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Offline PizzaboyTroy

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My New York Pizza Journey
« on: October 01, 2022, 09:34:14 AM »
I made my first ever NY style pizzas yesterday. I wanted to start a thread chronicling my progress as I aim to progressively continue to improve and experiment.

My backstory: I'm a regular ol' hillbilly from the Appalachia in southwestern Virginia. Good pizza is difficult to come by around here. My town has a Pizza Hut and two mediocre Italian restaurants (one of the 'Italian' restaurants serves hot dogs, Appalachian-country fusion brown beans with cornbread and weenies'n'kraut -- the original owner is sick and his wife runs the show now, and everything has gone to Haiti in a handbasket there). To get a passable pie, one must drive an hour away.

I started making pizzas in December 2019 with my home oven. When I first 'tried' an NY style pizza, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't use a scale to weigh my ingredients. I had no idea what my hydration was. I couldn't use my peel to transfer my pizzas so I used parchment paper to lift my pizza onto my stone. Big yikes! I gave up for almost an entire year. In December 2020, I started making Detroit style pizzas with the recipe from Serious Eats, using my LloydPans pan. This time, I used a scale. They turned out great!

Throughout 2021, Detroit style pizza was my go-to. I didn't bother attempting other styles, asides from a Chicago deep dish twice (which turned out to be good, but it's not my favorite). For Christmas of 2021, my girlfriend bought me a Bertello pizza oven and additional gram scale to measure small amounts of salt and yeast. I was nervous. I had never hand-stretched a pie with success before. After watching videos from 'MyPizzaCorner' over on YouTube, I tried his recipe and it worked out well for making a Neapolitan pizza from, what I remember, 58% dough.

Here and there, over the course of this year, I've used that oven for about 30 bakes. It's awesome for Neapolitan style pizza, but I have always longed for New York style. My favorite pizza restaurant in the 1990s and early 2000s was the aforementioned Italian joint that has gone downhill in the last decade and a half. I wanted to create a slice similar to theres.

The problem: I knew the Bertello would be useless for NY style pizza -- it gets too hot, even on low, and it's too small. The other issue is that my home oven is terrible. The heating is uneven and inconsistent. With all my newfound experience, I gave it a shot and the results were underwhelming. Even after heating my stone on 550 for an hour, using the broiler for the final 10 minutes of the preheat, the pizza still cooked too long, the crust was too hard and the bottom didn't have the browning that I wanted.

Again, I gave up.

And then... I discovered the Halo Versa 16 outdoor pizza oven. I was originally looking at the Ooni Koda 16 after I discovered the 'super low' method of cooking large NY style pizzas. But the prospect of having to stand there, manually turn my pizzas, buy a turning peel, buy a new table to sit the Koda 16 on, etc. turned me off. This is when I discovered the Versa 16, which -- after much research on here and on YouTube -- I discovered to be an absolute beast at cranking out New York style pizzas.

I tried two different recipes for my bakes yesterday, and I am going to shout those people out now: Jim from the Sip & Feast YouTube channel and the Pala Pizza YouTube (and his website).

I did slightly modify the two recipes, but it was mostly similar:
-- 64% hydration for Sip & Feast's recipe and 65% hydration for Pala Pizza's recipe.
-- 2.1% salt
-- 0.4% instant dry yeast

Jim from Sip & Feast's recipe recommended 345g dough balls for a 15-16" New York style pizza. Pala Pizza recommended 425g dough balls.

The next difference: for Jim's recipe, I used King Arthur Bread Flour. For Pala Pizza's recipe, I used General Mills all trumps bromated flour. You can check my post history to witness my failure earlier this year with all trumps flour (possible culprits: too much salt, not a long enough proof, balled too late and didn't allow the strong gluten to relax enough).

I wanted to see which crust thickness I preferred, which is why I made the two different recipes. I bulk-sat both on the counter for an hour (room temp was only 67-69 degrees) before balling them up into individual 6-cup containers and sitting them into my fridge for two days. I would have gone with a 3-day cold ferment but I don't have time to make pizzas today.

The first pizza -- the "try before you deny" pie (with pineapples and jalapenos; a call-back to season 4 of Stranger Things) used with Jim's recipe. I tried his recipe first, because I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to stretch a 345g dough ball to 15-16 inches. However, the dough was beautifully workable and I may have stretched it too thin! Still loved it.

The second pizza -- a basic cheese pie with Pala Pizza's recipe. I was able to have a puffier cornicione here. I used a mix of part-skim, low moisture mozzarella and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. This pizza reminded me so much of the pizza from Mellow Mushroom. Yes, the chain! That might sound like an insult, but it's not. I happen to love the pizza from Mellow Mushroom as it is my favorite chain pizza. I got so excited over this dough, because now I might be able to make a delicious copycat version of my favorite pie from there, the Holy Shiitake, without driving an hour and forking over $27+ plus a tip for a large pie.

I also made a basic pepperoni as well as cheese breadsticks in the style of the old Italian joint favorite of mine as another callback to my childhood.

All in all, a great success for my first ever NY style pizzas. This was my method using the Versa 16:

I pre-heated the oven on low for 20 minutes stone temps read from 575 to 600 degrees. I built every pizza on a screen. Two reasons: 1.) It is above my skill level to launch a 15-16" pizza onto a round 16" stone. 2.) I read that people have issues with their undercarriages burning in the Versa 16. The screen adds a nice buffer to prevent that from happening. So I used the screen for the first couple minutes of the bake before removing it and sitting the pizza directly onto the stone to brown the bottom.

To recap, I pre-heated on low for 20 minutes, launched the first pizza and cranked the heat to high. For the following pizzas, I turned the heat down to medium-low in between backs and back to high after launching.

I had to use part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella. I wish I could have used whole milk, low moisture mozzarella, but it's next to impossible to reliably find here. Does anybody have recommendations on how to stop my cheese from browning so rapidly?

I posted a video of my experience on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CjJJc3yNMnS/
« Last Edit: October 01, 2022, 09:38:53 AM by PizzaboyTroy »

Offline kori

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2022, 11:53:29 AM »
Colder cheese wont brown as quickly. Nice pizzas, good video.
I SMILE AND WAVE....
Inhale pizza, exhale negativity.

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Offline hammettjr

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2022, 12:09:28 PM »
Great writeup, and congrats on the pizza :chef:

Is the part-skim cheese pre-shredded, or do you shred it yourself?

May sound weird, but do your local stores carry whole milk mozzarella "string cheese"? I've heard that's more widely available. I've used it before, works well, it's just cheese.

Matt

Offline PizzaboyTroy

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2022, 12:42:38 PM »
I shredded it from the block.

Next time I might pop some portioned out cheese into the freezer for 10-20 minutes. It did sit out on the counter for a good while.

And oohh, the whole milk mozzarella string cheese. Thatís a good tip. Iíll have to look at what my local grocery stores carry and see if it lasts in the fridge before the family devours it.

Hoping to throw down some more pizza next weekend. I have to temper my experimenting and practice because I wear my family out with it lol!
« Last Edit: October 01, 2022, 12:44:28 PM by PizzaboyTroy »

Offline kori

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2022, 01:14:49 PM »
Larger shred size helps as well, I use this thing:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000VLV6Q/?tag=pmak-20

It's very heavy duty, shreds are more then double the size of a conventional cheese  grater. I firm up softer cheeses a bit in the freezer (mozzarella) grate away then back in the freezer for a short bit covered with food wrap, then into the fridge if I'm not quite ready to use it.

If you decide to get the grater I recommend putting it in the freezer before using it, makes grating much easier.
I SMILE AND WAVE....
Inhale pizza, exhale negativity.

Halo Versa 16 ready for duty!

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Offline hammettjr

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2022, 05:42:44 PM »
Larger shred size helps as well, I use this thing:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000VLV6Q/?tag=pmak-20


+1 I use that grater too.

Matt

Offline Wario

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2022, 03:29:10 PM »
They look stunning, almost like pies!

Offline NYSS

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2022, 04:43:59 PM »

I did slightly modify the two recipes, but it was mostly similar:
-- 64% hydration for Sip & Feast's recipe and 65% hydration for Pala Pizza's recipe.
-- 2.1% salt
-- 0.4% instant dry yeast

Any reason you left out the sugar and oil?

Pizzas look great!

Offline PizzaboyTroy

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2022, 07:34:29 PM »
Compliments are much appreciated, guys. This forum is really great. I have learned so much. I think about when I first started making pizza a couple years ago, and itís night and day.

A year ago, at this time, I was clueless on how to hand-stretch a pizza. Keeping it simple and going down to the bare basics helped me so much.

Iím receiving Dan Richlerís ďThe Joy of PizzaĒ book and Marc Vetriís ďMastering PizzaĒ book and canít wait to dive deep into both and absorb as much information as possible.

So many of you folks are posting these incredible looking pizzas that I almost feel foolish, or sheepish, for posting mine! Still a newbie in my mind. Iím here to learn and improve and, well, join together in the love of pizza!

Any reason you left out the sugar and oil?

Pizzas look great!
I originally anticipated temperatures in the oven being close to 700 degrees. I didnít want the sugar to possibly burn. I may introduce oil in the future, but I really enjoyed how both these doughs in the OP turned out.

Offline foreplease

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2022, 06:44:47 AM »
Please do not feel sheepish or foolish. I see you have been here about 13 months. IMO, you have been an example of a great new member. Came to learn, listened, and follow through with questions and feedback. And turning out nice pizza!
-Tony

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Offline PizzaboyTroy

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2022, 11:59:22 AM »
Making another batch of dough tomorrow night with my target set for a Sunday afternoon cook (right in line for a day of NFL watching from the couch). It always feels like Christmas when I'm getting ready to throw a dough together. I suppose I should say this is going to be more like December 22nd, because the day of the pizza being thrown down is more in line with the feeling I'm trying to articulate!

Alright. So I have done a wealth of research on all trumps flour. Seems that from the consensus it is better to slightly underknead more than anything, as it is apparently easy to overwork a dough with this flour. I remembered reading about this earlier in the year.

For the dough I posted in the OP, using my stand mixer I mixed it on low for 2 minutes, added salt and allowed my hook to knead it for four minutes prior to stopping. This seemed to work out well. Still, I have my reservations fueled by a tinge of anxiety over whether or not this is enough or, still yet, even too much for AT flour.

I also read that lower hydration (60-62%) is 'better' (subjective) than the 65% hydration I used last week, but again, I really enjoyed the final results so I think I'm sticking with 65% hydration unless anybody is willing to provide some information as to why I might want to lower it.

Do you think I should stick with my current 0.4% IDY? Like I said, I'm going to make this dough at 7pm tomorrow and launch the pies at 12pm on Sunday. This is a little bit longer of a cold ferment than this past week's batch.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2022, 12:01:32 PM by PizzaboyTroy »

Offline sordomudo11

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2022, 05:35:15 PM »
Welcome! Similar-ish journey to mine. I'm just getting back into it after about two years off. Stoked to see the new outdoor oven options expanding. Might have to take the plunge at some point.

FWIW, folks on here have advised me that NY-style pies tend to be lower hydration (closer to or under 60%, IIRC) but obviously if you like it higher, that's great too.

Offline PizzaboyTroy

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2022, 09:54:20 PM »
Welcome! Similar-ish journey to mine. I'm just getting back into it after about two years off. Stoked to see the new outdoor oven options expanding. Might have to take the plunge at some point.

FWIW, folks on here have advised me that NY-style pies tend to be lower hydration (closer to or under 60%, IIRC) but obviously if you like it higher, that's great too.
And a welcome back to you! Before I gave any of this a shot, I almost bought an Ooni that was on closeout for $125 over on a BBQ site at the beginning of 2020. Iím glad I didnít. It was one of their old (?) models that only operated on pellets, and at the time I was more clueless than ever in pizzamaking as I had not done my research or practice yet.

You are right regarding hydration and NY style.

My brain HURTS (lol) because I have read hundreds of threads on here in the last couple of weeks. I have spent nearly all my free time perusing this site in that span. Thankful for all the members Iíve learned from (special shout-out to the late, great Tom Lehmann).

When I have Googled Ďoptimalí NY style dough hydration, I see so many results pointing towards >63% hydration. But the consensus here on the PM forum appears to be the number you quoted or down to 58%. I donít have the thread link, but I also read 56% in a couple of cases.

Even the General Millsí guide for all trumps, recalling off the top of my head, says 58% hydration.

The thing is, I really enjoyed the 65% hydration dough last week. In the 64% hydration with the bread flour + 345g dough balls, the pizza was super thin with thin spots that I was worried were going to tear. The AT flour in the 425g dough balls was much stronger and extensible enough. Easy to work with.

So Iím going with that routine again with the AT flour.

I made my dough tonight and rested it on the counter (bulk) for an hour before balling and into the fridge.

Used my stand mixer. 2 minute mix on low with flour, water and yeast, added salt and then 3 more minutes.

Thatís just about what I did last week. I have read so much about the importance of not overkneading high gluten flour, as the gluten will strengthen and come together during the cold ferment, and I absolutely believe the science, because it worked out for me last week.

Itís odd. When I pull the dough from the mixing bowl, there is obviously the slightest gluten development, but itís not so strong that it will stay perfectly together. It does NOT pass the windowpane test. After the 1hr bulk rest, it feels much stronger, but I didnít even do the test, again much like last week.

I can tell that it is going to be another nice dough. Iím so excited to make some more pizza on Sunday in the Halo Versa 16.

Iím going shopping for cheese tomorrow or on Saturday in hopes of finding a block of whole milk low moisture mozzarella. Thinking of picking up some fontina cheese. I donít really care if itís not traditional. Fontina is delicious!
« Last Edit: October 06, 2022, 09:58:05 PM by PizzaboyTroy »

Offline PizzaboyTroy

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2022, 10:22:27 AM »
Yesterday's run was a fun success. I thought I had left my dough balls sitting out for too long. I got distracted and they sat out for almost three hours before I began opening them, but the first ball I opened was 56f as far as temp goes.

Guess what?! Seems ridiculous to celebrate this, but I found some whole milk, low moisture mozzarella on Friday! Galbani brand. Literally the only one remaining on the shelf. I don't know why it is so hard to come by here. After shredding, I popped it into the freezer for 20 minutes while I preheated the V16.

There were a couple of thin spots in each pie. I wonder if this is from knuckle stretching the heavy ball, so I'll watch my technique next time. Not the end of the world. Once again the dough was a dream to work with. I tried out Bianco-DiNapoli tomatoes for the first time. They were $5 at the Whole Foods I visited out of state last month. Maybe it's just me, where I did lose my sense of taste/smell when I had COVID back in August and am still recovering in that department, but I couldn't tell much of a difference as far as quality is concerned between those tomatoes and the Cento brand San Marzano tomatoes. Think I'll stick with the Cento 'maters (as we call them in southwestern VA) going forward. I was sucked in by the Bianco-DiNapoli hype.

I pre-heated my Halo Versa 16 for 20 minutes on low. Stone temp at launch was 652f. I baked these pies for about three minutes on low and finished on high for another minute or two. I domed a few pies to finish browning the top.

For the next NY style bake, I'm going to test the waters with 1% oil and 1% sugar to see what effects take place, although I definitely don't want to burn it. My bottoms were still a little darker than I wanted them to be, but not terrible.

Pizza 1: margherita pie with plenty of chopped basil.
Pizza 2: Italian sausage, mushrooms and pepperoni.
Pizza 3: loaded pep
Pizza 4: Mushroom pie with mozzarella, parmigiana-reggiano and feta on an olive oil base with a balsamic glaze

Offline foreplease

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Re: My New York Pizza Journey
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2022, 11:57:10 AM »
PBT, every one of your pizzas looks great! If any of your local stores have Boars Head products at their deli, they should have or be able to get their WMLM mozzarella. Itís a little pricey but very good. Iím with you it should not be so hard to find. Thankfully, in my area, over the last 18 months most stores now carry at least one brand of pre-shredded WMLM. Despite some peopleís objection to the anti-caking agent, I find it very good for pizza. Deliciously so.
-Tony

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