Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 90862 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #150 on: February 05, 2007, 05:57:35 PM »
when I was there dom had a bunch of cases of fresh tomatos sitting right on top of his vantia cans.  I think his sauce contains both fresh and canned tomatos becuse it seemed like too much produce to just be used as a pizza topping.  Also, I find it neccesary to cook fresh tomatos a decent amount to reduce the water content.   My guess is that the difference between the round sauce and the sicilian sauce is that the cooked one (sicilian) uses fresh tomatos along with the vantia.  I would start by cooking down the fresh one first.  Once they are thick you can add the canned and reduce a bit more.

Even though it may not be what he uses, I think you will have better luck in a normal home oven with a 50/50 caputo all trumps.  You could do a 75/25 if you use the caputo red, which will work better in a home oven than the caputo pizzeria.

I did not taste any wine in his sauce for the round or the sicilian pizza, just quality herbs and garlic.

Thanks Scott.  I will use some fresh tomatoes.  I completely forgot that I read one this thread that he uses a combination of fresh tomatoes with the canned.  As for the flour combination, I'll start with 50/50 as you suggested.  The key is to replicate it for home use and I don't have any reservations changing it up.


Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #151 on: February 05, 2007, 06:01:55 PM »
Peter,

Thanks for the info on the prosciutto; I will have to add a chunk of it to the sauce as it cooks.  Also, thanks for the pictures, they will come in handy.  It looks like I remembered correctly about no basil during the dressing, but it looks like he adds Padano to the pie before baking. 

Mike

Offline Scagnetti

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 69
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #152 on: February 06, 2007, 02:28:27 PM »
I have concluded that the key to Dom's pizza is a combination of the oven and the toppings--plus a mystique that Dom had created for his business over the years. I can come pretty close to matching the toppings but not the oven. His dough in combination with the high quality toppings and oven is what seems to keep people lined up for his pizzas. If he went to lower quality cheeses, tomatoes and toppings, I think the deficiency in his crust would be noticed, whereas before it wouldn't have been. But that is just my opinion. Maybe the mystique, plus the favorable publicity he regularly gets, would be enough to sustain him. He may well be the most interviewed pizza maker in the country, although I think that John Brescio at Lombardi's is giving him a run for his money.
.
.
Peter

Peter,

I don't know if you've seen these videos or not but they are very good depictions of Dom at work.





I have a question about the first video.  Doesn't it appear that he's putting a lot of olive oil on the pie?  What do you think?

Scagnetti


Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23461
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #153 on: February 06, 2007, 03:25:35 PM »
Scagnetti,

Thanks for the links to the videos. I had not seen them before. As always, I watch Dom like a hawk to see if he reveals anything I did not already know about his pizzas.

As for the amount of oil, it's hard to say how much he is actually putting on the pizza without knowing how big the mouth of the spout of his oil can is. It's also possible that certain pizzas get more oil than others. For example, he may not put a lot of oil, if any, on a pepperoni or sausage pizza but quite a bit on pizzas with a lot of veggies.

Peter

Offline Scagnetti

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 69
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #154 on: February 06, 2007, 07:03:45 PM »
As for the amount of oil, it's hard to say how much he is actually putting on the pizza without knowing how big the mouth of the spout of his oil can is. It's also possible that certain pizzas get more oil than others. For example, he may not put a lot of oil, if any, on a pepperoni or sausage pizza but quite a bit on pizzas with a lot of veggies.

Peter
That's a good point.  We all know how much oil can leech out of some of those toppings.

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #155 on: February 10, 2007, 08:58:25 PM »
My first experience trying to make a Difara's square pie went pretty well.  I will need to modify a few things, but I was quite happy with my results.

Yesterday evening I made two dough balls, one with a thickness factor of 0.1075 and the other at 0.11.  I used a combination of All Trumps (60%) and Caputo Pizza 00(40%), 65% hydration, 1.5% salt, and 0.5% IDY.  I used my KA mixer to make the dough.  I poured all the water (46 degrees) into the mixer, added about 2/3rds of the flour mixture and used the paddle attachment to "wet knead" for about two minutes.  A rest period of 15 minutes followed and the remaining ingredients were added using the dough hook attachment.  Once all the ingredients combined and a dough ball formed, I hand kneaded the dough for a few minutes.  Next the two dough balls were placed in the fridge.  Each dough ball read 70 degrees when entering the fridge.

I started off this morning making the pre-cooked tomato sauce.  I sauteed some roughed chopped garlic in Berrio mild olive oil for a few minutes then added some chopped ripe plum tomatoes and a chunk of prosciutto.  I simmered the tomatoes in the olive oil and garlic with sea salt and pepper for about an hour until the tomatoes were soft and most of the watery liquid evaporated.  I then added a can of whole peeled Italian tomatoes; draining some of the water from the can.  I simmered the mixture for another hour and added some fresh oregano and fresh basil about five minutes before taking it off the heat.

After about 20 hours of cold fermentation, I removed the 0.1075 dough from the fridge and allowed it to reach room temperature(2 hours).  I heated my pizza stone with the oven set at 550 degrees for an hour.  I oiled my rectangular pan with the same olive oil I used above and massaged the dough into the pan.  I found a Chicago Metallic heavy gauge steel pan at Marshalls Home Goods for $6.99.  It is 12.25x9x1 inch pan; pretty small, but enough to feed my wife and I.  I wanted to keep the experiments small and cheap until I'm completely happy with recipe.

After shaping the dough in the pan, I covered it with the pre-cooked sauce and placed it in the oven on the pizza stone.  It cooked for about 5 minutes until the edges were slightly browned.  I removed the par-baked crust and let it cool for about 3 hours.  I reheated the stone again for an hour at 550 degrees, added more Berrio oil to the pan, dressed the par-baked crust with fresh mozz, whole milk mozz, a sprinkle of padano, some more pre-cooked sauce and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  It cooked for another 5 minutes until the cheese melted and the crust got dark and charred then finished the pie with some fresh basil.

It was without question my favorite homemade pizza to date, however, I believe the sauce was a little too overpowering in terms of taste.  I think by looking at the pictures that I may have added too much.  The crust was very tasty with a good amount of charring, the problem being it was a little too crisp and dry.  It actually was a very enjoyable crust, but not chewy enough to be like Difara's.  This is where advice and experimentation will be needed.  How can I darken and char the crust, but not dry it out too much?  Higher hydration?  Less Caputo?  Add oil to the dough formulation?  I also think that the crust needs to be slightly thicker and hope the 0.11 will be the right thickness.  I will be making the 0.11 dough tomorrow.  :pizza:

Overall I'm very pleased with my first attempt and think I should be able to get very close to a successful clone.  I hope you enjoy the pics!

« Last Edit: February 10, 2007, 09:18:40 PM by Boy Hits Car »

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #156 on: February 10, 2007, 09:00:46 PM »
more pics...


Offline Peteg

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 103
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #157 on: February 10, 2007, 09:34:25 PM »
Boy hits car, It looks like your off to a great start.  keep up the good work.  Peteg

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23461
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #158 on: February 10, 2007, 10:12:12 PM »
Mike,

Nice job.

You might want to try proofing the dough in the pan before saucing and pre-baking. I would try around 45 minutes to an hour proof time. That should create an insulator effect in the dough and permit a longer bake time while retaining a chewy character to the crust along with crispiness on the bottom. You might also skip the step of allowing the pre-baked crust to cool before finishing. I read somewhere that Dom at one time did not pre-bake his Sicilian crusts but found it necessary for some reason to resort to doing so. The intimation was that Dom had slowed down because of age and could no longer keep up with the demand for his Sicilian pies, and therefore turned to pre-baking the crusts. I don't know if any of this is true, but it can't hurt to try using the crust right after pre-baking. You could also lower the oven temperature and use a longer bake.

You might also take a look at this post on the Lehmann thread where I described my efforts to make a NY style pizza with a pre-baked crispy crust but with a chewy and soft interior, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg27372.html#msg27372 (Reply 424). I used a screen but many of the principles may apply to what your are trying to do.

Peter


Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23461
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #159 on: February 10, 2007, 11:47:10 PM »
I don't know if this video clip, , has been posted on this thread before, but it does a nice job of showing Dom making both the round and Sicilian pies. You can even get a pretty good idea of the quantities of cheeses and toppings used.

This piece, from the same source as the video clip, offers a tribute to Dom's square pie and also indicates that the dough is proofed before par-baking: http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/2006/09/21/nyc-dining-difara-redux-its-hip-to-be-square/.

Peter
« Last Edit: February 11, 2007, 12:22:02 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #160 on: February 11, 2007, 12:25:52 PM »
Peter,

Thanks for your sleuthing of Difara's and the square pie.  Tonight I will proof the dough for an hour in the pan and finish the pizza right after the par-baking is done.  I think this should help a lot.  It looks like from the pictures of the last link you gave, I need to make my version a bit thicker; that will have to wait until next weekend. 

Mike

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #161 on: February 11, 2007, 09:44:41 PM »
Peter's suggestions really help a lot.  I proofed the dough for an hour on the pan and finished the pizza right after the pre-bake.  The bottom of the crust as well as the edges were perfectly crisp and not nearly as dried out as last night's pie; it had a chewier texture, but was still a little dry.  My next attempt will have a slightly larger thickness factor and 60% Caputo to 40% All Trumps.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the initial results.


Offline ratana

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 35
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #162 on: February 14, 2007, 11:53:40 PM »
Boy hits car:  Just wondering where you got that pan from, do you have an online site?  I too would like to try to make a clone of the Di Fara square.. I am new at pizza making, but the taste of his square pies is always forever in my mind.

I did try some of the recipes posted in this thread to make a clone of the round pie.  The 75/25 caputo to all trumps seemed to be pretty spot on as far as I could taste, in terms of the crispness on the bottom, etc.

If it helps, the last time I was at Di Fara, my friend and I waited 2 hours(!) for a half sausage square pie, and he did not pre-bake the crust for that one.  It was an insane night there, and so he was out of the pre-baked crusts that I have seen him have there, he just made one on the spot.  But I do think he did it in two steps.  (Dough + some sauce, then taking it out, more oil on the bottom of the pan, the rest of the cheese etc.)

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23461
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #163 on: February 16, 2007, 09:02:52 PM »
ratana,

As noted in Reply 155, Boy Hits Car is using a Chicago Metallic heavy gauge steel pan that he found at Marshalls Home Goods for $6.99.  It is a 12.25x9x1 inch pan. I believe that it may be a non-stick finish pan or something similar. I don't believe that Chicago Metallic makes a dark, anodized pan in that size.

Peter

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #164 on: February 16, 2007, 10:26:06 PM »
Boy hits car:  Just wondering where you got that pan from, do you have an online site?  I too would like to try to make a clone of the Di Fara square.. I am new at pizza making, but the taste of his square pies is always forever in my mind.

I did try some of the recipes posted in this thread to make a clone of the round pie.  The 75/25 caputo to all trumps seemed to be pretty spot on as far as I could taste, in terms of the crispness on the bottom, etc.

If it helps, the last time I was at Di Fara, my friend and I waited 2 hours(!) for a half sausage square pie, and he did not pre-bake the crust for that one.  It was an insane night there, and so he was out of the pre-baked crusts that I have seen him have there, he just made one on the spot.  But I do think he did it in two steps.  (Dough + some sauce, then taking it out, more oil on the bottom of the pan, the rest of the cheese etc.)

Ratana,

The pan I'm using isn't dark like Difara's pans.  It is a non-stick dark gray pan.  Like Peter said, I found it at Marshalls.  I want to get as close as possible to Difara's recipe before I buy a bigger pan. 

The closest I've seen online to Difara's pans is this:  http://www.bigtray.com/productdetails.asp?catid=14810&sku=CMP40952&s=sheet+pans&rn=1

Once you get a pan, it would be great if you could post your results with whatever formula and techniques you decide to use.  Hopefully we'll be able to come up with a usable clone.

Good luck.

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #165 on: February 25, 2007, 09:53:37 PM »
Just wanted to post my latest attempt at a Difara's square pie.  Since I wasn't completely happy with my first attempts, I decided to try a different approach.  This time I went all out and used oil and a little sugar in the dough as well as use my broiler to get a better charring on the edges of the pizza.

The formula I used for the dough:

Flour (100%):
Water (65%):
IDY (0.5%):
Salt (1.5%):
Oil (1.5%):
Sugar (1.0%):
Total (169.5%):
221.28 g  |  7.81 oz | 0.49 lbs
143.83 g  |  5.07 oz | 0.32 lbs
1.11 g | 0.04 oz | 0 lbs | 0.37 tsp | 0.12 tbsp
3.32 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.69 tsp | 0.23 tbsp
3.32 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.74 tsp | 0.25 tbsp
2.21 g | 0.08 oz | 0 lbs | 0.56 tsp | 0.19 tbsp
375.07 g | 13.23 oz | 0.83 lbs | TF = 0.12

The flour is 50/50 mix of Caputo 00 pizzeria and All Trumps Flour.  The pan size I used was 12.25"x9"x1".

I mixed the dough using the same technique as my previous post, only this time I added sugar and oil to the water in the mixer bowl.  I cold fermented the dough for about 45 hours, the temp. entering the fridge was 68 degrees.  I removed the dough and let it warm up for two hours then shaped the dough into the pan with some olive oil.  I then covered the dough and waited an hour to let it proof.  I also heated my oven to 550 during this time.  I then sauced the dough and par baked the dough on my pizza stone.  This time I par baked the dough a lot longer than my previous attempts.  In the pictures you can see it is darker along the edges.  I then removed the dough and finished topping it with more sauce and cheese.  I then placed the pie under the broiler about six inches away from the flame and waited for the cheese to melt and for the edges to get slightly charred.

This version was the closest I've been able to achieve.  It had a crisp edge and a chewy center with a very good flavor.  Also, the crust was not overly dried out like the other two.  As for the sauce, I tried a non-cooked sauce with just salt, pepper, garlic and basil.  Although very good on its own, I believe the pre-cooked sauce I outlined in my earlier posts is closer to Difara's in taste.  I would feel safe to recommend this recipe to people who would like to make a Difara's type square pizza.

EDIT:  Specified which type of yeast I used and ingredient amounts as per Peter's request.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 10:24:57 AM by Boy Hits Car »

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23461
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #166 on: February 26, 2007, 10:07:18 AM »
Mike,

Nice job adapting the DiFara clone to your particular oven.

Since you used IDY before, I assume that your most recent dough formulation uses IDY also. Is that correct?

For your 12.25" x 9" pan size, I calculated a total dough weight of 375 grams, or 13.23 ounces (12.25 x 9 x 0.12 = 13.23). If that is correct, can you indicate the quantities of the ingredients corresponding to that pan size? That might save time for those who do not work with baker's percents.

Thanks.

Peter


Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #167 on: February 26, 2007, 10:27:55 AM »
Mike,

Nice job adapting the DiFara clone to your particular oven.

Since you used IDY before, I assume that your most recent dough formulation uses IDY also. Is that correct?

For your 12.25" x 9" pan size, I calculated a total dough weight of 375 grams, or 13.23 ounces (12.25 x 9 x 0.12 = 13.23). If that is correct, can you indicate the quantities of the ingredients corresponding to that pan size? That might save time for those who do not work with baker's percents.

Thanks.

Peter

Thanks Peter.  I have updated my post to include your requests.

Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3101
  • Age: 44
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #168 on: May 11, 2007, 04:11:02 AM »
Some random thoughts:

I had an excellent experience at Di Fara's today.  No wait, and much better pizza than the last time I was there.  Dom has Changed brands on everything it seems.  I saw new brands of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, oregano, and olive oil.  Even the crust seemed a bit different to me.  His hard grating cheese tasted much less sharp than what he was using last time (pretty sure it was grana padano).   I found it interesting that he is now using passata (jarred liquified tomato) mixed with canned san marzanos.  Last time I was there he was using fresh tomatoes and canned san marzano's.

He definitely used the same sauce for both the Sicilian and the round pies, and he used buffalo mozzarella only on the Sicilian.

The place was still incredibly dirty even after the board of health shut down.

Offline mzshan

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 47
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #169 on: May 11, 2007, 10:57:26 AM »
Hey scott tried to email you but your box was full..
will be visiting NYC wanted some info on Di Fara's best time to check out.. and a few other tips on Money and time saving...
thanks

shan

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #170 on: May 11, 2007, 11:05:27 AM »
Hey scott tried to email you but your box was full..
will be visiting NYC wanted some info on Di Fara's best time to check out.. and a few other tips on Money and time saving...
thanks

shan

Shan,

You might find this post helpful.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4560.msg42410.html#msg42410

Offline jcardia

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #171 on: February 27, 2010, 01:57:34 PM »
Hi all - it's been a few years since someone last updated this thread on the difara clone. Wondering if anyone has changed their perspectives/recipe trial since their last post. Thanks and great thread!

Offline tcarlisle

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 66
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #172 on: February 28, 2010, 04:23:57 AM »
Sorry I have not read all replies in this thread. Skimming through it, it seems the bases have been covered. I go to DiFara's a few times a year.

Some of the pics I see here are quite close, but Dom is pretty heavy handed on the olive oil. I wasn't aware he used 00 flour, and what I get there versus the Lehman recipe here is pretty much the same. He uses a standard gas oven, and the bottom of the crust is well done and the topside of the crust is browned -- and any thin spots on the outer crust are usually just starting to blacken. There tends to be some pretty decent bubbles at the crust/sauce line and they blacken too. People that don't prefer DiFara's typically complain it is too greasy and crust burnt. Yet some complain the crust is too gooey. It is pretty well burnt on the outside, but tends to be gooey beneath the sauce/cheese -- which I attribute to the high amount of olive oil he puts on it. Again, go heavy on the oil. The pizza's we make here all have nice red sauce -- his starts that way but the heavy oil dilutes it and then when the sauce/oil/cheese cooks it comes out orangish.

He is quite generous with the fresh mozz. The patches of fresh mozz end up pretty white, and the rest is an orangish blend of sauce/oil/standard mozz. The standard mozz ends up almost clear.

Last time I went I talked to him and he said his Basil is from Isreal. It does have much larger leaves than any basil I've seen locally.

He seems to be pretty light handed with the sauce. It ends up being more oil than sauce in my opinion.

Despite the well browned and slightly blackened crust bottom, you can't hold a piece without folding it. The crust is not rigid at all except the outer crust. If you make one and can hold a slice without folding it and without it dropping and all the sauce/cheese falling off -- then it isn't right.  :)

And yes, the dirt within the establishment probably also adds some flavors to the pie that we would rather not know about.

Offline dhs

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 43
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #173 on: March 04, 2010, 08:39:29 AM »
I live in Brooklyn and have been to DiFara's. To be honest, I am not a huge fan but would agree with the square pie is the one to emulate. I too have skimmed many of the posts but I think tcarlisle really nailed something that seems to be less than what is used at DiFara's compared to what I see in the posted pictures. That is the amount of olive oil. From what I recall watching Dom, he uses a lot of oil under the pre-bake. A heck of a lot. The end result, to me at least, is much like fried dough. Something worth trying maybe?

Offline Scagnetti

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 69
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #174 on: March 05, 2010, 04:31:38 PM »
I've been to DiFara's several times and have even talked to Dom myself.

To be honest, the round pies are good but the Sicilian or square pie is completely off the charts.

There are many DiFara detractors because the place is messy and can be a real zoo.

I once talked to a pizza products salesman outside of DiFara's and the converstion went like this.

Me: "Look, Dom makes a great pie but I never know if I'm going to wait 10 minutes or an hour for a pie. There's got to be somebody else around that makes them close to his." (I'm thinking he'd mention Totonno's).

Him: "No, there's not."

Me: "C'mon, there's got to be somebody."

Him: "Nope, there's not. He's the master. He does things nobody else does. He follows the old ways."


 

pizzapan