Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 86417 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline pftaylor

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1113
  • Location: Tampa, FL
  • Life's Short. Get Wood Fired Up!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #125 on: April 23, 2005, 05:47:15 PM »
Pete-zza,
I never ventured to the back but it wouldn't take much to convince me of your statements. If I were a health inspector I'm not sure where I would begin or end at Di Fara. Everything seems to be self serve including cleaning up the area you plan to eat in. It's either gross or charming and authentic depending on your point of view.

I am ready to experiment with various combinations of flours and hydration percentages all in the hope of producing a superior Di Fara pizza. I will be in travel status all next week in upstate NY but I look forward to resolving whatever questions you deem most pressing upon my return. 
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
www.wood-firedpizza.com


Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #126 on: May 02, 2005, 09:45:54 PM »
Having returned from a trip recently to NYC and a visit to the esteemed DiFara's, I thought that it was appropriate that I conduct some more experiments on a DiFara clone. I will forewarn you at the outset that I am not going to report that I discovered every last tidbit of information on the DiFara dough and pizza and can completely replicate them. In fact, I concluded that not only was that not possible, it might not even be desirable. As I reported earlier, I concluded that, absent an oven that can deliver temperatures above 700 degrees F, it was not possible for me to do in my home oven what Dom DeMarco does in his pizzeria. It's not that his dough is complicated or that I don't have enough information about the DiFara dough. I know more than I would ever need to know. And Dom's dough is utter simplicity. It is a dough made within 1 to 2 hours. I know that whenever I have tried to make a 00 dough within 1-2 hours using the Caputo 00 flour, as good a flour as it is, what I will get is a crust that looks and tastes like cardboard. Where Dom succeeds with such a dough is that he can overcome any deficiencies in the dough through the use of his high-temperature oven and using the highest quality toppings in copious amounts.

So, rather than court failure, I decided that I would try to come up with a dough that, from a technical standpoint, would actually be better for me to use in a home setting than a DeMarco dough. My first attempt was to make a same-day dough using the same blend of flours as Dom DeMarco uses (a 75/25 blend, by volume, of Caputo 00 flour and All Trumps high-gluten flour), a hydration of around 65% (which I calculated from information provided to me by Dom), and a long room temperature fermentation. Originally I had planned on a roughly 8-hour fermentation period, but other matters distracted me and I ended up with a fermentation period closer to 12 hours. I had no difficulty making the dough and although it wasn't the nicest dough I have ever made, I had no problems shaping and stretching it out to 14 inches in diameter, the largest size my pizza stone can handle. I dressed the pizza in a simple tomato (San Marzano) and cheese fashion (using fresh mozzarella cheese) and baked it for about 5 minutes on the pizza stone, which had been preheated to around 500-550 degrees F for about an hour. The pizza was then baked for about another minute under the broiler, which had been turned on about 3 minutes into the baking process. The first photo below shows the finished product.

While the first pizza tasted OK, the crust was only so-so. It was still a bit cardboardish in texture, without much browning on the bottom, and not particularly inspiring as to induce me to show more photos of it. I think that part of the shortcoming of this pizza was the lack of olive oil in the dough. I can't say that had I used olive oil I would be singing the praises of the pizza. But the results did suggest that I should use olive oil the next time. Also, the room temperature fermentation may have been too long, especially at around 75 degrees F, although I did not detect the usual telltale signs of overfermentation.

So, I decided that for the next (second) pizza I would use basically the same recipe as the first pizza but that I would go full out and use olive oil, an autolyse, and a roughly 24-hour fermentation period in the refrigerator. I also decided to substitute KASL high-gluten flour for the All Trumps high-gluten flour used to make the first pizza. For the autolyse, I used the Prof. Calvel autolyse, the details of which were given by fellow member DINKS in an earlier post. I decided to use this particular autolyse technique in order to gain more experience with it, with the intention in due course of trying either or both of pftaylor's and Varasano's versions of autolyse to do a comparison with the Calvel autolyse.

In essense, the Calvel autolyse entails combining 1/3 of the flour and 1/3 of the water with the yeast (in this case, IDY) and, after they have been mixed together thoroughly, adding and thoroughly mixing in the rest of the flour and water. The dough at this stage is then subjected to an autolyse rest period, in this case, 30 minutes. After the autolyse rest, the oil is added and mixed in with the dough, and then the salt.

After all the above steps were dutifully completed, the dough was subjected to a second rest period (not technically an autolyse) of about 15 minutes. The dough was then lightly oiled, put into a container, covered, and then put in the refrigerator. The recipe that led me to this point is as follows (together with baker's percents):

100%, Flour, 5.94 oz. Caputo 00 flour (about 1 1/4 c. plus 4 t.) + 1.98 oz. KASL (1/2 c.), for a total of 7.92 oz.
65%, Water, 5.15 oz. (2/3 c.) (temp. adjusted to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F)
1.5% Salt, 0.12 oz. (a bit less than 5/8 t.)
0.50%, IDY, 0.04 oz., 3/8 t.
1%, Olive oil, 0.79 oz., about 1/2 t.

The total dough ball weight for the dough prepared from the above recipe was 13.70 oz.

When the dough ball was removed from the refrigerator after its 24-hour hibernation, I put it on my kitchen counter, covered it with a sheet of plastic wrap, and let it rise until it reached about 65 degrees F (about 2 hours at a room temperature of about 75 degrees F.). The dough handled beautifully. It was easy to stretch to just about any diameter I wanted without fear of ripping or weak or thin spots forming. These results attest to the benefits of using an autolyse. As with the previous pizza, I dressed is simply--essentially the same toppings as used on the first pizza--and the pizza was baked the same way as the previous pizza. This time around, the pizza was much better. The crust was soft and tender in the center, yet chewy and crunchy at the same time, especially at the rim. The flavor of the crust was also good, although not as good as those I have made using a natural preferment. But I believe the results are headed in the right direction. The second pizza is shown in the second and third photos below. It will be noted that the crust did not have a significant amount of bottom crust browning. However it was actually a bit darker than the second photo below shows.

I expect my next effort may involve using a natural preferment, and I may revisit on of my earlier successful efforts that came out of Friz's work to clone the DiFara dough.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 27, 2006, 10:19:08 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3093
  • Age: 44
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #127 on: May 03, 2005, 02:06:04 AM »
On my last visit to a bunch of NY pizza shops Di Fara's was my least favorite dough of the trip.  Now I know why.  I am very excited to see you take his flour blend with a high hydration,  and run with it.  Something tells me this is going to be a magical recipe.

Offline jjsb22

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 2
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #128 on: May 17, 2005, 08:14:11 PM »
Recently I had the opportunity to look inside the side door of DiFaras and while I did see the Caputo flour the other flour I saw was General Mills Full Strength flour. On that same day I also met inside the store Dominicks supplier. The guy alleged that he was has been supplying him for the last 20 years. Any way my point is that the GM Full Strength flour has a protein % of 12.6 while the All Trumps has 14.2. I am not sure of the effect this may have on the dough but I thought you might like to know this.  I think the lower protein % flour is better for thicker doughs such as his square slice. I wonder if he does possibly make 2 different doughs.

jjsb
Joey B

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #129 on: May 17, 2005, 09:17:17 PM »
jjsb,

Thank you for the additional information and welcome to the forum.

I think you may well be right on the use of the two flours. When I mentioned the All Trumps flour in connection with the pizza Dom DeMarco was making for me, he did not correct me. It's logical that a Sicilian pizza might benefit from a lower protein flour. I know the sauce for the Sicilian is different from the one used on the regular pizzas. When I went through the kitchen on the way to the rest room I saw a pot of sauce cooking on the stove. I asked the fellow in the kitchen what the sauce was for and he said it was for the Sicilian pizza. Upon further cross examination, he said that the Sicilian sauce was the only pizza sauce that is cooked.

Peter

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #130 on: July 18, 2006, 02:12:10 PM »
Recently, after being away from a DiFara style dough for quite a while, I decided to make some DiFara clone test doughs based on everything I had learned during the reverse-engineering of the DiFara dough. As long-time members will recall, pftaylor and I confirmed from Dom DeMarco himself that he uses only 1 to 2 hours of fermentation for his dough balls, keeping at least a partial supply of “ready-to-use” dough balls in the bottom section or drawer of his gas oven. To assist me in my efforts, I consulted with member scott r, who is my “go to” guy on anything involving a dough using both 00 flour and high-gluten flour, in my case the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour and the King Arthur Sir Lancelot (KASL) high-gluten flour.

After thinking things through after consulting with scott, I finally ended up making four different DiFara clone doughs for four different pizzas. All used a 75%/25% combination, by weight, of Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour and KASL. Except for the last pizza in the series (“Pizza 4” below), in arriving at the baker’s percents for the different doughs, I used the same principles as I normally use in making any “emergency” few-hours dough, including using above-average amounts of yeast. Normally, I would also use very warm water, but I decided against doing that since I suspected that Dom DeMarco does not go through the step of adjusting water temperature in making his dough. I also used tap water, as I suspect Dom also does. I had originally intended to make a fresh yeast version of one of the doughs but gave that up since I couldn’t locate any fresh yeast anywhere.

Because of the small dough weights involved, 6.75 ounces, all four doughs were made in my food processor, combined with some hand kneading at the end because the dough weight was even too little for my processor (14-cup Cuisinart) to knead thoroughly. All four doughs were based on a thickness factor of 0.086, as I had previously calculated, and a pizza size of 10”. The four doughs and pizzas can be summarized as follows, including the baker’s percents I used.

Pizza 1: A dough consisting of the Caputo/KASL flour blend (100%), Water (60%), Salt (2%), and Instant dry yeast (0.83%). Originally, I did not intend to use this dough but rather made it solely to see if the quantities of the ingredients were correct to allow the dough to about double in a roughly 2-hour time period. When it did, rather than throw the dough away as I originally planned to do, I decided instead to reshape it and put it in the refrigerator to see how it would respond to the cold fermentation after being fermented at room temperature. The dough remained for about 2 days in the refrigerator before using. The dough for Pizza 1 was the only one that was cold fermented. It was allowed to warm up at room temperature for about an hour before using.

Pizza 2: A same-day, few-hours dough consisting of the same ingredients and baker’s percents as with Pizza 1 but in which the dough was allowed to ferment/rise, at room-temperature only, for only 2 hours.

Pizza 3: A same-day, few-hours dough consisting of the Caputo/KASL flour blend (100%), Water (60%), Salt (2%), Oil (2.45%), and IDY (0.83%). The main difference with this dough was the use of oil, and it was the only dough to use it. The dough was allowed to ferment/rise for 2 hours.

Pizza 4: An 8-hour, room-temperature fermented dough consisting of the Caputo/KASL flour blend (100%), Water (60%), Salt (2.4%), and IDY (0.25%). It will be noted that the amount of salt was increased for this dough and the amount of IDY was reduced, to allow a controlled fermentation over an 8-hour period. The main purpose for trying this version was to see if the finished crust would benefit from the much longer room-temperature fermentation. In retrospect, it appears that this dough could have sustained several more hours of fermentation. I did not punch down the dough at any time, although I suspect that that would have been an option.

All four of the doughs were well-behaved throughout their respective fermentation periods and were easy to shape out to the selected 10” size. The dough for Pizza 4 was a bit more elastic than the others, but with a bit of rest on the peel it conformed to the final desired size. All of the doughs were a bit on the damp side, which meant that I had to be careful that they didn’t stick to the peel. I’m sure I could have overcome the slight wetness by using bench flour, as does Dom, but I try not to do that with my doughs as a general proposition because I don’t want the crust to develop a bitterness in the crust because of the raw flour. All doughs were shaped to the 10” size by tugging and pulling from the edges after using my fingers to partially open the doughs, which appears to be the way that Dom shapes his doughs. I did not attempt to use my knuckles or even gravity to shape the doughs and I did not toss any of the dough skins.

For purposes of baking the four pizzas, I decided to construct a “mini-oven” within my standard home oven, using a pizza stone placed on the lowest oven rack position, six 6” x 6” unglazed quarry tiles on the next-to-the top oven rack position, and four similar tiles on the sides, two on each side. The first photo below shows the mini-oven configuration. In preparation for baking the pizzas, I preheated the oven/mini-oven for one hour at about 500-550 degrees F. 

For the sauce and cheeses, I tried to use essentially the same “quality and quantity” approach as used by Dom DeMarco, as I have come to understand them. For the sauce, I pureed whole tomatoes from a can of Famoso DOP San Marzano tomatoes, along with some fresh, seeded tomatoes and fresh basil (a mixture of Napoletano and Genovese Italian, both from my garden), fresh (from my garden) Italian oregano, dried Sicilian oregano, a bit of Sicilian sea salt, and sugar. Because the sauce was on the thin side, I drained it in a colander to remove some of the water.

For cheeses, I used a combination of bufala di mozzarella, fresh Mozzarella Fresca brand mozzarella, a part-skim low-moisture mozzarella cheese (Frigo brand, by Saputo), and freshly-grated imported grana padano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, both of which I put on the pizzas once they were done baking. The bufala and fresh mozzarella cheeses were intentionally used in fairly good-sized pieces to keep them from cooking too fast and breaking down. I put the Frigo mozzarella cheese, which I sliced into strips using a box grater (as does Dom), and placed the strips on top of the other cheeses to shield them somewhat from the oven heat. I placed fresh basil on the pizzas before baking and also afterwards. I also used Coluccio Sicilian olive oil on top of the pizzas before baking.

All of the pizzas baked in about the same time, with about 6 minutes on the pizza stone within the “mini-oven” and about a final minute on top of the upper layer of tiles. The mini-oven appeared to work flawlessly.

I was quite pleased overall with the results, but Pizza 4 and Pizza 1, both of which had prolonged fermentation, one at room temperature and the refrigerator and the other at room-temperature for many hours, stood out from the pack. The crusts were soft in the middle, easily foldable, and firm at the rims, with a bit of “tooth” and chewiness in the rims, and with good coloration both top and bottom. In the photos that follow, I show the bottom of only Pizza 1 but all crusts had similar crust color development. As between Pizza 1 and Pizza 4, I thought that Pizza 4 was the better of the two, perhaps because it seemed to have a softer crust yet be chewy at the same time and with good crust color. Of the four pizzas, the one I would rank last was the one (Pizza 3) that used olive oil in the dough. The crust was almost bread-like and didn’t quite have the nice coloration of the other crusts. This came as a surprise, and I still don’t know why it didn’t show better.

My next DiFara clone test dough will most likely be a long room-temperature fermented dough but in which I alter the ratio of the Caputo/KASL flours. When I first started the DiFara reverse-engineering project, I had heard from a reliable source that Dom DeMarco used a 50/50 blend. He later said that it was 75/25. I think I will try 60/40, and I may shoot for an overnight fermentation, as I always suspected that Dom did before he informed me otherwise.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 09:51:59 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #131 on: July 18, 2006, 02:22:16 PM »
The "mini-oven".....




Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #132 on: July 18, 2006, 02:27:08 PM »
Pizza 1 (2-hour room-temperature and 2-day cold fermentation)....
« Last Edit: July 18, 2006, 03:38:53 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #133 on: July 18, 2006, 02:34:31 PM »
Pizza 2 (2-hour room-temperature fermentation)...



Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #134 on: July 18, 2006, 02:43:16 PM »
Pizza 3 (2-hour room-temperature fermentation, with olive oil). I forgot to take a slice photo but it looked like all the others...




Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #135 on: July 18, 2006, 03:29:06 PM »
Pizza 4 (8 hours room temperature fermentation: my favorite of the four pizzas). The pizza wasn't as round as the others because I accidentally hit one of the left upright tiles with my 14" peel as I was loading the pizza into the mini-oven :).


Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3093
  • Age: 44
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #136 on: July 18, 2006, 04:25:34 PM »
Peter, I too am puzzled about the pizza with the oil.  In my experiments using that amount of oil in lower temp ovens improves the product, and does not produce a bready crust.  Actually, I think the pies that I made you when you visited had that same percentage of oil.  Do you think it is possible that that dough got a little more kneading than the rest, or had any other differences in the mixing process? The issue with the coloration of the crust really has me wondering if something else changed with that dough.

After reading this post I would love to do more comparisons myself of oil vs no oil, but unfortunately I am not going to be able to make any pizzas until sept.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #137 on: July 18, 2006, 04:57:22 PM »
scott,

I tried to use the same procedures for all the doughs although it is possible that there were some differences in kneading due to the fact that my food processor had a hard time making cohesive balls out of the ingredients, which required me to do some hand gathering/kneading. About the only thing that strikes me that may have been different with the pizzas themselves was the amounts of cheeses used. As you will note, Pizza 3 has more cheese on it and it runs to the edge, whereas the others stop short of the edges. The "overcheesing" was not intentional. I was just trying to be generous, as Dom is with his pizzas. Because of the increased amount of cheese with Pizza 3, I suppose it's possible that the bake turned out differently, but there was no doubt that Pizza 3, and particularly the crust, was not as good as the others. I was confounded by Pizza 3 because I too have often used olive oil in a dough that is baked in my standard home oven.

Another thing I noticed that may be relevant is that the mini-oven seemed to run hotter than my oven alone. Whether it seemed that way because I was making a smaller pizza than normal is hard to say, but I do know that the pizzas seemed to cook really fast once I put them on the top layer of tiles toward the end of the baking time. I liked the way that all the pizzas baked in the mini-oven, especially from the standpoint of the top and bottom crust browning. I didn't have to use the broiler at all. Maybe the mini-oven was operating at a higher temperature than my oven alone. I do know that it took forever for the oven/stone/tiles to cool down once I turned the oven off but, then again, my kitchen was quite warm to begin with because we have been having outdoor temperatures hovering around 100 degrees for several days straight. Even my basil has been stressed by all the brutal heat, even though I have kept it in the shade most of the time.

Peter

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #138 on: July 22, 2006, 02:07:14 PM »
Following up on my recent series of DiFara’s clone pizzas, I decided to make a version of the dough using 60% Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour and 40% KASL, both by weight. Also, I decided to use a 12-hour room-temperature fermentation. In my case, I made the dough late at night (around 11 PM) and let the dough set on my kitchen counter overnight, with the intention of making the pizza (which I will refer to as Pizza 5) for lunch. Because of the long room-temperature fermentation, I used the following baker’s percents for the dough for Pizza 5.

Pizza 5: 60/40 Flour blend (100%), Water (tap) (61%), Salt (2.4%), and IDY (0.25%).

The dough for Pizza 5 was prepared in the same manner as my previous doughs, using my food processor. The total dough weight was 6.75 ounces, as before, and the thickness factor (TF) was 0.086, also as before. When time came to make the pizza, I had no problems whatsoever in shaping and stretching the dough out to 10 inches. The pizza was sauced and cheesed in the same manner as with the prior pizzas discussed in the recent posts, except that I did not use any bufala di mozzarella cheese (which I had run out of). Instead, I used more of the Mozzarella Fresca fresh mozzarella cheese. The pizza was baked in the “mini-oven” for about 6 minutes and for about another minute on top of the upper layer of tiles of the mini-oven. The oven and mini-oven had been preheated for about an hour at around 500-550 degrees F.

The photos below show the finished Pizza 5. I was very pleased with the pizza. The crust was chewier and crispier than the other pizzas, especially toward the rim, but the crust flavor was very good, and I actually liked the chewy, somewhat crispy character of the crust. I would rank Pizza 5 up there with Pizzas 1 and 4 as previously discussed. What especially pleased me was knowing that the dough would tolerate 12 hours of room-temperature fermentation, at a time when my kitchen room temperature was quite high. Also, I am convinced that it is possible to adjust the mix of Caputo and KASL flours to achieve a range of doughs that will produce very good results. In fact, increasing the amount of KASL relative to the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour should permit a longer room temperature fermentation time, and also a slightly higher hydration ratio.

Peter

Offline snowdy

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 270
  • Location: CA
  • i pledge allegiance to the pizza
    • Dataheadz Design
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #139 on: August 18, 2006, 08:27:53 PM »
Peter,
Keep up the good work man, you freakin rule :)
my brother recently moved to NYC and has been to di far a few times now and says its really good but a bit "greasy" for his tastes. He still likes lombardi's the best due to the lack of grease. I myself figure that if im going to be eating pizza its bad enough for me already, the grease is only a bonus  :P

got a question for you... after being to di fara... what do you think? are you able to make just as good of tasting pizza since you know all the best toppings to use as well and that his crust is only average? Or is there still some age old ninja secrets dom is using that makes his stuff amazing? I know he has the oven, but otherwise... your stuff looks pretty damn good.

Dave

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #140 on: August 18, 2006, 09:47:38 PM »
Hey Snowdy,

Good to here from you. I hope that all is going well with you and your pizza making.

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.

In my case, I can't get the same crust characteristics as Dom gets, even if I had the identical dough formulation that Dom uses, because the dough won't bake up the same way in my oven as it does in his. His crust will look better than mine solely because of the high oven temperature. The only way I can improve my crusts is by using long fermentation times, whether at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I'm fairly convinced that if Dom used my dough formulation and dough management, his pizzas would be even better, simply because of the longer fermentation times. But there is no incentive for Dom to do anything other than what he is now doing. By making dough several times during the day, with 1-2 hour life cycles, he doesn't have to build a big inventory of dough balls or keep them overnight, or anything else. The dough goes from the mixer bowl to the front of the store for about 1-2 hours. If people keep lining up to buy the pizzas or slices, why change? It may be a pain for his sons working the back room making dough all day, but Dom stays up front making the pizzas and tending to the crowd. I don't know that anyone else could get away with that as a "business model" today. Not too long ago, Dom had to go into the hospital for foot surgery. So he just shut the store down rather than entrust the pizza making to his sons. His customers accepted it, and eagerly awaited his return. He is such a nice and decent man that it is hard to not like him or to respect his remarkable accomplishments.

The last DiFara "clone" pizzas I made were 10 inches, which I was able to bake in the mini-oven I created to try to get the maximum heat out of the oven. Next time, I think I will try a 16" size to see if I can at least get the DiFara appearance. I will have to use a pizza screen to get that size into my mini-oven (it will just about fit) because my stone isn't big enough by itself to accommodate the 16" size. If that pizza turns out as well as some of my recent small ones, I will be very happy.

Stay well, "Dude".

Peter

Offline snowdy

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 270
  • Location: CA
  • i pledge allegiance to the pizza
    • Dataheadz Design
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #141 on: August 26, 2006, 04:58:14 AM »
Pete,
As always, thanks for the info! Your expertise keeps us all going.

I need to get myself over to di fara one of these days. My brother has lived there for almost a year now and i still havent been to see him as we had a new baby in May so its been tough. In the meantime im stuck having some pretty lo caliber so cal pizza to tie me over.

My bro still stands by lombardi's but his wife thinks di fara is the best she's ever had. And for the record, they went to Patsy's in harlem after me telling them to since they live a few streets away. They said it was "so-so" and also they both got the sh*ts for a day afterwards.  :-D

I really want to try di fara's square pie though... the cheese and pep look amazing.



keep on posting the pics and results in your di fara trials!


Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #142 on: August 26, 2006, 08:13:07 AM »
snowdy,

From what I have read and heard, it is the Sicilian pizza at DiFara's that gets the greatest reviews. I'm told that that's the one you should try if you are only going to try one. My recollection in talking with Dom's son in the kitchen is that the sauce for the Sicilian is the only cooked sauce Dom uses. I hope you will give us your opinion of DiFara's when you get there someday.

Congratulations on the baby. That is a wonderful event in your lives.

Peter

Offline raji

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 71
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Obsessive Pizza Maker
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #143 on: December 04, 2006, 04:15:15 AM »
I know this thread has been dormant for a few months now, but I thought I'd revive it with some pics from my first attempt at a DiFara's style pie. 

Here's some info:

I used a blend of Caputo 00 Pizzeria and All-Trumps, IDY, salt, and bottled water.
10 minute mix with my Kitchen Aid.  No Autolyse.  1 minute hand mix afterwards
Instead of putting them in bowls, I put them on a sheet then covered.
2-3 hour warm rise (75F)
Baked at 700F - 4-5 mins

Cheese:  Fior Di Latte, Bufala Di Mozzarella, Grande Whole Milk Mozz, and grated Grana Padano for finishing.
Sauce: Crushed San Marzanos with a pinch of salt, sugar, pepper, and oregano. 
Toppings:  mushrooms, artichokes, red onions.  Basil garnished after baking.

First pic is a typical DiFara's pie.  The next three are mine




Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #144 on: December 04, 2006, 02:49:42 PM »
raji,

It looks like you did a great job replicating the DiFara style. How did the pizza taste compared with the real deal?

Peter

Offline raji

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 71
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Obsessive Pizza Maker
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #145 on: December 04, 2006, 04:59:18 PM »
raji,

It looks like you did a great job replicating the DiFara style. How did the pizza taste compared with the real deal?

Peter

Peter,

Thanks for the compliment.  That means a lot coming from someone who makes such unbelievable looking pies.  So the pizza was very similar to the real thing.  This was a last minute endeavour, so I fell short in a couple of areas because of poor planning:

1.  I didn't use the best tomatoes.  I did use San Marzano's (Non DOP), but it was a brand that I'd never used before.  It was the only thing left in my pantry.  Next time i'll go with something more familiar.
2.  I couldn't find fresh Grande Fior di Latte.  Whole foods has been really going down hill lately.  Every container they had was expired and had been sitting out on the shelf for weeks.  I didnt' have time to go to the other market that sells grande products.  I ended up using some mediocre fior di latte.

Nonetheless, it was still very similar to the pies that Dom produces.  A lot of the credit should go to you Peter since I based my dough closely off the recipe that you posted earlier in the thread. 

I'm so used to working with dough that has been sitting in the fridge for 3 days.  I quite pleasantly surprised by how well this 2-3 hour old dough performed! 

Raj

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #146 on: December 04, 2006, 05:49:22 PM »
Raj,

Thank you very much for the compliments but there are many others on this forum whose pizzas I admire more than my own. I guess it is a case of "pizza envy".

Once you get the right collection of cheeses and tomatoes, you might want to consider one or two of the dough formulations that I posted and described starting with Reply 130 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg28423.html#msg28423. Unless you grew up with the DeMarco pizzas and have developed a very strong preference for them, I think you should be able to come up with a better product than Dom's by using longer fermentation times (along with the best ingredients). You also have the high oven temperatures that should prove beneficial in your case.

Peter

Offline Boy Hits Car

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 147
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #147 on: February 05, 2007, 02:13:49 PM »
Since my visit to DiFara's last week I've been contemplating trying to create a home version of his square pizza.  The following is my plan to start the experimentation.  I hope people can chime in and help out with suggestions, criticism, advice or even just to point and laugh at my efforts  8).  I've ordered a 5 lb. repacked bag of Caputo 00 from pennmac.com and I am ready to start making the dough.

My plan:

The sauce:
I have no idea what Dom puts in his square pizza sauce.  All I know is that it is pre-cooked.  I did some research on this site and other sites about Sicilian sauce recipes and narrowed down ingredients that are, in my opinion, "must haves".  This list also includes ingredients I saw laying around DiFara's.  I going with the idea of simplicity so I have a base recipe that I could add ingredients little by little and control the variables as much as I can.

Whole Peeled Tomatoes - San Marzano preferred.  Dom most likely uses Vantia.
Olive Oil - Berrio, either Mild or Extra Virgin.  I saw bottles for both types.  Will most likely use Extra Virgin for flavor.
Garlic - Fresh, chopped/minced.
Oregano - Fresh.
Basil - Fresh.  Might only add this at the end of the cooking process.  Also, I don't remember Dom adding fresh basil to the pizza while he was dressing it.
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
White Wine -   I have no idea if Dom uses wine, however, white wine really wakes up the flavor of tomatoes; so I'm going to run with it.  I've seen some recipes call for red wine, however, I have a gut feeling there wasn't any in the sauce I tasted.  I use white wine in my spaghetti sauces and think it really adds depth to the sauce.

Will probably simmer the above ingredients for 1-2 hours.  Comments?

The dough:
Many on this thread have done all the leg work for finding out how Dom makes his dough.  I will have to assume Dom uses the same dough for both types of pizzas(until someone confirms othewise), so I plan to use the same ingredients (ie, a mix of Caputo and All Trumps, 65% hydration, etc.), but want to used a cold ferment for better flavor and crust characteristics.  Dom's few hour same day rise most likely won't cut it in my home oven.

I'm wondering if I should use the 75% Caputo, 25% All Trumps ratio.  It will be my first time using the Caputo, so I'm worried it might not work well in my home oven.  Having said that, it looks like Peter was able to make a decent pizza with this ratio, especially with a 24-hour cold ferment with autolyse.  I was thinking, to be on the safe side, to use a 60-40 or 65-35 ratio of Caputo to All Trumps.  I'm also contemplating using some olive oil to help with the Caputo. Comments? 

Dough Formulation:
100%, Flour
65%, Water
1.5% Salt
0.50% IDY
1%, Olive oil(maybe)

I am planning to start with the above dough formulation.  It is Peter's recipe from the previous page which he seemed to like and had success using.  The question is what thickness factor to use.  Dom's round pizza is pretty thin at 0.086; I was thinking of making it a good 25% thicker which comes out to 0.1075.  This still seems a tad on the thin side for a Sicilian pizza, but Dom's Sicilian was not exactly thick in the middle, although the edges seemed to be pretty thick.  Thoughts?

After a cold ferment, I was planning on allowing the dough to reach room temperature, oil a square pan and shape the dough in the pan.  Perhaps I should allow the dough to slightly rise in the pan before baking.  I would then par-bake the dough at 550 degrees on my pizza stone with a little bit of sauce on top of the dough, excluding the edges.  Dom par-baked his square doughs with a little bit of sauce and had significant charring on the edges of the dough.  I'm planning to only slightly brown the crust and try to get it charred after the final topping(maybe using my broiler).

After the par-baking, I will add more olive oil to the bottom of the pan (Dom did this) and top with more sauce, fresh mozz, blocked whole milk mozz and olive oil.  I will be trying to get a crisp, dark edge/crust, but yet a soft and chewy middle.

All comments would be appreciated.

Mike


« Last Edit: February 05, 2007, 02:16:29 PM by Boy Hits Car »

Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3093
  • Age: 44
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #148 on: February 05, 2007, 03:51:03 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.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23189
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #149 on: February 05, 2007, 05:29:49 PM »
Mike,

I think you are on the right path. I had read that Dom’s Sicilian crust is thicker than the crusts for his round pies but thinner than the ones that are thick and bready. Also, I recalled reading that Dom uses the same tomatoes as he uses for his other pies, and that the sauce had something special in it (prosciutto) for flavor purposes. I did some research and found these posts that might be helpful:
http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=15722&pid=196155&mode=threaded&show=&st=&#entry196155, and
http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=15722&pid=196669&mode=threaded&show=&st=&#entry196669.

I think you will get better results using cold fermentation. You may want to experiment with the ratios of flours, including doing a 50/50 like scott suggests. Dom always talked in generalities when it came to measurements, using plastic cups and the like to explain his methods.

For some photos to help your memory, you might look at these:

http://images.egullet.com/u11429/i2438.jpg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/aser/8688298/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tangentialism/224064614/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenyee/276699972/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanblitz/331529558/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/slice/11907026/

Peter
 


 

pizzapan