Author Topic: NY/NJ pizza with a preferment??  (Read 385 times)

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Offline sanmarzacho

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NY/NJ pizza with a preferment??
« on: May 05, 2020, 02:51:56 AM »
Does anyone have knowledge of a pizzeria in the tri-state area that uses a preferment of any sort (old dough, poolish, biga)? I am particularly interested in pizzerias that were established pre-1960.

I know that biga is all the rage in Italy right now. Everyone is after the canotto style crust with the puffiest cornichone. Biga Pizzeria in NYC is doing a biga crust because of the "digestibility". Obviously there are a number of naturally leavened, Neapolitan-adjacent places throughout NY and NJ - Bivio, Una Pizza, Ops, and Saraghina being some of my favorites - that are technically using a preferment. There's even some slice shops that are naturally leavened like Philomena's, F&F, and Upside. Corner Slice. Heck I know one pizzeria offhand that uses old dough, a poolish, AND levain called Picco in Boston.

But I do not want to talk about brand new places, naturally leavened places, or Neapolitan places so much as I want to talk about the originals - pizzerias in the tri-state area that date back to 1960 or before. Like Papa's, DeLorenzo's, Patsy's, John's of Bleecker, Denino's, Sam's in Cobble Hill, Frank Pepe's, Sally's, Johnny's. What are the chances any of them use any sort of preferment? If anyone has firsthand knowledge of them using a preferment I'd love to know.

I use preferments! I love the texture, the flavor, the way they can balance out the properties of particular flours. But the more I learn about some of these classic pizzerias like Totonno's, the more it seems to me that most of them are doing a direct dough. I'm sure there are some proprietary secrets, but I just don't envision many of them taking the extra step of doing a poolish, for example. I could imagine some of them using old dough...and I know that poolish and biga are not new-fangled techniques. They came about in the turn of the century when baker's yeast was isolated and commercialized. They added flavor. Biga also added strength to weak Italian flours. They are bakers' techniques and so many people who made pizza in America were originally bakers in Italy. So it seems so plausible that this might be part of the "tradition" that was been passed down in these old pizzerias. But the more I learn, the less that seems to be true.

Part of what spurred my curiosity is that I have seen some clone recipes on the forum (such was TXCraig1's Johnny's clone) that call for the use of a preferment. In fact, I just tried to clone Mario's (https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=62403.0) and I ended up using a preferment even though I'm pretty sure I was wrong on that. In general, it seems sort of out of the idiom for a lot of the older places. What do you all think? :)
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 03:46:44 AM by sanmarzacho »

Offline Rolls

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Re: NY/NJ pizza with a preferment??
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2020, 11:45:31 AM »
I don't know of any pre-1960's pizzerias in the tri-state area that use traditional preferments but I would agree with you that, if anything, they are probably using old dough (pasta di riporto or pâte fermentée) rather than biga or poolish.  It makes sense to make more dough than what is needed and then just recycle the leftovers in the next day's batch. 

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