Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 73330 times)

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Offline friz78

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #60 on: March 25, 2005, 04:53:55 AM »
Peter,
The rim on that pizza looks exemplary in every respect.  Congratulations indeed!  Even the coloring of the rim looks very similar to photos of Dom DeMarco pizzas I have seen in the past.  The elasticity you experienced was very surprising and interesting, especially when considering the lack of same that I experienced with my last DiFara clone endeavor.  What do you think might have been the primary factor in the elasticity of your dough?  The room temperature fermentation?

Could you elaborate a bit more on the finished product, realizing that it was clearly a great success?  You mentioned that you found it to be exceptional - does that include texture and flavor of the crust?  Would you say that the pizza resembled more closely a NY style or Neapolitan?

Moving forward, I would propose that we incorporate your fermentation procedures as part of a final DiFara recipe/procedure, especially in light of the belief that DeMarco doesn't use a refrigeration period in his process.  What would you say is the optimal length of room temperature fermentation?  I also like the idea of converting to IDY in the recipe, as it is easier and it removes additional steps of proofing ADY.  Perhaps you could have that reflected in the recipes you created earlier?  I also have no doubt that the Caputo flour, in place of the KA00 that I used, provided a substantial upgrade in the finished product.  Your comments/feelings on that issue would also be interesting to hear.

Congratulations on your success with the DiFara clone, as you have clearly made some major breakthroughs.  Let's keep the experiment going, as we are clearly getting very, very close to a final recipe for a DiFara clone.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2005, 05:12:49 AM by friz78 »


Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #61 on: March 25, 2005, 09:25:47 AM »
Pete-zza,
Everytime I look at your latest effort(s) I have to wonder what you could do with real heat. The lack of 700 - 1000 degree heat is the only thing keeping you from being one of the world's best pizzaiolo.

Have you given consideration to building a wood burning oven in your backyard? I understand the Pompeii model could be constructed for about a grand. I am seriously considering it as I have an associate who repairs brick ovens. I can get his labor for free which makes the deal worth it to me.
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Offline duckjob

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #62 on: March 25, 2005, 01:30:21 PM »
I'm going to be making a batch of dough in a bit with the 60/40/65 combo, but I'm going to increase the amount of salt a little and see what happens, here is the recipe I will be using.

10.2 oz KASL
6.8 oz KA00
1 tsp ady
3/4 tsp of salt

Should get two 14" pizzas out of that

This is basicly the same recipe I used for my last attempt, except an extra 1/4 tsp of salt. I'll post pictures of the results tommorrrow night.

Offline Arthur

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #63 on: March 25, 2005, 03:12:57 PM »
Pete-zza,
Everytime I look at your latest effort(s) I have to wonder what you could do with real heat. The lack of 700 - 1000 degree heat is the only thing keeping you from being one of the world's best pizzaiolo.


I couldn't agree more.  After visiting (arguably) the best pizza places in the world there are some major differences between ingredients that produce major differences in results...BUT...the oven (heat) seems to be the biggest difference.  It's like saying that using different flour results in a cadillac vs. honda....but the oven is the difference between a real car and a matchbox.

I found someone in Virginia who gives private classes using a wood burning oven.  It's BYOPD (bring your own pizza dough!)   I need to do this before I build my own or give up a car and put one in my kitchen.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2005, 03:24:15 PM by Arthur »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #64 on: March 25, 2005, 03:28:38 PM »
pft,

The pizza I made yesterday was different from any other I had made. I would say that the biggest difference was the thickness of the crust and, related thereto, the light weight of the crust. The crust on the bottom was also lighter, in color, than my usual efforts. In fact, I didn't notice it until I had removed the pizza from the oven to eat it.  Also, the pizza was at the point where the cheeses were starting to brown up a bit more than I prefer so I didn't want to leave the pizza in the oven any longer. I am accustomed to light colored crusts when 00 flours are used but the Caputo 00 has more protein than the other 00 flours I have used and should have had decent browning qualities. As between the Neapolitan and NY style pizzas, I would say that the one I made had characteristics of both. The main part of the crust was more reminiscent of a Neapolitan style pizza (soft, light and chewy but without a leathery character), and the rim was more reminiscent of a NY style pizza--an open and airy crumb but with a crunch. But the key difference was the thinness and lightness of the crust.

The flavor of the crust was also better than crusts I have made from refrigerated doughs. It was not as intensive as the crusts I made recently using the natural Caputo 00 starter, but it was pleasant. It also occurred to me to think about using a natural starter with a DiFara dough clone, but it was only an afterthought since Dom DeMarco doesn't use a starter. I agree that there may be merit to using a starter with a DiFara clone and at some point I may experiment with doing so.

The elasticity of the dough also surprised me since I was using around 65% hydration and room temperature fermentation over a total period of around 15 hours. It's possible that when I reballed the dough after 12 hours I may have retightened the gluten network so that the elasticity returned and the remaining few hours were not enough to allow the gluten to relax again. But the elasticity was only a minor inconvenience that was remedied by just allowing the dough to relax a bit. What was also interesting is that after I had shaped the dough into a 14-inch skin, I'm certain that I could have stretched it even further if my stone could have handled the larger size (or I used a large screen instead). At this point I have no idea what an optimum fermentation period might be. That matter would become somewhat immaterial if I had an idea as to DiFara's dough production cycle. For instance, if Dom started his new dough at 11:00 PM, after the doors close, then that would suggest a roughly 12-hour fermentation period (total). Of course, this might vary somewhat based on the hydration used and the composition of the dough in terms of ratios of flours used. Maybe the amount of salt is a factor. My dough had about 1/4 t., which is far less than usual. In fact, Neapolitan style doughs can have up to 2.8% (by weight of flour)--which is generally considered to be high.

Your request to provide IDY amounts in the recipes posted before is noted. When I find my notes I will calculate the IDY amounts and add the information to the earlier post.

As to your question about the Caputo 00 flour versus the KA00, using the Caputo 00 flour should have increased the total protein level of the blend of flours since the KA00 is rated at 8.5% and the Caputo 00 is rated at 11.5-12.5%. I'd be interested in trying the Bel Aria 00 flour in a DiFara dough clone sometime, only because it is much more widely available than the Caputo 00 and comes in 1 kilo bags (2.2 lbs.) whereas the Caputo is sold only in a 55-lb. bag, as you know. The Caputo 00 flour is quite possibly the best 00 flour available in the U.S., because of its versatility and adaptability to different kinds of dough processing. But Friz has shown that the KA00 can also be used with good results, as well as the KASL, which should substitute nicely for the All Trumps high-gluten flour. As I mentioned before, I used the All Trumps and the Caputo 00 since they seem to be the ones that Dom DeMarco is currently using (if the intelligence we have received on this point is correct).

Peter
« Last Edit: April 07, 2005, 01:07:16 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #65 on: March 25, 2005, 07:02:08 PM »
Here's my contribution to Di Fara: A home version of his calzone. I will be at his fine establishment this coming Monday night. I have attached his masterpiece below my humble effort.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2005, 07:39:32 AM by pftaylor »
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #66 on: March 25, 2005, 09:05:21 PM »
pft,

Thanks for gracing our thread with such a beautiful calzone :).

Peter

Offline duckjob

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #67 on: March 27, 2005, 01:08:50 AM »
Alright, I made my pizzas tonight with the recipe i posted on reply #62. For a little background, I kneaded the dough in a mixer for about 5 minutes then made two dough balls, placed it in a ziplock bag and directly into the fridge. Because of my schedule, It endup proofing for about 30 hours before I took it out. When I took the dough out of the fridge, it had flattened out a good amount, so I re balled it, and let it warm up on a floured surface for about an hour. Like pete mentioned, the reballing of the dough does make the dough a little more elastic, which makes it easier for me to toss it. Once I had tossed and streched the dough to about 14", the first thing you notice are all the little bubbles in the dough and how light it is. I pre heated my oven on the high broiler for about 45 minutes and cooked the pizza directly on the stone for just under 5 minutes. The results were great. Airy crust, crispy on the ouside, soft and chewy on the inside, and just the right amount of char. I didn't really notice a huge difference with the increase in salt, the dough was slightly more elastic this time around than my first attempt though(i did reball the dough on my first attempt as well). I'll probably drop down to a 60%-62% hydration percentage for the next one, and if my schedule permits, a shorter counter rise. Also, I hope to be using my built in grill in the next week or two, we'll see where that takes me. Thanks pete for all your insight and work you put into your posts, your pizzas look great, I'm just happy that I can somewhat replicate your quality.


(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara1_s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara2_s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara3_s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara4_s.jpg)

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #68 on: March 27, 2005, 08:13:39 AM »
duckjob,

Very nice job and thanks for pitching in with some of the DiFara clone experiments. I was particularly interested in the results from increasing the amount of salt--in your case, threefold the amount Friz and I recently used. I will also be interested in the results you get when you reduce the hydration level to around 60-62% and use the shorter warm-up period.

In your earlier recipe, you didn't indicate the amount of water you planned to use but I assumed that it was at around a 65% hydration level. On that basis, I calculated that the total dough ball weight would have been a bit over 28 oz., or a bit over 14 oz. for each of the two dough balls. Since you said that each of the finished pizzas was 14-inches in diameter, I calculated the thickness factor to be around 0.09--or the same as what Friz and I used recently. I think that that in part accounts for the thinness and lightness of your pizzas.

Can you tell us a bit more about your oven arrangement and procedure? You indicated that you preheated the oven using the broiler element. Is the stone on the top rack and is the oven and stone preheated solely by using the broiler element, or do you turn the broiler element on later?

Peter

« Last Edit: March 27, 2005, 03:09:56 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline duckjob

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #69 on: March 27, 2005, 03:06:55 PM »
Pete,

you are correct about my first recipe. Both times I made this dough I used a 65% hydration. Regarding my oven setup, I have the tiles arranged on the center shelf of the oven. The heating element is also the broiling element, it just gets hotter when you set it to broil. I pre heated the oven for about 45 minutes at 500, then set the broiler to high for another 15. I cooked the pizza directly on the stone with broil on high for just under 5 minutes. For refernce, the heating element is on the top of the oven only.

Brian


Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #70 on: March 28, 2005, 10:13:54 PM »
It was a dark and stormy night in Brooklyn. Rained all day and all night. My driver dropped me off in front of Di Fara around 7:30pm. I ran inside quickly and stood in a small crowd of adoring pizza lovers. You could sense from the crowd that they were witnessing something special.

I began a conversation or two with the locals. One conversation which stuck out in my mind was with a delightful couple who brought their daughter Angelina. The dad, after realizing that I was new, took great pains to describe why he comes here and here only for pizza. He will only order the square pie by the slice because of the texture. He's been hooked for some time. I took a picture of him holding up his prized square slice. I should be able to post it by Thursday night. His grin was authentic. He also made sure to describe in exquisite detail just how special Dom is. To him Dom didn't move slowly he moved at a deliberate pace because quality takes time.

When it was finally safe to approach the master I summoned up all my courage and uttered "Hi Dom, I'm Peter from Tampa."

And so my conversation began with the true gentleman of Brooklyn pizza. It was everything that I wanted Patsy's to be and so much more. My shaken faith in NY pizza is back with a vengeance. I had this preconceived notion that Dom wouldn't take the time to speak with me. Boy was I wrong. He was charming from the first words out of his mouth even though it took me a while to decipher his accent. I still missed plenty of words. I must have struck a chord with Dom because I was made to feel as a special guest as he continued the conversation with me while conducting his business but he focused on our conversation the entire way. He asked me about my apparent passion for pizza and I shared with him the depths of my love for pizza. He seemed to really appreciate finding someone who loved pizza and who could talk about it in his terms - at the ingredient level. If he only knew how proud he made me by his comments. Imagine a master pizzaiolo like Dom complimenting me on my passion for pizza. It was all I could do not to break down and weep like a baby.

Allow me to get some of the facts out of the way:
Dom uses Caputo Blue Label Pizzeria Flour 75% and 25% of some kind of American high gluten flour (I could not understand his accent even though he repeated it a number of times. I asked him to jot it down but we both forgot).

He makes dough 4-6 times a day depending on how busy he is. The dough has a very short rise time of only a few hours at room temperature. He uses no refrigeration. I asked why he mixes Italian flour with American flour and he responded that Italian flour is too soft like a lot of people who don't like hard work. He went on to say everyone would do it if they weren't lazy but since most people are lazy, they don't want to go through all the trouble. He doesn't shy away from more work, that's why he chooses to do it. Interesting philosophy to say the least.

His hydration ratio was explained with typical flair. He held up 3 empty plastic cups. He then told me to fill 2 with flour and 1 with water. That should be just about right he proclaimed. Two parts flour to one part water with a coffee cup and a half of salt and a piece of fresh yeast. That is his recipe. I have no idea how much he mixes at a time but my sense is it is a small quantity. I asked about percentages of ingredients and he laughed. He uses his hands he told me emphatically. "I do everything with my hands."

While on the subject of Dom's hands I should add that he routinely removes pizzas from his gas oven with his bare hands. His hands resemble a horse's hoof from years of grabbing hot pizzas. To be fair he uses a peel to remove the square pies which are cooked in a metal tray. But I saw him rotate the tray in the oven with his bare hands. I could not believe my eyes.

I bought a raw dough ball which weighed 22.6 ounces. The pie he made for me measured just over 16" round. It was not like the perfectly round pie of Patsy's it was somewhat irregular. I hope the pictures will convey this authentic look.

He had fresh sprigs of oregano on the counter and paper plates full of romano cheese for those that wanted some extra ingredients. When my pie was ready I walked over to the oregano and started pulling off chunks to which he told me "that is really good oregano." Can you imagine a pizzeria with freshly dried oregano on the counter? How about the romano? Everything was self serve and sodas were on the honor system. You just told Dom what you had and he didn't question you. He didn't have to because if you lied everybody in the room would rat you out in a heart beat because it was their pizzeria.

My conversation with Dom ventured into a number of areas that I shall cherish for the rest of my life but I will end on this note. Dom commented on all the pictures I was taking and asked if I would like one with him. How could I resist.

One more thing. As I was packing up to go out into the rainy night he asked me "when you comin back?" He got a hug and a promise from me that I would come back for his pizza whenever I am in NY.

That is a promise I intend to keep.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2005, 07:40:54 AM by pftaylor »
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #71 on: March 28, 2005, 10:41:46 PM »
pft,

Thank you very much for all your efforts to help us decipher the DiFara code. And what a wonderful experience for you, and a vicarious one for the rest of us.

With all the information you got, I think we should be able to come closer to producing a more authentic DiFara dough clone. The biggest surprise to me is the fact that the fermentation period is so short, even with the predominance of the Caputo 00 flour. Judging from the weight of the dough ball you bought (22.6 oz.) and the roughly 16-inch pizza that Domenic makes from that weight of dough, it would appear that the crust has a medium thickness (a thickness factor of around 0.11). That thickness is logical, given the multitude of toppings that Dom uses.

Was the high-gluten flour All Trumps by the way? That is the flour that Dom is said to use.

When I have a moment, I plan to take the 16-inch DiFara clone recipe and try to work out a new formulation based on the new evidence we now have.

Thanks again, pft. Job very well done.

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #72 on: March 28, 2005, 11:03:42 PM »
Pete-zza,
I am glad to be finally able to assist you. Though we've never met you are a kindred spirit. You are correct with your guess about the American high gluten flour. He was trying to say All Trumps but it hardly came out that way. All I could decipher was it started with an A-L sound. All Trumps fits the bill doesn't it.

A few more points:
Dom uses the same type of dough (which really is too soft to form a ball, it looks more like a thick pancake) for both the square and the round pies. I am just not certain it is the same size. Initially I thought Dom used just one size of dough ball but it may have been a translation error. Dom has a unique way of speaking. Thinking back he said "I use the same dough for both." He didn't say the same size. He may have been referring to different flour mixtures so this is a point that will need clarification on a subsequent trip.

He looked at me adding the romano cheese on top of the finished Margherita and proudly stated that he uses four and sometimes five different types of cheese. Everything about him was expressed in the quantity and quality of his ingredients. Previously I thought he only really cared about his toppings. But his level of caring extends across his entire product line. It is an extension of who he truly is. Anything else could not be tolerated by Dom. He pays attention to every detail of his products.

I got lucky tonight. The weather was so bad that the crowds were thin. That really allowed Dom to spend quality time with me. I just couldn't believe that I didn't have to lead the conversation. Looking back on my time with Dom, I know he enjoyed the interaction as much as I did. Jose at Patsy's, on the other hand, was nice and answered every question I asked. However, he never asked one question of me. It was more of a one way conversation. Not bad. Just different.

Last point. He spoke lovingly about the use of starters but he does not use one. His dad taught him that starters are really used for bread and bread only. Bread his father would say needs the help of a biga. I inquired as to why he wouldn't want the added help of a biga for his pizzas and he gave me his best smirk and calmly stated "I use topping for the flavor."

That comment just about explains everything - at least to me.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2005, 08:56:55 AM by pftaylor »
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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #73 on: March 28, 2005, 11:15:47 PM »
pft,

Do you recall whether the 75%/25% ratio of flours was by weight rather than volume? The thought occurred to me when you mentioned the 2 cups/1 cup of flour/water that Dom may have meant volumes for the flours also.

I also am curious about the grated cheese. You mentioned Romano but everything I have read says that Dom uses freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for use on the side, with grana padano and the rest of the cheeses on the pizza itself. I even recollect a photo of a big wheel of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in DiFara's. There's nothing wrong with Romano cheese, it's just that I have never heard or read that that is the cheese he uses on the side.

Peter

Offline duckjob

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #74 on: March 29, 2005, 01:44:21 AM »
pft, it sounds like it was an amazing experience, it brought a smile to my face just reading about it.

 I'll have some free time tommorrow afternoon, maybe i'll give a short rise a try. If I am reading correctly, it looks like the flour is 75% 00, 25% high gluten and a the quantity of water would be 50% of the total volume of the flour. I'll give this a shot tommorrow and post my results.

« Last Edit: March 29, 2005, 07:08:19 PM by duckjob »

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #75 on: March 29, 2005, 06:44:56 AM »
Pete-zza,
I didn't ask about volumes with respect to the flour mixture but your assumption is probably a correct one because you've now prompted me to remember Dom claiming he does not weigh, he measures.

The cheese is an easy one. One of the regulars asked Dom what kind of cheese was lying on the paper plate on the counter and he triumphantly told his admirer
"Peeeee-core-reeeeeen-OOOOOOOO." It was as if I was at the opera. It must have taken a minute for him to say that one word. He didn't elaborate on the word romano.

Dom really plays up to the crowd with his antics. For instance, he pre-bakes the square pies with just dough and sauce on top. This process takes about 20 minutes between forming the dough, putting on the sauce and baking. When he pulls the square pie out of the oven he begins to excite the crowd. He begins by checking his memory by asking what everyone wants as a topping and how many slices before putting it back in the oven for the final bake. By this time everybody has gathered around wondering how tall Dom will pile the toppings and how big of a slice they'll get. It's a bit of a crap shoot to guess how much or how big because your luck is determined by what the guy standing next to you orders and where Dom places your topping. You could get the treasured corner slice if your luck is really good. He has it down to a science becuse people ended up changing their orders to increase their slice count. He prepares his square pie toppings with a sheepish grin which shouts I bet you can't eat just one.

He's a showman in his own way.
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #76 on: March 29, 2005, 07:01:04 AM »
PF

What about dinner at Una Pizza?

By the way, the original pecorino used on pizza as well as maccaroni in 1800's Naples, was "Pecorino di Crotone", a variety made in Calabria near the city of Crotone.

Nowdays, the old pizzeria in Naples use a mix of Romano and parmiggiano when using fior di latte, and nothing if using mozzarella di bufala.

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #77 on: March 29, 2005, 07:19:46 AM »
pizzanapoletana,
Una's was supposed to be open on the day I arrived, Easter Sunday. I called the store's phone number and got a recorded message stating their hours of operation and the days they are closed. It was supposed to be open on Sunday However, when I drove by it was closed. I couldn't go yesterday because it was also closed on Monday. I should be back in the big apple soon and will hit Una's the next time. I tried. I am now leaving to go to Rochester, NY. I doubt they have quality pizza there.

Dom's use of Pecorino is predictable based on your comments then because he is from Caserta which is somewhat close to Naples no?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2005, 08:17:12 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline friz78

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #78 on: March 29, 2005, 08:26:03 AM »
pft,
I grew up in Rochester, NY and you are right - you won't find any great pizza there, as far as I know.

pete,
I have to believe that Dom's measurements are volumetric, which would make me wonder the true hydration% of his dough.  I'm sure you will figure out a way to decipher this.  I certainly cannot believe that his hydration % is around 50%.  That would shock me to no end...

I am pleased to learn about the simplicity of his ingredients.  The short fermentation period is somewhat shocking, but very encouraging to know that we can create a pizza of the quality of Dom's without a long fermentation or without the assistance of a starter.  Very interesting indeed.

Once we get this recipe perfected, which I believe will be soon, do you think Steve would be interested in placing it on the front page of the web site?  Just asking - perhaps would it be "copyright infringement?"

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #79 on: March 29, 2005, 08:52:25 AM »
Friz,
I'm glad I could help.

I also want to expand on Dom's reasoning behind mixing Italian and American flours. Early in our conversation he expressed his reasoning in terms of strength and related his work ethic at the same time. It was an explanation that I have read about elsewhere and I had no reason to question it. But much later as his respect grew for my pizza knowledge he asked me to look closely at the bottom of one of his slices and tell him what I see. I took this as a challenge to my knowledge about charring and relative bake times. My explanation and presumption as to why he asked the question were completely wrong.

He showed me the light band of charring on the bottom of the slice and explained that Italian flour cannot do that. That is the result of American flour. And the brown tinge to the crust - that was American as well. Italian flour would not brown like that he explained with the assuredness of a college professor.

Sure enough when my pie arrived, every slice had a light banding of char on the bottom of each slice. According to Dom, that is how he knows the dough is done. That is his visual marker. When he opens up his gas oven and lifts the pie up( with his bare hands) to examine the bottom, it is the light band of char he is looking for. Nothing else.

Bet you couldn't have guessed!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2005, 08:56:12 AM by pftaylor »
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