beginners or those with more experience. If anything, it's more damaging to those without experience who can't weed out the good information from the bad. There's not a single piece of information in American Pie that will help an aspiring pizza maker produce a Pepe's clone that's on par with what PolishPizza has achieved in a home oven. Maybe the book was/is good for you, but for Ben's goals, it's counter productive.

A massive part of the reason why PolishPizza was able to go from beginner to pro in the blazing speed of a month and a half was the fact that he didn't have to unlearn bad information taught by authors like Reinhart.

Online TXCraig1

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2013, 09:39:13 PM »
Coal - dry, best
Wood - slightly less dry (but still can be pretty dry if using especially dry wood), 2nd best
Electric - wetter than wood
Gas - wettest

Why would electric be any wetter than coal let alone wood. Wood produces water vapor as it burns - electric, like coal, does not.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.


Offline scott123

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2013, 10:12:22 PM »
Electric's closed system traps the steam coming off the dough.  Brian Spangler and Scott R have both discussed this phenomenon. Brian has to actually limit the number of pizzas being baked at one time because of the amount of steam being produced.  If you've got a bigger oven, you can offset it, but it's not the same thing as a wood environment where the moisture is, for the most part, being vented.

I've also been tracking levels of crispiness in 4+ minute WFO pies.  Chau's 5 minute WFO bakes are good examples of the increased crispiness from the drier environment.  His dough, with that bake time, in an electric oven, wouldn't be that crisp.

The evidence is somewhat anecdotal, so I could be wrong about this, but, assuming the wood is dry, my money is that a WFO is a drier environment than electric.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2013, 11:07:15 PM »
Dang Scott...you are awesome man.
When you are on a roll it is like....Wow...jus sit back, learn, and smile....thanks so much dude!  8)
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Offline Bende

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2013, 09:31:19 AM »
Thanks guys, pictures coming tomorrow night.

Offline scott123

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2013, 09:08:14 PM »
Thanks so much dude!  8)

My pleasure, Bob!  ;D Thank you for your kind words.

FWIW, I went back and added a 'theoretically' to my post  ;D I'm 90% certain that wood is drier than electric.  Member PolishPizza will be switching from electric to wood within the next two months, so I'll be much more certain once I see his results.

Beyond the dryness, another area where coal and wood have a leg up on electric and gas is lateral heat.  Both ovens have very intense heat coming from the side.  I've tried to mimic this by building foil walls around the pizza that are bent at an angle to bounce some of the radiation coming off the broiler towards the side of the pizza, but I'm not 100% certain that they make much of a difference. I was thinking, at some point, I might test some hearthkit-ish option, preferably with something dark/a good emitter.

Offline Bende

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2013, 08:55:34 PM »
So I gave this a spin tonight, using Scott's recipe above.  Really happy with the result.   

The dough rose at 8 hours at room temp, then balled in 10.5 oz. balls and in the fridge for about 20 hours, then room temp at 3 hours before I baked. 

I got my new 1/2 baking steel in time (sweet), and pre-heat at 550 for a little over an hour, then turned on the broil for a couple minutes before throwing in the pie.  Temp was about 580 before baking.

I stretched the dough out as big as my oven/peel can handle, which is about 13.5 - 14 inches.  Made no attempt to capture air bubbles in the rim like I normally would, instead went for as thin as I could get it.  Brushed the rim with olive oil.  Put on the sauce and a heavy dose of basil strips, then slices of whole milks, low-moisture mozz (got it from the deli, probably on the more moist end of the low moisture spectrum).  Gave a good handlful of pecorino and then in the oven.  Pulled at about 6.5 minutes.

I really liked it.  Best part was the thin / crispness of the slices.  Thinnest I've ever made and was really digging that.  Might look to add more mozzarella next time, or try to get out as much of the moisture as I can.  Crust had a really nice, yeasty flavor.

I'm curious what you guys think a little honey or sugar would do to the dough recipe?

Thanks for all the guidance.

Ben

Offline Bende

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2013, 08:56:27 PM »
Upskirt.

Online TXCraig1

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2013, 09:11:45 PM »
Electric's closed system traps the steam coming off the dough.  Brian Spangler and Scott R have both discussed this phenomenon. Brian has to actually limit the number of pizzas being baked at one time because of the amount of steam being produced.  If you've got a bigger oven, you can offset it, but it's not the same thing as a wood environment where the moisture is, for the most part, being vented.

I've also been tracking levels of crispiness in 4+ minute WFO pies.  Chau's 5 minute WFO bakes are good examples of the increased crispiness from the drier environment.  His dough, with that bake time, in an electric oven, wouldn't be that crisp.

The evidence is somewhat anecdotal, so I could be wrong about this, but, assuming the wood is dry, my money is that a WFO is a drier environment than electric.

I don't think that is true for a home oven. Both gas and electric are designed to vent steam quickly so that people don't get burned, no?

A wood fire creates a good bit of water when there are open flames. Coals only, not much.

I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2013, 01:12:17 AM »

Here's a rough sketch of the dough

58% hydration
2% salt
.6% IDY
.07 thickness factor (use the dough calculator)

Knead 1/2way between cottage cheese appearance and smooth
48 hour cold fermentation
3 hour temper

Scott123-
I gave this recipe a shot using All Trumps, 1/4 inch steel and a gas oven. The dough was close to 48 hours on Friday night. Stretched nicely (I'm very much a novice at shaping dough) and had a good feel to it. The pizza was delicious. No one would mistake it as being from Pepe's, but with some tweaking of the cooking process (location of the steel in the oven, temperature, when to broil etc...) this could be some pretty special pizza. Using the wife and kids as a barometer - the pizza went quickly and no one left crusts behind.

Thanks for the formulation. I cannot believe the difference in my pizza since joining the forum. Truly staggering improvements.

These pictures are from Friday. I got better crust browning earlier tonight, but no pictures. Tonight's two pies were gone in a hurry. The pictures: dough ball, stretched, sausage pizza, undercarriage of the sausage pizza.

Offline communist

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Re: Cloning Pepe's / New Haven Style Pizza - Any Tips?
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2013, 09:49:05 AM »
Electric's closed system traps the steam coming off the dough.  Brian Spangler and Scott R have both discussed this phenomenon.
I don't think that is true for a home oven. Both gas and electric are designed to vent steam quickly so that people don't get burned, no?



Fascinating discussion gentlemen!  My wife and I have definitely experienced intense eye irritation from heat (steam?) escaping from our electric oven when opening - almost burning our eyes.  Poor venting of steam?  Now this opens up strategies to get the steam out of the electric oven.  Will opening the door fully after 1 minute for a few seconds vent the steam and result in a crispy crust.  The holy grail!  A four minute bake with seven minute crisp!  Wow!!!   Mark


 

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