Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 73848 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22144
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #100 on: March 31, 2005, 11:37:30 PM »
I agree with Friz on the thickness matter. There's something screwy going on with the way a DiFara dough ball can weigh 22.6 oz. and make a 16-inch pizza with a crust as thin as pftaylor's photos show, and without a gigantic rim.

When I made the DiFara dough clone that produced such good results, I used very little yeast. But from the time I set the dough aside to rise, at around 8 PM, it hardly budged for a few hours thereafter. It wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I saw, to my surprise, that it had risen substantially. That dough was a 60%/40% high-gluten/00 dough, but maybe using a 75%/25% 00/high-gluten flour combination, as DiFara uses, the resulting dough will behave in the same lethargic manner as mine did. If Dom DeMarco uses his dough within a few hours of making, maybe there is little rise in his dough and it will produce the thin crust that we observe in the photos. After all, 99% of the weight of a dough ball, even after fermentation, is attributable to flour and water. The weights of the yeast and salt are minuscule by comparison. So, it has to be something about the way the yeast works--or doesn't work--to produce a dough that will have a thin crust when baked.

Maybe we also have to think about what role the salt plays in this situation. If a lot of it is used, but not so much as to produce an overly salty crust, the fermentation could be arrested to the point where the dough doesn't rise all that much. That might help explain the lack of oven spring also.

Peter



Offline pftaylor

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1113
  • Location: Tampa, FL
  • Life's Short. Get Wood Fired Up!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #101 on: April 01, 2005, 06:21:35 AM »
I offer the following perspective about Dom's dough:

First, there is a chance Dom could have mixed my dough just after my request.  I would not have put it past him. He is a mad scientist sort of and judging by how caked with flour his hands are he could have hand mixed a small batch just for me. He did ask one question of me which leans in another direction however: "When will you be using the dough?" I thought for a moment and replied by Wednesday - thinking I could bribe the hotel chef in Rochester to allow me to bring my own skin to the kitchen (wrong - health code violation). After bringing out the dough he suggested that I freeze it until I need it. Then he assured me "you and your dough be okay that way." Based on that comment I thought to myself, at the time, that he must have pulled a piece out of his dough tray for me. But which was it? A round or a square? Is there a difference? That question needs to be answered on another visit.

Upon inspecting the dough later that night it appeared it could have benefited from further kneading. It wasn't a good looking finished piece of dough by my standards. For instance, it had one area where the flour was not entirely absorbed by water. So I used the ancient kneading method discussed on this site and finished working the dough. The next evening the dough appeared to be more bubbly and normal looking - at least according to my standards. But the first night the dough appeared unfinished and most similar to dough containing little to no yeast. I thought to myself, at the time, the dough may have been rushed in the mixing process. It offered very little snap and could not hold a ball form very well. Limp, heavy, and soft comes to mind. Absolutely no elasticity was present. In contrast, Jose (Patsy's) hand-stretched the skin to about 16" and placed it on the peel for dressing. By the time the pie was served, it shrunk to just under 15". More elasticity than my home pies for certain.

Second, Dom has a generous hand and could have given me a huge chunk of dough. Since he measures everything by hand he may have carved out a bigger than usual chunk for me. While imprecise, he could have pulled a chunk out of the mixer from an unformed batch. When I was at Patsy's I ordered one dough ball. Jose ended up giving me two for the price of one out of generousity. Dom has this same trait in spades.

Lastly, his round pizzas, while considerably thicker than Patsy's near bursting latex balloon like thickness, are still rather thin. No where near as thick as a Scilian pie. Perhaps a little thicker than what I normally make at home. Dom's dough just sort of lies there and is quite unassuming. They don't appear to be full of energy. I chalked up the thickness differences to mainly around the different flours used. Dom doesn't appear to take a great amount of effort to stretch his dough. He sort of gets it to about the right size then focuses on the toppings. I would charecterize his dough stretching approach as being just get it close enough.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2005, 10:15:20 AM by pftaylor »
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
www.wood-firedpizza.com

Offline dinks

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 96
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #102 on: April 01, 2005, 12:44:11 PM »
PETER:
  Good Morning my learned friend. I only have a little time & patience this morning. I will not go into food science theory I will leave  that up toyou to do that. I am responding to #100 posting of yesterday.

  COMES NOW:

 The last sentence of the 2nd paragraph; Yeast works~ or~doesn't work............. Dough that has had a full fermentation & then rolled-out into a round as in a thin-crust pie does not proof,however, if it did somewhat it simply shows the a full term fermentation did not occur to begin with.
  Oven-spring, if a full ferm. has taken place then the yeast lies dorment it's power is dead till it is activated by a fold(Punching it down).
   As you know Peter, fermentation begins (Fundamentally speaking) when the mixer is turned off. However, it takes a full 20 minutes for the dough to begin its rise because it takes that long for the chemical activety in the concoction to function. Hence, if a double is to occur in 1 hour at 80 degrees It will take place in 1 hour & 20 minutes theoritically speaking.
  Peter, I will not go into the role that salt plays because you know that subject as well as anyone else.
  As far as oven spring is concerned Peter, I mentioned one reason why not, the 2 nd is... wilth all that topping on the pie It would not get very far up anyway.  I f you want oven spring  add steam in to the oven at the beginning, but you will never get a crisp pizza by doing that excercise.
  I am wondering Peter wih all the experimenting that goes on with various flours why hasn't DURUM wheat been mentioned??/ It just may surprise some that perhaps that is the flour that some of these New york pizza joints use with HI~G.
  Peter, I am tired now, I need to take my nap. Have a nice day my friend.
     ~DINKS.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22144
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #103 on: April 01, 2005, 01:36:19 PM »
DINKS,

As usual, thank you for your thoughtful response.

What threw me off the scent yesterday was the notion of making a thin crust with an amount of flour(s), water and the remaining ingredients that would produce a dough ball weighing 22.6 ounces--for a 16-inch pizza. What complicated matters even further was the notion of making a dough from dough hook to shaping in only a few hours, as is believed to be done at DiFara's. Based on pftaylor's further elaboration on the subject this morning, our premises will likely require revision.

I took into account the fact that there would be a delay in the yeast becoming acclimated to its surroundings before initiating fermentation. But if the dough production time was say, 2 hours, that wouldn't leave much time for a full fermentation. That is basically what prompted me to question what the yeast was doing, along with considering the possible effects that the amount of salt might have on the finished dough and its behavior once it got into the oven.

You mentioned the role of toppings in restraining oven spring. But one of the curious things, DINKS, is that the DiFara pizzas with few toppings (Margherita and plain cheese) that were depicted in pftaylor's photos had very thin crusts. This leads me to believe that the amount of dough used to make a standard pizza is less than 22.6 oz., and that Dom DeMarco may have indeed been generous in the amount of dough he gave to pftaylor.

As for the unpopularity of durum wheat flour for pizza making, I don't have an answer for that. I think most people associate durum wheat with pasta making, particularly the imported Italian durum wheat (I believe the Italians call it grano duro tenero). I do know that semolina, which is coarsely ground durum wheat, is commonly used with other flours, including high-gluten flour, in pizza making. I have had pizza made using both of those grains and the crust is indeed quite good. There have been recipes posted on this site for pizza dough using semolina flour, in case you are interested.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 08, 2006, 11:17:58 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline PizzaBrewer

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 268
  • Location: Relocating my brewpub/pizzeria within NE Pennsylvania...
  • Seasoned pro Brewer, intermediate pro Pizzamaker
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #104 on: April 01, 2005, 03:49:53 PM »
At the risk of stirring the pot too much....I'll do this anyway.

The longest-running discussion of DiFaras that I'm aware of is on Chowhound.  There are many regular customers there and the cheese blend  Dom uses is a frequent topic.  So many people have so many different ideas (all based on personal visits) that I'm beginning to suspect that Dom has his own inside joke about telling different people different things.

In an effort to set the record straight I started a new thread over there.  It should be interesting:

http://chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/63856.html

---Guy

 
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22144
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #105 on: April 01, 2005, 04:01:41 PM »
Guy,

I, too, have my suspicious side. For example, when pftaylor mentioned the Pecorino Romano cheese, that was the first time I had heard of that cheese being used at DiFara's. What I recalled was seeing a big wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a photo taken at DiFara's. The information I have collected on the cheeses used at DiFara's is as follows: a 75%/25% combination of the Grande brand of full-fat mozzarella cheese and the Grande Ovoline fresh fior-di-latte mozzarella cheese or possibly a buffalo mozzarella cheese imported from Italy, a dusting of grana padano cheese, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side. There's no reason why a Romano cheese can't be used. It is a good cheese, but it isn't what I understood to be used at DiFara's. 

It will be interesting to see what you learn at chowhound.

Peter

Offline PizzaBrewer

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 268
  • Location: Relocating my brewpub/pizzeria within NE Pennsylvania...
  • Seasoned pro Brewer, intermediate pro Pizzamaker
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #106 on: April 01, 2005, 04:10:17 PM »
I've been to DiFaras twice.  Both times Dom was way too busy for me to feel comfortable asking him questions.

But based on watching him make a dozen or two pies, I only saw him use 3 different cheeses.  Two of them he slices by hand onto the pie (using a hand-held box grater/slicer), and one hard cheese he shreds with a bench-mounted hand-turned grater.  That's the cheese he puts on after cooking (and the same he'll give you a paper plate-full as extra), which I assumed was Parmesan.  When discussing this on Chowhound, I was firmly informed that it was grana padana, not  parmesan.

But others there say he uses Parmesan, so I just don't know.

As for Romano, this thread is the first mention I've ever heard of that.

It's fun to have a mystery...

---Guy
« Last Edit: April 01, 2005, 04:17:07 PM by PizzaBrewer »
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22144
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #107 on: April 08, 2005, 03:07:35 PM »
In a recent post on this thread (Reply #59), I described a DiFara clone dough based on using a 60/40 ratio, by weight, of All Trumps high-gluten flour and Caputo 00 flour, a relatively high hydration percentage (65%), a small amount of salt (1/4 t.) and a 16 hour overall period of fermentation/ripening. When that dough was made into a pizza following the instructions given at the abovementioned post, I came out with what I deemed to be an exceptional pizza.

The recipe I used that produced such good results was as follows:

5.07 oz. All Trumps (General Mills) high-gluten flour (about 1 c. plus 1 2/3 T.)
3.38 oz. Caputo 00 pizzeria flour (about 3/4 c. plus 1 t.)
5.49 oz. water (around 65% hydration) (a bit less than 3/4 c.)
1/4 t. salt
Slightly less than 1/4 t. IDY

Subsequently, we learned from pftaylor that Dom DeMarco at DiFara's uses predominantly Caputo 00 flour and a lesser amount of All Trumps high-gluten flour, in a roughly 75/25 ratio. Based on that input, I decided to make another DiFara clone dough using that ratio of flours (by weight). I also decided to increase the amount of salt and to slightly reduce the total fermentaition/ripening period. For purposes of the dough, I used the 14-inch pizza size, and a thickness factor of around 0.09. The final recipe was as follows, including the baker's percents:

Flour (100%), 6.50 oz. of Caputo 00 flour (about 1 1/2 c.) and 2.17 oz. All Trumps (a bit more than 1/2 c.)
Water (60%, temp. adjusted to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F), 5.20 oz. (2/3 c.)
Salt (1.5%), 0.13 oz. (between 5/8 and 3/4 t.)
IDY (0.25%), 0.022 oz. (a bit less than 1/4 t.)

Because of the small amount of dough involved, I chose to knead it entirely by hand. When done, it had a final weight of 14.04 oz. and an internal temperature just shy of 80 degrees F. I placed the dough into a plastic storage bag and set the bag on my kitchen counter late last night. By early morning, about 10 hours later, the dough had spread into a pancake-like disk. It was soft and a bit moist but not nearly as wet or moist as the previous dough that had a considerably higher hydration percentage. I was able to reball the dough without having to add any more flour. I then returned the dough to a bowl (covered) for about another 4 hours, during which time the dough at least doubled. It was still soft and a bit moist and it exhibited a tendency to bubbling. but I was able to easily shape the dough into a 14-inch skin. The dough was a combination of extensible and elastic at the same time, but it handled well.

After dressing the pizza, it was baked for about 6 minutes on a pizza stone that had been preheated for about an hour at 500-550 degrees F. I thereupon moved the pizza to an upper oven rack position to continue baking for about another 1-2 minutes under the broiler, which I had turned on about 4-5 minutes into the baking process.

The photos below show the finished product. Overall, I was quite pleased with the results. The crust was soft and delicate in the middle, with a nice lightness, and crunchy at the rim--which had a quite open and airy structure. I thought the crust had a very nice taste. As between today's pizza and the last one I liked so well, I think I preferred the last one a bit more--but not by much. They were both quite good. As for the increased amount of salt that I used for today's dough, I can't say that I noticed a big difference in terms of dough performance or crust taste. The lower hydration percent made for a bit tougher time kneading, but the finished crust was still open and airy.

I think what today's experiment taught me most is that it is possible to make a decent dough and crust using a combination of flours that ranges quite widely between a 60/40 ratio of high-gluten and 00 flours and a 75/25 ratio of 00 and high-gluten flours. It is also possible to use a lower hydration percent than the 65% previously used and get an open and airy crumb. I also believe it is possible to make a decent DiFara dough clone on a same-day basis, without requiring an overnight stay on the kitchen counter. I suspect that one could start the dough early in the morning and use it later in the afternoon of evening, with respectable results. To get an even lighter and more delicate crust, it should also be possible to use an even lower thickness factor, possibly around 0.07-0.08, which is similar to that used by pftaylor in his Raquel recipe.

Peter

« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 04:41:15 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline dinks

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 96
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #108 on: April 08, 2005, 03:35:05 PM »
PETER:
  Good Afternoon. Thank-you, I enjoyed reading your blow by blow descriptio of how you made your pizza. The photo & pizza look XLNT.
   I was not aware Peter that 65% hyration is considered a bit much. Just this morning at 4:30A.M. I mixed my poolish  from yesterday & Dough together & I used total approx 67% hydration & it is not  a wet dough. I hate wet dough it is so hard to handle. Mine is sitting in the refridge till early morning tomorrow. I decided to make a extra slight amount so that I can use as a "ALTUS", for the next batch I make next month. I never tried that technique. I am to lazy to start & keep a sourdough concoction so I decided to see if this technique has any merit. Good luck & have a nice day my friend.
    ~DINKS.

Offline dinks

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 96
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #109 on: April 08, 2005, 03:56:44 PM »
PETER:
  Sorry I made a arthmetic addition error. I added up my altered recipe & it read 57.5%  hydration. I omitted also that I employed a 60 minute autolyse as well. My dough came out a little better than usual. I used 2/3rds hi-g & 1/3rd durum.
  ENJOY!!!.
  ~DINKS.


Offline MT

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 2
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #110 on: April 08, 2005, 04:17:29 PM »
Peter

Could you confirm the weights in the 75/25 blend version?  Things don't seem to add up correctly.  I get a finished weight somewhere near 16.222.  It may well be me but something seems amiss.

Offline dinks

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 96
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #111 on: April 08, 2005, 04:31:17 PM »
MT:
  Good afternoon. You are correct. It does add up to that amount. Iwent thru the numbers this is what I learned. The yeast amount is ..22 not as written .022. also he just forgot to add the weight of the  "OO" flour. All I can say is "BIN DARE & DUN DAT"  once or twice.
  Good Luck & have a nice day my friend.
   ~DINKS..

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22144
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #112 on: April 08, 2005, 04:31:18 PM »
DINKS,

As a practical matter, I tend to view 65% as somewhat the outer limit for pizza doughs like the Lehmann NY style dough. In the case of the Lehmann dough, Tom Lehmann himself sets the outer limit at 65%. Flours like the Caputo 00 flour are usually used for doughs with a hydration percent around 50-54% or thereabouts, although some pizza makers use a much higher hydration percent, almost to the point where the dough is really quite wet and almost incapable of handling by hand. You will need to use a dough scraper or something like that. With a combination of 00 flour and high-gluten flour, getting to 65% takes a bit of work.

I have found that I can go beyond 65% hydration if I start mixing the flour into the water very gradually, whether using a wooden spoon or the paddle or hook attachment of a stand mixer. If you pause now and then to let the flour absorb the water, you can get a higher hydration overall. Certainly, using an autolyse also helps you get a higher hydration also. But I have discovered that if I specify recipes with very high hydration levels, people start to have problems with the dough being too wet. Usually they get over this with experience, but it can be a problem in the meantime.

For those who are wondering what an "altus" is, it is a mash that is associated mostly with rye and pumpernickel doughs. According to what I have researched, the altus mash is made by slicing and trimming the crusts from leftover bread (like sour rye bread), soaking the trimmed bread in water for several hours or overnight under refrigeration, squeezing it dry, and adding small amounts to the bread dough. Altus intensifies the flavor of breads like pumpernickel and rye bread and helps them retain moisture. When using altus, the recommendation is to allow for a little extra flour in the recipe. The mash keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator.

Dinks, I have never tried using an altus, so I hope you will report back to us whether it has a place in our pizza making efforts.

Peter

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22144
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #113 on: April 08, 2005, 04:36:27 PM »
MT,

You are correct. The total flour weight is around 8.70 oz. The Caputo 00 flour weight should be 6.50 oz. If you add the weights up you should get close to 14.04 oz. (or a bit less because of rounding). I will go back and correct the post. Thanks for keeping a sharp eye.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 04:43:15 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline dinks

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 96
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #114 on: April 08, 2005, 04:46:38 PM »
PETER:
  Hello again. Yes Peter, your desciption of an Altus is 101% correct. However my friend that is the European (GERMAN) version & that is where it was pioneered. However, I used the American interpretation where you use up to approx 25%  of the new dough with old dough from a previous batch. That is what I plan to do. I will start with a much lower amount & work upwards till I can get a feel for it. Oh, by the way its formal name is "ALTUS BRAT" It is a pre-ferment. Just a variation.
 Have a nice day my friend.
~DINKS>

Offline Scagnetti

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 68
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #115 on: April 08, 2005, 06:06:13 PM »
At the risk of stirring the pot too much....I'll do this anyway.

The longest-running discussion of DiFaras that I'm aware of is on Chowhound.  There are many regular customers there and the cheese blend  Dom uses is a frequent topic.  So many people have so many different ideas (all based on personal visits) that I'm beginning to suspect that Dom has his own inside joke about telling different people different things.

In an effort to set the record straight I started a new thread over there.  It should be interesting:

http://chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/63856.html

---Guy

 

Well Nina W, a well known Chowhound expert on DiFara's, has posted the definitive cheese ingredients in a DiFara's pizza:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/64284.html

Offline pftaylor

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1113
  • Location: Tampa, FL
  • Life's Short. Get Wood Fired Up!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #116 on: April 17, 2005, 06:43:01 PM »
In honor of Dominic I offer up a home version of his devine calzone...
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
www.wood-firedpizza.com

Offline MTPIZZA

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 273
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #117 on: April 19, 2005, 08:51:50 AM »
pftaylor great shots!!! are you related to Ansul Adams???  The pictures give off this old world, hard work, realism. Just looking at the pizza masters hands tell the whole story, history and hard work. Nice investigation that oven looks like it has really worked hard all its life in his shop... I've never heard of that brand of tomato has anyone ever tried them???

Offline pftaylor

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1113
  • Location: Tampa, FL
  • Life's Short. Get Wood Fired Up!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #118 on: April 22, 2005, 09:44:14 PM »
I really do feel that any reproduction effort should be targeted at Dom's famous "square" pie as well. To provide suitable inspiration, I took a traditional shot at a round and a square Di Fara tonight.
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
www.wood-firedpizza.com

Offline pftaylor

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1113
  • Location: Tampa, FL
  • Life's Short. Get Wood Fired Up!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #119 on: April 22, 2005, 09:44:57 PM »
And the round...
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
www.wood-firedpizza.com