### Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 123248 times)

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#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2005, 10:44:29 AM »
Guy,
Great stuff.  Sounds like a fabulous pizza journey through Brooklyn!!

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2005, 11:40:04 PM »
I had a little time on my hands this evening and, in preparing for some weekend pizza making adventures, I decided to re-visit the Reverse engineered Difara experiment.  Of course, this was also inspired by the three bags of KA 00 Clone flour that I'm staring at in my pantry wondering what the heck I'm going to do with it.  I hate wasting money!  But I know I might be doing the same thing with my KA00 flour that PFTaylor recently considered doing with his Caputo flour.  But hey, what do I have to lose?!!

So tonight I decided to take a much different approach than my last Difara effort, particularly as it relates to hydration %.  Instead of using 58% hydration in my recipe, this time I used 65%.  Once again, using Pete's great, easy to use formula, I was able to determine the measurements by calculating the following:

.6x (KASL) + .4x (KA00) + .65x (Water) = W (16 oz.)

I adjusted the W figure this time to achieve a dough ball weight of 16 ounces instead of 15.4 ounces.  Pete originally used the 15.4 ounces to make a 14 inch pizza.  He stated the crust was a bit thicker than he would have preferred, so I decided to make a 16 ounce dough ball for what will be a 15 inch diameter pizza.

-  I significantly reduced the amount of salt in the recipe.  As pfTaylor noted and I concur, the KA00 flour seems to produce a "salty" tasting crust.  So, why would I want to have a recipe with an aggressive salt content?  Hence, I scaled back the salt measurement considerably.

-  I did not use any added oil to the dough recipe.  I only used oil to coat the dough ball after mixing.

-  I reduced the mixing time significantly, only mixing for a total of about 3-4 minutes - just until the ingredients were well mixed and dough ball was produced.

-  I decided to go with a refrigeration/retardation of the dough.  Main reason for this is that I had no intention of making a pizza tonight, didn't have the time to make the dough tomorrow, so why not just try a refrigeration??

Here is the exact recipe that I used for the DiFara dough this evening:

5.82 oz.  KASL
3.88 oz.  KA00
6.3 oz.   Water
1/4 t.   Salt

I proofed the ADY with the salt and the water in a KitchenAide mixer.  I used all the water for the recipe in the proofing and included the salt shortly after mixing the water and ADY.  I don't think this is the recommended technique, but it's late and I did it anyway - we shall see.  After mixing the water, yeast and salt for about 4 minutes, I gradually added the flour mixture.  After a dough ball was formed I removed it from the mixer and hand kneaded it for about one more minute.  I then placed the dough ball in a plastic bag and placed it in the refrigerator for overnight refrigeration.

I don't have a clue how this dough will turn out.  I will say, however, that while I was kneading this dough just before placing it in the refrigerator I was amazed at how beautifully it came together.  It had a wonderful texture - smooth and airy.  It had an even nicer texture than most of my Lehman doughs that feature KASL exclusively, and I love the texture of those Lehman doughs.  But, I realize that appearance and texture before cooking does not a great crust make!  But ya gotta stay somewhat optimistic...

Anyway, I would love any feedback on some of the possible ramifications of my preparation techniques, particularly the salt in the proofing and the overnight retardation.  Also, any recommendations on how to proceed moving forward would be more than welcome (how long should I keep it refrigerated?  how long should I let it stand at room temperature before shaping?  or any other feedback).

The anticipation of trying something new is always fun.  Should be interesting to see what the end product looks and tastes like.
Friz

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #27 on: March 04, 2005, 01:02:11 AM »
Friz,

I will be most interested in the effects of the use of the salt and the refrigeration. Usually it is not advised to mix the salt with the yeast because they have a natural antagonism toward each other but need each other to produce a good dough. It's like a love-hate relationship. Most strains of yeast today can tolerate a certain amount of contact with salt without harmful effects, although it is usually when the contact time is relatively short. It will be interesting to see what a 4-minute contact period does in your particular formulation.

I also wonder whether 1/4 t. salt will be enough to make the finished crust palatable. That's not a lot of salt, and if it turns out to have been insufficient, you will be able to easily tell. And, it can't be easily compensated for by adding more salt to the pizza. You will tell with just about every bite into the crust.

Also, in small amounts, such as you used, the dough should achieve volume growth quite easily. That is because the dough volume expansion is inversely proportional to the amount of salt used. That is, if no or little salt is used, the dough will expand to its maximum potential (all other things being equal), and, conversely, when a lot of salt is used, the volume growth of the dough will be severely constrained. In both cases, it is because of the way that salt affects yeast. That is one of the reasons why salt is often called a "regulator" of the fermentation process.

It will also be interesting to see what effect the refrigeration has on the finished product. When I used refrigeration on the DiFara dough clone I made, the finished pizza looked and tasted more like a NY style pizza than a hybrid made from high-gluten and 00 flours. However, my formulation was different than yours, including a lower hydration percentage, so your pizza may have different attributes.

As for the fermentation period, I don't think that I would want to go beyond 24 hours, just to be on the safe side, since you didn't add any sugar to the dough to begin with. For warmup of the dough before shaping and forming, I would follow the practice you have been using for your Lehmann doughs. I use 55-60 degrees F as a benchmark for the warmup period.

Peter

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #28 on: March 05, 2005, 12:00:30 AM »
Talk about dumb luck.  The results from my most recent DiFara pizza this evening were the best I have ever encountered.  Unbelievable taste, texture, and crumb to this pizza.  I'm still in shock.  Looks like my KA00 won't wind up in the trash after all.  Unfortunately, we had guests at the house and I didn't have time to take pictures.  The flavor of this pizza was incredible.  I still can't believe the great crisp it produced.  The crust seemed to absorb the sauce and just produce an incredible flavor.  I made this pizza in conjunction with a Lehman NY style pizza and, believe it or not, my guests preferred the DiFara product!!

I have another dough ball that remains in my refrigerator that I didn't use this evening.  My plan is to create another DiFara clone tomorrow and test the results from a 48 hour refrigeration.  I know this goes against all conventional wisdom for a Neopolitan pizza or  "combination" neopolitan/ny style.  But everything I have done up to this point is contradictory to conventional wisdom.  It should be interesting to see if the 48 hour refrigeration can match the great quality, texture, and taste of the 24 hour refrigeration of the DiFara clone...
Friz

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #29 on: March 05, 2005, 01:47:18 AM »
Friz,

I'm glad to hear of your great results and that you won't have to find creative uses for the rest of your KA00. I thought I had used up all of my KA00 but discovered recently that I still have some left. But now I have a good recipe to use it in, along with the KASL. When you indicated that the results were the best you have ever encountered did you mean only the DiFara style or in the absolute, including the NY style?

I was also wondering what the pizza looked like, that is, more like a Neapolitan style pizza or a NY style pizza? When I made the refrigerated DiFara clone dough, the finished pizza looked and tasted more like a NY style pizza than a Neapolitan style. Also, it seems that the small amount of salt was not a problem, as I suspected it might be. Maybe it's my tastebuds, but when I use small amounts of salt in my 00 doughs, I can spot the deficiency immediately upon tasting the crust.

I couldn't recall whether you have ever had pizza at DiFara's, to be able to compare your pizza made with the refrigerated clone with what DiFara's produces.

I hope you are able to take some photos of the second pizza.

Peter

#### snowdy

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #30 on: March 05, 2005, 02:20:29 AM »
Peter,

I just got my first bag of KASL and while i was at it i ordered a bag of "italian style" king arthur flour. Does this qualify as 00??

I want to try your recipe for the difara type dough by mixing flours to check out the difference.

thanks man

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #31 on: March 05, 2005, 11:58:03 AM »
Snowdy,

If you do a site search on "00 flour" and "Bel Aria", "Delverde" and "Caputo", you will find a lot of other information on these flours, since I and others have written often about them. They are not the easiest flours to work with, and are not as popular as the other flours discussed on this forum. They are primarily used for Neapolitan style pizzas, although hybrids like the DiFara dough and DiFara clones cross the Neapolitan and NY styles.

Peter

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #32 on: March 05, 2005, 04:39:15 PM »
Pete,
I still prefer the Lehman recipe over all others, including my latest attempt with the DiFara knock off.  I may have been a little overly enthusiastic last night because a.) I had a few cocktails before and after our pizza dinner  and b.) I was just so happy to make a pizza with KA00 that I actually could eat and enjoy.

My wife did say, though, that she enjoyed the DiFara's more than the Lehman NY Style last night (I made one of each).  Actually, as much as I liked the DiFara's pizza, I thought my Lehman attempt was the best one yet last night.  The main reason for like the Lehman so much was that I think I found the ideal amount of Malt to use with the Lehman 16" recipe - TWO TEASPOONS.  The rim on the Lehman pizza was fantastic, both in taste and texture.

Regarding the DiFara, it was a really good pizza.  The salt issue was not a problem and it did in fact taste less salty than previous pizzas using the KA00.  As noted earlier, I will be making another DiFara pie tonight with the only difference being a 40 hour refrigeration instead of 24 hours.  This time I will be able to take pictures and provide a bit more detail.  Stay tuned.
Friz

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #33 on: March 05, 2005, 10:13:05 PM »
Tonight I made another DiFara knock off with dough that I had prepared two days ago.  There was about a 40 hour refrigeration/retardation.

Allow me to say right off the bat, I have never eaten an authentic DiFara's pizza, but if it tastes anything like what I ate tonight - it's delicious.  I didn't think it was possible, but I was more pleased with tonight's pizza with the 40 hour refrigeration than I was with last night's - and last night's was no slouch!

With regard to what this pizza resembled - more Neopolitan or more NY style, I would say that it is indeed a hybrid of both styles of pizza.  Last night's pizza (20 hour refrigeration) may have leaned a little more to resembling a Neopolitan style and tonight's (40 hour refrigeration) may have been a bit closer to NY Style.  But make no mistake, it was a hybrid of both styles of pizza with unbelievable flavor.  I believe Canadave or Canadienbacon noted in a recent post that they believed that the longer the refrigeration, the more flavor and better texture the crust possessed.  That theory certainly proved true in this case this evening.  As a matter of fact, I have a feeling that I will be using a 48 hour refrigeration/retardation from now on.  I still can't believe how this pizza turned out, particularly knowing that KA00 flour has a terrible track record of performance with all of us.

When I took the dough out of the refrigerator to warm to room temperature, it was very extensible.  My wife described the flavorful rim as follows:  "It has the same taste as when you get a fresh loaf of french or italian bread, wrap it in aluminum foil, and heat it in the oven for 10-15 minutes."  I use this quote because I found it to be extremely accurate.  It had many characteristics of both a Neapolitan rim as well as a NY style rim.  But, yes, it was BETTER.  I can't believe I just said that...

Here's my sense as to why this experiment turned out so well:
1.)  significant reduction of salt content in the recipe
2.)  significant increase in hydration % - this is extremely important.  My prior attempts with the DiFara clone involved a much lower hydration % (56-58%).  I found this was making the dough "cracker-like" and that spoke to the need for greater hydration.  While this is contrary to authentic Neapolitan techniques, this is not a true Neapolitan pizza - it's a hybrid.  Hence, there are no firm rules for re-creating a DiFara style pizza.  Plus, I believe the longer cooking times in a conventional oven tend to dry out a pizza crust with 00 flour much more easily.  Again, this speaks to the need for greater hydration to offset the tendency for drying out of crust from longer cook times.

Here are some pictures from this evening's effort...
Friz

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #34 on: March 05, 2005, 10:21:59 PM »
pic 1

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #35 on: March 05, 2005, 10:26:42 PM »
pic 2

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #36 on: March 05, 2005, 10:30:19 PM »
pic 3

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #37 on: March 05, 2005, 10:33:30 PM »
pic 4

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #38 on: March 05, 2005, 10:35:42 PM »
pic

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #39 on: March 05, 2005, 10:37:56 PM »
pic

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #40 on: March 05, 2005, 10:56:35 PM »
Friz,

Terrific looking pizza. Now all that's left is to go to DiFara's and see how your pizza stacks up .

Peter

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #41 on: March 05, 2005, 11:09:51 PM »
Thanks Pete.  Always a high complement when coming from you.

What is most exciting and interesting about this recipe to me is the incredible simplicity of it.  I don't think it can get any simpler:

There was no added oil, sugar, or malt.  There was almost no salt.
It was basically flour and water and a small amount of ADY...
A classic example of the K.I.S.S. theory at work (Keep It Simple Stupid)...

#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #42 on: March 06, 2005, 08:13:37 AM »
Friz,
Wonderful looking pie. Dom would be proud of your continued efforts.

Interesting comments about a long fermentation period in the fridge. If I didn't know better I'd swear that you are a prime candidate for a biga which would give you the wonderful flavor you just raved about. Only in spades. That very flavor upgrade you just described is why some of us incorporate a biga in our pizza making efforts. Only we get it without worrying about slack dough because we need only 24 hours or less to get the olifactory of flavor you and your wife may now have to have in every bite.

If you can figure out a robust way (ice pack) to properly transport the Patsy's dough to my home I'll gladly pick up the dough and shipping costs. In return, I'll provide you with a mature biga in a couple weeks which will drive you wild.

I have long known the power of malt. It has been used in my family in one form or another for over a century. Specifically vanilla malt in my case. Most of the complex layered crunch I have referred to in the past can be attributed to three things:
Lots of heat
Lots of hydration and
Vanilla malt

Without malt it seems the dough is too homogeneous in taste texture even with proper heat & hydration. With the addition of malt I am able to recognize three different distinct layers of flavor and taste:

The first layer, the bottom, has a seared veneer of crispiness to it but it is not burned. Nicely charred is a better description. The TEC grill with it's infra-red cooking properties probably helps with this searing process.

The second layer is fluffy soft from the gas bubbles and the high hydration content in the dough and from being slightly not cooked all the way through. I find it moist not dry and feather light, tender may be another descriptive word for this section. This is where intense high heat helps again. The three minute bake doesn't allow enough time to dry out the middle section sufficently.

Finally, the gummy chewy top section is basically uncooked wet, unfinished, dough due to being slathered in sauce and cheese and whatever else you want to throw on top. In combination with the other two layers it somehow harmoniously melts in your mouth.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2005, 08:38:10 AM by pftaylor »
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#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #43 on: March 06, 2005, 09:25:57 AM »
PFT,
Excellent synopsis of the various flavor levels of your pizza dough.  I know exactly what you are talking about, but certainly not to the extent of having the luxury of 800 degree cooking temperature.  One of the "tricks" I have been using in my conventional oven is, when the top of the pizza is cooked (rim browned, cheese melted, sauce heated) I remove the pizza from the oven but KEEP IT ON THE PIZZA STONE.  Actually remove the whole stone with the pizza on it.  Then I let the pizza sit on the stone for another 1-3 minutes, which crisps the bottom of the crust nicely without overcooking the middle and top portions of the crust - achieving a similar resulting dough texture to that which you so eloquently described in your last post.   I am quite pleased with this technique.  The stone is so hot, even after removing it from the oven, that it's like cooking the bottom of your pizza two minutes longer without overcooking the rest of it.  It really works well - but still not as well as 800 degrees, I'm sure.

Regarding the long refrigeration and how it is similar to the same concepts of a biga - again, you are absolutely correct and I was thinking the exact same thing as I was doing my write up last night.  The success of this long refrigeration is an endorsement for the same effects that a biga produces.  Now I need to decide if I want to embark upon the process of creating and maintaining bigas, which I'm still hesitant to do.  This last DiFara pizza was so good I really feel like the crust had exactly the kind of flavor I am craving - and I love the fact that I was able to attain this flavor with a recipe that consisted only of flour, water, and yeast (and a minimal amount of salt).  It was the essence of great taste via simplicity.  In many ways, this is the way they probably made pizza in Naples in the 1700s - the simplest ingredients conceivable producing great taste and texture.

Perhaps most amazing to me was the ability to achieve great flavor and texture from this recipe without using malt, as I was convinced that malt was a major factor in much of my recent flavor/texture results with Lehman NY style doughs.  While I'm still an advocate of using malt, believe me when I tell you that the pizza I made last night provided all the characteristics and more of prior made pizzas that included malt.  I know it probably sounds impossible to be so simple and so effective and, believe me, even I am amazed at the outcome.

Friz

#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #44 on: March 06, 2005, 10:42:15 AM »
If you think about it a biga is only flour water and wild yeast which is aged. That's why you would like it...
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#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #45 on: March 18, 2005, 06:25:41 PM »
As soon as we conquer the Patsy's challenge, Dom's pie should be next.

With the collective horsepower we have on this board we should be able to conquer it in no time. broccoli rabi, with freshly steamed artichokes. I can taste it now.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2005, 08:58:05 PM by pftaylor »
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#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #46 on: March 18, 2005, 08:47:18 PM »
I'm glad your're so optimistic. The four most important parts of the DiFara equation that we are missing are the ratio of 00 flour to high-gluten flour, the hydration percent, the thickness and thickness factor TF, and a gas oven. We think we even know the brands of flour (Delverde 00 or Caputo 00 for the 00 flour and General Mills All Trumps for the high-gluten), and we believe we know the types of cheeses, tomatoes, herbs, and olive oil Dom Demarco is using, all based on what diners have seen and reported, what Dom himself has said, and interviews with Dom. Yet he could be pulling everyone's chain for all we know--although he seems to be a straight ahead kind of guy. Trying to fill in the missing blanks where there are literally hundreds of potential data points is like Edison's hundreds of experiments with different filament materials before he found the right one that would work in a lightbulb.

If we at least had a DiFara dough ball for an identified size of pizza, and determined the weight of that dough ball, then we could measure the thickness (and calculate the thickness factor). Knowing the ratio of flours and the hydration percent would take us pretty close to breaking the DiFara code, although we would still be missing certain processing details, such as those related to the fermentation process.

Peter

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #47 on: March 19, 2005, 10:59:38 AM »
I would LOVE it if you (Pete and PFT) would try my latest DiFara recipe as printed earlier in this thread.  EXCEPT, I would like it if you could substitute the Caputo or Bel Aria 00 flour instead of the KA00 that I am using.  I need to use the KA00 flour up, but I have a sense that the other flours will perform at en even higher level.

I made another batch of dough based on the recipe I used earlier in this thread and it is currently refrigerating and will be baked this evening.  I will report back on the results.  If the results are similar as my last endeavor, we are very close to a DiFara-like product, and a delicious pizza indeed.  Stay tuned for my latest results and I hope you guys will try my earlier recipe as a starting point for perfecting the DiFara recipe.  Perhaps one of you could introduce an autolyse in your experiment for additional feedback on that front.
Friz

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2005, 12:07:49 PM »
friz,

As soon as I can find some time I plan to try your DiFara clone recipe. That has been my intent all along.

I read somewhere recently that someone saw a bag of Caputo 00 flour at DiFara's. Usually Dom Demarco uses Delverde 00 flour, but it is possible he has switched, or possibly he uses both brands from time to time. I believe I have a small amount of All Trumps high-gluten flour on hand and could use that with the Caputo 00 flour. I have found little evidence of significant use by pizza operators of the Bel Aria 00 flour, so I would not be inclined to use that brand in a DiFara clone. I think I would be inclined to try a non-autolyse approach first, and possibly use a future experiment to try out the autolyse. I don't know if Dom Demarco uses an autolyse but it wouldn't surprise me if he did because it is fairly common for Neapolitan style doughs using 00 flour. I am somewhat skeptical, but who knows?

BTW, Friz, the other day I took about a teaspoon of SAF active dry yeast (ADY) and added about 1/4 cup of warm water (at 95-105 degrees F, as recommended on the yeast packet), together with a fair amount of salt on a relative basis--about 1/2 teaspoon. I whisked everything together continuously for about 4 minutes, pretty much as I believe you did when you made your DiFara dough clone. I did not notice any deleterious effects, and when I checked back a few more times later also saw no noticeable harmful effects (although, to be fair, the better test would have been to then try to use the yeast mixture in an actual dough making exercise).

As you might guess, if Tom Lehmann saw what you did in mixing in the salt with the yeast and water, he might have mildly but politely scolded you . But I think he knows quite well that the strains of yeasts manufactured today by commercial yeast producers are quite hardy and much more tolerant of things like salt, sugar and water temperature than the older strains of commercial yeast. But if he (Tom) told pizza operators that it was OK to mix yeast and salt, then for sure all kinds of problems and abuse would surface and he would be spending all of his time diagnosing their problems.

It's far safer to lay out ground rules that are least likely to lead to problems. Tom Lehmann's rules are fairly simple and straightforward: Use a proven dough recipe where all of the ingredients are in balance, weigh the ingredients, don't mix salt or sugar with yeast, don't mix the oil with the water, temperature adjust the water to achieve a specified finished dough temperature, don't overknead the dough and, where appropriate (depending mostly on the style of dough to be made), scale, oil and get the dough into the cooler as soon as possible and allow for long fermentation and, finally, let the dough warm up enough before shaping. If everyone followed these rules, diagnosing and pinpointing problems would be a far simple and easier task.

Peter
« Last Edit: March 19, 2005, 12:55:03 PM by Pete-zza »

#### duckjob

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #49 on: March 20, 2005, 02:36:38 AM »
I used friz's percents for the flour and water. I used 16 oz of flour total, 60% KASL and 40% KA00 and a 65% hydration percentage. I used just under 1/2 tsp of salt and a tsp of ady proofed in all of the water for about 5 minutes. I poured the water and yeast into my mixer followed by all of the flour. I mixed on speed 2 for about 30 seconds , then added the salt in and mixed for another 5 minutes. I split the resulting dough ball into two balls and allowed to proof for 24 hours in the fridge. I was pretty happy the results. A different taste than I am used to, but it was good. The crust was great, nice and airy. The second picture is a little blurry, and unfortunately the pizza is gone so I can't take another picture .

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difaraslice.jpg)