A short while ago, I posted a dough formulation on the forum for a 12” version of a clone of a pizza made by Amici’s, a well-known regional pizza chain in California that specializes in NY style pizzas. From what I have been able to learn, Amici's appears to use methods that were employed by the early NYC pizza masters who popularized the NY style using basic dough ingredients (flour, water, yeast and salt only) and high-temperature ovens (usually coal-fired). Since I don’t have a high-temperature oven, I was hoping that someone with a 2stone or LBE unit would step up and try the clone dough recipe and report back on the results. If anyone tried it, he or she has remained anonymous, at least on this forum. I decided nonetheless to take a stab at the dough formulation to see what I could learn from the exercise.
The dough formulation I used is the same one that I set forth for an IDY version of the basic Amici’s dough formulation at the 2stone thread at Reply 459 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5541.msg51070.html#msg51070
, more specifically, this one:
|198.58 g | 7 oz | 0.44 lbs|
129.66 g | 4.57 oz | 0.29 lbs
0.28 g | 0.01 oz | 0 lbs | 0.09 tsp | 0.03 tbsp
2.48 g | 0.09 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.52 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
331 g | 11.68 oz | 0.73 lbs | TF = 0.1032336
Note: Nominal thickness factor used (in the Lehmann dough calculating tool) is 0.101708; 20% of the formula water is ice water; the pizza size is 12”; the bowl residue compensation is 1.5%.
The above dough formulation calls for using all-purpose flour with a fairly high protein content. Normally, I would use the King Arthur all-purpose flour which, at a protein content of 11.7%, meets that requirement but I did not have any on hand. However, I had some King Arthur Select Artisan organic all-purpose flour which, at 11.3%, is also above average for an all-purpose flour. So, I used that flour. As noted in the above table, twenty percent of the formula water was ice water, as is apparently used by Amici’s in its commercial operations. As also noted in the above table, the amount of IDY used was very small. This is because the dough would be fermented at room temperature for about 24 hours. The quantity of IDY translates into about two-thirds of a 1/8-teaspoon measuring spoon.
To prepare the dough, I put the ice cold water (the 20% portion) into the mixer bowl of my basic KitchenAid stand mixer (with a C-hook), along with the salt, which I stirred to dissolve in the water, about one minute. I then stirred the IDY into the remaining water. I did this since I wanted to be sure that the IDY would be dispersed uniformly throughout the entire dough, which it might not have done if I had added such a small amount of yeast directly to the flour. I then added the IDY/water mixture to the mixer bowl. The flour was then gradually added to the mixer bowl and, using the stir speed, mixed into the water, about 2 minutes. I used a thin bladed plastic spatula to help move the flour into the path of the C-hook. After about two minutes, I stopped the mixer and hand kneaded the ingredients together to form a rough dough ball. The dough ball was then kneaded for about 5 minutes at speed 2. After doing about a minute of final hand kneading and shaping the dough into a nice round ball, I brushed it very lightly with olive oil and placed it into a lidded Rubbermaid plastic storage container, which was then placed on my kitchen counter. The finished dough weight was 11.60 ounces, and the finished dough temperature was 69.6 degrees F.
My original plan was to let the dough ferment at room temperature (about 65-68 degrees F) for about 8 hours. However, since member giotto, who was the source of most of the information on the Amici’s dough, said that a 24-hour room temperature ferment (at least) was used by Amici’s (see Reply 460 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5541.msg51075.html#msg51075
), I decided to go with 24 hours, even if that turned out to be too long for the temperature of my kitchen. As it turned out, the dough better than doubled in volume over 12 hours. I then punched it down twice thereafter, at 18 hours and 22 hours, each time after the dough had about tripled in volume. Yet, the dough was elastic with good gluten development. The dough was used after about 25 hours of total fermentation time. The dough at that juncture is shown in the first photo below.
To bake the pizza, I decided to try an experiment that came to me from a member who posted on the PMQ Think Tank forum several months ago. The poster said that he/she removed the bottom oven rack from the oven and placed two bricks inside of the bottom coil and then placed the pizza stone on the bricks. This had the effect of getting the stone closer to the bottom coil so that it could get hotter. I used two bricks to do likewise. The second photo below shows how I placed the bricks relative to the bottom coil. In addition to putting the pizza stone on top of the bricks, I also placed several 6” by 6” tiles (a total of nine tiles) on a rack at the middle position of the oven. This was my idea, and its purpose was to foreshorten the oven to emulate a deck oven and hopefully get a higher temperature at the stone level. The final brick/stone/tile arrangement is shown in the third photo below. In preparation for baking the pizza, that arrangement was preheated for about 1 ¼ hours at about 500-550 degrees F.
When I was ready to make the pizza, I took the dough ball and, after dusting it with a combination of bench flour and cornmeal (as noted by member giotto), pressed, shaped and stretched it to 12”. The dough was soft and extensible, but I had no problem opening it up to 12”. It was dressed in basic pepperoni style and baked on the pizza stone sitting on the bricks. The temperature of the stone at that point, as measured by my Extech IR thermometer, was close to 600 degrees F, which is about 50-100 degrees higher than what I normally achieve using my pizza stone in its normal position on the lowest oven rack of my oven. After about six minutes of baking on the stone, I moved the pizza to a position on top of the array of tiles, where it baked for about another minute. The total bake time was not much different than I usually use for a NY style pizza, but I expected that it would take longer for the pizza to bake to get to the usual degree of crust coloration because of the lower protein content of the all-purpose flour as compared with bread flour or high-gluten flour.
The final photos below show the finished pizza. I thought that the pizza turned out very well, with good oven spring, a nice chewy crust and a soft crumb and with decent coloration. It was one of the better NY style pizzas that I have made using only all-purpose flour. When I next make this clone again, I will either shorten the fermentation time or cut the amount of yeast in half and use the longer fermentation time (about 24 hours at room temperature). I might also use all cold water. I will also increase the salt a bit because of my preference for a higher salt level than the one used in the dough formulation (1.25%). I might also try to emulate the Amici method of forming the skin so that there is a much smaller rim (as was described in the giotto post referenced above). I will perhaps do some more experimentation with my brick/stone/tile arrangement.
I deem the Amici’s clone dough formulation to be a very good one for those who seek the classic NY pizza as were made by the old NYC masters. To get even greater authenticity, one could use fresh yeast in lieu of the dry yeast I used. Of course, using a high temperature oven gets one even closer.