Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 77155 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline wizarddrummer

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 20
Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #200 on: January 06, 2014, 07:14:55 PM »
As those following this thread know, I recently tried to "reverse engineer" the DiFara pizza based on all the information that I could acquire through publicly available sources--and without ever having been in DiFara's pizzeria in Brooklyn.  By way of background and recapitulation, after I marshalled together all the ingredients for this exercise, I started with the dough, which included a 50/50 mix, by weight, of Delverde 00 flour and King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour (the only high-gluten flour I have).  I used a 60% hydration, purely as a guess, and, based on that percentage hydration, I calculated how much of each flour I would require to give me a roughly 15 ounce dough ball (enough for a 14-inch thin crust pizza).  I used active dry yeast which I proofed in a small amount of warm water.  The temperature of the rest of the water was calculated to give me a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F.  I processed all the dough ingredients in my usual fashion, including a 10 minute autolyse.   I assumed that the DiFara dough was not refrigerated (later confirmed by a guest poster Ronnye), so I left the dough at room temperature for about 8 hours, at which time I proceeded to shape the dough into a dough round.  The dough was extensible yet with some elasticity, and handled very nicely. 

For toppings, I used canned, drained and crushed San Marzano tomatoes (DOP); some fresh tomatoes (East Texas) drained of excess water and crushed; a fresh fior di latte mozzarella cheese; an imported Italian bufallo mozzarella cheese; a high quality olive oil; freshly grated grana padano hard cheese; pepperoni on half of the pizza and the rest Margherita; and some fresh basil from my garden.   I also set aside some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to sprinkle on top of the finished pizza.  The dressed pizza was baked on a pizza stone at the highest possible temperature for my oven, about 500-550 degrees F.

The finished pizza is as shown below.  Maybe those of our members or guests who have seen the authentic Dom Demarco pizza can tell me whether the one I made bears any resemblance to his.

Peter
Pete-zza
I may have a solution for you that raises your oven temp. I have an old Frigidaire Classic Series oven that has a digital electronic touch pad for setting the oven. It goes to 550. On back of the oven there's a thingy that you can insert a screw driver that will change the voltage of the sensor. It's a calibration device. I was able to turn the sensor calibration on the stove to where I now get a maximum temperature of about 620 degrees. My oven also has a broiler at the top of it. It has a self cleaning function that  have never used that I assume puts both the broiler and bottom section on full blast. If I'm not mistaken, self cleaning, gets close to 1,000 degrees.

I'd like to see if I can defeat the locking mechanism when the self cleaning is on. I might be able to exceed 800 degrees in the oven. I'm reluctant or hesitant to do it because the oven has glass in the oven door. I'd hate to spill something on that and have the glass go kaboom in my face or something.

Of course, I must mention that I have to adjust the temperature settings when I bake cakes or roast meat.

Hope that helps.


Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #201 on: November 15, 2014, 03:41:24 PM »
I thought I'd resurrect this topic, after having read it and as I was interested in what people have tried so far.  I have been working on emulating a Di Fara pie for the past week, and few observations I made.

I visited Di Fara last Wednesday, I timed my pie in the oven at a little over 5 minutes before he took it out.

The bottom of the crust is crispy and quite thin and definitely charred which adds to the overall flavor and texture of the pizza.  Surprisingly, the "meat" of the crust remains tender. Depending on the pie he just made, the crust rim has a 3/4" spring, and some just flat.  The char adds that slight bitterness that completes the 4 tastes. 

I asked Dom while he was cutting my pie if he uses dough from the day before or if they're made the same day.  He said dough is made fresh all day and used the same day.  When I observed him opening and stretching dough, it's looks like an all purpose flour dough like 00 flour in it's elasticity.  This is not a dough you'd spin and toss.

Because of the high intensity of heat level in his ovens which reach 700-800 degrees, the cheese is cooked to what many people would consider well done, or to the tooth.   This is one of the most important techniques to the texture of a Di Fara pizza.  Because the oven is set much hotter than most deck ovens, the pizza will "dehydrate" the toppings quicker, and crisp the bottom quicker without drying out the overall crust.  The crust remains tender because it's a faster bake at 4-5 minutes.  If I would have used a dough in a lower temp oven, and got the cheese cooked, browned and dehydrated to the point they do it, the crust will be clearly dried.

The baked pie is given additional oil after a few minute resting, which essentially refreshes the cheese which is clearly a more concentrated texture at this point.  And a layer of fresh Grana Padano finishes it.  This really gives it a really interesting texture profile, the layering of the cooked mozz, oil and fresh grana padano and believe this is one of the most important aspects of their pizza.

Since I believe it's the extremely hot oven doing alot of the work here, and because I also only have a home oven, I have worked a way to get ovens up to 650, without changing the hardware.  I used a large cast iron Creuset dutch oven pan, and placed it on the middle rack, and my steel on the lower rack.  This is superior to using two stones, as the radiant heat from the cast iron really pumps out heat on the top side.   After heating the oven for 1 hour, by changing bake to broil several times, I was registering 650 degrees on the cast iron and lower steel.  I have not tried baking a Di Fara style pie yet, but have done this with my other pies, and it works really well.  However, at 650 degrees, it may still be too low to effectively bake a Di Fara style pie.  What I believe makes Di Fara unique is because he is the 1% of pizzerias who uses a low clearance deck oven that can reach 800 degrees and produces a different texture profile that can't be made in other ovens.



« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 05:06:22 PM by Arctic Pizza »

Online shuboyje

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1159
  • Location: Detroit
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #202 on: November 15, 2014, 06:13:49 PM »
I would personally find it hard to believe those ovens are much over 650 based on both the bake time and the aesthetic of the pizzas.  At 800 even a low conductivity hearth would cook a pizza in a couple minutes.  At 5 minutes on deck oven hearth materials it would be charcoal
-Jeff

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #203 on: November 15, 2014, 06:20:41 PM »
I would personally find it hard to believe those ovens are much over 650 based on both the bake time and the aesthetic of the pizzas.  At 800 even a low conductivity hearth would cook a pizza in a couple minutes.  At 5 minutes on deck oven hearth materials it would be charcoal

Di Fara pies are baked within 5 minutes within a high temperature deck oven.   Wood fire ovens, near the coals will product 800-900 degrees near the fire, hence a few minutes.  Di Fara pies are made within 4-5 minutes, from my observations.  NY deck pies bake at 8 minutes or longer.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12975
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #204 on: November 15, 2014, 06:31:54 PM »
Wood fire ovens, near the coals will product 800-900 degrees near the fire, hence a few minutes. 

I run my WFO a lot hotter than that - typically the wall farthest away from the fire (~35" away from the fire) runs about 950F+
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #205 on: November 15, 2014, 06:34:09 PM »
The beauty of the Di Fara pie is it's the missing link between the older Naples style pie to today's NY street slice pie.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 06:35:42 PM by Arctic Pizza »

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #206 on: November 15, 2014, 06:36:16 PM »
I run my WFO a lot hotter than that - typically the wall farthest away from the fire (~35" away from the fire) runs about 950F+

WFO wouldn't work for a Di Fara pie, because there is too much headroom in the ceiling.  Deck ovens are low clearance and that is what radiates heat directly to the toppings and dehydrates the top quicker.  WFO bakers compensate by "doming", which is to take the pie towards the top of the oven to brown.


Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12975
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #207 on: November 15, 2014, 06:43:09 PM »
The beauty of the Di Fara pie is it's the missing link between the older Naples style pie to today's NY street slice pie.

Other than being flat and having tomato and cheese on top, I don't see it having much in common with Neapolitan. I agree with Jeff that I would be surprised if the oven was much over 650F.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #208 on: November 15, 2014, 06:46:22 PM »
Other than being flat and having tomato and cheese on top, I don't see it having much in common with Neapolitan. I agree with Jeff that I would be surprised if the oven was much over 650F.

Di Fara tastes very different from a Napoletana WFO pie.  I would think Di Fara's success has alot to do with the general mass doubt on that one simple concept that a deck oven boosted to 800 makes a different product

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12975
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #209 on: November 15, 2014, 07:00:07 PM »
I would think Di Fara's success has alot to do with the general mass doubt on that one simple concept that a deck oven boosted to 800 makes a different product

There is no way his oven is anywhere near 800F. 650F tops, and probably closer to 600F.
Pizza is not bread.


Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #210 on: November 15, 2014, 07:01:06 PM »
There is no way his oven is anywhere near 800F. 650F tops, and probably closer to 600F.

It has to be, or else it cannot char within 5 minutes. 

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12975
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #211 on: November 15, 2014, 07:07:14 PM »
It has to be, or else it cannot char within 5 minutes.

650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #212 on: November 15, 2014, 07:10:01 PM »
650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.

So perhaps his avg temp is 650-700 temp?  The first one crappy like the first test pancake at 800 which automatically brings temp down.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 07:12:45 PM by Arctic Pizza »

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #213 on: November 15, 2014, 07:14:55 PM »
650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.

deck ovens have hot and cold spots.  introducing a new pie to a spot, will bring that area's temp down signficantly.   i would think you'd generally have to keep the oven at around 800.  we're not talking home pizza bakes with 1 pie.. we're talking 75 pies pumped out.  that is a different dynamic.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12975
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #214 on: November 15, 2014, 07:17:11 PM »
So perhaps his avg temp is 650-700 temp?  The first one crappy like the first test pancake at 800 which automatically brings temp down.

I'd bet it's closer to 575-600F
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Essen1

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3393
  • Location: SF Bay Area
    • The Hobby Cook
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #215 on: November 15, 2014, 07:19:25 PM »
650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.

I have to agree with Craig.

My old oven got my stone closer to 670 and I really had to watch it because it was able to char the pies pretty quick after 4-5 mins.
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

http://thehobbycook.blogspot.com/

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #216 on: November 15, 2014, 07:21:25 PM »
I'd bet it's closer to 575-600F

Disagree.  575 is only a little over NY slice pie temp.  It takes 8 minutes to bake those.

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #217 on: November 15, 2014, 07:21:57 PM »
I have to agree with Craig.

My old oven got my stone closer to 670 and I really had to watch it because it was able to char the pies pretty quick after 4-5 mins.

Di Fara pies are finished within 5 minutes. 

Offline Arctic Pizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 146
  • Location: NYC
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #218 on: November 15, 2014, 07:24:46 PM »
Another point regarding Di Fara.  The bottom side char is something I'd consider excessive on sight.  When I bake a pie, I always take them out when I see overburning, but when I think about it, burning is a function of low heat at home.  When I grill a steak under intense coal heat that will be rare inside, I"m not concerned about blackening.   So this is a subjective thing regarding char.  Tony Gemignani, as much as I disagree with him on things, says that Di Fara underside is charred beyond what he's used to.  Yet these "burnt pies" were voted #1 pizza on planet.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 07:34:54 PM by Arctic Pizza »

Online waltertore

  • Vendor
  • *
  • Posts: 1673
  • Location: granville ohio
    • The Smiling With Hope Bakery
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #219 on: November 15, 2014, 07:51:46 PM »
I sent Norma a camera to film Frank at her shop.  She asked me to time a bake on one the Frank videos for her when she returned it back to me to get downloaded to the net.  I timed the bake for her and it came in at 5:25 and I think her oven is around 530 degrees.  The pie was evenly browned top/bottom.  My Blodgett 1000 ovens, which are the equivalent of the bakers pride at Defara's, do an even top/bottom bake in about 6 minutes I would guess.  Frank was at Defara's  last week and declined buying a pie/slice or converse with Dom.  I asked if it was crowded and Frank said no.  He told the place was filthy both behind the counter and in the customer area. He said Dom looked ragged too and felt it a disgrace to the profession.  I have never been to Defara's but have heard continual issues with the cleanliness of the place and being shut down by the board of health from members here.  Frank said for those prices and the look of the place he passed and got a pie down the street, 18", for $13 that was really good.  Walter
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 07:53:39 PM by waltertore »


 

pizzapan