Pizza Making Forum

Pizza Making => New York Style => Topic started by: Pete-zza on August 11, 2004, 02:59:47 PM

Title: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on August 11, 2004, 02:59:47 PM
One of my pet pizza projects has been to try to reverse engineer the pizzas made by DiFara's, one of the quintessential pizzerias in the New York City area (Brooklyn).  I have never been to the pizzeria myself--although I plan to the next time I am in the New York City area--but over the past year or so, through stuff I have read on the Internet, I believe I have been able to piece together quite a bit about what goes into the typical DiFara pizza.  Maybe DiFara fans or others at this forum (I believe, for example, that Arthur visited DiFara's not too long ago), can help me fill in some of the missing blanks.

I feel a bit like Sherlock Holmes, but this is what I currently know about DiFara's pizzas, based solely on what I have read: 1) the dough apparently is made the same day as the pizzas are made, using a 75/25 ratio (I assume by weight) of the Delverde brand of 00 flour and a high-gluten flour; 2) a 75%/25% combination of buffalo mozzarella cheese (imported, I assume) and the Grande brand of full-fat mozzarella cheese; 3) a tomato sauce made from a mixture of canned San Marzano tomatoes and fresh tomatoes; 4) one or more fresh herbs--but quite possibly only basil--grown in the vicinity of the pizzeria; 5) a sprinkling of extra-virgin olive oil on top of the pizza;  6) a dusting of grana padano cheese; and 7) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the side.  

What I don't know is whether the crust is thick or thin (or something in between), whether the pizzas are heavy on the sauce or cheeses (I have seen some commentary about too much cheese being used), whether the cheese is grated or sliced (or whatever), whether the sauce before baking is cooked or raw, and whether the olive oil and basil are added before or after baking.  I also don't know the specific dough ingredients, but I believe I can come up with a 00/high-gluten dough combination that will suffice.  I also don't recall offhand whether the dough would have to be ready for a lunchtime crowd, but I think I could start the dough early enough in the morning to meet that target.   (Doughs with 00 flour are commonly made for use the same day).  

I look upon the DiFara's pizzas as being a cross between two of my favorite pizza styles: a Neapolitan style pizza (because of the 00 flour, the bufallo mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil and basil) and a New York style pizza (because of the high-gluten flour, the Grande mozzarella cheese, the use of American style toppings such as pepperoni, and the larger overall pizza size).  I don't have a Difara type oven, but I think I can come close enough in my standard home oven.

Thanks in advance for any additional "clues".  It would be interesting to see whether whatever I can concoct will be anything like the "real thing" when I actually get around to trying it.

Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arthur on August 11, 2004, 06:19:48 PM
Ah yes....DiFara's.   It was like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.   As a pizzaioli you spend years perfecting your craft and to see one of the greats is such a thrill.

Now...I must admit, his pizza wasn't exactly my taste, but it's like saying I don't like Manet, but I recognize greatness  :)   My sister did like the dough given it's 00 flour inclusion.

Can you post your email address - or some newly/temp created yahoo email address so that I can send you an email with my additional comments.   ;)

Also, if you're in New York, the must go-to pizza places:

- Totonnos (Brooklyn - coney island) - just classic
- Nick (Queens - forest hills) - it's amazing what they do with a gas oven
- Lombardi's (NY - 32 Spring street) - the first pizza place so you must go - although was a little doughy last time I went
- L&B Spumoni Gardens (Brooklyn) - the best square and atmosphere
- John's (NY - bleeker street) - just plain good
- Patsy's (harlem - I haven't been, but next on my personal list)
- DiFara's - (Brooklyn - midwood) - just to see the master and taste something different

Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: canadave on August 11, 2004, 07:35:42 PM
Interesting you mention about Lombardi's being "a bit doughy" last time you went, Arthur.  Last time I was in NYC, I spoke to a long-time friend there who said that she was under the impression that Lombardi's had changed owners not too long ago, and that the pizza quality had suffered immensely because of it--she was quite annoyed about the whole thing.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it might explain your experience.

--Dave
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on August 11, 2004, 08:19:27 PM
Canadave,

I visited Lombardi's within the past year and was not particularly impressed with the pizza I had--a basic Margherita pizza, the pizza I almost always order at a new pizzeria because it is the most basic and unemcumbered by too many toppings.   But rather than relate my experience at this thread, I will post something on the Restaurant Review section of the forum.

Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on August 12, 2004, 03:05:16 PM
Arthur,

I'm still learning the many functionalities of the platform used for the forum.  I sent you a message offline about the DiFara post and hope you got it.  I included my email address.

Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on August 30, 2004, 12:32:30 PM
As part of my efforts to reverse engineer the DiFara pizza, I decided recently to try to engineer a dough similar to the DiFara dough.  I have a pretty good understanding of the various ingredients of the basic DiFara pizza, but few details on the dough itself, apart from the fact that the dough is a combination of "00" flour (the Delverde brand) and a high-gluten flour.

For my version of the dough, I decided to try a 50/50 (by weight) combination of "00" flour (Delverde brand) and KA Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour. I also decided that I wanted a 14-inch pizza with a thin crust.   I don't know the percentage hydration (the amount of water) used by DiFara's for its dough, so I decided more or less arbitrarily to use 60%. What follows is more an exercise in how to engineer a dough from the ground up than anything else.  But I believe the exercise is constructive since it allows one to pretty much engineer a dough using any number and types of flours and any desired hydration percentage.

I decided on the 14-inch diameter because that is the largest size my pizza peel and pizza stone can safely handle.  Using that number, I calculated the weight of dough that I would need to produce a pizza dough round 14 inches in diameter and that would yield a thin crust.  Using the standard equation W = Pi (the Greek letter, equal to 3.14) times the radius (R = 7 inches) squared times 0.10 (the thickness factor for a thin crust), the dough weight W came to 15.4 ounces (3.14 times 49 times 0.10).

To calculate the weight of each of the two flours and the weight of the water I would need, I put on my math hat and came up with the following expression:

0.50 x + 0.50 x + 0.60 x = 15.4 ounces  

The value of x in this equation is 9.62 (15.4 divided by 1.6, that is, the sum of 0.50, 0.50 and 0.60).  From the value of x, I was able to calculate that I would need 4.81 ounces (0.5 times 9.62) of 00 flour, 4.81 ounces (0.5 times 9.62) of high-gluten flour, and 5.77 ounces (0.6 times 9.62) of water.  

Using my Soehnle Futura scale, I was able to weigh out the three ingredients and proceed with making the dough.  As is my regular practice, I took the temperature of the room, the temperatures of the two flours (they were the same since both were at room temperature), and, using a friction factor of about 5 degrees F for my KitchenAid stand mixer, I calculated a water temperature of about 73 degrees F to get a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F (3 times 80, minus the sum of the flour temperature, room temperature and the friction temperature).  After processing the dough, I weighed it and took its temperature.  The weight came to 15.3 ounces--just slightly less than the calculated weight of 15.4 ounces--and the finished dough temperature was around 80 degrees F, right in line with the calculated finished dough temperature.   The dough also passed the windowpane test.

The precision of the weight measurements is attributable to using a good scale.  In my case, I also converted the weights to volume equivalents, which came to about 3/4 c. of the Delverde 00 flour, about 1 c. of the KA Sir Lancelot flour and about 3/4 c. water.  Using the volume measurements will not be as accurate as the weight measurements, of course, but should come reasonably close for all practical purposes, especially if mid-course adjustments are made to flour and water during the processing of the dough.

The beauty of the above analysis is that it allows one to change parameters pretty much at will.  For example, if one wanted to combine three different flours, with equal weights, and use, say, a hydration percentage 0f 65%, the above expression would be modified to be 0.33 x + 0.33 x + 0.33 x + 0.65 x = W (the calculated weight of flour for the desired diameter of pizza dough round).  From the value of x, one would be able to easily calculate the required weights of the different flours and the water, just as was shown above.

In my case, after the pizza was prepared, about the only thing I might change for future pizzas of this type would be to aim for a bit thinner crust (I would use a thckness factor of 0.09 instead of 0.10) or I would just make the pizza dough round greater than 14 inches to get the increased thinness (in which case I would have to  use a pizza screen of the right size because my stone wouldn't be able to handle the larger size).

Peter

 

Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: canadave on August 30, 2004, 01:18:19 PM
The one thing you didn't mention is how good it tasted! :)

--Dave
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on August 30, 2004, 02:49:15 PM
Canadave,

With me, the science sometimes gets in the way of the emotional side of eating pizza ;D.  Before doing anything, when the pizza comes out of the oven the first thing I do is check it out quite carefully, looking for color, texture and flavor, and whether it came out as I might have expected based on what I did in preparing it.  I often take notes on my observations to add to my original recipe, and I sometimes note possible improvements based on those observations.  But once I retrieve one of my cherished bottles of red wine to drink with the pizza (for this occasion it was a 1986 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste Pauillac bordeaux), all of the science immediately vanishes.  And for some inexplicable reason, the pizza gets better with each glass of wine ;D.  

The pizza in question was very good--a cross between a 00 Neapolitan pizza and a New York style pizza but with a bias toward the Neapolitan style, with a combination of the softness and flexibility of a Neapolitan style pizza and the crust color of a New York style pizza (because of the high-gluten flour).  One day when I have a chance to go to DiFara's and actually watch the pizza making process in person and sample one of their pizzas (which I will most likely scrutinize with great care), I will have an even better idea of the nature of the DiFara dough and its relationship to my own version.  Maybe Mr. DeMarco will even tell me the hydration percentage and confirm the ratios of the two flours used.  That, together with knowing the typical size of a DiFara pizza, should get me closer to the real thing.  Unfortunately, I will never be able to get the bake temperatures used at DiFara's, but the pizza should be pretty good nonetheless.  

I can tell you one thing, though, and that is that trying to replicate a DiFara pizza is not cheap.  The typical DiFara pizza uses imported buffalo mozzarella cheese, a Grande "fior di latte" cheese, imported DOP-designated San Marzano canned tomatoes, fresh basil, grana padano cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the side.  Mr. DeMarco could give away all his trade secrets without worrying about people copying his pizzas.  His price points for ingredients will beat mine any day, although the folks at this forum have done a great job tracking down sources of the ingredients used by professional pizza makers, for which I am personally grateful :).

Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Ronnye on August 30, 2004, 03:17:56 PM
You picked the right pizza to reconstruct.  It truly has ruined me for all other pizza.  If you ever get there you'll have plenty of time to observe, as it often takes an hour or more to get your pie since the owner/artist makes each one himself and the people sometimes line up ten deep for just a slice.  But don't just get a slice, because you will want more!

Here's what I can offer in response to your inquiry:

Crust - thin and crispy with slight charring on the bottom, which is crucial to the allover taste.  I don't know if that can be reproduced in a regular oven, but maybe a pizza stone would help.  The dough is made in the back room, so the ingredients remain a mystery, although I doubt that there is anything unusual in the recipe.  I think it's more the way it's handled that makes the difference.  The dough is NEVER refrigerated.  His sons work in the back room making dough all day.  It is raw when it goes in the oven.  He gives the crust a little ping with his fingers to test if it is done to his satisfaction.  And his hands are always floury.  It's really a thing of beauty the way he works each lump of dough with a such a loving and delicate touch.

Sauce - simple and slightly sweet, with fresh garlic and large pieces of fresh basil throughout.  I'd say it's a light application. but not so light that it dries out in the oven.

Cheese - he hand grates it just before putting it on the pie, then
adds a sprinkling of parmegiano reggiano when it is finished.  Everything else (olive oil, basil, etc.) is already on the pie when it goes in the oven.

That's about all I can tell you, except that the man has magic that none of us will ever truly comprehend.  I hope his children have been paying attention so that they can continue his tradition for many generations to come.  


Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on August 30, 2004, 04:35:16 PM
Thanks, Ronnye, for the added information and encouragement.  I decided to work on the DiFara pizza because it is considered by many to be the very best in the New York City area and because of Dom DeMarco's devotion to the craft rather than trying to build a mini pizza empire like others of the old-timers have done.  He also uses high quality ingredients, cheeses, tomatoes and other toppings.

You answered one of the questions I had--about refrigeration.  The pizza dough I made over the weekend had no refrigeration.  I made the dough in the morning and baked the pizza in the evening, letting the dough sit at room temperature for the whole time before final preparation.  I did this on the assumption that the dough at DiFara's was made in the evening and left to rise overnight for the next day's luncheon crowd, or the dough was started early in the morning for use later in the day, or quite possibly a combination of both to meet what I understood to be quite a volume of business.  I theorized that there was enough natural sugar bound up in the flours so that the yeast wouldn't run out of food over a several-hours period and the dough would be supple and easy to shape into a pizza dough round.  The dough I made was soft and supple, with good extensibility and low elasticity--the characteristics of Neapolitan style doughs.  I did stretch the dough using my knuckles but it was basically shaped on a flat work surface.

I have a second batch of dough working today to use up the remainder of the toppings I bought and prepared for use on the first pizza.  This time, however, I made the dough last night and put it into the refrigerator until late this morning, when I took it out to rise slowly throughout the day.  I used only about 1/4 teaspoon of instant dry yeast (added at the end of kneading per Giotto's recommendations), and no added sugar, so it will take a while for the dough to grow to the size for shaping.  I won't know until tonight whether the second pizza is as good as the first one was.  I was planning to try out one of my new pizza screens for tonight's pizza, but I may stick with the pizza stone just to have a more valid basis for comparison with the first pizza.  The experiment will also tell me whether the dough lends itself well to refrigeration, for those times where it may be necessary or desirable to use refrigeration.   It's all part of the learning process, and what makes pizza making so much fun.

Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: giotto on September 01, 2004, 02:22:44 AM
Pete-zza:

I'd be interested in how the 2nd batch went...  I'm curious if you can contributed any differences with refrigeration, adding yeast at end, or other steps.
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on September 01, 2004, 01:11:25 PM
Giotto,

Thanks for reminding me. I had intended to report on the results but just forgot.

By way of background, I prepared the second dough batch as follows: I mixed a small amount of flour (the Delverde 00/KA Sir Lancelot blend) with a little bit of water (temperature adjusted to get a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F) at low speed (#1) for about a minute to, in effect, make a paste.  I then gradually added more flour and water until all of the flour was taken up and a rough dough ball was formed.  I was trying to go slow with the kneading at this point so as to minimize oxidation of the dough and, hopefully, to preserve its color.  I then covered the bowl and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes (autolyse) to permit fuller hydration of the flour.  After the autolyse, I added the salt and continued kneading, at a slightly higher speed (#2), until the salt was fully incorporated and the dough ball was pretty much done, that is, it would pass the windowpane test.  As the final step, I added the instant dry yeast to the dough and continued kneading (at #2) until it looked like it was fully incorporated into the dough.  (As a note here, I should mention that the first batch used active dry yeast proofed in a small amount of warm water which was added to the flour along with the rest of the water).

Once I was satisfied that the dough was in proper form, I took its temperature, put it in a bowl, lightly covered it with flour, made a 1/4-inch deep cross in the dough ball (I was looking for divine intervention ;D), and immediately put it into the refrigerator.  One of the things I noticed when I took the dough's temperature was that the dough ball was around 84 degrees F, a few degrees higher than I usually shoot for but still within the 80-85 degrees F range that is usually specified as being optimum for fermentation purposes.  I attributed the higher temperature to what must have been a longer knead time than I usually use, allowing for a temperature buildup in the dough.  In retrospect, I perhaps should have used the lowest mixer speed for the entire kneading process.

The dough remained in the refrigerator overnight and until late the next morning, when I brought the dough ball to room temperature to start its rise.  I noticed at this point that the cross I had made in the dough had opened up--not a lot, but noticeably--telling me that the dough had risen some while it was in the refrigerator.  Apparently, the 4 degree difference (84 minus 80) was enough to allow the dough to rise while in the refrigerator. The dough also looked more like the New York style dough I make.  Several hours later, after the cross in the dough had transformed into a flower petal-like configuration (telling me that the dough had just about doubled in volume), I shaped the dough into a roughly 16-inch round (the dough handled beautifully--much better than the first batch) and dressed it in the usual manner.   I decided after all to use the new 16-inch pizza screen but to bake the pizza on the screen on my pizza stone and to slip the pizza off of the screen onto the stone toward the end of baking in order to get the final browning on the bottom, as I do with my 00 doughs.  

The pizza cooked up nicely, but what surprised me was that the pizza crust was more like a New York style pizza crust, with many but not all of the usual characteristics of the New York style crusts we have discussed before.  It was like a cross between the New York style crust and something else--not really a 00 crust.  It was like the battle between the two flours was won by the high-gluten flour.  I couldn't complain about the quality of the pizza.  It was very good, but not what I expected.  As between the two pizzas, I would select the first one (the one without the refrigeration of the dough), since it was more along the lines of a 00 type of pizza.  I am equally fond of the New York style of pizza, but I would use a different recipe for that style if that is what I wanted.

One day when I get to DiFara's, I will be able to see for myself which of the two types of pizza I made was more like the real deal.  

Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: giotto on September 01, 2004, 09:49:53 PM
Pete-zza:

Ya know, good things are often accidental.  Sounds like you figured out how to make a very good NY style pizza with a protein level similar to an All Purpose flour-- something I have found only once at a pizzeria.

The way you cooked it is very similar to how I do it.  I start at the top, then sometimes I take it off the screen and put it directly on the lowest level of the oven for about 40 seconds to get a crisp result.
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on September 07, 2004, 04:41:53 PM
As those following this thread know, I recently tried to "reverse engineer" the DiFara pizza based on all the information that I could acquire through publicly available sources--and without ever having been in DiFara's pizzeria in Brooklyn.  By way of background and recapitulation, after I marshalled together all the ingredients for this exercise, I started with the dough, which included a 50/50 mix, by weight, of Delverde 00 flour and King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour (the only high-gluten flour I have).  I used a 60% hydration, purely as a guess, and, based on that percentage hydration, I calculated how much of each flour I would require to give me a roughly 15 ounce dough ball (enough for a 14-inch thin crust pizza).  I used active dry yeast which I proofed in a small amount of warm water.  The temperature of the rest of the water was calculated to give me a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F.  I processed all the dough ingredients in my usual fashion, including a 10 minute autolyse.   I assumed that the DiFara dough was not refrigerated (later confirmed by a guest poster Ronnye), so I left the dough at room temperature for about 8 hours, at which time I proceeded to shape the dough into a dough round.  The dough was extensible yet with some elasticity, and handled very nicely.  

For toppings, I used canned, drained and crushed San Marzano tomatoes (DOP); some fresh tomatoes (East Texas) drained of excess water and crushed; a fresh fior di latte mozzarella cheese; an imported Italian bufallo mozzarella cheese; a high quality olive oil; freshly grated grana padano hard cheese; pepperoni on half of the pizza and the rest Margherita; and some fresh basil from my garden.   I also set aside some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to sprinkle on top of the finished pizza.  The dressed pizza was baked on a pizza stone at the highest possible temperature for my oven, about 500-550 degrees F.

The finished pizza is as shown below.  Maybe those of our members or guests who have seen the authentic Dom Demarco pizza can tell me whether the one I made bears any resemblance to his.

Peter




Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on September 07, 2004, 05:00:48 PM
As reported in an earlier posting, I also made a DiFara reverse-engineered pizza in which I allowed the dough to remain in the refrigerator overnight before using to make the pizza.  DiFara's does not use refrigerated dough.  His dough is made fresh several times a day.  As previously indicated, and as shown below, the finished pizza was more like one of my New York style pizzas.  The pizza tasted fine--which it should have with all the high-quality, high-cost ingredients I trekked all over Dallas to find ;D--but not like what I would have expected a Demarco pizza to be like.
Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on September 14, 2004, 10:24:29 PM
I recently conducted a couple of experiments in which I used a proofing box in the course of making pizza dough.  In one experiment, I intentionally introduced moisture and humidity to the dough.  In the second experiment, I repeated the first experiment but without the introduction of moisture and humidity.  The results of those experiments are reported under the Proofing Box thread.  

For both experiments, I intentionally selected flours to try to produce a dough and crust similar to those produced by DiFara's in Brooklyn.   More specifically, I used 50% Delverde 00 flour (4.8 ounces) and 50% King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour (4.8 ounces).  I used 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast which I proofed in a tablespoon of warm water, 3/4 teaspoon sea salt and 5.8 ounces water (less the one tablespoon for proofing).   The flours and the salt were combined in my stand mixer, the yeast/water mixture was added and, using the paddle, everything was kneaded at low speed (#1) for about 1 minute.  The paddle was replaced by the dough hook and the dough mixture was kneaded at low-medium speed (#2) for about 10 minutes, and at medium speed (#3) for a final 2 minutes.  I had adusted the temperature of the water used to achieve a dough temperature off the hook of around 80 degrees F.  No autolyse period was used.  The dough easily passed the windowpane test.  

The dough was put into a bowl, covered, and put into the proofing box for about 6 hours.  At the end of that time period, after a short duration while the toppings were being readied, the dough was shaped into a 16-inch round, placed on a 16-inch pizza screen, dressed and baked for part of the total bake time on the screen and slipped onto a preheated (500-550 degrees F) pizza stone for a few final minutes to provide additional browning on the bottom of the crust.

The pizza round was dressed with DOP San Marzano and fresh tomatoes, fresh fior di latte mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, some Mexican oaxaca melting cheese, pepperoni on half and half Margherita style, olive oil, fresh basil and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

I took photos of the two pizzas made using the proofing box for proofing the doughs, but unfortunately the photos for the first pizza (the one where moisture and humidity was introduced to the dough) did not take because the camera batteries had expired.  However, with replacement of the batteries, I was able to take photos of the second pizza, one of which is shown below (the whole pizza) and the other (a slice) in the following posting.

Peter


Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on September 14, 2004, 10:28:49 PM
And, the slice.

Peter
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: A on September 28, 2004, 06:21:00 PM

I stumbled across your website and am amazed that someone is trying to recreate a pizza that they have never tasted.   That is crazy.


I live in New York and would be willing to send you a few slices via FedEx.  I go to DiFara's every now and then.  Cold DiFara's is better then nothing.  


I will say that I doubt you can recreate it. There are certain variables that will always go unquantified.  

 
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on September 28, 2004, 07:53:40 PM
I hope one day to try the real thing at DiFara's.  I'll never have DiFara's oven and there are some ingredients that Dom Demarco uses that I can only get with difficulty, like the brands of high-gluten flour, San Marzano tomatoes, and cheeses Dom Demarco uses, which carry big shipping charges to get them from the sources to my place in Texas.  However, I do think I am getting a bit closer to the DiFara pizza, with each additional clue in the puzzle.   It doesn't really matter, though, because the pizzas I have made in attempting to reverse engineer the DiFara pizza have been very good in their own right.  As does Dom Demarco with his pizzas, I have tried to use the highest quality ingredients in my reverse engineering exercise.  That will produce a good product almost automatically.  If I ever get a chance to stand by Dom Demarco as he makes a pizza or two, I will have a few more clues.  

One of the most interesting things about the exercise is how much information about a topic, even one as arcane as a DiFara pizza, can be found from public sources, and especially the Internet.  Before the Internet, it would have been impossible to get the same amount and level of information without leaving the home.  

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: snowdy on February 08, 2005, 04:11:07 AM
peteza, have you been to di fara's yet? Here's a pic i found of demarco and one of his pies  :D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on February 08, 2005, 11:58:41 AM
Snowdy,

Thanks for the pic. I haven't been to Di Fara's yet, but I have a trip planned for April to NYC and hope to make it out to De Marco's Brooklyn establishment.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: snowdy on February 08, 2005, 08:20:31 PM
Snowdy,

Thanks for the pic. I haven't been to Di Fara's yet, but I have a trip planned for April to NYC and hope to make it out to De Marco's Brooklyn establishment.

Peter

is this your first trip? if so you're gonna love it, my wife and i spent our last 2 days walking and taking subways all over to find pizza... lombardi's, john's, grimaldi's.... getting to grimaldi's at night by subway is not recommended  :o ... come to think of it, stay off the subways altogether after dark!

Let me know how difara's was. i didnt find out about it until after we got home :(

make sure to take pics!!

L8r!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on February 08, 2005, 09:25:00 PM
Snowdy,

I have been to NYC many times but usually I am there for only a short time or with people who are not as interested in pizza as I. In April I will be with my son and his family, so I hope to be able to try out a couple of pizza places.

I plan to bring my camera with me and hope to be able to take a few photos.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arthur on February 09, 2005, 03:23:01 PM
my wife has planned a pizza trip back to new york for me for my birthday.  We're dropping off the kids and eating pizza for 4 days!!!  I have the best wife  :P

Here's probably where I am going:
- patsy's - never been there!
- nicks
- L&B
- totonnos
- DiFara's
- and more...as long and she can take it!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaBrewer on March 01, 2005, 09:23:49 AM
Go here and scroll down the page for some great photos of DiFara's:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=58529&st=0

---Guy
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 01, 2005, 10:44:29 AM
Guy,
Great stuff.  Sounds like a fabulous pizza journey through Brooklyn!!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 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.

Some other adjustments that I made from my first endeavor:
-  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
1/2 t.  ADY

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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: snowdy 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 :)
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 05, 2005, 11:58:03 AM
Snowdy,

The KA00 is King Arthur's "clone" of the imported variety of 00 flour. I tried it some time ago and found it hard to use in the 00 dough recipes, especially after I had tried other brands of 00 flour (mainly Bel Aria and Delverde). I complained to KA about it in an email and was only told in reply that the flour had a low protein level (8.5%), which was not a particularly helpful reply. I gradually used up most of the KA00 in combinations with other flours but still have some left.  DiFara's uses a combination of Delverde 00 flour and GM All Trumps high-gluten flour (I have no idea of the ratio), but as you can see Friz has managed to use a combination of KA00 and KASL to his satisfaction. As with all doughs, you will have to experiment with the flours to find something you really like. If you read the thread that Friz started when he made his first DiFara clone dough, as well as one with the KA00 alone, you will see that he was not as satisfied with the pizza made solely with the KA00 flour.

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

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 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  ;D 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 05, 2005, 10:21:59 PM
pic 1
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 05, 2005, 10:26:42 PM
pic 2
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 05, 2005, 10:30:19 PM
pic 3
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 05, 2005, 10:33:30 PM
pic 4
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 05, 2005, 10:35:42 PM
pic
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 05, 2005, 10:37:56 PM
pic
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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 :D.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 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)...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor 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.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor 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...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor 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.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob 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)
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 20, 2005, 10:11:44 PM
Duckjob,
That's a heckuva nice job and quite a nice looking pizza.  Thanks for joining us on DiFara experiment.  It was a pleasant surprise to see your attempt at this today.  And a mighty fine attempt indeed.

Can let us know a few more details about your experience with this recipe?  How did the dough handle?  How was the flavor of the crust (sounds like the texture was very good)?  Is there anything you (or one of us) would like to adjust with the recipe in the spirit of experimentation to perfect the recipe better?
Thanks again for getting on board with this experiment.
Friz
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 20, 2005, 10:24:58 PM
Friz, the dough was pretty easy to handle, especially considering the high hydration percentage. It had the perfect combination of elasticity and extensibility. I was able to toss it as opposed to streching it out on a work surface like I end up having to do with some high hydration recipes. Definately had a different tast, a little tangy actually. The crust itself is what really impressed me though. It was chewy, airy, and slightly crispy on the outside, which is just how I like it. This is my first attempt, but the recipe you have come up with is pretty solid. I may tinker with the percentage of KA00 and KASL just out of curiosity, and might try adding some sugar to the recipe to aid in browing since I'm stuck useing a conventional oven that won't go much past 550. I'll probably give it another go later this week, I'll post my results. If anyone is interested in how I cooked it, I pre heated the oven to 500 for 1 hour, placed the pizza on a screen and cooked on a pre heated stone for 6 minutes. I then moved the pizza directly onto the stone and turned the broiler on for 3 minutes to brown both sides a bit.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 20, 2005, 10:31:36 PM
I made another DiFara pizza on Saturday night using the same recipe as outlined earlier in this thread.  I used a 40 hour refrigeration and, once again, the results were quite good.  I did, however, experience difficulty in shaping the dough, as it was quite extensible. 

I would suggest to anyone trying this recipe that you need to take extreme care in shaping this dough because of the great extensibility of the dough.  Actually, if anyone has any insight as to why the dough is so extensible (outside of the obviously high hydration %), I would love to hear your thoughts.  I'm thinking that it might have something to do with the low salt content and long refrigeration, but I can't say for sure.  Anyway, it's worth the extra care that is required in shaping this dough, as the end product is quite good.

Another idea I have for addressing the extensibility issue is to reduce the size of the dough ball and, thereby reducing the diameter of the pizza.  Pete, if you would be so kind, I would be most appreciative if you could give the baker's measurements for a 14 inch and 13 inch diameter pizza, as adjusted from my 15 inch recipe.  A smaller diameter pizza will definitely make handling this dough a bit easier without having to adjust any of the recipe (although if we continue to experiment that may happen anyway).

Also in the spirit of Dom DeMarco, I got really creative with my toppings for this pizza and it made a huge splash with my wife and our dinner guests last night.  I noticed in some pictures of DeMarco at work, that he does not add some toppings before baking, but waits until after - particularly with mushrooms.  So, for this DiFara knockoff, I sauteed some mushrooms in butter, added a little salt and pepper and, after the pizza was cooked, I distributed the sauteed mushrooms on top of the cooked pizza.  In addition, I also cooked some Arugula in a saucepan, similar to the way you would cook spinach (just washed it, rinsed it, and heated it in the saucepan until cooked).  After the arugula was cooked, I drained all the excess water from the saucepan and then drizzled extra virgin olive oil and one clove of chopped garlic on top of the cooked arugula.  I covered the saucepan and just let the olive oil and garlic infuse the arugula for two minutes.  I then draped the finished sauteed arugula over the DiFara knockoff.  So, in the end, I had a Dom DeMarco special with sauteed mushrooms and arugula.  This baby was special.  And the beauty was that the crust maintained its crisp and overall texture because all of the toppings were added after the baking was complete.  I think Dom would've been proud if he saw me in action last night.

Nonetheless, this recipe and preparation techniques can be improved upon, I'm convinced.  I welcome any and all assistance in elevating the DiFara knockoff from good to great!!  Also, allow me to apologize for not having any photographs to support this post.  My digital camera was left in Florida last week while on a business trip and I won't get it back until later this week. >:(
Friz
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 20, 2005, 10:39:45 PM
Your theory of a smaller dough being easier to work with is probably true. I started with 16 oz of flour, and ended up cutting the dough ball in half. It yieled two 12 inch pizzas. I let them warm up on the counter for about an hour and a half. I had dusted the counter with flour, so some of that ended up getting mixed into the dough as well, but like I mentioned in my last post I was able to toss it, and didn't find it to be overly extensible, which is not what I was expecting.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 20, 2005, 10:51:56 PM
Duck,
This is great feedback. 12-14 inches seems like it would be ideal for this dough.

Now that I am thinking about it, the one thing I did notice that was a bit different than normal is that, before refrigeration, my dough ball temperature was about 87 degrees.  This is about 7 degrees higher than normal.  If anyone has any feedback of the possible ramifications of a warmer than recommended dough ball before refrigeration, I would love to hear it.   Could this be a reason for the extra extensibility I experienced but Duck clearly did not?
Friz
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 21, 2005, 09:22:46 AM
Friz,
I promise to try my hand at your Di Fara clone as soon as my travel schedule permits. I am in travel status the next four weeks:
Dallas/NY
Europe
Asia Pac
NY

Judging from your pictures, I can sense you are proud and rightly so. I only wish I could participate more in the coming days. However, I will try and keep up with your success through reading.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 21, 2005, 11:48:13 AM
Friz,

I'd be more than happy to work on 13-inch and 14-inch versions of your DiFara dough clone. But I'd like you to consider another possibility before considering the 13-inch and 14-inch approaches.

When I started to "deconstruct" your recipe for the 15-inch DiFara dough clone based on a dough ball weight of 16 oz. (it's actually 16.12 oz. when the weights of the salt and yeast are factored in), I discovered that the thickness factor TF was only 0.09 (TF = 16.12/(3.14 x 7.5 x 7.5 = 0.09).  A thickness factor of 0.09 is on the thin side--thinner, for example, than a NY style dough. If you used the roughly 16 oz. dough ball to make a 14-inch pizza instead of a 15-inch pizza, the thickness factor would go up to 0.105, which would be right in line with a NY style dough. That might solve the problem with extensibility a bit simply by having a slightly thicker dough to work with.

As an alternative, I could calculate quantities of ingredients for a 13-inch or 14-inch DiFara dough clone as you have requested, but I don't think that would solve the extensibility problem. It may well be true that a smaller skin will be easier to handle, but the extensibility problem would most likely still remain because the thickness factor would still be 0.09 and the dough would still be as thin as your 15-inch version. But if you would like me to proceed nonetheless with the 13-inch or 14-inch clones, let me know and I will take a stab at calculating the required quantities of ingredients. But also consider the following analysis as you decide how you would like to proceed.

As for the extensibility problem itself, I think you hit on some of the possible contributors to that problem--the high hydration, long fermentation time, and maybe the small amount of salt. But I think you may have hit on the most important one in your post last night--the high finished dough temperature, especially in combination with the other factors you had mentioned. As I was thinking about your problem last night, I recalled that you had proofed the ADY in warm water--the entire amount of the water. The recommended way to proof ADY so as not to elevate the finished dough temperature is to proof the ADY in only a small amount of warm water (95-105 degrees F), say, a few tablespoons, and to keep the rest of the water on the cool side. That way you properly proof the yeast and don't shock it with cold water, which it does not like, and you don't run up the finished dough temperature.

You might also want to actually calculate the temperature of the water to use based on the temperature of the flour you are using, the room temperature, and the frictional heat produced by your stand mixer. The expression for this is WT = (3 x desired finished dough temperature) - (room temperature + flour temperature + mixer frictional heat temperature). If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, I would use around 10 degrees F as the frictional heat temperature. That number will vary based on the amount of dough that is made, the speed at which you operate the stand mixer, and so on. But it is a good number to start with and adjust it based on actual experience using it (that is, you may have to raise or lower it based on your personal experience). So, as an example, if the finished dough temperature you want is 80 degrees F, and your room temperature and flour temperature are both at, say, 72 degrees F, then the water temperature to use will be (3 x 80) - (72 + 72 + 10) = 86 degrees F. Of course, as the weather warms up or cools down on a seasonal basis, the required water temperature will go up or down accordingly, being higher in the winter and lower in the summer.

I mention all of the above because if your water temperature was too high, you will in effect have expedited the fermentation process. And with the high hydration level and 40 hours of refrigeration, I am not surprised that the dough was very extensible. In the future, if you desire having a long fermentation time and less dough extensibility, you might consider using cooler water and also try to cool the dough down faster. You might do this by using fellow member Giovanni's trick of putting the finished dough in the freezer for a short period of time (I have used 30-40 minutes without harm) before putting it into the refrigerator compartment. You might also add a bit of sugar to your dough to begin with. That might not solve the extensibility problem by itself, but it will keep the yeast fed and prevent an overly slack dough. I still haven't figured out the effects of low salt on extensibility. Salt does play a role in regulating the fermentation process and it is a factor in gluten development. I just haven't figured whether the salt plays a role in controlling extensibility and, if it does, to what extent.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 21, 2005, 12:36:52 PM
Pete,
You may recall that I increased the diameter of my pizza after receiving feedback from you earlier in this thread that you found your pizza to be a bit too thick for the quantities of ingredients you used.  Therefore, I just simply increased the size of the pizza diameter and kept the ingredient %s the same.  Admittedly this was a very inexact science.  Moving forward, I am not quite sure how to standardize ingredient %s, but I would be more than happy to accept your best guess, as you undoubtedly have an impeccable track record of success in this regard.  If you would be able to "suggest" some recommendations on this front for the DiFara clone, I would be very pleased to proceed with your suggestions and provide the feedback necessary on the desired thickness.

Regarding my last attempt, I can't say the thickness factor was really an issue because I never measured the diameter of the pizza.  I just did the best I could to control the extensibility and, when it looked like it was spread to a reasonable size I transfered it to the peel ASAP.    But in the spirit of being as precise as possible, it would be great to get some standardized measurements for various diameters.

Friz
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 21, 2005, 03:00:00 PM
Friz,

Your memory is good. When I first made a DiFara dough clone, I used a thickness factor of around 0.10 for a 14-inch skin. And, as you mentioned, I thought that the crust was a bit too thick and that a thickness factor of 0.09 for a 15-inch skin was something to consider for a future experiment--which I did not do but you did. I had used a different flour blend and ratio of flours (50/50), and a lower hydration level (around 60%), whereas you chose to use the flours you had on hand (KASL and KA00), in a different ratio (60/40), and a higher hydration level (65%). Since you had good results with your formulation, I think it is best to stick with that formulation until better information comes along to suggest a need for changes.

Today I went back and took another look at some of the DiFara/Demarco photos and it seems to me that the DiFara crust is indeed thin, and that my earlier notion of using 0.09 as the thickness factor may have been OK after all. So, for our purposes, I will stick for now with that thickness factor. To this end, I have set forth below the ingredients and quantities to use for a 13-inch skin and a 14-inch skin as you requested, along with my deconstructed version of the 15-inch version you have been using (to take the salt and yeast amounts in consideration when calculating all of the baker's percents). I have also given you a 16-inch version, in the event you choose to go in the other direction toward the size that DiFara's is said to use. (I have heard that the DiFara pizzas may be 18-inch, so if you can handle that size in your oven, I can create an 18-inch version should you wish.)

I still believe that you should look at your dough management procedures along the lines I mentioned earlier today, with the view to reducing the extensibility of the dough. I would proof the ADY in a small amount of warm water separate from the rest of the water, I would temperature adjust the water to get a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F (or even lower if you want a long fermentation of, say, around 40 hours), and I would try to cool down the dough as fast as possible once it comes off the hook, however you should choose to do so. The toughest part will be to determine the frictional temperature of your stand mixer. The best way to determine this is to start with 10 degrees F in the expression I gave earlier today, calculate the necessary water temperature to get a finished dough temperature of 80 degrees F (or less for a long fermentation), make your dough as usual, and then actually measure the finished dough temperature. If the finished dough temperature is off from the calculated number, either way, increase or decrease the frictional temperature number by the difference and use the new number in the water temperature calculation the next time you make the same dough in the same machine. You should come pretty close to zeroing in on the right number to use.

Here are the new recipes, along with the baker's percents (which are the same for all the recipes). I have intentionally not rounded off all the numbers so that I have a way of auditing my numbers should I ever have a need to do so for any reason:

13-inch (12.11 oz. dough ball)

Flour (100%), 4.37 oz. KASL (60%) + 2.91 oz. KA00 (40%) = 7.28 oz.
Water (65%), 4.73 oz.
Salt (0.507%), 0.037 oz. (between 1/8 and 1/4 t.)
Yeast (ADY, 0.687%), 0.05 oz. (3/8 t.) (or 1/4 t. IDY)

14-inch (14.04 oz. dough ball)

Flour (100%), 5.07 oz. KASL (60%) + 3.38 oz. KA00 (40%) = 8.45 oz.
Water (65%), 5.49 oz.
Salt (0.507%), 0.043 oz. (a bit less than 1/4 t.)
Yeast (ADY, 0.687%), 0.058 oz. (between 3/8 and 1/2 t.) (or between 1/3 and 1/4 t. IDY)

15-inch (16.12 oz. dough ball--the one currently being used by Friz)

Flour (100%), 5.82 oz. KASL (60%) + 3.88 oz KA00 (40%) = 9.7 oz.
Water (65%), 6.3 oz.
Salt (0.507%), 0.0492 oz. (1/4 t.)
Yeast (ADY, 0.687%), 0.067 oz. (1/2 t.) (or 1/3 t. IDY)

16-inch (18.34 oz. dough ball)

Flour (100%), 6.62 oz. KASL (60%) + 4.41 oz. KA00 (40%) = 11.03 oz.
Water (65%), 7.17 oz.
Salt (0.507%), 0.056 oz. (a bit more than 1/4 t.)
Yeast (ADY, 0.687%), 0.076 oz. (a bit more than 1/2 t.) (or 3/8 t. IDY)

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 24, 2005, 04:09:14 PM
Last night I started a DiFara dough clone based on a 14-inch version of the DiFara clone recipe recently used by fellow member Friz with very good results.

The starting point for the dough was the recipe that I posted at Reply #58 on this thread, specifically, the 14-inch version recorded there. My original intent was to follow Friz's basic recipe and techniques almost exactly, except for the brands of flours used. But, upon reflection, I decided to make some additional changes. First, and most importantly, I decided to use room temperature fermentation only--that is, no refrigeration. I did this inasmuch as all the best information we have on DiFara's suggests that Dom Demarco does not refrigerates his dough. Second, for convenience, I decided to use IDY instead of ADY, and mixed it directly into the flour blend. Third, since I did not want the dough to rise too quickly, I used a smaller amount of IDY than usual--a bit less than 1/4 t. The actual flour blend I used was a 60/40 combination of All Trumps high-gluten flour (14.2% protein) and Caputo 00 pizzeria flour. Those are the flours that DiFara's appears to be using at this time, if the intelligence we have been receiving from Di Fara diners is correct. The water used to make the dough was temperature adjusted to achieve a finished dough temperature of 80 degrees F. In all other respects, I was guided by the same instructions Friz used with very good results in making his own DiFara dough clone. The final recipe I used was as follows:

5.07 oz. All Trumps (Genera Mills) high-gluten flour (about 1 c. plus 1 2/3 T.)
3.38 oz. Caputo 00 pizzeria flour (about 3/4 c. plus 1 t.)
5.49 oz. water (around 65% hydration) (a bit less than 3/4 c.)
1/4 t. salt
Slightly less than 1/4 t. IDY

I started the dough last night at about 7:30 PM and had it in a bowl (covered) on my kitchen countertop by 8PM. What I was hoping to do was to replicate DiFara's dough production cycle by having the dough ready to be made into a pizza by 11:00 AM today. 11:00 AM is the time that DiFara's opens its doors for the lunchtime crowd.

At first, the dough rose very slowly, but by 8:00 AM this morning, the dough had risen in volume by about 2 1/2 times. The dough itself was very soft, pillowy, wet and sticky. This alone suggested that DiFara's dough couldn't have those same characteristics since the individual dough balls in a dough tray would slump and run into each other and make a mess. That in turn suggested that DiFara's may not be using as high a hydration level as the formulation I used (around 65%). It's also possible that the small amount of salt called for in the formulation, around 1/4 t., was allowing the dough to ferment with very little restraint, resulting in significant dough expansion. So, if I had to guess, I would say that DiFara's quite likely uses a lower hydration dough and more salt.

Once I had assessed the condition of the dough, I dusted my hands with some bench flour and reshaped the dough ball. It came together nicely and the stickiness and wetness subsided. I then let the dough (covered) rise for another 2 3/4 hours, also at room temperature. During that time, the dough doubled again and, while it was still a bit damp, a small amount of bench flour took care of that minor problem. What most surprised me when I started to shape and stretch the dough (at 11:00 AM today, just like at DiFara's) was that it was quite elastic. It had extensibility, but the elasticity was more dominant. However, after allowing the dough to rest for a minute or two for a couple of times, the gluten in the dough relaxed enough for me to be able to shape the dough into a 14-inch skin without any problem. The dough at this point exhibited a fair number of bubbles, which suggested that the finished dough would also have bubbling.

The skin was dressed and baked on a pizza stone that had been preheated for about an hour at around 500-550 degrees F. The stone was place on the middle rack of my oven. I intentionally dressed the skin simply--basically Randy's Penzeys-based tomato sauce, shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese and grated grana padano and Parmigiano-Reggiano hard cheeses--so that I could better assess the crust without excessive interference from the toppings. The pizza took about 7 to 8 minutes to bake.

The finished pizza is shown in the photos below. I thought it was exceptional. The crust was soft, yet chewy and crunchy, especially at the rim. And surprisingly light--in terms of weight--and delicate. The recipe formulation calls for a thickness factor of 0.09, which is a notch below "thin" (which typically is around 0.10), so the 0.09 thickness factor seems to be in the right ballpark. What also surprised me was that I didn't find the small amount of salt, about 1/4 t., to be insufficient. It seemed to be just right.

Overall, I would rate the formulation I used a keeper. Possible areas for future experimentation include using a lower hydration level, more salt (mainly to curb the rate of fermentation), other blends of flours that are more readily available, and a shorter overall dough cycle (this may mean starting the dough later in the evening).

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 25, 2005, 04:53:55 AM
Peter,
The rim on that pizza looks exemplary in every respect.  Congratulations indeed!  Even the coloring of the rim looks very similar to photos of Dom DeMarco pizzas I have seen in the past.  The elasticity you experienced was very surprising and interesting, especially when considering the lack of same that I experienced with my last DiFara clone endeavor.  What do you think might have been the primary factor in the elasticity of your dough?  The room temperature fermentation?

Could you elaborate a bit more on the finished product, realizing that it was clearly a great success?  You mentioned that you found it to be exceptional - does that include texture and flavor of the crust?  Would you say that the pizza resembled more closely a NY style or Neapolitan?

Moving forward, I would propose that we incorporate your fermentation procedures as part of a final DiFara recipe/procedure, especially in light of the belief that DeMarco doesn't use a refrigeration period in his process.  What would you say is the optimal length of room temperature fermentation?  I also like the idea of converting to IDY in the recipe, as it is easier and it removes additional steps of proofing ADY.  Perhaps you could have that reflected in the recipes you created earlier?  I also have no doubt that the Caputo flour, in place of the KA00 that I used, provided a substantial upgrade in the finished product.  Your comments/feelings on that issue would also be interesting to hear.

Congratulations on your success with the DiFara clone, as you have clearly made some major breakthroughs.  Let's keep the experiment going, as we are clearly getting very, very close to a final recipe for a DiFara clone.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 25, 2005, 09:25:47 AM
Pete-zza,
Everytime I look at your latest effort(s) I have to wonder what you could do with real heat. The lack of 700 - 1000 degree heat is the only thing keeping you from being one of the world's best pizzaiolo.

Have you given consideration to building a wood burning oven in your backyard? I understand the Pompeii model could be constructed for about a grand. I am seriously considering it as I have an associate who repairs brick ovens. I can get his labor for free which makes the deal worth it to me.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 25, 2005, 01:30:21 PM
I'm going to be making a batch of dough in a bit with the 60/40/65 combo, but I'm going to increase the amount of salt a little and see what happens, here is the recipe I will be using.

10.2 oz KASL
6.8 oz KA00
1 tsp ady
3/4 tsp of salt

Should get two 14" pizzas out of that

This is basicly the same recipe I used for my last attempt, except an extra 1/4 tsp of salt. I'll post pictures of the results tommorrrow night.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arthur on March 25, 2005, 03:12:57 PM
Pete-zza,
Everytime I look at your latest effort(s) I have to wonder what you could do with real heat. The lack of 700 - 1000 degree heat is the only thing keeping you from being one of the world's best pizzaiolo.


I couldn't agree more.  After visiting (arguably) the best pizza places in the world there are some major differences between ingredients that produce major differences in results...BUT...the oven (heat) seems to be the biggest difference.  It's like saying that using different flour results in a cadillac vs. honda....but the oven is the difference between a real car and a matchbox.

I found someone in Virginia who gives private classes using a wood burning oven.  It's BYOPD (bring your own pizza dough!)   I need to do this before I build my own or give up a car and put one in my kitchen.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 25, 2005, 03:28:38 PM
pft,

The pizza I made yesterday was different from any other I had made. I would say that the biggest difference was the thickness of the crust and, related thereto, the light weight of the crust. The crust on the bottom was also lighter, in color, than my usual efforts. In fact, I didn't notice it until I had removed the pizza from the oven to eat it.  Also, the pizza was at the point where the cheeses were starting to brown up a bit more than I prefer so I didn't want to leave the pizza in the oven any longer. I am accustomed to light colored crusts when 00 flours are used but the Caputo 00 has more protein than the other 00 flours I have used and should have had decent browning qualities. As between the Neapolitan and NY style pizzas, I would say that the one I made had characteristics of both. The main part of the crust was more reminiscent of a Neapolitan style pizza (soft, light and chewy but without a leathery character), and the rim was more reminiscent of a NY style pizza--an open and airy crumb but with a crunch. But the key difference was the thinness and lightness of the crust.

The flavor of the crust was also better than crusts I have made from refrigerated doughs. It was not as intensive as the crusts I made recently using the natural Caputo 00 starter, but it was pleasant. It also occurred to me to think about using a natural starter with a DiFara dough clone, but it was only an afterthought since Dom DeMarco doesn't use a starter. I agree that there may be merit to using a starter with a DiFara clone and at some point I may experiment with doing so.

The elasticity of the dough also surprised me since I was using around 65% hydration and room temperature fermentation over a total period of around 15 hours. It's possible that when I reballed the dough after 12 hours I may have retightened the gluten network so that the elasticity returned and the remaining few hours were not enough to allow the gluten to relax again. But the elasticity was only a minor inconvenience that was remedied by just allowing the dough to relax a bit. What was also interesting is that after I had shaped the dough into a 14-inch skin, I'm certain that I could have stretched it even further if my stone could have handled the larger size (or I used a large screen instead). At this point I have no idea what an optimum fermentation period might be. That matter would become somewhat immaterial if I had an idea as to DiFara's dough production cycle. For instance, if Dom started his new dough at 11:00 PM, after the doors close, then that would suggest a roughly 12-hour fermentation period (total). Of course, this might vary somewhat based on the hydration used and the composition of the dough in terms of ratios of flours used. Maybe the amount of salt is a factor. My dough had about 1/4 t., which is far less than usual. In fact, Neapolitan style doughs can have up to 2.8% (by weight of flour)--which is generally considered to be high.

Your request to provide IDY amounts in the recipes posted before is noted. When I find my notes I will calculate the IDY amounts and add the information to the earlier post.

As to your question about the Caputo 00 flour versus the KA00, using the Caputo 00 flour should have increased the total protein level of the blend of flours since the KA00 is rated at 8.5% and the Caputo 00 is rated at 11.5-12.5%. I'd be interested in trying the Bel Aria 00 flour in a DiFara dough clone sometime, only because it is much more widely available than the Caputo 00 and comes in 1 kilo bags (2.2 lbs.) whereas the Caputo is sold only in a 55-lb. bag, as you know. The Caputo 00 flour is quite possibly the best 00 flour available in the U.S., because of its versatility and adaptability to different kinds of dough processing. But Friz has shown that the KA00 can also be used with good results, as well as the KASL, which should substitute nicely for the All Trumps high-gluten flour. As I mentioned before, I used the All Trumps and the Caputo 00 since they seem to be the ones that Dom DeMarco is currently using (if the intelligence we have received on this point is correct).

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 25, 2005, 07:02:08 PM
Here's my contribution to Di Fara: A home version of his calzone. I will be at his fine establishment this coming Monday night. I have attached his masterpiece below my humble effort.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 25, 2005, 09:05:21 PM
pft,

Thanks for gracing our thread with such a beautiful calzone :).

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 27, 2005, 01:08:50 AM
Alright, I made my pizzas tonight with the recipe i posted on reply #62. For a little background, I kneaded the dough in a mixer for about 5 minutes then made two dough balls, placed it in a ziplock bag and directly into the fridge. Because of my schedule, It endup proofing for about 30 hours before I took it out. When I took the dough out of the fridge, it had flattened out a good amount, so I re balled it, and let it warm up on a floured surface for about an hour. Like pete mentioned, the reballing of the dough does make the dough a little more elastic, which makes it easier for me to toss it. Once I had tossed and streched the dough to about 14", the first thing you notice are all the little bubbles in the dough and how light it is. I pre heated my oven on the high broiler for about 45 minutes and cooked the pizza directly on the stone for just under 5 minutes. The results were great. Airy crust, crispy on the ouside, soft and chewy on the inside, and just the right amount of char. I didn't really notice a huge difference with the increase in salt, the dough was slightly more elastic this time around than my first attempt though(i did reball the dough on my first attempt as well). I'll probably drop down to a 60%-62% hydration percentage for the next one, and if my schedule permits, a shorter counter rise. Also, I hope to be using my built in grill in the next week or two, we'll see where that takes me. Thanks pete for all your insight and work you put into your posts, your pizzas look great, I'm just happy that I can somewhat replicate your quality.


(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara1_s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara2_s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara3_s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032605/difara4_s.jpg)
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 27, 2005, 08:13:39 AM
duckjob,

Very nice job and thanks for pitching in with some of the DiFara clone experiments. I was particularly interested in the results from increasing the amount of salt--in your case, threefold the amount Friz and I recently used. I will also be interested in the results you get when you reduce the hydration level to around 60-62% and use the shorter warm-up period.

In your earlier recipe, you didn't indicate the amount of water you planned to use but I assumed that it was at around a 65% hydration level. On that basis, I calculated that the total dough ball weight would have been a bit over 28 oz., or a bit over 14 oz. for each of the two dough balls. Since you said that each of the finished pizzas was 14-inches in diameter, I calculated the thickness factor to be around 0.09--or the same as what Friz and I used recently. I think that that in part accounts for the thinness and lightness of your pizzas.

Can you tell us a bit more about your oven arrangement and procedure? You indicated that you preheated the oven using the broiler element. Is the stone on the top rack and is the oven and stone preheated solely by using the broiler element, or do you turn the broiler element on later?

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 27, 2005, 03:06:55 PM
Pete,

you are correct about my first recipe. Both times I made this dough I used a 65% hydration. Regarding my oven setup, I have the tiles arranged on the center shelf of the oven. The heating element is also the broiling element, it just gets hotter when you set it to broil. I pre heated the oven for about 45 minutes at 500, then set the broiler to high for another 15. I cooked the pizza directly on the stone with broil on high for just under 5 minutes. For refernce, the heating element is on the top of the oven only.

Brian
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 28, 2005, 10:13:54 PM
It was a dark and stormy night in Brooklyn. Rained all day and all night. My driver dropped me off in front of Di Fara around 7:30pm. I ran inside quickly and stood in a small crowd of adoring pizza lovers. You could sense from the crowd that they were witnessing something special.

I began a conversation or two with the locals. One conversation which stuck out in my mind was with a delightful couple who brought their daughter Angelina. The dad, after realizing that I was new, took great pains to describe why he comes here and here only for pizza. He will only order the square pie by the slice because of the texture. He's been hooked for some time. I took a picture of him holding up his prized square slice. I should be able to post it by Thursday night. His grin was authentic. He also made sure to describe in exquisite detail just how special Dom is. To him Dom didn't move slowly he moved at a deliberate pace because quality takes time.

When it was finally safe to approach the master I summoned up all my courage and uttered "Hi Dom, I'm Peter from Tampa."

And so my conversation began with the true gentleman of Brooklyn pizza. It was everything that I wanted Patsy's to be and so much more. My shaken faith in NY pizza is back with a vengeance. I had this preconceived notion that Dom wouldn't take the time to speak with me. Boy was I wrong. He was charming from the first words out of his mouth even though it took me a while to decipher his accent. I still missed plenty of words. I must have struck a chord with Dom because I was made to feel as a special guest as he continued the conversation with me while conducting his business but he focused on our conversation the entire way. He asked me about my apparent passion for pizza and I shared with him the depths of my love for pizza. He seemed to really appreciate finding someone who loved pizza and who could talk about it in his terms - at the ingredient level. If he only knew how proud he made me by his comments. Imagine a master pizzaiolo like Dom complimenting me on my passion for pizza. It was all I could do not to break down and weep like a baby.

Allow me to get some of the facts out of the way:
Dom uses Caputo Blue Label Pizzeria Flour 75% and 25% of some kind of American high gluten flour (I could not understand his accent even though he repeated it a number of times. I asked him to jot it down but we both forgot).

He makes dough 4-6 times a day depending on how busy he is. The dough has a very short rise time of only a few hours at room temperature. He uses no refrigeration. I asked why he mixes Italian flour with American flour and he responded that Italian flour is too soft like a lot of people who don't like hard work. He went on to say everyone would do it if they weren't lazy but since most people are lazy, they don't want to go through all the trouble. He doesn't shy away from more work, that's why he chooses to do it. Interesting philosophy to say the least.

His hydration ratio was explained with typical flair. He held up 3 empty plastic cups. He then told me to fill 2 with flour and 1 with water. That should be just about right he proclaimed. Two parts flour to one part water with a coffee cup and a half of salt and a piece of fresh yeast. That is his recipe. I have no idea how much he mixes at a time but my sense is it is a small quantity. I asked about percentages of ingredients and he laughed. He uses his hands he told me emphatically. "I do everything with my hands."

While on the subject of Dom's hands I should add that he routinely removes pizzas from his gas oven with his bare hands. His hands resemble a horse's hoof from years of grabbing hot pizzas. To be fair he uses a peel to remove the square pies which are cooked in a metal tray. But I saw him rotate the tray in the oven with his bare hands. I could not believe my eyes.

I bought a raw dough ball which weighed 22.6 ounces. The pie he made for me measured just over 16" round. It was not like the perfectly round pie of Patsy's it was somewhat irregular. I hope the pictures will convey this authentic look.

He had fresh sprigs of oregano on the counter and paper plates full of romano cheese for those that wanted some extra ingredients. When my pie was ready I walked over to the oregano and started pulling off chunks to which he told me "that is really good oregano." Can you imagine a pizzeria with freshly dried oregano on the counter? How about the romano? Everything was self serve and sodas were on the honor system. You just told Dom what you had and he didn't question you. He didn't have to because if you lied everybody in the room would rat you out in a heart beat because it was their pizzeria.

My conversation with Dom ventured into a number of areas that I shall cherish for the rest of my life but I will end on this note. Dom commented on all the pictures I was taking and asked if I would like one with him. How could I resist.

One more thing. As I was packing up to go out into the rainy night he asked me "when you comin back?" He got a hug and a promise from me that I would come back for his pizza whenever I am in NY.

That is a promise I intend to keep.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 28, 2005, 10:41:46 PM
pft,

Thank you very much for all your efforts to help us decipher the DiFara code. And what a wonderful experience for you, and a vicarious one for the rest of us.

With all the information you got, I think we should be able to come closer to producing a more authentic DiFara dough clone. The biggest surprise to me is the fact that the fermentation period is so short, even with the predominance of the Caputo 00 flour. Judging from the weight of the dough ball you bought (22.6 oz.) and the roughly 16-inch pizza that Domenic makes from that weight of dough, it would appear that the crust has a medium thickness (a thickness factor of around 0.11). That thickness is logical, given the multitude of toppings that Dom uses.

Was the high-gluten flour All Trumps by the way? That is the flour that Dom is said to use.

When I have a moment, I plan to take the 16-inch DiFara clone recipe and try to work out a new formulation based on the new evidence we now have.

Thanks again, pft. Job very well done.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 28, 2005, 11:03:42 PM
Pete-zza,
I am glad to be finally able to assist you. Though we've never met you are a kindred spirit. You are correct with your guess about the American high gluten flour. He was trying to say All Trumps but it hardly came out that way. All I could decipher was it started with an A-L sound. All Trumps fits the bill doesn't it.

A few more points:
Dom uses the same type of dough (which really is too soft to form a ball, it looks more like a thick pancake) for both the square and the round pies. I am just not certain it is the same size. Initially I thought Dom used just one size of dough ball but it may have been a translation error. Dom has a unique way of speaking. Thinking back he said "I use the same dough for both." He didn't say the same size. He may have been referring to different flour mixtures so this is a point that will need clarification on a subsequent trip.

He looked at me adding the romano cheese on top of the finished Margherita and proudly stated that he uses four and sometimes five different types of cheese. Everything about him was expressed in the quantity and quality of his ingredients. Previously I thought he only really cared about his toppings. But his level of caring extends across his entire product line. It is an extension of who he truly is. Anything else could not be tolerated by Dom. He pays attention to every detail of his products.

I got lucky tonight. The weather was so bad that the crowds were thin. That really allowed Dom to spend quality time with me. I just couldn't believe that I didn't have to lead the conversation. Looking back on my time with Dom, I know he enjoyed the interaction as much as I did. Jose at Patsy's, on the other hand, was nice and answered every question I asked. However, he never asked one question of me. It was more of a one way conversation. Not bad. Just different.

Last point. He spoke lovingly about the use of starters but he does not use one. His dad taught him that starters are really used for bread and bread only. Bread his father would say needs the help of a biga. I inquired as to why he wouldn't want the added help of a biga for his pizzas and he gave me his best smirk and calmly stated "I use topping for the flavor."

That comment just about explains everything - at least to me.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 28, 2005, 11:15:47 PM
pft,

Do you recall whether the 75%/25% ratio of flours was by weight rather than volume? The thought occurred to me when you mentioned the 2 cups/1 cup of flour/water that Dom may have meant volumes for the flours also.

I also am curious about the grated cheese. You mentioned Romano but everything I have read says that Dom uses freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for use on the side, with grana padano and the rest of the cheeses on the pizza itself. I even recollect a photo of a big wheel of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in DiFara's. There's nothing wrong with Romano cheese, it's just that I have never heard or read that that is the cheese he uses on the side.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 29, 2005, 01:44:21 AM
pft, it sounds like it was an amazing experience, it brought a smile to my face just reading about it.

 I'll have some free time tommorrow afternoon, maybe i'll give a short rise a try. If I am reading correctly, it looks like the flour is 75% 00, 25% high gluten and a the quantity of water would be 50% of the total volume of the flour. I'll give this a shot tommorrow and post my results.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 29, 2005, 06:44:56 AM
Pete-zza,
I didn't ask about volumes with respect to the flour mixture but your assumption is probably a correct one because you've now prompted me to remember Dom claiming he does not weigh, he measures.

The cheese is an easy one. One of the regulars asked Dom what kind of cheese was lying on the paper plate on the counter and he triumphantly told his admirer
"Peeeee-core-reeeeeen-OOOOOOOO." It was as if I was at the opera. It must have taken a minute for him to say that one word. He didn't elaborate on the word romano.

Dom really plays up to the crowd with his antics. For instance, he pre-bakes the square pies with just dough and sauce on top. This process takes about 20 minutes between forming the dough, putting on the sauce and baking. When he pulls the square pie out of the oven he begins to excite the crowd. He begins by checking his memory by asking what everyone wants as a topping and how many slices before putting it back in the oven for the final bake. By this time everybody has gathered around wondering how tall Dom will pile the toppings and how big of a slice they'll get. It's a bit of a crap shoot to guess how much or how big because your luck is determined by what the guy standing next to you orders and where Dom places your topping. You could get the treasured corner slice if your luck is really good. He has it down to a science becuse people ended up changing their orders to increase their slice count. He prepares his square pie toppings with a sheepish grin which shouts I bet you can't eat just one.

He's a showman in his own way.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzanapoletana on March 29, 2005, 07:01:04 AM
PF

What about dinner at Una Pizza?

By the way, the original pecorino used on pizza as well as maccaroni in 1800's Naples, was "Pecorino di Crotone", a variety made in Calabria near the city of Crotone.

Nowdays, the old pizzeria in Naples use a mix of Romano and parmiggiano when using fior di latte, and nothing if using mozzarella di bufala.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 29, 2005, 07:19:46 AM
pizzanapoletana,
Una's was supposed to be open on the day I arrived, Easter Sunday. I called the store's phone number and got a recorded message stating their hours of operation and the days they are closed. It was supposed to be open on Sunday However, when I drove by it was closed. I couldn't go yesterday because it was also closed on Monday. I should be back in the big apple soon and will hit Una's the next time. I tried. I am now leaving to go to Rochester, NY. I doubt they have quality pizza there.

Dom's use of Pecorino is predictable based on your comments then because he is from Caserta which is somewhat close to Naples no?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 29, 2005, 08:26:03 AM
pft,
I grew up in Rochester, NY and you are right - you won't find any great pizza there, as far as I know.

pete,
I have to believe that Dom's measurements are volumetric, which would make me wonder the true hydration% of his dough.  I'm sure you will figure out a way to decipher this.  I certainly cannot believe that his hydration % is around 50%.  That would shock me to no end...

I am pleased to learn about the simplicity of his ingredients.  The short fermentation period is somewhat shocking, but very encouraging to know that we can create a pizza of the quality of Dom's without a long fermentation or without the assistance of a starter.  Very interesting indeed.

Once we get this recipe perfected, which I believe will be soon, do you think Steve would be interested in placing it on the front page of the web site?  Just asking - perhaps would it be "copyright infringement?"
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 29, 2005, 08:52:25 AM
Friz,
I'm glad I could help.

I also want to expand on Dom's reasoning behind mixing Italian and American flours. Early in our conversation he expressed his reasoning in terms of strength and related his work ethic at the same time. It was an explanation that I have read about elsewhere and I had no reason to question it. But much later as his respect grew for my pizza knowledge he asked me to look closely at the bottom of one of his slices and tell him what I see. I took this as a challenge to my knowledge about charring and relative bake times. My explanation and presumption as to why he asked the question were completely wrong.

He showed me the light band of charring on the bottom of the slice and explained that Italian flour cannot do that. That is the result of American flour. And the brown tinge to the crust - that was American as well. Italian flour would not brown like that he explained with the assuredness of a college professor.

Sure enough when my pie arrived, every slice had a light banding of char on the bottom of each slice. According to Dom, that is how he knows the dough is done. That is his visual marker. When he opens up his gas oven and lifts the pie up( with his bare hands) to examine the bottom, it is the light band of char he is looking for. Nothing else.

Bet you couldn't have guessed!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arthur on March 29, 2005, 09:30:55 AM
Great visit!

I can confirm that he uses 4 cheeses Parmigiano-Reggiano, grana padano, grande fior-di-latte, and buffalo mozz.  I personally asked about these when I went - I was able to understand the cheese conversation rather than the flour conversation when I went   :-\

He also drizzled oil (berrio) on top of the pizza if I remember correctly.

Did you discuss sauce?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 29, 2005, 09:44:31 AM
Based on using one cup of water to two cups of flour (on a volume basis), as pft reported, the hydration percent would have to be much higher than 50%. So, I think some experimentation will be required to get a workable hydration level. To give an idea, as a rough test this morning I scooped up and weighed a couple of cups of flour in a Pyrex glass measuring cup (up to about the one-cup marking) and it came to around 11.5 oz.  A cup of water using the same measuring cup weighs around 8.3 oz. That would yield a hydration level of around 72%. Someone else using the same measuring cup as a scooping instrument to measure the same ingredients, and not paying particularly close attention to the cup markings, can easily come up with a dramatically different figure.

Just thinking aloud, a way to approach this problem may be to roughly calculate the amount of flour (00 and high-gluten) for a 16-inch skin (based on the dough ball weight and pizza size information provided by pft), apportion the total flour weight between the 00 and high-gluten flours (75%/25%), and then gradually work in an amount of water that will represent the highest practical hydration level that will work in a stand mixer. That weight of water would be used to calculate the hydration percent for purposes of coming up with a recipe that can be used to make the DiFara clone. A few iterations of this process may be necessary to get usable baker's percents, but even then the results can only be an approximation to the DiFara dough (but hopefully a close enough one), since everything done at DiFara's is apparently based on volumes, not weights and baker's percents.

I tend to doubt that Dom is using temperature adjusted water, but I think it may be on the warm side if he is making his dough in a matter of a few hours. He may also be using more yeast than we have been using, for the same reason. I read recently in an article about DiFara's that the dough making starts at 9:00 AM, only two hours before the doors open. That's not much rise time.

So, there is still a fair amount of work to be done. In the meantime, it would be very helpful if pft could elaborate further on the state of the dough itself, in terms of feel (wet, sticky, tacky, dry, etc.) and texture (soft, very soft, hard, etc.). I note in this regard that pft said that the dough couldn't be formed into a ball and that it was pancake-like. If that's the case, I wonder how the dough can be worked into a skin without it sticking to the peel. I have read that Dom often leaves his dough sitting on the peel unattended while he answers the phone and speaks to callers.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 29, 2005, 10:23:15 AM
Arthur,
I did not discuss sauce with Dom. But I can confirm your cheese choices.

The dough is extremely soft but not overly wet. It was just about sticky. I say this based on the raw disc I purchased which was swamped in dry flour on both sides. I manipulated it at length last night and thought at the time that it was a little wetter than Patsy's but not by much. Patsy's was much wetter than I had thought it might be. So I would guess that the hydration level is pretty high for an Italian dough or the flour simply doesn't have a high absorption capability. But I do not think hydration levels tell the whole story. I have proven to myself that a lower hydration dough can feel wetter than a higher hydration dough. Depending on the mixing method and the rest periods. What I can't figure out is which is the safer bet. But I stand by the sticky comment. I could hold the dough without getting any stuck to my fingers. I wouldn't want to stretch the dough on my knuckles however as you would have to keep it down on the bench. No tossing in the air is possible.

His dough forming techniques are somewhat different for the round and square pies. For the square, he pulls at the dough forming it into a rough rectangle on the bench. Then he places the dough in a tray, tops with sauce and bakes it. The square pies are much thicker than the round and much more popular.

I don't recall seeing Dom use any traditional dough stretching techniques for round pies that I've ever read about or seen. The dough ball, if you can call it that, is already formed into a rather fat pancake looking like form. Perhaps an inch or two thick. He then lays it down on the peel and pulls at the edges then flattens it some, pulls, flattens and somehow it forms a rough circle. He seems to have a heavy hand with everything including working flour. It's a mess behind the counter.

He keeps it from sticking by using a lot of flour on his bench and peel.

I hope this helps.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzanapoletana on March 29, 2005, 07:16:27 PM


Dom's use of Pecorino is predictable based on your comments then because he is from Caserta which is somewhat close to Naples no?

For what I have learned in NY, many NY neapolitan/american pizzerias use pecorino romano on their pizza.

However , the pecorino di Crotone tastes different.

Caserta is 30-40 minutes drive away from Naples (inland). Their tradition was not pizza, but they do indeed great bread.

I'll attach a picture to know if it is somehow similar to the char you are talking about. (it is a pizza of my friend Ciro Salvo, Maestro pizzaiolo).
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 29, 2005, 08:13:05 PM
pizzanapoletana,
I will be posting numerous photographs Thursday night. In the mean time, I can assure you that Dom's gas fired oven is incapable of producing the type of char in the photograph you have so generously posted.

I have to believe the culprit is the lack of extreme heat. If there are other, less obvious, factors I would be intrigued to learn of them.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 29, 2005, 08:29:38 PM
Armed with the additional information about the DiFara dough, I decided this afternoon to take a stab at making a same-day, two-hour, non-refrigerated DiFara dough clone.

Starting with the information from pftaylor that a typical DiFara dough ball weighs around 22.6 ounces and is used to produce a pizza of about 16 inches in diameter, I calculated that the thickness for the pizza would be a medium thickness (TF = 0.11). Since we have no specific information on the hydration percentage other than what one might guess from the rough volume measurements Dom DeMarco provided, I decided for today's dough to use 65%. From that assumption, I could then calculate the amount of each flour to use and also each of the remaining ingredients. For the flours, I used weights rather than volumes to apportion between the Caputo 00 flour (75%) and the All Trumps high gluten flour (25%) since I concluded after weighing "equal volumes" of the two flours that their weights were pretty close and being off a slight bit was unlikely to alter the outcome of an experiment that was built around volumes anyway. Because I was trying to expedite the fermentation of the dough to have it ready within a couple of hours, as I understand to be the practice at DiFara's, I increased the amount of IDY by about 50% and used warmer water (at around 125 degrees F) to achieve a finished dough temperature of around 90 degrees F. I estimated that the combination of more yeast and higher water temperature would expedite the fermentation process and produce a dough ready to use within two hours or so. It will be recalled that my last experiment with the DiFara clone used a small amount of yeast, cooler water, and a long, slow overnight fermentation.

To prepare the dough, I started by combining the IDY and the two flours in the bowl of my stand mixer. Since I didn't know how much water the flours could absorb, I gradually added the water to the bowl as the kneading took place. Slowly but surely I was able to get the flour to absorb all the water at the 65% hydration level, although it took around 10 minutes of kneading (at speeds 1 and 2 on my machine) to do so. Along the way, I added the salt and kneaded that into the dough also. When the dough was done, it was smooth, soft and silky with no tears, and it was tacky. After lightly oiling the dough ball, it went into a covered container on my kitchen countertop. It rose fairly quickly and in two hours it had doubled in volume. I will interject here that I am highly skeptical of pizza doughs made within a short period of time. This includes just about every flour except the very low protein 00 flours, such as the Bel Aria. So, as the dough came off the hook, I had reservations about getting a first-rate pizza crust out of it even though it looked perfectly fine.

After the two-hour rise, the dough was shaped and stretched into a 16-inch skin. The dough handled beautifully and I had no difficulty whatsoever in working with it. Since the largest size pizza my pizza stone can handle is 14 inches, I put the 16-inch skin on a 16-inch pizza screen, with the intention of baking the pizza on the screen at an upper oven rack level for several minutes and then transferring it to the pizza stone on the lowest oven rack level for a final few minutes (the oven and stone had been preheated for about 1 hour at about 500-550 degrees F.) I intentionally dressed the pizza simply with just cheese and a tomato sauce so that I could focus my attention more on the crust and not be distracted by the toppings.

The photos below show the finished product. It was not one of my better pizzas. The crust was soft and breadlike with kind of a cardboard-y bottom crust and little in the way of chewiness or crispiness. In many respects it was quite typical of other crusts that I have made based on a same-day, few-hour dough, especially a dough made using a high-protein flour. I suspect I am missing something in the formulation and processing I used today, or quite possibly a gas oven is the missing component, since it is hard to believe that a DiFara crust is like the one I made today and the shortcomings are disguised only by using the highest quality toppings. My efforts today also demonstrate how difficult it is to replicate a dough when everything is specified in volumes--and rough volumes at that--and nothing in weights.

Peter


Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 30, 2005, 01:06:10 AM
Today was a bit of a learning experience. With my first attempt, I used Dom DeMarco's rough volumetri measurements. I used 17 oz od flour(75% KA00 and 25% KASL), which had a volume of about 3-3/4 cups. I decided to attempt using 1-3/4 cups of water, along with 2 tsp. of ady and 1/2 tsp salt. The result after 10 minutes of kneading in a mixer was something that resembled batter more than it did dough. I weighed the water afterwards and did the math, my first attempt had a hydration percentage of about 83%, I should have known better, but I just wanted to try.  I decided to scratch that and use a more conservative hydration percentage. I used the same 17 oz of flour with 75% being KA00 and 25% being KASL. I used a hydration percentage of 62% and proofed 2 tsp of ADY in a little bit of the water. This is double the yeast I've used in previous attempts, but I figured with the short rise time it would be useful. I poured the water into the mixer, followed by all of the flour, and then the yeast mixture. I mixed on speed two for about 30 seconds, and then added 1/2 tsp of salt, and let it knead for another 5 minutes. I cut the resulting dough ball in half. I set one half on the counter to rise for same day use, and one in the fridge to test tommorrow after a 24 hour rise, just out of curiosity. I let the dough rise for about 3 hours before stretching it into a pizza skin. I use the quotations because the dough didn't really rise much, it actually flattened out into a disc about 2-3 inches tall. The dough was pretty easy to work with and stretched out nicely to a 14" skin, however I wasn't able to toss it like I was the 60/40/65 recipe I used last time with the overnight rise. I preheated the oven for an hour, placed the pie directly on the stone, turned the broiler on high, and cooked it for 5 minutes. The resulting pizza, while not one of my best, was still quite tasty. A few things stood out to me though. First of all the dough didn't brown nearly as much as my previous pizza with more high gluten flour did, but the outer crust was just as cruncy. Secondly, even with the additional yeast, it wasn't quite as airy as my last attempt with an overnight rise. All in all, a tasty pie, I'll be interested to see how the same dough reacts to a 24 hour refridgerated rise. And now, the good stuff :)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032905/difaras_1.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032905/difaras_2.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/difara_032905/difaras_3.jpg)
 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: scott r on March 30, 2005, 03:03:36 AM
I have a feeling you guys are actually not that far off from what is going on at Di Fara.  When I was there his crust was not that airy, or light.  It was actually a little tough considering that it is a mostly 00 based dough.  Don't get me wrong, this was some really great pizza, but I have a feeling you guys have already come up with an improved Di Fara dough.  His pizza was special in that it had tons of flavor.  It had a very seasoned and rich sauce that was definitely cooked to be pretty thick.  As you can probably figure from what he uses for cheese it was quite sharp and strong.  I have achieved a similar flavor cheese using a good mozzarella blended with an aged provolone or asiago.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 30, 2005, 07:35:41 AM
duckjob,

You indicated in your post that the same-day dough you made didn't rise that much and flattened into a disk. Did you put the dough in a container, like a bowl, that contains the dough or did you simply put it into something like a storage bag? If the latter, it would not be unusual for the dough to spread out into a disk-like affair, especially with a 62% hydration percent.

You seem to have done all the right things to get a same-day dough, but I am fairly confident that the refrigerated dough will produce better results. In the past, I have made refrigerated versions of doughs using 00 flour where the directions called for relatively short fermentation times at room temperature, and the refrigerated versions were always better.

As between the recipe I used yesterday and the one that I tried recently--the modified version of Friz's recipe--I would pick the modified version without a doubt. It may be possible to take yesterday's recipe and modify it along the lines of the modified Friz recipe and get better results, and that is what I am inclined to consider doing going forward. But I will wait until you report back on the results of your refrigerated dough, since that experiment is a logical next step from where we are now.

One of the interesting things about our efforts to date to clone the DiFara dough, and the Patsy's dough as well, is how we have tended to assume that the folks at DiFara's and Patsy's are artisans interested in perfecting their doughs to get the highest quality pizza crusts possible. Yet the reality seems to be that the doughs are fairly simple and straightforward and the differentiating factors are things like coal or wood-fired ovens and, especially at DiFara's, emphasis on high quality toppings. I suspect if we decided to clone the doughs at Lombardi's, Totonno's, Grimaldi's or any of the other "elite" places, we would find they are not much different from the rest in terms of their doughs. So far, the only one on the NY scene that seems to be trying to do something truly different from the rest is Anthony Mangieri at Una Pizza Napoletana, with his use of old dough to get improved flavor in his pizzas.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 30, 2005, 01:13:36 PM
Peter,

The dough ball I used for the same day rise was indeed in a plastic storage bag. One other thing to mention about the dough was that this 62% hydration dough was wetter than past doughs with a 65% hydaration, I beleive someone mentioned that 00 flour doesn't absorb water as well as high gluten flour, so that might explain it. After I am done experimenting with this recipe, I too will probably go back to the modified version of friz's recipe that I used. It was hands down the best pizza I have made to date, I still shead a tear when I look at pictures :).

I think you hit the nail on the head with your post, factors like ovens, handling techniques and the fact that Dom Demarco seems to eyeball everything, and being the pizza genious that he is, know's when it is just right; will make it difficult to truly replicate their pizza. I'll report back my results on the refridgerated dough when I make it, probably not until tommorrow afternoon.

Brian
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 30, 2005, 02:56:41 PM
well I decided to go ahead and make the pizza this afternoon before going to work. It ended up rising in the fridge for about 18 hours, with the extra yeast, that probably isn't a problem. I'm out of time now, but I'll post pictures and reactions later tonight.

Brian
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: duckjob on March 31, 2005, 02:23:45 AM
I was a little surprised by the results of the dough with the 18 hour refridgerated rise. I actually thought the short counter rise came out better. The 18 hour dough seemed to be a lot wetter than the other dough, and  consequently was a little more difficult to work with. The dough also browned a little more this time around, both on the top and bottom of the pizza. Where I was really dissapointed though was in the taste and texture. It had a very bread like texture, not airy like the short rise time dough. Overall I wasn't too pleased with it, but a mess up pizza is still better than most take out. I took pictures, but there really isn't a discernable difference between this pizza and the last that you can see in the photos. It was all in the the taste and texture. I think i'll be sticking with the 60/40 with a 65% hydration and a 24 hour rise as this produced my best pizza to date.

Brian
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 31, 2005, 10:33:12 AM
Duck, pete, and pft,
Your great input and feedback in our ongoing efforts to nail the DiFara clone is phenomenal.  Regarding the % of flours used, I believe that duck and pete are correct in their rational that, like all of Dom DeMarco's ingredients, his flour percentages are an inexact science and, at best, rough volumetric measurements.  Hence, to say that the flour is EXACTLY a 75-25 ratio is probably a stretch, especially considering the volume measurents.  My sense is that if the 60-40 ratio works best, as we seem to have found, then we should probably continue with that ratio.

Pete, I like your idea of experimenting with a same day fermentation/rise with the 60-40 flour ratio.  It will be interesting to see the difference in the finished product.  I would also like to do an experiment with varying quantities of yeast in a same day rise, just to see if and what effect that will have on the finished product.  Perhaps more yeast is not needed to achieve results similar to Dom's?

I have been travelling for work and vacation for the past few weeks, but I've enjoyed keeping up with things as best I can.  Sorry I can't contribute lately with my own experiments, but things will settle down for me soon and I will be back to multiple experiments and picture postings soon.  I can't wait!   ;D  In the meantime, I enjoy reading about the outcomes of everyone's efforts and subtle adaptations being made to achieve a final, perfected version of the DiFara clone recipe.  WE ARE CLOSE - VERY CLOSE!!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 31, 2005, 11:30:49 AM
Friz,

I'd like to point something out just in case you may have misinterpreted the ratios of flours used by Dom DeMarco. According to pftaylor, Dom apparently uses the Caputo 00 flour as the dominant flour (75%) and the All Trumps high-gluten flour as the secondary flour (25%). You have been using the KASL high-gluten flour as the dominant flour (60%) and the KA00 as the secondary flour (40%). I wasn't sure whether in your future experiments you are intending to use the KA00 as the dominant flour and the KASL as the secondary flour, i.e., 60% KA00 and 40% KASL.

Another point to keep in mind is that our most successful efforts to date to break the DiFara dough code have come from using a thickness factor of 0.09, whereas Dom DeMarco seems to be using 0.11, based on his using a 22.6 oz. dough ball weight to make a roughly 16-inch pizza. I was thinking of using 0.09 along with the 75/25 Caputo 00/All Trumps, a long room-temperature fermentation, and a small amount of yeast. At this point, I don't feel confident about making a good dough in 2-3 hours. But my inability to do that doesn't bother me. I'm far more interested in getting the best possible pizza using a combination of 00 and high-gluten flours.

As for the length of fermentation for a same-day dough, it is not clear to me at this point how long that should be. Dom DeMarco apparently uses only a few hours, as indicated above. In my last successful effort, I used a total of around 15 hours at room temperature. That could be different if I were to switch around the flours and make the 00 flour the dominant flour, even if I were to continue to use a small amount of yeast. It's not entirely clear to me why duckjob didn't get the results he had hoped for from his refrigerated DiFara clone dough. He used considerably more yeast than I did and that, along with the fact that he was using so much more 00 flour than he had previously used, may have been the cause. It almost sounds like a case of overfermentation but he did get decent browning, which often isn't the case with an overfermented dough.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 31, 2005, 02:36:45 PM
Here are the Di Fara pictures I promised...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 31, 2005, 02:41:14 PM
More...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 31, 2005, 02:42:33 PM
Final pictures...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 31, 2005, 04:12:54 PM
pft,

Thank you very much for the wonderful montage of photos from DiFara's. They should help inspire us to press on to develop pizzas that will at least capture the spirit of the pies made at DiFara's. Thanks to you, we now have more information on the DiFara pizza than ever before. That should help us in our own quest.

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on March 31, 2005, 08:15:30 PM
Pete-zza,
I hope the overview and photographs taken, can in a small way, help move the ball down the field.

You may have noticed that I did not post a picture of the oven spring. It was really because I was busy trying to capture so many other facets of what Di Fara is all about. I can say, with authority, that Dom's oven spring is nearly non-existent. The crust didn't seem to rise much at all because of yeast or oven spring.

One other point, look closely at Dom's fingers, hands, and arms. They are covered in his trade. He really does everything with his hands. One loose end I can put to bed is the brand of canned tomatoes. The enlarged photos below show the tomato brand, a close-up of the thickness of a round pie, and Dom's tools of his trade.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: friz78 on March 31, 2005, 10:04:40 PM
pft,
Amazing photos.  Your efforts have done so much to help us surge ahead with this experiment. 

A couple things that struck me in viewing pft's wonderful photos:

1.)  I know that Pete calculated a thickness factor of .11 based on the dough ball weight, but I'm here to tell you, that's a very thin crust pizza.  Based on the photos, there's no way that thickness factor is greater than .09.

2.)  pft's point about minor oven spring makes me want to do an experiment with a same day fermentation using a small amount of yeast.

Pete,
Thanks for pointing out my oversight regarding the flour ratios of 00 vs. high gluten.  So it looks like we still have a ways to go to experiment with the flour %s.  That part is a bit frustrating because I really like the 60-40 recipe that you, duck and I have had great success with recently.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 31, 2005, 11:37:30 PM
I agree with Friz on the thickness matter. There's something screwy going on with the way a DiFara dough ball can weigh 22.6 oz. and make a 16-inch pizza with a crust as thin as pftaylor's photos show, and without a gigantic rim.

When I made the DiFara dough clone that produced such good results, I used very little yeast. But from the time I set the dough aside to rise, at around 8 PM, it hardly budged for a few hours thereafter. It wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I saw, to my surprise, that it had risen substantially. That dough was a 60%/40% high-gluten/00 dough, but maybe using a 75%/25% 00/high-gluten flour combination, as DiFara uses, the resulting dough will behave in the same lethargic manner as mine did. If Dom DeMarco uses his dough within a few hours of making, maybe there is little rise in his dough and it will produce the thin crust that we observe in the photos. After all, 99% of the weight of a dough ball, even after fermentation, is attributable to flour and water. The weights of the yeast and salt are minuscule by comparison. So, it has to be something about the way the yeast works--or doesn't work--to produce a dough that will have a thin crust when baked.

Maybe we also have to think about what role the salt plays in this situation. If a lot of it is used, but not so much as to produce an overly salty crust, the fermentation could be arrested to the point where the dough doesn't rise all that much. That might help explain the lack of oven spring also.

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on April 01, 2005, 06:21:35 AM
I offer the following perspective about Dom's dough:

First, there is a chance Dom could have mixed my dough just after my request.  I would not have put it past him. He is a mad scientist sort of and judging by how caked with flour his hands are he could have hand mixed a small batch just for me. He did ask one question of me which leans in another direction however: "When will you be using the dough?" I thought for a moment and replied by Wednesday - thinking I could bribe the hotel chef in Rochester to allow me to bring my own skin to the kitchen (wrong - health code violation). After bringing out the dough he suggested that I freeze it until I need it. Then he assured me "you and your dough be okay that way." Based on that comment I thought to myself, at the time, that he must have pulled a piece out of his dough tray for me. But which was it? A round or a square? Is there a difference? That question needs to be answered on another visit.

Upon inspecting the dough later that night it appeared it could have benefited from further kneading. It wasn't a good looking finished piece of dough by my standards. For instance, it had one area where the flour was not entirely absorbed by water. So I used the ancient kneading method discussed on this site and finished working the dough. The next evening the dough appeared to be more bubbly and normal looking - at least according to my standards. But the first night the dough appeared unfinished and most similar to dough containing little to no yeast. I thought to myself, at the time, the dough may have been rushed in the mixing process. It offered very little snap and could not hold a ball form very well. Limp, heavy, and soft comes to mind. Absolutely no elasticity was present. In contrast, Jose (Patsy's) hand-stretched the skin to about 16" and placed it on the peel for dressing. By the time the pie was served, it shrunk to just under 15". More elasticity than my home pies for certain.

Second, Dom has a generous hand and could have given me a huge chunk of dough. Since he measures everything by hand he may have carved out a bigger than usual chunk for me. While imprecise, he could have pulled a chunk out of the mixer from an unformed batch. When I was at Patsy's I ordered one dough ball. Jose ended up giving me two for the price of one out of generousity. Dom has this same trait in spades.

Lastly, his round pizzas, while considerably thicker than Patsy's near bursting latex balloon like thickness, are still rather thin. No where near as thick as a Scilian pie. Perhaps a little thicker than what I normally make at home. Dom's dough just sort of lies there and is quite unassuming. They don't appear to be full of energy. I chalked up the thickness differences to mainly around the different flours used. Dom doesn't appear to take a great amount of effort to stretch his dough. He sort of gets it to about the right size then focuses on the toppings. I would charecterize his dough stretching approach as being just get it close enough.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dinks on April 01, 2005, 12:44:11 PM
PETER:
  Good Morning my learned friend. I only have a little time & patience this morning. I will not go into food science theory I will leave  that up toyou to do that. I am responding to #100 posting of yesterday.

  COMES NOW:

 The last sentence of the 2nd paragraph; Yeast works~ or~doesn't work............. Dough that has had a full fermentation & then rolled-out into a round as in a thin-crust pie does not proof,however, if it did somewhat it simply shows the a full term fermentation did not occur to begin with.
  Oven-spring, if a full ferm. has taken place then the yeast lies dorment it's power is dead till it is activated by a fold(Punching it down).
   As you know Peter, fermentation begins (Fundamentally speaking) when the mixer is turned off. However, it takes a full 20 minutes for the dough to begin its rise because it takes that long for the chemical activety in the concoction to function. Hence, if a double is to occur in 1 hour at 80 degrees It will take place in 1 hour & 20 minutes theoritically speaking.
  Peter, I will not go into the role that salt plays because you know that subject as well as anyone else.
  As far as oven spring is concerned Peter, I mentioned one reason why not, the 2 nd is... wilth all that topping on the pie It would not get very far up anyway.  I f you want oven spring  add steam in to the oven at the beginning, but you will never get a crisp pizza by doing that excercise.
  I am wondering Peter wih all the experimenting that goes on with various flours why hasn't DURUM wheat been mentioned??/ It just may surprise some that perhaps that is the flour that some of these New york pizza joints use with HI~G.
  Peter, I am tired now, I need to take my nap. Have a nice day my friend.
     ~DINKS.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 01, 2005, 01:36:19 PM
DINKS,

As usual, thank you for your thoughtful response.

What threw me off the scent yesterday was the notion of making a thin crust with an amount of flour(s), water and the remaining ingredients that would produce a dough ball weighing 22.6 ounces--for a 16-inch pizza. What complicated matters even further was the notion of making a dough from dough hook to shaping in only a few hours, as is believed to be done at DiFara's. Based on pftaylor's further elaboration on the subject this morning, our premises will likely require revision.

I took into account the fact that there would be a delay in the yeast becoming acclimated to its surroundings before initiating fermentation. But if the dough production time was say, 2 hours, that wouldn't leave much time for a full fermentation. That is basically what prompted me to question what the yeast was doing, along with considering the possible effects that the amount of salt might have on the finished dough and its behavior once it got into the oven.

You mentioned the role of toppings in restraining oven spring. But one of the curious things, DINKS, is that the DiFara pizzas with few toppings (Margherita and plain cheese) that were depicted in pftaylor's photos had very thin crusts. This leads me to believe that the amount of dough used to make a standard pizza is less than 22.6 oz., and that Dom DeMarco may have indeed been generous in the amount of dough he gave to pftaylor.

As for the unpopularity of durum wheat flour for pizza making, I don't have an answer for that. I think most people associate durum wheat with pasta making, particularly the imported Italian durum wheat (I believe the Italians call it grano duro tenero). I do know that semolina, which is coarsely ground durum wheat, is commonly used with other flours, including high-gluten flour, in pizza making. I have had pizza made using both of those grains and the crust is indeed quite good. There have been recipes posted on this site for pizza dough using semolina flour, in case you are interested.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaBrewer on April 01, 2005, 03:49:53 PM
At the risk of stirring the pot too much....I'll do this anyway.

The longest-running discussion of DiFaras that I'm aware of is on Chowhound.  There are many regular customers there and the cheese blend  Dom uses is a frequent topic.  So many people have so many different ideas (all based on personal visits) that I'm beginning to suspect that Dom has his own inside joke about telling different people different things.

In an effort to set the record straight I started a new thread over there.  It should be interesting:

http://chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/63856.html

---Guy

 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 01, 2005, 04:01:41 PM
Guy,

I, too, have my suspicious side. For example, when pftaylor mentioned the Pecorino Romano cheese, that was the first time I had heard of that cheese being used at DiFara's. What I recalled was seeing a big wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a photo taken at DiFara's. The information I have collected on the cheeses used at DiFara's is as follows: a 75%/25% combination of the Grande brand of full-fat mozzarella cheese and the Grande Ovoline fresh fior-di-latte mozzarella cheese or possibly a buffalo mozzarella cheese imported from Italy, a dusting of grana padano cheese, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side. There's no reason why a Romano cheese can't be used. It is a good cheese, but it isn't what I understood to be used at DiFara's. 

It will be interesting to see what you learn at chowhound.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaBrewer on April 01, 2005, 04:10:17 PM
I've been to DiFaras twice.  Both times Dom was way too busy for me to feel comfortable asking him questions.

But based on watching him make a dozen or two pies, I only saw him use 3 different cheeses.  Two of them he slices by hand onto the pie (using a hand-held box grater/slicer), and one hard cheese he shreds with a bench-mounted hand-turned grater.  That's the cheese he puts on after cooking (and the same he'll give you a paper plate-full as extra), which I assumed was Parmesan.  When discussing this on Chowhound, I was firmly informed that it was grana padana, not  parmesan.

But others there say he uses Parmesan, so I just don't know.

As for Romano, this thread is the first mention I've ever heard of that.

It's fun to have a mystery...

---Guy
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 08, 2005, 03:07:35 PM
In a recent post on this thread (Reply #59), I described a DiFara clone dough based on using a 60/40 ratio, by weight, of All Trumps high-gluten flour and Caputo 00 flour, a relatively high hydration percentage (65%), a small amount of salt (1/4 t.) and a 16 hour overall period of fermentation/ripening. When that dough was made into a pizza following the instructions given at the abovementioned post, I came out with what I deemed to be an exceptional pizza.

The recipe I used that produced such good results was as follows:

5.07 oz. All Trumps (General Mills) high-gluten flour (about 1 c. plus 1 2/3 T.)
3.38 oz. Caputo 00 pizzeria flour (about 3/4 c. plus 1 t.)
5.49 oz. water (around 65% hydration) (a bit less than 3/4 c.)
1/4 t. salt
Slightly less than 1/4 t. IDY

Subsequently, we learned from pftaylor that Dom DeMarco at DiFara's uses predominantly Caputo 00 flour and a lesser amount of All Trumps high-gluten flour, in a roughly 75/25 ratio. Based on that input, I decided to make another DiFara clone dough using that ratio of flours (by weight). I also decided to increase the amount of salt and to slightly reduce the total fermentaition/ripening period. For purposes of the dough, I used the 14-inch pizza size, and a thickness factor of around 0.09. The final recipe was as follows, including the baker's percents:

Flour (100%), 6.50 oz. of Caputo 00 flour (about 1 1/2 c.) and 2.17 oz. All Trumps (a bit more than 1/2 c.)
Water (60%, temp. adjusted to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F), 5.20 oz. (2/3 c.)
Salt (1.5%), 0.13 oz. (between 5/8 and 3/4 t.)
IDY (0.25%), 0.022 oz. (a bit less than 1/4 t.)

Because of the small amount of dough involved, I chose to knead it entirely by hand. When done, it had a final weight of 14.04 oz. and an internal temperature just shy of 80 degrees F. I placed the dough into a plastic storage bag and set the bag on my kitchen counter late last night. By early morning, about 10 hours later, the dough had spread into a pancake-like disk. It was soft and a bit moist but not nearly as wet or moist as the previous dough that had a considerably higher hydration percentage. I was able to reball the dough without having to add any more flour. I then returned the dough to a bowl (covered) for about another 4 hours, during which time the dough at least doubled. It was still soft and a bit moist and it exhibited a tendency to bubbling. but I was able to easily shape the dough into a 14-inch skin. The dough was a combination of extensible and elastic at the same time, but it handled well.

After dressing the pizza, it was baked for about 6 minutes on a pizza stone that had been preheated for about an hour at 500-550 degrees F. I thereupon moved the pizza to an upper oven rack position to continue baking for about another 1-2 minutes under the broiler, which I had turned on about 4-5 minutes into the baking process.

The photos below show the finished product. Overall, I was quite pleased with the results. The crust was soft and delicate in the middle, with a nice lightness, and crunchy at the rim--which had a quite open and airy structure. I thought the crust had a very nice taste. As between today's pizza and the last one I liked so well, I think I preferred the last one a bit more--but not by much. They were both quite good. As for the increased amount of salt that I used for today's dough, I can't say that I noticed a big difference in terms of dough performance or crust taste. The lower hydration percent made for a bit tougher time kneading, but the finished crust was still open and airy.

I think what today's experiment taught me most is that it is possible to make a decent dough and crust using a combination of flours that ranges quite widely between a 60/40 ratio of high-gluten and 00 flours and a 75/25 ratio of 00 and high-gluten flours. It is also possible to use a lower hydration percent than the 65% previously used and get an open and airy crumb. I also believe it is possible to make a decent DiFara dough clone on a same-day basis, without requiring an overnight stay on the kitchen counter. I suspect that one could start the dough early in the morning and use it later in the afternoon of evening, with respectable results. To get an even lighter and more delicate crust, it should also be possible to use an even lower thickness factor, possibly around 0.07-0.08, which is similar to that used by pftaylor in his Raquel recipe.

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dinks on April 08, 2005, 03:35:05 PM
PETER:
  Good Afternoon. Thank-you, I enjoyed reading your blow by blow descriptio of how you made your pizza. The photo & pizza look XLNT.
   I was not aware Peter that 65% hyration is considered a bit much. Just this morning at 4:30A.M. I mixed my poolish  from yesterday & Dough together & I used total approx 67% hydration & it is not  a wet dough. I hate wet dough it is so hard to handle. Mine is sitting in the refridge till early morning tomorrow. I decided to make a extra slight amount so that I can use as a "ALTUS", for the next batch I make next month. I never tried that technique. I am to lazy to start & keep a sourdough concoction so I decided to see if this technique has any merit. Good luck & have a nice day my friend.
    ~DINKS.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dinks on April 08, 2005, 03:56:44 PM
PETER:
  Sorry I made a arthmetic addition error. I added up my altered recipe & it read 57.5%  hydration. I omitted also that I employed a 60 minute autolyse as well. My dough came out a little better than usual. I used 2/3rds hi-g & 1/3rd durum.
  ENJOY!!!.
  ~DINKS.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: MT on April 08, 2005, 04:17:29 PM
Peter

Could you confirm the weights in the 75/25 blend version?  Things don't seem to add up correctly.  I get a finished weight somewhere near 16.222.  It may well be me but something seems amiss.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dinks on April 08, 2005, 04:31:17 PM
MT:
  Good afternoon. You are correct. It does add up to that amount. Iwent thru the numbers this is what I learned. The yeast amount is ..22 not as written .022. also he just forgot to add the weight of the  "OO" flour. All I can say is "BIN DARE & DUN DAT"  once or twice.
  Good Luck & have a nice day my friend.
   ~DINKS..
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 08, 2005, 04:31:18 PM
DINKS,

As a practical matter, I tend to view 65% as somewhat the outer limit for pizza doughs like the Lehmann NY style dough. In the case of the Lehmann dough, Tom Lehmann himself sets the outer limit at 65%. Flours like the Caputo 00 flour are usually used for doughs with a hydration percent around 50-54% or thereabouts, although some pizza makers use a much higher hydration percent, almost to the point where the dough is really quite wet and almost incapable of handling by hand. You will need to use a dough scraper or something like that. With a combination of 00 flour and high-gluten flour, getting to 65% takes a bit of work.

I have found that I can go beyond 65% hydration if I start mixing the flour into the water very gradually, whether using a wooden spoon or the paddle or hook attachment of a stand mixer. If you pause now and then to let the flour absorb the water, you can get a higher hydration overall. Certainly, using an autolyse also helps you get a higher hydration also. But I have discovered that if I specify recipes with very high hydration levels, people start to have problems with the dough being too wet. Usually they get over this with experience, but it can be a problem in the meantime.

For those who are wondering what an "altus" is, it is a mash that is associated mostly with rye and pumpernickel doughs. According to what I have researched, the altus mash is made by slicing and trimming the crusts from leftover bread (like sour rye bread), soaking the trimmed bread in water for several hours or overnight under refrigeration, squeezing it dry, and adding small amounts to the bread dough. Altus intensifies the flavor of breads like pumpernickel and rye bread and helps them retain moisture. When using altus, the recommendation is to allow for a little extra flour in the recipe. The mash keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator.

Dinks, I have never tried using an altus, so I hope you will report back to us whether it has a place in our pizza making efforts.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 08, 2005, 04:36:27 PM
MT,

You are correct. The total flour weight is around 8.70 oz. The Caputo 00 flour weight should be 6.50 oz. If you add the weights up you should get close to 14.04 oz. (or a bit less because of rounding). I will go back and correct the post. Thanks for keeping a sharp eye.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dinks on April 08, 2005, 04:46:38 PM
PETER:
  Hello again. Yes Peter, your desciption of an Altus is 101% correct. However my friend that is the European (GERMAN) version & that is where it was pioneered. However, I used the American interpretation where you use up to approx 25%  of the new dough with old dough from a previous batch. That is what I plan to do. I will start with a much lower amount & work upwards till I can get a feel for it. Oh, by the way its formal name is "ALTUS BRAT" It is a pre-ferment. Just a variation.
 Have a nice day my friend.
~DINKS>
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Scagnetti on April 08, 2005, 06:06:13 PM
At the risk of stirring the pot too much....I'll do this anyway.

The longest-running discussion of DiFaras that I'm aware of is on Chowhound.  There are many regular customers there and the cheese blend  Dom uses is a frequent topic.  So many people have so many different ideas (all based on personal visits) that I'm beginning to suspect that Dom has his own inside joke about telling different people different things.

In an effort to set the record straight I started a new thread over there.  It should be interesting:

http://chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/63856.html

---Guy

 

Well Nina W, a well known Chowhound expert on DiFara's, has posted the definitive cheese ingredients in a DiFara's pizza:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/outer/messages/64284.html
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on April 17, 2005, 06:43:01 PM
In honor of Dominic I offer up a home version of his devine calzone...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: MTPIZZA on April 19, 2005, 08:51:50 AM
pftaylor great shots!!! are you related to Ansul Adams???  The pictures give off this old world, hard work, realism. Just looking at the pizza masters hands tell the whole story, history and hard work. Nice investigation that oven looks like it has really worked hard all its life in his shop... I've never heard of that brand of tomato has anyone ever tried them???
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on April 22, 2005, 09:44:14 PM
I really do feel that any reproduction effort should be targeted at Dom's famous "square" pie as well. To provide suitable inspiration, I took a traditional shot at a round and a square Di Fara tonight.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on April 22, 2005, 09:44:57 PM
And the round...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 22, 2005, 11:29:22 PM
pft,

Thanks for the additional photos. I, too, had the privilege recently of seeing the master at work during a visit to DiFara's while on vacation this past week. I will have more to report once I have had a chance to compose my thoughts.

After all the photos you have taken, there wasn't much for me to photograph, but I did take a couple--one of a standard cheese and tomato pizza and one with just about everything on it.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on April 23, 2005, 10:15:14 AM
Pete-zza,
I can't wait to learn more.

Hopefully Dominic had time to share with you.

This should be good. Real good.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 23, 2005, 02:26:35 PM
I suppose that it was only fitting that I should make a visit to DiFara's during my recent vacation trip to NYC. Over time, much had been learned about the mystical Dom DeMarco pizzas, but I had not personally seen one or eaten one, and there were still a few things about his dough that remained unanswered.

I chose a mid-day time to make the trek out to Brooklyn to DiFara's, hoping that I would be able to spend more time with Dom DeMarco and ferret out the few remaining pieces of the DiFara puzzle. As it turned out, the place was quite busy, with many people lining up against the counter to place their orders. Nonetheless, I was able to speak at some length with Dom about his pizzas and techniques and to confirm some of the information previously provided by pftaylor from his recent visit to DiFara's. In particular, Dom confirmed the roughly 75/25 ratio of Caputo 00/All Trumps flours. He also indicated that a typical dough ball for making an 18-inch pizza weighed 1 3/8 lb., or around 22 oz. I later calculated that the thickness factor for such a dough ball weight and pizza size was 0.086. This places the DiFara crust squarely on the thin side (by comparison, a NY "street" style crust has a thickness factor of around 0.10). When I asked Dom how much water he used for his dough, he said it was 1 part water for 2 1/2 parts flour, by volume (as with all his measurements). He said that the dough was not wet, although I later calculated the hydration percent to be around 65%.

The most interesting part of our conversation centered on the dough and its short fermentation cycle. Dom indicated that his dough requires only 1 to 2 hours of rise time, and no refrigeration. As readers of this thread know, this has long puzzled me. When I mentioned that I had never been able to produce a decent dough based on his flour combination in such a short period of time, and that I only got good results by letting the dough ferment overnight or over several daytime hours using small amounts of yeast, he said that he used to use an overnight rise (along with a very small amount of yeast), but that he abandoned that approach long ago. Sensing my puzzlement, he proceeded to pull out a drawer under his oven, where several dough balls were rising in a warm, humid environment. This was a new piece of information in the puzzle but it was the answer to how he could make a usable dough in such a short period of time. I should have figured this out since I knew from my own experiences in making 00 doughs for my "Last-Minute" pizzas that it was possible to make a passable pizza within an hour using my homemade proofing box at high temperatures and humidity. That approach was also behind my "Pizza with Egg" experiments (as detailed at another thread). The crust wouldn't be great but it would pass muster.

That last comment is key to unraveling the DiFara mystery. What is most unique about the DiFara dough is its non-uniqueness. There is nothing new in the DiFara dough. It does use a combination of 00 and high-gluten flours, but blending different flours has been done for decades, if not longer, and even his combination of 00 and high-gluten flours is not novel. What makes the DiFara pizzas stand out from the crowd is the use of very high quality toppings, quite possibly among the very best available anywhere. And in generous quantities. In a sense, the toppings serve as a distraction from what is otherwise a quite ordinary crust. To be sure, some of the inherent deficiencies of the crust are overcome by using a high oven temperature, which will produce a chewy crust with decent char and coloration and modest oven spring, but underneath it all is a rather plain and uncomplicated crust. I am certain that Dom could improve his crust quite significantly if he were to use a long fermentation time, either at room temperature or under refrigeration. Clearly there is no incentive to do this when people will line up for hours to get at his pizzas as they are now made.

None of the above is intended to be a criticism of either Dom DeMarco or his pizzas. He was very gracious and generous in sharing his pizza making techniques, as I am sure he has done countless times before with others. There is nothing duplicitous about the man. He is a master of pizza making, one of a dying breed. He paints the canvas of his pizzas like Michelangelo painted the Sistene Chapel. I, along with my son and his family, sampled one of his multi-topping pizzas (the one shown in the second photo of my earlier post), and it was very good indeed. It was soggy in the middle because of the large quantities of moist vegetables (which were precooked) but the crust was otherwise quite good. Next time, I will try a simpler pizza, which should be a better test of the crust quality and character.

I think it is safe to say that we now know pretty much what goes into the DiFara dough and pizzas. The dough is made up of a 75/25 ratio of Caputo 00 flour and General Mills All Trumps high-gluten flour (by volume), and water (local municipal water) is used at 1 part per 2 1/2 parts flour (also by volume). As indicated above, the dough is subjected to a 1 to 2 hour rise in a warm, humid environment. For a typical 18-inch pizza, the dough has a weight of around 22 oz. That yields a thickness factor of 0.086. The yeast used is fresh baker's yeast. No oil is used in the dough, but a Felippo Berio olive oil (the kind in the yellow can, not the next level up in the green can) is used on the pizzas themselves. Dom says he uses whatever cheeses are available to him at any given moment, but they usually include bufala di mozzarella cheese imported from around Naples (which he puts on pizzas in small pieces), a "fresh" fior-di-latte (cow's milk) cheese (I believe it is the Ovoline cheese from Grande), a whole-milk mozzarella cheese from Grande (which is grated in strands rather than shreds or dice), Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and/or grana padano cheese, served either on the pizza as it bakes or on the side. The tomato sauce (uncooked) is made by blending imported Vantia DOP San Marzano tomatoes and fresh tomatoes (quite possibly in a blender or food processor) and adding either or both of fresh oregano and basil, whichever happens to be available.

Armed with all of the above information, I plan sometime soon to make a dough that incorporates much of that information. I did a quick calculation of a weight of dough for a 14-inch size pizza (the largest size my pizza stone can handle), and it looks like my earlier recipes were quite close and may only require tweaking. I will most likely use either an ovenight or all-day fermentation since I don't have the capability of very high oven temperatures (Dom DeMarco uses around 700 degrees F) to compensate for a dough of lesser quality. At some point, I may also experiment with using a natural preferment. This is solely for the purpose of achieving a hopefully better flavor profile.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor on April 23, 2005, 04:28:52 PM
Pete-zza,
Sounds like you had a nice visit with Dom. I'm glad for you. You also confirmed a number of my observations and introduced and completed others. Thank you for taking the time to memorialize your visit and sharing with the community.

It appears you had an opportunity to spend quality time with the master even though he was busy. What amazed me about Dom was how efficient he was. Not slow, plodding, or old. Everything was measured precisely, unless it was with respect to his toppings which were dispersed with a heavy hand. I noticed no movement which didn't result in an action which produced something. He had no "nervous" energy.

Thinking back on my visit, I remember Dom only using one door of his stacked oven for cooking. I frankly thought the other oven doors were either broken or he didn't want to bend down for fear of not getting back up. But I never saw him utilize but the one oven door which was about chest height for cooking. Now we know what he uses the big bulky oven for - proofing dough. Nice pickup.

Did you have an opportunity to try a square slice? According to the locals, the round pies are good but the square slices are the best. The round pie I ordered, during my visit, tasted good simply because of the toppings. I cannot truthfully say that I admired the crust at all. I detected a very faint bitter taste. Somewhat similar to the bitter taste I encountered when I tried to initially use Caputo Pizzeria 00 flour in my home pizza making efforts. I quietly extrapolated to myself that Dom did not put forth much effort to his dough mixing or preparation process. Accordingly, I decided to focus my post pie eating discussion with Dom on topics other than crust.

Partially as a result of my experience at Di Fara (and Patsy's in Harlem), I was determined to pursue an ultra-high quality ingredient path for my home pizza making. The twist I would add to the equation would be to produce an ultra-high quality crust to match the superiority of Dom's toppings. Essentially, Pizza Raquel is exactly the result of that thought. It can either be viewed as a high quality ingredient Patsy's pizza or a Di Fara pizza with a high quality crust. Your choice, it doesn't matter to me.

In the end, it all adds up to my interpretation of what a Patsy's or Di Fara pizza could be if they used ultra-high quality ingredients across the board combined with painstaking mixing and preparation techniques. I would love to know if there is a NY pizza joint which has that as their mission statement - to make the highest quality 2nd generation American pizza possible.

What Dom has that cannot be reproduced in any home setting is the sense of being a neighborhood pizza joint. He is admired by the people of Brooklyn for his pizza discipline and you get the sense that he would do it all over again because he loves what he does. I admire that accomplishment more than any other.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 23, 2005, 05:11:17 PM
pft,

I did not have a chance to try a square slice but plan to do so on a future visit. I agree with you that Dom seems always to be aware of where he is in his pizza making without having to write anything down. One customer was fearful that Dom would forget him and his three slices. Dom would jump from one pizza to another and from one slice to another, and from one customer to another, leading one to wonder whether he knew what he was really doing. He moved in measured paces and was calm throughout and the customer got his three slices, as ordered. The man operates in his own zone, seemingly oblivious to everything going on around him.

As far as improvement of the DiFara crust is concerned, it is fairly clear to me that using a longer fermentation time would be a big help. Also, one could also use a preferment and, I suspect, an autolyse. In a sense, this would be moving the dough recipe in the direction of your Raquel/Sophia recipes. I don't know if this would be good or bad, but it certainly seems doable, especially since you have already demonstrated that your recipes work for both high-gluten and 00 flours. Combining the two flours should also work.

One thing that could stand improvement at DiFara's is the cleanliness of the place. I saw no efforts to keep the general eating area clean and, after eating a gloppy pizza, I asked Dom where the rest room was so that I could wash my hands. I'm reluctant to describe what I saw, other than to say that it is best avoided if one has expectations of cleanliness. I did get to see the kitchen, however, including the Hobart mixer and some sauce that was cooking for use on the square pizzas.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pftaylor 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. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: scott r 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.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jjsb22 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on July 18, 2006, 02:22:16 PM
The "mini-oven".....



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on July 18, 2006, 02:27:08 PM
Pizza 1 (2-hour room-temperature and 2-day cold fermentation)....
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on July 18, 2006, 02:34:31 PM
Pizza 2 (2-hour room-temperature fermentation)...

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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...



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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 :).

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: scott r 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.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: snowdy 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: snowdy 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!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: raji 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



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: raji 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car 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


Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: scott r 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.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza 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

EDIT (11/23/17): Added photo from the Wayback Machine to replace the inoperative egullet.com jpg link
 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 05, 2007, 05:57:35 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.

Thanks Scott.  I will use some fresh tomatoes.  I completely forgot that I read one this thread that he uses a combination of fresh tomatoes with the canned.  As for the flour combination, I'll start with 50/50 as you suggested.  The key is to replicate it for home use and I don't have any reservations changing it up.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 05, 2007, 06:01:55 PM
Peter,

Thanks for the info on the prosciutto; I will have to add a chunk of it to the sauce as it cooks.  Also, thanks for the pictures, they will come in handy.  It looks like I remembered correctly about no basil during the dressing, but it looks like he adds Padano to the pie before baking. 

Mike
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Scagnetti on February 06, 2007, 02:28:27 PM
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.
.
.
Peter

Peter,

I don't know if you've seen these videos or not but they are very good depictions of Dom at work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttg-Me3GmOI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEwZeyDovvQ&

I have a question about the first video.  Doesn't it appear that he's putting a lot of olive oil on the pie?  What do you think?

Scagnetti

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on February 06, 2007, 03:25:35 PM
Scagnetti,

Thanks for the links to the videos. I had not seen them before. As always, I watch Dom like a hawk to see if he reveals anything I did not already know about his pizzas.

As for the amount of oil, it's hard to say how much he is actually putting on the pizza without knowing how big the mouth of the spout of his oil can is. It's also possible that certain pizzas get more oil than others. For example, he may not put a lot of oil, if any, on a pepperoni or sausage pizza but quite a bit on pizzas with a lot of veggies.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Scagnetti on February 06, 2007, 07:03:45 PM
As for the amount of oil, it's hard to say how much he is actually putting on the pizza without knowing how big the mouth of the spout of his oil can is. It's also possible that certain pizzas get more oil than others. For example, he may not put a lot of oil, if any, on a pepperoni or sausage pizza but quite a bit on pizzas with a lot of veggies.

Peter
That's a good point.  We all know how much oil can leech out of some of those toppings.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 10, 2007, 08:58:25 PM
My first experience trying to make a Difara's square pie went pretty well.  I will need to modify a few things, but I was quite happy with my results.

Yesterday evening I made two dough balls, one with a thickness factor of 0.1075 and the other at 0.11.  I used a combination of All Trumps (60%) and Caputo Pizza 00(40%), 65% hydration, 1.5% salt, and 0.5% IDY.  I used my KA mixer to make the dough.  I poured all the water (46 degrees) into the mixer, added about 2/3rds of the flour mixture and used the paddle attachment to "wet knead" for about two minutes.  A rest period of 15 minutes followed and the remaining ingredients were added using the dough hook attachment.  Once all the ingredients combined and a dough ball formed, I hand kneaded the dough for a few minutes.  Next the two dough balls were placed in the fridge.  Each dough ball read 70 degrees when entering the fridge.

I started off this morning making the pre-cooked tomato sauce.  I sauteed some roughed chopped garlic in Berrio mild olive oil for a few minutes then added some chopped ripe plum tomatoes and a chunk of prosciutto.  I simmered the tomatoes in the olive oil and garlic with sea salt and pepper for about an hour until the tomatoes were soft and most of the watery liquid evaporated.  I then added a can of whole peeled Italian tomatoes; draining some of the water from the can.  I simmered the mixture for another hour and added some fresh oregano and fresh basil about five minutes before taking it off the heat.

After about 20 hours of cold fermentation, I removed the 0.1075 dough from the fridge and allowed it to reach room temperature(2 hours).  I heated my pizza stone with the oven set at 550 degrees for an hour.  I oiled my rectangular pan with the same olive oil I used above and massaged the dough into the pan.  I found a Chicago Metallic heavy gauge steel pan at Marshalls Home Goods for $6.99.  It is 12.25x9x1 inch pan; pretty small, but enough to feed my wife and I.  I wanted to keep the experiments small and cheap until I'm completely happy with recipe.

After shaping the dough in the pan, I covered it with the pre-cooked sauce and placed it in the oven on the pizza stone.  It cooked for about 5 minutes until the edges were slightly browned.  I removed the par-baked crust and let it cool for about 3 hours.  I reheated the stone again for an hour at 550 degrees, added more Berrio oil to the pan, dressed the par-baked crust with fresh mozz, whole milk mozz, a sprinkle of padano, some more pre-cooked sauce and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  It cooked for another 5 minutes until the cheese melted and the crust got dark and charred then finished the pie with some fresh basil.

It was without question my favorite homemade pizza to date, however, I believe the sauce was a little too overpowering in terms of taste.  I think by looking at the pictures that I may have added too much.  The crust was very tasty with a good amount of charring, the problem being it was a little too crisp and dry.  It actually was a very enjoyable crust, but not chewy enough to be like Difara's.  This is where advice and experimentation will be needed.  How can I darken and char the crust, but not dry it out too much?  Higher hydration?  Less Caputo?  Add oil to the dough formulation?  I also think that the crust needs to be slightly thicker and hope the 0.11 will be the right thickness.  I will be making the 0.11 dough tomorrow.  :pizza:

Overall I'm very pleased with my first attempt and think I should be able to get very close to a successful clone.  I hope you enjoy the pics!

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 10, 2007, 09:00:46 PM
more pics...

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Peteg on February 10, 2007, 09:34:25 PM
Boy hits car, It looks like your off to a great start.  keep up the good work.  Peteg
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on February 10, 2007, 10:12:12 PM
Mike,

Nice job.

You might want to try proofing the dough in the pan before saucing and pre-baking. I would try around 45 minutes to an hour proof time. That should create an insulator effect in the dough and permit a longer bake time while retaining a chewy character to the crust along with crispiness on the bottom. You might also skip the step of allowing the pre-baked crust to cool before finishing. I read somewhere that Dom at one time did not pre-bake his Sicilian crusts but found it necessary for some reason to resort to doing so. The intimation was that Dom had slowed down because of age and could no longer keep up with the demand for his Sicilian pies, and therefore turned to pre-baking the crusts. I don't know if any of this is true, but it can't hurt to try using the crust right after pre-baking. You could also lower the oven temperature and use a longer bake.

You might also take a look at this post on the Lehmann thread where I described my efforts to make a NY style pizza with a pre-baked crispy crust but with a chewy and soft interior, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg27372.html#msg27372 (Reply 424). I used a screen but many of the principles may apply to what your are trying to do.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on February 10, 2007, 11:47:10 PM
I don't know if this video clip, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6239019285017019428&hl=en, has been posted on this thread before, but it does a nice job of showing Dom making both the round and Sicilian pies. You can even get a pretty good idea of the quantities of cheeses and toppings used.

This piece, from the same source as the video clip, offers a tribute to Dom's square pie and also indicates that the dough is proofed before par-baking: http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/2006/09/21/nyc-dining-difara-redux-its-hip-to-be-square/.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 11, 2007, 12:25:52 PM
Peter,

Thanks for your sleuthing of Difara's and the square pie.  Tonight I will proof the dough for an hour in the pan and finish the pizza right after the par-baking is done.  I think this should help a lot.  It looks like from the pictures of the last link you gave, I need to make my version a bit thicker; that will have to wait until next weekend. 

Mike
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 11, 2007, 09:44:41 PM
Peter's suggestions really help a lot.  I proofed the dough for an hour on the pan and finished the pizza right after the pre-bake.  The bottom of the crust as well as the edges were perfectly crisp and not nearly as dried out as last night's pie; it had a chewier texture, but was still a little dry.  My next attempt will have a slightly larger thickness factor and 60% Caputo to 40% All Trumps.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the initial results.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: ratana on February 14, 2007, 11:53:40 PM
Boy hits car:  Just wondering where you got that pan from, do you have an online site?  I too would like to try to make a clone of the Di Fara square.. I am new at pizza making, but the taste of his square pies is always forever in my mind.

I did try some of the recipes posted in this thread to make a clone of the round pie.  The 75/25 caputo to all trumps seemed to be pretty spot on as far as I could taste, in terms of the crispness on the bottom, etc.

If it helps, the last time I was at Di Fara, my friend and I waited 2 hours(!) for a half sausage square pie, and he did not pre-bake the crust for that one.  It was an insane night there, and so he was out of the pre-baked crusts that I have seen him have there, he just made one on the spot.  But I do think he did it in two steps.  (Dough + some sauce, then taking it out, more oil on the bottom of the pan, the rest of the cheese etc.)
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on February 16, 2007, 09:02:52 PM
ratana,

As noted in Reply 155, Boy Hits Car is using a Chicago Metallic heavy gauge steel pan that he found at Marshalls Home Goods for $6.99.  It is a 12.25x9x1 inch pan. I believe that it may be a non-stick finish pan or something similar. I don't believe that Chicago Metallic makes a dark, anodized pan in that size.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 16, 2007, 10:26:06 PM
Boy hits car:  Just wondering where you got that pan from, do you have an online site?  I too would like to try to make a clone of the Di Fara square.. I am new at pizza making, but the taste of his square pies is always forever in my mind.

I did try some of the recipes posted in this thread to make a clone of the round pie.  The 75/25 caputo to all trumps seemed to be pretty spot on as far as I could taste, in terms of the crispness on the bottom, etc.

If it helps, the last time I was at Di Fara, my friend and I waited 2 hours(!) for a half sausage square pie, and he did not pre-bake the crust for that one.  It was an insane night there, and so he was out of the pre-baked crusts that I have seen him have there, he just made one on the spot.  But I do think he did it in two steps.  (Dough + some sauce, then taking it out, more oil on the bottom of the pan, the rest of the cheese etc.)

Ratana,

The pan I'm using isn't dark like Difara's pans.  It is a non-stick dark gray pan.  Like Peter said, I found it at Marshalls.  I want to get as close as possible to Difara's recipe before I buy a bigger pan. 

The closest I've seen online to Difara's pans is this:  http://www.bigtray.com/productdetails.asp?catid=14810&sku=CMP40952&s=sheet+pans&rn=1

Once you get a pan, it would be great if you could post your results with whatever formula and techniques you decide to use.  Hopefully we'll be able to come up with a usable clone.

Good luck.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 25, 2007, 09:53:37 PM
Just wanted to post my latest attempt at a Difara's square pie.  Since I wasn't completely happy with my first attempts, I decided to try a different approach.  This time I went all out and used oil and a little sugar in the dough as well as use my broiler to get a better charring on the edges of the pizza.

The formula I used for the dough:

Flour (100%):
Water (65%):
IDY (0.5%):
Salt (1.5%):
Oil (1.5%):
Sugar (1.0%):
Total (169.5%):
221.28 g  |  7.81 oz | 0.49 lbs
143.83 g  |  5.07 oz | 0.32 lbs
1.11 g | 0.04 oz | 0 lbs | 0.37 tsp | 0.12 tbsp
3.32 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.69 tsp | 0.23 tbsp
3.32 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.74 tsp | 0.25 tbsp
2.21 g | 0.08 oz | 0 lbs | 0.56 tsp | 0.19 tbsp
375.07 g | 13.23 oz | 0.83 lbs | TF = 0.12

The flour is 50/50 mix of Caputo 00 pizzeria and All Trumps Flour.  The pan size I used was 12.25"x9"x1".

I mixed the dough using the same technique as my previous post, only this time I added sugar and oil to the water in the mixer bowl.  I cold fermented the dough for about 45 hours, the temp. entering the fridge was 68 degrees.  I removed the dough and let it warm up for two hours then shaped the dough into the pan with some olive oil.  I then covered the dough and waited an hour to let it proof.  I also heated my oven to 550 during this time.  I then sauced the dough and par baked the dough on my pizza stone.  This time I par baked the dough a lot longer than my previous attempts.  In the pictures you can see it is darker along the edges.  I then removed the dough and finished topping it with more sauce and cheese.  I then placed the pie under the broiler about six inches away from the flame and waited for the cheese to melt and for the edges to get slightly charred.

This version was the closest I've been able to achieve.  It had a crisp edge and a chewy center with a very good flavor.  Also, the crust was not overly dried out like the other two.  As for the sauce, I tried a non-cooked sauce with just salt, pepper, garlic and basil.  Although very good on its own, I believe the pre-cooked sauce I outlined in my earlier posts is closer to Difara's in taste.  I would feel safe to recommend this recipe to people who would like to make a Difara's type square pizza.

EDIT:  Specified which type of yeast I used and ingredient amounts as per Peter's request.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on February 26, 2007, 10:07:18 AM
Mike,

Nice job adapting the DiFara clone to your particular oven.

Since you used IDY before, I assume that your most recent dough formulation uses IDY also. Is that correct?

For your 12.25" x 9" pan size, I calculated a total dough weight of 375 grams, or 13.23 ounces (12.25 x 9 x 0.12 = 13.23). If that is correct, can you indicate the quantities of the ingredients corresponding to that pan size? That might save time for those who do not work with baker's percents.

Thanks.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on February 26, 2007, 10:27:55 AM
Mike,

Nice job adapting the DiFara clone to your particular oven.

Since you used IDY before, I assume that your most recent dough formulation uses IDY also. Is that correct?

For your 12.25" x 9" pan size, I calculated a total dough weight of 375 grams, or 13.23 ounces (12.25 x 9 x 0.12 = 13.23). If that is correct, can you indicate the quantities of the ingredients corresponding to that pan size? That might save time for those who do not work with baker's percents.

Thanks.

Peter

Thanks Peter.  I have updated my post to include your requests.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: scott r on May 11, 2007, 04:11:02 AM
Some random thoughts:

I had an excellent experience at Di Fara's today.  No wait, and much better pizza than the last time I was there.  Dom has Changed brands on everything it seems.  I saw new brands of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, oregano, and olive oil.  Even the crust seemed a bit different to me.  His hard grating cheese tasted much less sharp than what he was using last time (pretty sure it was grana padano).   I found it interesting that he is now using passata (jarred liquified tomato) mixed with canned san marzanos.  Last time I was there he was using fresh tomatoes and canned san marzano's.

He definitely used the same sauce for both the Sicilian and the round pies, and he used buffalo mozzarella only on the Sicilian.

The place was still incredibly dirty even after the board of health shut down.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: mzshan on May 11, 2007, 10:57:26 AM
Hey scott tried to email you but your box was full..
will be visiting NYC wanted some info on Di Fara's best time to check out.. and a few other tips on Money and time saving...
thanks

shan
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Boy Hits Car on May 11, 2007, 11:05:27 AM
Hey scott tried to email you but your box was full..
will be visiting NYC wanted some info on Di Fara's best time to check out.. and a few other tips on Money and time saving...
thanks

shan

Shan,

You might find this post helpful.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4560.msg42410.html#msg42410
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jcardia on February 27, 2010, 01:57:34 PM
Hi all - it's been a few years since someone last updated this thread on the difara clone. Wondering if anyone has changed their perspectives/recipe trial since their last post. Thanks and great thread!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: tcarlisle on February 28, 2010, 04:23:57 AM
Sorry I have not read all replies in this thread. Skimming through it, it seems the bases have been covered. I go to DiFara's a few times a year.

Some of the pics I see here are quite close, but Dom is pretty heavy handed on the olive oil. I wasn't aware he used 00 flour, and what I get there versus the Lehman recipe here is pretty much the same. He uses a standard gas oven, and the bottom of the crust is well done and the topside of the crust is browned -- and any thin spots on the outer crust are usually just starting to blacken. There tends to be some pretty decent bubbles at the crust/sauce line and they blacken too. People that don't prefer DiFara's typically complain it is too greasy and crust burnt. Yet some complain the crust is too gooey. It is pretty well burnt on the outside, but tends to be gooey beneath the sauce/cheese -- which I attribute to the high amount of olive oil he puts on it. Again, go heavy on the oil. The pizza's we make here all have nice red sauce -- his starts that way but the heavy oil dilutes it and then when the sauce/oil/cheese cooks it comes out orangish.

He is quite generous with the fresh mozz. The patches of fresh mozz end up pretty white, and the rest is an orangish blend of sauce/oil/standard mozz. The standard mozz ends up almost clear.

Last time I went I talked to him and he said his Basil is from Isreal. It does have much larger leaves than any basil I've seen locally.

He seems to be pretty light handed with the sauce. It ends up being more oil than sauce in my opinion.

Despite the well browned and slightly blackened crust bottom, you can't hold a piece without folding it. The crust is not rigid at all except the outer crust. If you make one and can hold a slice without folding it and without it dropping and all the sauce/cheese falling off -- then it isn't right.  :)

And yes, the dirt within the establishment probably also adds some flavors to the pie that we would rather not know about.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dhs on March 04, 2010, 08:39:29 AM
I live in Brooklyn and have been to DiFara's. To be honest, I am not a huge fan but would agree with the square pie is the one to emulate. I too have skimmed many of the posts but I think tcarlisle really nailed something that seems to be less than what is used at DiFara's compared to what I see in the posted pictures. That is the amount of olive oil. From what I recall watching Dom, he uses a lot of oil under the pre-bake. A heck of a lot. The end result, to me at least, is much like fried dough. Something worth trying maybe?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Scagnetti on March 05, 2010, 04:31:38 PM
I've been to DiFara's several times and have even talked to Dom myself.

To be honest, the round pies are good but the Sicilian or square pie is completely off the charts.

There are many DiFara detractors because the place is messy and can be a real zoo.

I once talked to a pizza products salesman outside of DiFara's and the converstion went like this.

Me: "Look, Dom makes a great pie but I never know if I'm going to wait 10 minutes or an hour for a pie. There's got to be somebody else around that makes them close to his." (I'm thinking he'd mention Totonno's).

Him: "No, there's not."

Me: "C'mon, there's got to be somebody."

Him: "Nope, there's not. He's the master. He does things nobody else does. He follows the old ways."
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on December 20, 2010, 11:19:49 PM
Tried my hand at a Di Fara's clone tonight.   First off, I think 8 min maybe a bit too long of a cook time.  Dom's cheese looks a bit overcooked for my taste.   So if a 6 min bake is better for me, I can't in good conscience use the same recipe he uses.  I had to tweak it.  The reason is b/c if Dom bakes one of his pies at 6min, the cheese would look better but the crust wouldn't be baked out to the same degree. 

I have seen videos of Dom pulling a pizza out of the oven with his hands and you can see how well cooked the bottom of the pie is.  It is also crunchy at that point and holds it's weight well despite being supported only by the rim. 

Having this on my mind, I decided to use a 60/40 (00/HG) mix instead of a 75/25 as Dom uses.  I also upped the hydration ratio to account for the increase % of HG flour and for my high altitude climate.  Here's the formulation I decided on.

Flour 100%  (60/40 00/HG)
Water 69%  (warm at 81F)
Salt 2.5%
IDY 1%

I mixed the dough in the Bosch for about 6min.  and allowed it to bulk rise for 45m.  I then pulled the dough out, divided and balled, and place them into glad plastic containers that were slightly oiled. 

I decided to warm proof it as Dom does by microwaving a bit of water for 2 mins to create that warm environment.   I placed the covers on the dough loosely and placed them into my home made proofing chamber (MW) for an hour and 15m.  The dough easily doubled in size and then some. 

These balls were about 272gm stretched out to make 14" pies.  The dough expanded so much it touch the top of the containers.   These were then baked in the home oven at a temp of 500f.   I placed the stone near the top of the heating element to get it nice and hot.  The pies baked up high for about 2 mins and then lowered near the bottom of the oven to finish out their bake.   I shuffle the stone to try and get a bigger oven spring and then bake it out slow once the crust has set.  The first pie baked at about 6min.  I found the crust to be a little dry for my taste so I baked the 2nd pie for about 5 min.  Basically the 2nd pie spent more time up high near the heat longer and baked a bit quicker. 

Here is the first pie.   Topped with 3 types of cheeses (block, fresh mozz, bufala), pepperoni, fresh pineapple, EVOO.   Finished with grated parm and romano blend, and fresh basil. 

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on December 20, 2010, 11:25:22 PM
Here is the 2nd pie.   This is the one baked for 1 min less.  I felt that the 6 min pie's crust was a bit dry for my taste, so I shortened the bake a bit. 

This one was topped with just block mozz and fress mozz (no bufala), shrimp, and garlic slivers.  Finished out with EVOO, grated parm & romano blend, and fresh basil.

This combination of topping was really a winner.  The taste and flavors were outstanding.  The crust was very mediocre to me.  I have a feeling that Dom's sauce and topping are what makes his pies work.  His crust, I'm not so sure about, but I realize i could change my mind after I've had it.   I think the appeal to a Di Fara pie is the blend of cheeses, and drizzling EVOO on top of cheese that has already oiled off.  It makes sense to me that he uses the Parmesan to soak up some of the oil.   Basically his slice is cheesy and oily.  You use good quality flavorful cheeses and a good quality OO and you have a winning combination.  What's there not to like about that.   

For the future, I would continue using the toppings as is, but would make a better and perhaps thicker crust. 

Chau

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: chickenparm on December 21, 2010, 12:05:44 AM
Chau,
You are making me hungry with them pies you made!
They look Fantastic...I told you,you are ready to open your own place...If you ever choose to do so.
As Master Yoda would say,
Yoda: No more training do you require. Already know you, that which you need.
  :D

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dellavecchia on December 21, 2010, 07:47:44 AM
Fantastic job. I am sure they tasted as good as they look. I believe that you could clone at will pretty much any pizza you set your sights on.

Your point about the topping being the star of the show is dead on. Any dough that is ready in two hours will not show the complexity of flavor that most of us here on the board are used to in our own pies. Larry echoed those sentiments recently in a post on his visit to Di Fara.

John
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on December 21, 2010, 11:54:47 AM
 :-D thanks guys, I appreciate it.  The cheese and toppings I was really happy with.  It ate just like a Di fara slice you see others eating on youtube.  Foldable, hot and gooey with oil and cheesy goodiness.   Especially the shrimp and  garlic pie.  It was a chorus singing praises in my mouth.   I was inspired after seeing your lobster pie the other day John. 

The crust was okay.  If the thickness and texture of the rim was spot on then I don't think I would care if it was a 2 hour ferment or 20 hour ferment.  I made the crust  thinner than I normally like so I thought it was a bit dry in spots.  The rim looks about as thin as a typical Di fara pie.   

My usual crust is a 50/50 blend of 00/HG anyway, so this 60/40 (00/hg) blend wasn't far off, but this was a lot thinner than I normally make and baked 1-2 min longer.   

I think if I were to make this 14" pie in the oven a few more times, I could make it better by tweaking the dough.  As is, it was pretty good, so I can't complain too much.  Not perfect but pretty good.   

Here are a few Di fara style pies I made last week with my normal thicker crust.  These pies were better pies.  Reply #66
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12182.60.html (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12182.60.html)

Chau
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jever4321 on December 21, 2010, 12:00:08 PM
Chau, That pie looks like art. Nice job. That makes me want to be more creative in topping selection. Keep up the good work.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: dmcavanagh on December 21, 2010, 04:37:53 PM
Nice pies Tran Man. I've never been to DiFara's, but I'd rather have one of your pies. Now I've got to make some doughs and clone your clone!  ;D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on December 22, 2010, 12:05:45 AM
Thanks, you guys are too kind.  I'll do better next time.   8)

Chau
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on December 22, 2010, 02:51:22 PM
Chau,

Details on the baking method?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on December 22, 2010, 05:00:54 PM
Chau,

Details on the baking method?

Baked in the home oven.   Oven was preheated for about an hour at 500F.  The last 10 min of the preheat, I moved my Primo stone to the 2nd from the top shelf under the broiler to get it superhot.  Turned the dial to broiler while I was opening up the skin and topping the pie. 

Loaded the pizza on a hot stone and turned the dial back down to 500F.  Baked it up high for a few minutues hoping the heat trapped between the broiler and the hot stone would give me a better spring. 

After a few minutes up high, the crust is pretty much set.  I move the stone with the pizza on it lower towards the bottom of the oven otherwise it would burn to quickly.   For some odd reason, my VIking professional oven only heats from the top (best I can tell).  The pizzas finish baking out at the bottom for another 4 minutes or so.   Once I'm happy with how melted the cheese is, I will also pick up the pie with the metal peel and rim the crust against the broiler element to get it darker.  This gives it abit more character in look and crunch.    The only downside here is that the bottom of the pie can get a bit steamed if sitting on the metal peel too longer during this process.  Occassionally I will also put the pie back on the hot stone for 30s or so to crisp it up again.

Hope that helps,
Chau
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pizza01 on December 25, 2010, 11:51:20 AM
after reading this thread i know that theres "difara" i am fascinated with it. this person dominc de marco 44 years making pizza, growing hes own herbs, i am sure it one of the best places in the world just by looking and reading about it.
peter well done, keep up the good work, your pies looks amazing.
tell me is the oven within an oven really make a diference instead od just stone from the bottem?
i read your word i slice about it also, but i wanted to ask you.
 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on December 29, 2010, 10:06:48 AM
tell me is the oven within an oven really make a diference instead od just stone from the bottem?
i read your word i slice about it also, but i wanted to ask you.
 

Michael,

At the time I experimented with the oven within an oven, I thought the approach had merit. However, when reverse engineering and cloning a pizza like the DiFara pizza, I would prefer to make an 18" pizza since that is the size that Dom DeMarco makes. In the past, when I have made 18" pizzas in my home oven, I had to use either an 18" pizza screen alone or a combination of that screen and my undersized pizza stone. I don't know at this point whether I can fashion an oven within an oven to make an 18" DiFara pizza clone. When I return home from vacation I may take a look at my oven dimensions to see if an 18" DiFara clone pizza is possible.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pizza01 on December 29, 2010, 08:45:58 PM
what is the Ideal time for rising of the dough outside? "emergency dough"
i dont think difara would have any problem making the dough at morning, i understand his sons makes the dough 2 hours before?
the reason i am asking is because i read somwhere in the forum Interview with itlian pizza maker ( i cant the remember the professional term for it)
he said that he makes hes dough fresh outside in the morning and that the dough is outside for 6 hour.
today i made pie, the dough was only outside and for 6 hours, after 2 it had sour smell, after baking i couldent gain color to it like normaly happens, and the crust wasent ready from the inside, lets say i had better dough before.
i think after making all kind of fresh dough that the ideal time is about 80 minute.
what do you think guys and peter ?
after the dough rise and about 70% from its size, if its oversize... is there a point that it is not for use ? or if droping the air out and reshape it and reproofing, can be use for baking ?
here some picture of 2 pies i made today.
usually the crust and from the bottem have more color, and tasted better
the first one (the pie that with no green peper on it) i used
fresh mozzarella
hard mozzarella
cheder
with the Influence of this thread after the pie was ready i sprikeld it grated parmesan cheeze (not parmigiano raggiano like dom demarco), olive oil and bazil leave.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on December 29, 2010, 09:38:05 PM
Michael,

Dom DeMarco uses a combination of high-gluten flour and 00 flour. His deck oven is also an old deck oven that operates at higher temperatures than the current models of deck ovens. He also bakes his pizzas for a fairly long time. I suspect that the high-gluten flour component of his flour blend and the oven factors are responsible for the crust coloration of his pizzas. In a standard unmodified home oven, it may be harder to get comparable crust coloration in an emergency dough situation like Dom's, even if sugar is added to the dough (Dom does not use any sugar in his dough). Ordinary table sugar, or sucrose, is a complex sugar and has to be broken down into simple sugars for use in the Maillard reactions that contribute to crust coloration. That decomposition of sucrose can take many hours, although some of it may show up in the finished crust through caramelization. What I have found to work better as a substitute for sucrose in an emergency dough is honey. It already has simple sugar components.

If you are interested, you can learn a lot about emergency, or short-term, doughs by scanning the compilation of such doughs at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,8297.0.html.

Also, to show you that you were not alone in getting less crust coloration from your 6-hour dough than you hoped, see Reply 2 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7522.msg64710.html#msg64710. If I had added some sugar or honey to the dough formulation I posted in Reply 2, I believe that I would have ended up with more crust color. Adding dry dairy whey would have achieved similar results.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on December 29, 2010, 10:49:48 PM
Peter,

What's your best bet at a percentage ratio on HG flour and Caputo for a DiFara?

60/40?  75/25?  70/30?

I got All-Trumps and Caputo.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on December 29, 2010, 11:14:33 PM
Peter,

What's your best bet at a percentage ratio on HG flour and Caputo for a DiFara?

60/40?  75/25?  70/30?

I got All-Trumps and Caputo.

Mike,

Dom DeMarco once told me (and I believe Pete Taylor as well) that he used 75% Caputo 00 and 25% All Trumps high-gluten flour, both by volume. However, you might keep in mind that Dom does switch vendors from time to time. Also, scott r has recommended a 50/50 Caputo/AT blend for home oven applications, as he noted at Reply 148 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg39315/topicseen.html#msg39315.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pizza01 on December 29, 2010, 11:16:10 PM
thanks peter
i dident what to copy difara pizza i know about the blends of flour i am folowing the progress of the thread and as i was saying.
keep up the good work. i will look in the links i hope i will find answers there.
the 6 hours problem is with adding sugar
if its 1.5-2 hours it doesent happen. thats what wired to me.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on December 30, 2010, 10:14:38 PM
Mike,

Dom DeMarco once told me (and I believe Pete Taylor as well) that he used 75% Caputo 00 and 25% All Trumps high-gluten flour, both by volume. However, you might keep in mind that Dom does switch vendors from time to time. Also, scott r has recommended a 50/50 Caputo/AT blend for home oven applications, as he noted at Reply 148 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg39315/topicseen.html#msg39315.

Peter

Thank you, Sir. And thanks for the link.

I wonder, how can Dom make the same quality pies, or crust for that matter, if he changes ingredients (flours) around every so often? Or did, and does, he indeed use the same blend for the last 40 plus years?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: chickenparm on December 30, 2010, 10:32:14 PM
Thank you, Sir. And thanks for the link.

I wonder, how can Dom make the same quality pies, or crust for that matter, if he changes ingredients (flours) around every so often? Or did, and does, he indeed use the same blend for the last 40 plus years?

It is my belief,that Dom's toppings is what makes his pies so successful.I also believe he is so experienced at making pizza,it does not mater that much where his flours come from.He is able to make them very similar,since he does not seem to allow much proofing times after the dough is mixed.So even if the crust is a bit bland from being the same day mix,his toppings will compensate for his pizza and still taste the same or similar to most.

I could be wrong,but its the one thing that I believe makes his pizza taste very much the same after its cooked.If anyone disagrees,just say the word and why.
 :)




Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on December 31, 2010, 12:19:06 AM
Chickenparm,

I know where you coming from. I should have worded my question differently.

We, as home amateur pizzamakers, always seem to struggle when using different flours trying to make the same crust. They never come out the same. How can one business change flours on occasion and still come up with the same light, airy and foldable crust like nothing has changed?

That was basically my question and my point. I wasn't so much after his toppings. The crust is more important for now. I'm not going to waste superior quality in toppings with a mediocre crust. There's got to be a balance.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: chickenparm on December 31, 2010, 01:00:11 AM
Mike,
You did not need to reword anything,I know what you are saying and agree.
That aside,

I do not believe his pizza was the same all the time when switching suppliers.

I believe his toppings made up for what may have been lacking in the dough.Watching the video,he does not seem to be that worried about it..once the dough is mixed up,its done and he uses it.

He does not worry about hydration,percentages,proof times,fermentation or etc. Like we all do on the forum.

That tells me as long as he has a usable dough,he can make a similar pizza with his toppings as long as whatever flour he chooses makes a dough he can use for pizza.Hes' no fool,don't get me wrong,but I believe as long as a flour he uses gives him the same or similar eyeball results,he can do it.Thats another thing that makes him good at what he does.

When you add his toppings,the oil,cheeses and etc,its going to make up for the lack of dough flavor...just the fact he does not cold rise them for at least 24 hours tells me that.

I too have ordered several pizzas from a NY place and not one of them were 100% identical...yet they use the same sauce,cheese and dough.The cook times and toppings made the difference more than the dough itself.


Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on December 31, 2010, 10:27:59 AM
I wonder, how can Dom make the same quality pies, or crust for that matter, if he changes ingredients (flours) around every so often? Or did, and does, he indeed use the same blend for the last 40 plus years?

Mike,

As I noted at Reply 3 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4530.msg38107.html#msg38107, Dom DeMarco has gone through different 00 flours, although I did not personally confirm that he used/uses the Colavita 00 flour. That possibility came from a blog somewhere. Dom has also used Colavita olive oil instead of the Filippo Berio olive oil, and he has apparently added the canned LaValle San Marzano tomatoes to his list (see Reply 14 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12182.msg119683/topicseen.html#msg119683), along with the Vantias. Dom will also occasionally go with the grana padano cheese along with, or instead of, the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I have read reports and seen videos that say that Dom uses Romano cheese but I have never seen that confirmed. At one time, I believe that Dom had a local source of fresh basil. According to a NYT article and other reports, his present basil is from Israel.

As you can see, Dom does switch ingredients around. But they are not overly dramatic changes that are likely to drastically change his product in the eyes of customers. After over 40 years of making pizza dough, no doubt he has mastered how to use several different brands of 00 flour to produce the results he is after without upsetting his customers because of the changes.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: fireman117 on January 12, 2011, 03:28:26 PM
Hi Peter,
Can I ask you to go back in time to Reply 130. I'm going through the posts as time permits, and the DiFara pizza is the style and standard I'm looking to get to, (maybe by the next lifetime)!  I want to stick to one style for now, which is NY. I've been getting pretty good results, and I like the part that Dom seems to work kind of “off the cuff” to some extent and that fits my personality well!

I'm definitely a novice, but, I'm getting reasonably good at using the version of the Lehman recipe you supplied me with some time ago, with I think a 57 or 58% hydration, using a standard bread flour, and a 3 day cold rise. So this is what I’d like to stick with for now. I could up the hydration if you felt it was worth while. I now have a peel and I've recently used a "quick dough" recipie with a higher hydration successfully.

Now here is my questions. You wrote in reply 130 concerning the ingredients:

“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”.

Is this essentially the spice set you felt he used in his sauce, and since it is now winter and no tomatoes are available from the garden, do you think those “on the vine” grocery tomatoes would work OK?
Could you give me an idea on the ratio of canned to fresh?
And just two more things, sorry… any garlic detected, and was the sugar noticeable, or was there just enough to take the edge off.

Help with the sauce would be greatly appreciated as I think it’s my biggest weak spot.
As far as the other ingredients go, I can get them all here in town.

I have a gas convection oven that will cook at 550 degrees and I'd like to give your “oven in an oven” a try. Are those tiles something that you can get from a “Home Depot” type place, and what are they called?

As always, thanks for the help, and I'll post some pics of the results.

Eric
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on January 12, 2011, 07:06:21 PM
Eric,

Now here is my questions. You wrote in reply 130 concerning the ingredients:

“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”.

Is this essentially the spice set you felt he used in his sauce, and since it is now winter and no tomatoes are available from the garden, do you think those “on the vine” grocery tomatoes would work OK?
Could you give me an idea on the ratio of canned to fresh?
And just two more things, sorry… any garlic detected, and was the sugar noticeable, or was there just enough to take the edge off.

I do not recall asking Dom, nor did he volunteer, the details of his sauce. I just tried to match the general type and quality of ingredients he used. So, I suggest that you do the same. Presumably Dom has to deal with whatever fresh tomatoes are available in winter, so I would say that you should be able to use whatever fresh tomatoes are available to you where you shop. I would use mostly canned San Marzano tomatoes and a small amount of fresh tomatoes. I do not recall the taste of garlic or sugar. The pizza I had at DiFara's when I visited had so many toppings that they would have masked some of the ingredients in the sauce.

Quote
I have a gas convection oven that will cook at 550 degrees and I'd like to give your “oven in an oven” a try. Are those tiles something that you can get from a “Home Depot” type place, and what are they called?

The tiles I used came from Home Depot. You can see what they look like from Replies 15 and 16 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2580.msg22751.html#msg22751.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jerrymypie on March 12, 2012, 07:22:40 PM
That is a great piece you wrote.

Do you know for sure that it is an uncooked sauce? I believe he uses the same sauce for the sicilian and the regular? I've read in some other posts that upon visiting people have seen Passata in the store as well.

Thank you,
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: wizarddrummer on January 06, 2014, 07:14:55 PM
As those following this thread know, I recently tried to "reverse engineer" the DiFara pizza based on all the information that I could acquire through publicly available sources--and without ever having been in DiFara's pizzeria in Brooklyn.  By way of background and recapitulation, after I marshalled together all the ingredients for this exercise, I started with the dough, which included a 50/50 mix, by weight, of Delverde 00 flour and King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour (the only high-gluten flour I have).  I used a 60% hydration, purely as a guess, and, based on that percentage hydration, I calculated how much of each flour I would require to give me a roughly 15 ounce dough ball (enough for a 14-inch thin crust pizza).  I used active dry yeast which I proofed in a small amount of warm water.  The temperature of the rest of the water was calculated to give me a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F.  I processed all the dough ingredients in my usual fashion, including a 10 minute autolyse.   I assumed that the DiFara dough was not refrigerated (later confirmed by a guest poster Ronnye), so I left the dough at room temperature for about 8 hours, at which time I proceeded to shape the dough into a dough round.  The dough was extensible yet with some elasticity, and handled very nicely. 

For toppings, I used canned, drained and crushed San Marzano tomatoes (DOP); some fresh tomatoes (East Texas) drained of excess water and crushed; a fresh fior di latte mozzarella cheese; an imported Italian bufallo mozzarella cheese; a high quality olive oil; freshly grated grana padano hard cheese; pepperoni on half of the pizza and the rest Margherita; and some fresh basil from my garden.   I also set aside some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to sprinkle on top of the finished pizza.  The dressed pizza was baked on a pizza stone at the highest possible temperature for my oven, about 500-550 degrees F.

The finished pizza is as shown below.  Maybe those of our members or guests who have seen the authentic Dom Demarco pizza can tell me whether the one I made bears any resemblance to his.

Peter
Pete-zza
I may have a solution for you that raises your oven temp. I have an old Frigidaire Classic Series oven that has a digital electronic touch pad for setting the oven. It goes to 550. On back of the oven there's a thingy that you can insert a screw driver that will change the voltage of the sensor. It's a calibration device. I was able to turn the sensor calibration on the stove to where I now get a maximum temperature of about 620 degrees. My oven also has a broiler at the top of it. It has a self cleaning function that  have never used that I assume puts both the broiler and bottom section on full blast. If I'm not mistaken, self cleaning, gets close to 1,000 degrees.

I'd like to see if I can defeat the locking mechanism when the self cleaning is on. I might be able to exceed 800 degrees in the oven. I'm reluctant or hesitant to do it because the oven has glass in the oven door. I'd hate to spill something on that and have the glass go kaboom in my face or something.

Of course, I must mention that I have to adjust the temperature settings when I bake cakes or roast meat.

Hope that helps.
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 03:41:24 PM
I thought I'd resurrect this topic, after having read it and as I was interested in what people have tried so far.  I have been working on emulating a Di Fara pie for the past week, and few observations I made.

I visited Di Fara last Wednesday, I timed my pie in the oven at a little over 5 minutes before he took it out.

The bottom of the crust is crispy and quite thin and definitely charred which adds to the overall flavor and texture of the pizza.  Surprisingly, the "meat" of the crust remains tender. Depending on the pie he just made, the crust rim has a 3/4" spring, and some just flat.  The char adds that slight bitterness that completes the 4 tastes. 

I asked Dom while he was cutting my pie if he uses dough from the day before or if they're made the same day.  He said dough is made fresh all day and used the same day.  When I observed him opening and stretching dough, it's looks like an all purpose flour dough like 00 flour in it's elasticity.  This is not a dough you'd spin and toss.

Because of the high intensity of heat level in his ovens which reach 700-800 degrees, the cheese is cooked to what many people would consider well done, or to the tooth.   This is one of the most important techniques to the texture of a Di Fara pizza.  Because the oven is set much hotter than most deck ovens, the pizza will "dehydrate" the toppings quicker, and crisp the bottom quicker without drying out the overall crust.  The crust remains tender because it's a faster bake at 4-5 minutes.  If I would have used a dough in a lower temp oven, and got the cheese cooked, browned and dehydrated to the point they do it, the crust will be clearly dried.

The baked pie is given additional oil after a few minute resting, which essentially refreshes the cheese which is clearly a more concentrated texture at this point.  And a layer of fresh Grana Padano finishes it.  This really gives it a really interesting texture profile, the layering of the cooked mozz, oil and fresh grana padano and believe this is one of the most important aspects of their pizza.

Since I believe it's the extremely hot oven doing alot of the work here, and because I also only have a home oven, I have worked a way to get ovens up to 650, without changing the hardware.  I used a large cast iron Creuset dutch oven pan, and placed it on the middle rack, and my steel on the lower rack.  This is superior to using two stones, as the radiant heat from the cast iron really pumps out heat on the top side.   After heating the oven for 1 hour, by changing bake to broil several times, I was registering 650 degrees on the cast iron and lower steel.  I have not tried baking a Di Fara style pie yet, but have done this with my other pies, and it works really well.  However, at 650 degrees, it may still be too low to effectively bake a Di Fara style pie.  What I believe makes Di Fara unique is because he is the 1% of pizzerias who uses a low clearance deck oven that can reach 800 degrees and produces a different texture profile that can't be made in other ovens.



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: shuboyje on November 15, 2014, 06:13:49 PM
I would personally find it hard to believe those ovens are much over 650 based on both the bake time and the aesthetic of the pizzas.  At 800 even a low conductivity hearth would cook a pizza in a couple minutes.  At 5 minutes on deck oven hearth materials it would be charcoal
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 06:20:41 PM
I would personally find it hard to believe those ovens are much over 650 based on both the bake time and the aesthetic of the pizzas.  At 800 even a low conductivity hearth would cook a pizza in a couple minutes.  At 5 minutes on deck oven hearth materials it would be charcoal

Di Fara pies are baked within 5 minutes within a high temperature deck oven.   Wood fire ovens, near the coals will product 800-900 degrees near the fire, hence a few minutes.  Di Fara pies are made within 4-5 minutes, from my observations.  NY deck pies bake at 8 minutes or longer.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 15, 2014, 06:31:54 PM
Wood fire ovens, near the coals will product 800-900 degrees near the fire, hence a few minutes. 

I run my WFO a lot hotter than that - typically the wall farthest away from the fire (~35" away from the fire) runs about 950F+
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 06:34:09 PM
The beauty of the Di Fara pie is it's the missing link between the older Naples style pie to today's NY street slice pie.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 06:36:16 PM
I run my WFO a lot hotter than that - typically the wall farthest away from the fire (~35" away from the fire) runs about 950F+

WFO wouldn't work for a Di Fara pie, because there is too much headroom in the ceiling.  Deck ovens are low clearance and that is what radiates heat directly to the toppings and dehydrates the top quicker.  WFO bakers compensate by "doming", which is to take the pie towards the top of the oven to brown.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 15, 2014, 06:43:09 PM
The beauty of the Di Fara pie is it's the missing link between the older Naples style pie to today's NY street slice pie.

Other than being flat and having tomato and cheese on top, I don't see it having much in common with Neapolitan. I agree with Jeff that I would be surprised if the oven was much over 650F.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 06:46:22 PM
Other than being flat and having tomato and cheese on top, I don't see it having much in common with Neapolitan. I agree with Jeff that I would be surprised if the oven was much over 650F.

Di Fara tastes very different from a Napoletana WFO pie.  I would think Di Fara's success has alot to do with the general mass doubt on that one simple concept that a deck oven boosted to 800 makes a different product
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 15, 2014, 07:00:07 PM
I would think Di Fara's success has alot to do with the general mass doubt on that one simple concept that a deck oven boosted to 800 makes a different product

There is no way his oven is anywhere near 800F. 650F tops, and probably closer to 600F.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 07:01:06 PM
There is no way his oven is anywhere near 800F. 650F tops, and probably closer to 600F.

It has to be, or else it cannot char within 5 minutes. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 15, 2014, 07:07:14 PM
It has to be, or else it cannot char within 5 minutes.

650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 07:10:01 PM
650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.

So perhaps his avg temp is 650-700 temp?  The first one crappy like the first test pancake at 800 which automatically brings temp down.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 07:14:55 PM
650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.

deck ovens have hot and cold spots.  introducing a new pie to a spot, will bring that area's temp down signficantly.   i would think you'd generally have to keep the oven at around 800.  we're not talking home pizza bakes with 1 pie.. we're talking 75 pies pumped out.  that is a different dynamic.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 15, 2014, 07:17:11 PM
So perhaps his avg temp is 650-700 temp?  The first one crappy like the first test pancake at 800 which automatically brings temp down.

I'd bet it's closer to 575-600F
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 15, 2014, 07:19:25 PM
650F can easily char in 5 minutes. At 800, the pie would be done in 2 minutes and black on the bottom in a lot less than 5.

I have to agree with Craig.

My old oven got my stone closer to 670° and I really had to watch it because it was able to char the pies pretty quick after 4-5 mins.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 07:21:25 PM
I'd bet it's closer to 575-600F

Disagree.  575 is only a little over NY slice pie temp.  It takes 8 minutes to bake those.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 07:21:57 PM
I have to agree with Craig.

My old oven got my stone closer to 670° and I really had to watch it because it was able to char the pies pretty quick after 4-5 mins.

Di Fara pies are finished within 5 minutes. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 15, 2014, 07:24:46 PM
Another point regarding Di Fara.  The bottom side char is something I'd consider excessive on sight.  When I bake a pie, I always take them out when I see overburning, but when I think about it, burning is a function of low heat at home.  When I grill a steak under intense coal heat that will be rare inside, I"m not concerned about blackening.   So this is a subjective thing regarding char.  Tony Gemignani, as much as I disagree with him on things, says that Di Fara underside is charred beyond what he's used to.  Yet these "burnt pies" were voted #1 pizza on planet.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: waltertore on November 15, 2014, 07:51:46 PM
I sent Norma a camera to film Frank at her shop.  She asked me to time a bake on one the Frank videos for her when she returned it back to me to get downloaded to the net.  I timed the bake for her and it came in at 5:25 and I think her oven is around 530 degrees.  The pie was evenly browned top/bottom.  My Blodgett 1000 ovens, which are the equivalent of the bakers pride at Defara's, do an even top/bottom bake in about 6 minutes I would guess.  Frank was at Defara's  last week and declined buying a pie/slice or converse with Dom.  I asked if it was crowded and Frank said no.  He told the place was filthy both behind the counter and in the customer area. He said Dom looked ragged too and felt it a disgrace to the profession.  I have never been to Defara's but have heard continual issues with the cleanliness of the place and being shut down by the board of health from members here.  Frank said for those prices and the look of the place he passed and got a pie down the street, 18", for $13 that was really good.  Walter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: gfgman on November 17, 2014, 10:01:10 AM
Frank said for those prices and the look of the place he passed and got a pie down the street, 18", for $13 that was really good.  Walter
Did Frank name the place he got the pizza from?  I'd love to try it on my next trip.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: waltertore on November 17, 2014, 11:12:11 AM
Did Frank name the place he got the pizza from?  I'd love to try it on my next trip.

He didn't say the name but I will ask him and Norma probably can ask him too next time she talks to him.   Walter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 11:53:52 AM
I was at Di Fara again yesterday and spoke to Dom's daughter regarding his ovens.  They are set to 800 degrees.
He is typically baking 2-3 pies at once and a sicilian pan.  Whenever you are baking 75 pies continuously in the same oven compared to 1 at home without pause, that is a different dynamic.  When I worked in a pizzeria years ago, there was no way to continuosly bake pies in a crowded 550 degree deck oven one after another, you'd need to let the floor of the oven get back up to temperature, which would take at least 10-15 minutes.  You would need another deck oven and cycle them to pump that out fast enough if it got really busy.  This is why national chains went to conveyors.

Whenever a new pie is introduced to an area of a deck oven floor, floor temperature at that area will plummet.  I believe they are set to 800 to get a consistent 650 degree bake temperature.  At home, if you were to get your stone to 650, bake that pie, and then try baking another pie right after.  It will take much longer to bake and end up with a different product than your first pie.

Also, WFO are different baking process than deck ovens.  Left in a WFO, you will get a completely burnt pie in <3 minutes because of direct heat from a fire source.  Pizzas bake more horizontally, meaning the side of pie closer to the fire will cook faster, which is why they constantly adjust the distance and angle in a Napoletana style pie.  Napoletana pies have wet toppings, and cheese is never browned.  That is because radiant heat is lacking in WFO ovens, this is why sometimes WFO bakers need to "dome" the pie towards the end if the topping remains too wet.  Deck ovens don't cook off direct heat, but off radiant heat in low clearance of stone and steel.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 17, 2014, 01:36:30 PM
A couple thoughts:

- As you note in your second paragraph, "set to 800 degrees" does not mean the temperature IS 800 degrees - particularly in an oven that old. Maybe there is some 800F air floating around in there someplace, but most of that oven is nowhere near 800F... 600F maybe, but I'd bet less than that. I think 575-600 is where you would typically find that oven running regardless of what it is "set to."

- WFOs are a different baking process from a deck oven but not nearly to the extend you think. You write "Left in a WFO, you will get a completely burnt pie in <3 minutes because of direct heat from a fire source." This may or may not be true. It depends on the fire, oven temp, heat saturation, etc. I've had WFO pies with bake times exceeding 4 minutes that had no char at all. Likewise, in my oven at the temps I run, you can completely burn a pie in 90 seconds or less.

- Radiant heat is not lacking in a WFO - nothing could be farther from the truth. Along with conductive transfer from the deck to the bottom of the pie, it is a key mode of heat transfer. Radiative power is a fourth-order function of temperature. If you double temperature (in degrees K), the IR power increases by 16X, AOTBE.   For example, a 950F surface emits almost 3.5X the radiative power emitted by the same surface at 575F. Because the emmissivity of fire brick is not meaningfully different from the dirty or oxidized steel interior of a deck oven, for all intents and purposes, this is the Neapolitan WFO - NY deck oven comparison. There are differences in view factor, but they are less important than the conductivity of the deck and the oven temperature. We've seen many beautiful Neapolitan-style pies baked in high-temp electric ovens with a deck-oven form factor.

- There is no such thing as "direct heat" other than simply being a different name for radiant heat. The heat coming from the fire is radiant. It's much more intense relative to the rest of the oveb because the fire is a lot hotter than the walls. Doming is not needed because of lacking radiant heat but rather because of excessive conductivity as a function of the temperature of the deck. Nor is the need for doming driven by wet toppings. Doming is done when the rate of cooking on bottom exceeds the rate of cooking on the top. Lifting the pie off the deck eliminates the conductive heat transfer from the deck dramatically showing the rate of browning on the bottom of the pie. A well balanced WFO can be fired such that doming is not needed.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 01:40:57 PM
A couple thoughts:

- As you note in your second paragraph, "set to 800 degrees" does not mean the temperature IS 800 degrees - particularly in an oven that old. Maybe there is some 800F air floating around in there someplace, but most of that oven is nowhere near 800F... 600F maybe, but I'd bet less than that. I think 575-600 is where you would typically find that oven running regardless of what it is "set to."

This could be true.  And with that logic, a pizza oven set to 550 is probably really baking at 450 once you introduce pie doughs into the oven, and if used on continuous bakes.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 01:43:07 PM
A couple thoughts:


- WFOs are a different baking process from a deck oven but not nearly to the extend you think. You write "Left in a WFO, you will get a completely burnt pie in <3 minutes because of direct heat from a fire source." This may or may not be true. It depends on the fire, oven temp, heat saturation, etc. I've had WFO pies with bake times exceeding 4 minutes that had no char at all. Likewise, in my oven at the temps I run, you can completely burn a pie in 90 seconds or less.



WFO's bake completely different.  If a baker does not turn the pie repeatedly, one side will be scorched and the other will be uncooked.  There is much less equal heat distribution in a WFO because of it's high clearance and fact that the heat source is on the floor and to the side.  There is a huge variance in the amount of heat hitting the pizza depending on which side of the pie is exposed to the open fire.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 01:47:28 PM
A couple thoughts:

- Radiant heat is not lacking in a WFO - nothing could be farther from the truth. Along with conductive transfer from the deck to the bottom of the pie, it is a key mode of heat transfer. Radiative power is a fourth-order function of temperature. If you double temperature (in degrees K), the IR power increases by 16X, AOTBE.   For example, a 950F surface emits almost 3.5X the radiative power emitted by the same surface at 575F. Because the emmissivity of fire brick is not meaningfully different from the dirty or oxidized steel interior of a deck oven, for all intents and purposes, this is the Neapolitan WFO - NY deck oven comparison. There are differences in view factor, but they are less important than the conductivity of the deck and the oven temperature. We've seen many beautiful Neapolitan-style pies baked in high-temp electric ovens with a deck-oven form factor.

My point is that baking with an open flame source is different from using an oven with low clearance and product not exposed to direct heat.  The heat in a deck oven is transfered from gas broilers underneath the stone, and then transfered over to the pies.  When you expose anything, like a steak to open flame, it's more akin to grilling.  When you take the same steak and cook at same temp but on a flat top cook surface, you will get a different product. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 17, 2014, 02:15:29 PM
When you expose anything, like a steak to open flame, it's more akin to grilling.  When you take the same steak and cook at same temp but on a flat top cook surface, you will get a different product.

You are talking about the difference between radiant heat + conduction from the grill bars (in open-flame grilling) and virtually straight conduction (on a flat-top). This has nothing to do with the comparison you made between a WFO and a deck oven which both similarly employ conduction on the bottom of the pie and radiant (and some small measure of convection) above the pie. One key difference is that you have a localized intense heat source (the fire) in a WFO. That doesn't change the other dynamics though.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 17, 2014, 02:16:38 PM
WFO's bake completely different.  If a baker does not turn the pie repeatedly, one side will be scorched and the other will be uncooked.  There is much less equal heat distribution in a WFO because of it's high clearance and fact that the heat source is on the floor and to the side.  There is a huge variance in the amount of heat hitting the pizza depending on which side of the pie is exposed to the open fire.

You are confusing "baking differently" with "requiring different oven management."
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 02:22:13 PM
You are talking about the difference between radiant heat + conduction from the grill bars (in open-flame grilling) and virtually straight conduction (on a flat-top). This has nothing to do with the comparison you made between a WFO and a deck oven which both similarly employ conduction on the bottom of the pie and radiant (and some small measure of convection) above the pie. One key difference is that you have a localized intense heat source (the fire) in a WFO. That doesn't change the other dynamics though.

Theory sounds good, but try baking an identical NY slice pie in a WFO.  I believe there are different tools for different purposes.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 17, 2014, 03:24:16 PM
Theory sounds good, but try baking an identical NY slice pie in a WFO.  I believe there are different tools for different purposes.

Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant by "bakes completely different." If you mean that in the blatantly obvious sense, then yes, of course they do. I was speaking in the thermodynamic sense where you made some errors in your comments.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 03:46:03 PM
Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant by "bakes completely different." If you mean that in the blatantly obvious sense, then yes, of course they do. I was speaking in the thermodynamic sense where you made some errors in your comments.

Ok, thank you for clarifying.  You clearly know alot more about the science behind energy and see your point regarding thermodynamics.

So getting back to Di Fara discussion, as was confirmed yesterday by Dom's daughter, the ovens are set at 800 deg, but most likely going at 600-650 degrees.  It makes sense that an oven would be set that high, as there is high traffic and high volume.  Raw pies thrown into ovens always lower the oven temp.  The pie I ordered yesterday clocked in at 4 minutes and 45 second bake and the bottom was clearly charred.  This is further proof that the oven must be running much hotter than a deck oven set at 550.  There is no way to get a pie at 550 (which most likely bakes at 450-500 after a new pie is thrown in), to the same char and well done-ness as Di Fara within 5 minutes.

Some observations, I noticed Dom checking on the pie twice, once pulled out and left to hang on the opened door of the oven for a few seconds, checked under the crust and then pushed back in with bare hands to a different location in the oven.  I would think there are hot/cold spots depending on where on the brick the previous pizzas baked on.


Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 17, 2014, 04:50:51 PM
None of my comments are in respect to what it says on the dial but rather what is the actual operating temp. I think you are right that the oven is probably hotter than 550. Hotter than 600 (effective operating temp), I'm not so sure.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 05:20:15 PM
None of my comments are in respect to what it says on the dial but rather what is the actual operating temp. I think you are right that the oven is probably hotter than 550. Hotter than 600 (effective operating temp), I'm not so sure.

From my observations, there are hot/cold spots in his ovens, and his ovens are very old.  I did see that the pies are generally first baked towards the front of the oven, which he opens pretty often, he will do a spot check every few minutes, and then push them towards the rear of the oven if the bottoms are not cooked enough.  That seems to be a skill he's developed over the years.  Everything seems eyeballed, there is no set method and probably a function of the rate of pizzas he's making which affects oven temperature.  It's a bit chaotic, the whole process.  Also, given the Frankensteined oven which is most likely modified, the oven may have wide temperature variance depending on where the pies are placed.  The pies that are thrown to the deep end don't stay there long, it must be extremely hot back there.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Mmmph on November 17, 2014, 05:36:32 PM
The pies that are thrown to the deep end don't stay there long, it must be extremely hot back there.

Oh, yeah, it's hot...His Sicilians start boiling olive oil out of the pan causing yellow flamed, white smoked, ceiling licking fires inside the back of his oven.

It's kinda scary.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: shuboyje on November 17, 2014, 07:52:21 PM
My point is that baking with an open flame source is different from using an oven with low clearance and product not exposed to direct heat.  The heat in a deck oven is transfered from gas broilers underneath the stone, and then transfered over to the pies.  When you expose anything, like a steak to open flame, it's more akin to grilling.  When you take the same steak and cook at same temp but on a flat top cook surface, you will get a different product.

You are talking about two different methods of heat.  Grilling is primarily radiant heat.  A flat top would be primarily conduction.

Deck ovens, wood ovens, coal ovens.  They all use the same type of heat.  Conduction from bellow and thermal radiation from above.  The only time all things aren't equal temperature wise is when the deck materials have different thermal conductivities. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 17, 2014, 08:02:15 PM
According to this fairly recent article, at http://munchies.vice.com/articles/brooklyns-most-legendary-pizza-hasnt-changed-in-50-years (http://munchies.vice.com/articles/brooklyns-most-legendary-pizza-hasnt-changed-in-50-years), Dom DeMarco's daughter says that their oven goes up to 1000 (degrees).

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 08:08:58 PM
According to this fairly recent article, at http://munchies.vice.com/articles/brooklyns-most-legendary-pizza-hasnt-changed-in-50-years (http://munchies.vice.com/articles/brooklyns-most-legendary-pizza-hasnt-changed-in-50-years), Dom DeMarco's daughter says that their oven goes up to 1000 (degrees).

Peter

Great article, thx.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 17, 2014, 08:17:51 PM
1000 degrees...that's one helluva deck oven!
What model, and is it a stock Baker's Pride, or modded?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: CIZ28 on November 17, 2014, 08:41:14 PM
A DiFara pizza was timed at over 5 minutes from entry to removal? Was the oven busy? That's about 600-650 degrees in my experience, possibly 675-700 if it was busy and depending on if the oven is modified or not, (which I've never heard of doing to a deck oven) but it's doubtful. They claim much more, like 800-1,000 degrees, but that is just nonsense. The ovens are Bakers Pride 4 pie DS-805s and I've personally used them before. If they are running at 700-750 or above they'd be cooking around 4 minutes or less consistently and he'd be at the oven constantly watching and turning the pies, which it just never seems like in the videos. It looks like they usually stay in there a while longer and he seems to take his time.

Also, something that makes me laugh is people saying that the dough has to be super low protein because it looks soft. You can make soft dough with super high protein flour. Low protein flour doesn't have the market cornered on soft doughs, it can be done with any kind.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 17, 2014, 08:43:10 PM
Quote
How have the ovens changed since you opened?
Well, the ovens change in the sense that they break down. It’s been almost 50 years. The highest temperature of most new pizza ovens is around 625 degrees, but ours goes up to 1,000.


I smell bull%$#.

Sorry, but I have a hard time believing that the insulation of an old oven, and the building structure, will stand up to that kind of temp.

Didn't the daughter say it dials in at 800F? So what is correct? A 1000 or 800? Or what?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 17, 2014, 08:46:33 PM
We just need Mr. Arctic to walk in there with an IR thermometer and shoot the stone temp from behind the counter.

Of course Dom might swat him with a 18" peel, but hey, this is for science !
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 17, 2014, 08:58:08 PM
We just need Mr. Arctic to walk in there with an IR thermometer and shoot the stone temp from behind the counter.

Of course Dom might swat him with a 18" peel, but hey, this is for science !

Tony G was just there. He doesn't believe that his dough only receives a 1-2 hr fermentation, according the way the dough handles and bakes up. It might be possible but TG doesn't think that the case. Either way, that oven is not even close to 800. Maybe 650 tops. First 800? Then a 1000? What's next? Sun temp?

I think they are just trying to stoke the fire, if you will, and add to the mystery of the DiFara pie.

I could be totally wrong at the same time, though.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: shuboyje on November 17, 2014, 09:02:36 PM
Tony G was just there. He doesn't believe that his dough only receives a 1-2 hr fermentation, according the way the dough handles and bakes up. It might be possible but TG doesn't think that the case. Either way, that oven is not even close to 800. Maybe 650 tops. First 800? Then a 1000? What's next? Sun temp?

I think they are just trying to stoke the fire, if you will, and add to the mystery of the DiFara pie.

I could be totally wrong at the same time, though.

You may be dead on, but based on the state of everything else in that place it's just as likely the oven is in bad shape and the thermostat is broken or the burners no longer put out enough heat to ever hit 800. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 17, 2014, 09:10:46 PM
Tony G was just there. He doesn't believe that his dough only receives a 1-2 hr fermentation, according the way the dough handles and bakes up. It might be possible but TG doesn't think that the case. Either way, that oven is not even close to 800. Maybe 650 tops. First 800? Then a 1000? What's next? Sun temp?

I think they are just trying to stoke the fire, if you will, and add to the mystery of the DiFara pie.

I could be totally wrong at the same time, though.

I doubt that their pies could get that level of charring in under 5 minutes if the oven only went up to 650.
But I could very well be wrong too.  ;D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 17, 2014, 09:12:33 PM
Did Frank name the place he got the pizza from?  I'd love to try it on my next trip.

gfgman,

Frank told me the pizzeria he went to up from DiFara's was called Frank's Pizza.  http://www.ilovefrankspizza.com/


Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 17, 2014, 09:15:23 PM
Tony G was just there. He doesn't believe that his dough only receives a 1-2 hr fermentation, according the way the dough handles and bakes up. It might be possible but TG doesn't think that the case. Either way, that oven is not even close to 800. Maybe 650 tops. First 800? Then a 1000? What's next? Sun temp?

I think they are just trying to stoke the fire, if you will, and add to the mystery of the DiFara pie.

I could be totally wrong at the same time, though.

I believe they use a poolish that they feed every week and added to a fresh dough mix.  As I was discussing with Craig, an oven set at 800 will not bake at 800.  A basic bakers pride oven at 550 will not bake at 550 unless it's been preheating a long time and that's the first pie of the day or allowed to reheat up to temp.  Oven temperature on the floor drops significantly when a raw pie is tossed in there and subsequent pies are sent in.   There are also hot/cold spots on the oven floor depending on what just baked above that space and how close to the oven door.  If you ever worked commercial pizza, you'd know that.  In my previous post, I observed Dom generally places his pies in the front of the ovens and then moves them to the back if the bottoms are not baked enough.  The back of the ovens are probably scorching.  Within context of a busy midday pie making day, you cannot stick a raw pie into an oven at 550 and get the characteristics of a Di Fara pie <5 minutes.  Which is charred undercrust and a well done cheese. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 17, 2014, 09:16:25 PM
I doubt that their pies could get that level of charring in under 5 minutes if the oven only went up to 650.

Like this?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 17, 2014, 09:36:45 PM
Like this?

More like this...

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 17, 2014, 10:20:18 PM
I doubt that their pies could get that level of charring in under 5 minutes if the oven only went up to 650.
But I could very well be wrong too.  ;D

What's your estimate?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 17, 2014, 10:22:28 PM
Quote
I believe they use a poolish that they feed every week and added to a fresh dough mix.

Right. Haven't thought of that.

Got more info on it? Would be interesting to re-engineer it with a poolish.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 17, 2014, 10:30:52 PM
What's your estimate?

Just a guess obviously, 725-750...
until someone gets that IR shot.  ;D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 18, 2014, 12:19:52 AM
Just a guess obviously, 725-750...
until someone gets that IR shot.  ;D

I've baked a lot of pies on 750F +/- Fibrament, and a bottom like that would be 3min tops, IMO. If the bake times are anywhere near 5 min, I don't see the oven being much over 600F.

For example, this was baked for ~2 minutes on ~750F Fibrament:
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 18, 2014, 12:32:24 AM
I've baked a lot of pies on 750F +/- Fibrament, and a bottom like that would be 3min tops, IMO. If the bake times are anywhere near 5 min, I don't see the oven being much over 600F.

For example, this was baked for ~2 minutes on ~750F Fibrament:

Apparently Dom moves the pies around, opens the oven etc, which would lower the temp from the initial max of 700 plus.

Not much point in further debating/guessing unless someone checks it out.
But I would wager a good bottle of red the deck gets over 625.  ;D

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 18, 2014, 06:54:40 AM
I did higher temperature bakes in my Baker's Pride deck oven with the preferment Lehmann dough for Chau.  The posts start at Reply 521 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg104773.html#msg104773 and the burnt bottom crusts at the higher temperatures are at Reply 524 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg104776.html#msg104776 and at Reply 530 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg104787.html#msg104787

With Tony's permission I posted some photos of when he was at DiFara's at Reply http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,33753.msg348278.html#msg348278

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: CIZ28 on November 18, 2014, 07:31:38 AM
My guess is about 625-650 degrees.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: shuboyje on November 18, 2014, 09:18:45 AM
I did higher temperature bakes in my Baker's Pride deck oven with the preferment Lehmann dough for Chau.  The posts start at Reply 521 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg104773.html#msg104773 and the burnt bottom crusts at the higher temperatures are at Reply 524 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg104776.html#msg104776 and at Reply 530 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg104787.html#msg104787

With Tony's permission I posted some photos of when he was at DiFara's at Reply http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,33753.msg348278.html#msg348278

Norma

The bottom of that pie in post 530 is a dead ringer for a lot of Difaras pies you see.  Considering Norma's oven is the same brand and probably has the same hearth material I think her temperatures are as close as we will get.  675-700 it is in my book.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 18, 2014, 10:24:34 AM
Interesting video of Dom Jr. talking about Di Fara ovens.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIkJCtnHIHY
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 18, 2014, 11:23:15 AM
Right. Haven't thought of that.

Got more info on it? Would be interesting to re-engineer it with a poolish.

I accidentally deleted my previous response.  But I'm experimenting with Caputo 00, 67% hydration with a poolish made with SF yeast strain I bought for my breadmaking.  Some people say Di Fara uses 00 flour and is cut with smaller % of high gluten flour, I will feed my poolish with AT flour.   Will attempt a 2-3 hour rise.

Some observations I've made while eating the pie, there is no special taste to the crust on it's own and believe it acts as a textural counterpoint to all the other ingredients.  The crust is crispy, and quite thin, the bottom side is definitely charred but looks are deceiving, because the rest of the crust is not dry, it is tender. Also, the crust is not chewy like typical NY street slice pies.  Basically, taking a bromated hi-gluten flour NY style dough and simply baking it at a higher temperature won't get the same results.   I'm thinking 67% hydration based on the dough I saw before he began stretching, it's tender and Dom uses alot of flour, more than I've used on 60-63% hydration doughs.  The crust itself has no special flavors, I would assume it's basic 1.5% salt, 1.0% oil, no sugar, maybe 0.15% IDY to help the poolish rise especially now that it is cold winter. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: waltertore on November 18, 2014, 11:38:33 AM
Here you go guys with some food for thought.  Blodgett 1000 oven set to 650 with 2 hour warmup. My ovens are the equivalant of the the ones in Defara's and from the same era. They are bone stock.   It baked for 5 minutes and the stone registered 600 on the IR gun. Walter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 18, 2014, 11:40:57 AM
Here you go guys with some food for thought.  Blodgett 1000 oven set to 650 with 2 hour warmup. My ovens are the equivalant of the the ones in Defara's and from the same era. They are bone stock.   It baked for 5 minutes and the stone registered 600 on the IR gun. Walter

Di Fara uses Bakers Pride ovens.
Also, their dough is not based on bromated high gluten which I assume you use.
Nice looking pie though.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 18, 2014, 11:43:02 AM
Here you go guys with some food for thought.  Blodgett 1000 oven set to 650 with 2 hour warmup. My ovens are the equivalant of the the ones in Defara's and from the same era. They are bone stock.   It baked for 5 minutes and the stone registered 600 on the IR gun. Walter

Interesting.
If you look at pics of DiFara's pies, most are more charred than yours.
I wonder how they get those Baker's Pride to run hotter.  ???
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 18, 2014, 11:45:24 AM
Here are some pictures of Di Fara pies.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 18, 2014, 11:48:37 AM
Interesting.
If you look at pics of DiFara's pies, most are more charred than yours.
I wonder how they get those Baker's Pride to run hotter.  ???

It has to be modified with thermometer cut off, eliminated.  Dom's daughter has said that there are Frankensteined parts in that oven, as original part replacement is impossible to find.  It is a Frankensteined oven.  Theoretically, you can even get your home oven to get to 800 degrees if you strip out the safety function.  this is America.. people have always been pushing equipment to get more output, just look at cars, motorcycles and guitar amps.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: gfgman on November 18, 2014, 12:59:54 PM
Sorry, but just looking at the pictures of the pies tells me that I don't ever need to go there.  Thaty's ruining perfectly good pizza, IMO.  I'll bet my favorite local pizza guy would agree.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 18, 2014, 01:28:07 PM
Sorry, but just looking at the pictures of the pies tells me that I don't ever need to go there.  Thaty's ruining perfectly good pizza, IMO.  I'll bet my favorite local pizza guy would agree.

That's cool.  Everyone has their own preference.  I came to understand that through this website, there is no universal standard for pizza. 

I refer to their pie as the "missing link" between old traditional Napoletana pies and the current NY street slice pie and important in the evolution of NY pizza.  These are not just typical NY pies that have been overbaked, as some people on this topic have implied by their own personal attempts.  They use different ingredients and process. Honestly, the first time I saw their pie over a decade ago, I wasn't very impressed with it either until I ate it.  It was a pizza revelation, that something could stand so far above the rest of the pack.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 18, 2014, 02:02:38 PM
Sorry, but just looking at the pictures of the pies tells me that I don't ever need to go there.  Thaty's ruining perfectly good pizza, IMO.  I'll bet my favorite local pizza guy would agree.

Do you think the charring from a WFO is more acceptable, or does it also ruin pizza?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: gfgman on November 18, 2014, 02:58:48 PM
Do you think the charring from a WFO is more acceptable, or does it also ruin pizza?
Maybe I'd have to see it, and or taste it, but generally speaking I don't think I would care for much charring on pizza.  I'll keave that for steak and barbeque.  Some of those Difara's pics look excessive to me.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: gfgman on November 18, 2014, 02:59:45 PM
I refer to their pie as the "missing link"...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 18, 2014, 03:18:39 PM
http://www.pizzacentric.com/journal/2012/10/19/di-fara-weights-and-measures.html

By the way, DiFara uses Vantia EVOO on their pies.

Quote
Margie De Marco Mieles

Normally I would not respond to such a blog ... Well actually this is my first time reading such a blog. I am daughter manager of Difara pizzeria. Your blog states false information. We do not use Grande mozzarella . If you are referring to the Fior Di Latte mozzarella in the bucket , that is the best there is as we have sampled so many brands. and the filippo berio was delivered to us in error . Your timing is poor . We actually use vantia extra virgin olive.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: woodmakesitgood on November 18, 2014, 03:37:08 PM
http://www.pizzacentric.com/journal/2012/10/19/di-fara-weights-and-measures.html

By the way, DiFara uses Vantia EVOO on their pies.

Ha, nice smack down by Margie...

Good to know the TF varies between 0.088 and 0.11, based on the 16-18" pie size range.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: shuboyje on November 18, 2014, 05:50:39 PM
http://www.pizzacentric.com/journal/2012/10/19/di-fara-weights-and-measures.html

By the way, DiFara uses Vantia EVOO on their pies.

At this point I don't believe a word this family says, it is all smoke and mirrors, and it is all about the marketing a mystique.  That chart is a joke. 

From the top:

Low Moisture Whole Milk Mozz is not the same thing as Fior di Latte from the bucket.  Two completely different cheeses.

1/4lb of Mozz and 0.28lb of grating cheese...find that very hard to believe.  I love hard italian cheeses as much as anybody but that is a ton ratio wise.

On the Olive Oil...you just happened to be there when we were delivered cheap olive oil by mistake.  We only use expensive olive oil on our premium priced pies...I swear....

Finally the dough.  If you tried to cook pizzas of that TF at the temperatures they claim you would have the biggest gum line the world has ever seen. 

I'm not saying they lie because they are evil or anything like that.  I just wouldn't base an reverse engineering efforts on anything they say.  They obviously don't want to be reverse engineered and are putting out bad info on purpose to defend against it.



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 18, 2014, 05:58:37 PM
Low Moisture Whole Milk Mozz is not the same thing as Fior di Latte from the bucket.  Two completely different cheeses.

The cheese pie I had there had both LM and fresh mozz.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: shuboyje on November 18, 2014, 06:18:40 PM
That could explain it and fix the cheese ratio at the same time.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 18, 2014, 06:49:42 PM
I find Margie's comment about the olive oil interesting. When I composed Reply 122 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11222/topicseen.html#msg11222 in 2005, DiFara's was using Filippo Berio olive oil. I saw it myself in person and it appeared in the background of videos. DiFara was also using Grande block mozzarella cheese (whole milk) and fior-di-latte. He was also using bufala di mozzarella.

There is a comprehensive discussion of what I learned about the DiFara pizza ingredients in this thread and also in a post I entered at the PMQ Think Tank at http://thinktank.pmq.com/threads/specialty-pizza-recipe-sources.190/page-2#post-982 . Dom routinely changed ingredients but the overall profile of the dough and pizzas did not change that I could tell.

I never got the impression that Dom De Marco was duplicitous when I spoke with him. But his daughter's comments are suspect. I think his son's comments in the video that Arctic Pizza cited earlier today were credible. I think it is generally conceded that Dom was using an oven that was most likely modded, most likely with a different thermostat, to get the higher oven temperature.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 18, 2014, 07:27:21 PM
We had the same discussion about 4 years ago. And we're still somewhat in the dark about his pies and formula...

1:0 DiFara ;D

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12182.0.html
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pythonic on November 18, 2014, 07:42:07 PM
Disagree.  575 is only a little over NY slice pie temp.  It takes 8 minutes to bake those.

My NY Pies bake in 5 mins at 550F in my home oven.  The 8 minute bake is weird and the only reason I can think of is the surface temp drops after a new pie is introduced.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on November 18, 2014, 09:07:53 PM
http://vimeo.com/52046544
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 18, 2014, 10:07:41 PM
http://vimeo.com/52046544

That's interesting what the daughter says.  Because I observed Dom making a square sicilian pie and a round pie with the SAME sauce from the same container.  It must be a cooked sauce, she just admited it.  One observation of the sauce they put on the round pie, it is way too dark to be a tomato out of a can and only crushed/pureed. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on November 18, 2014, 10:45:48 PM
Cook some sauce, get some cheeses comparable to Dom's and you will be well on your way to a DiFara clone.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 19, 2014, 09:34:45 AM
If anyone is intersted the article at the Business Insider has a video of Dom making pizzas. Some of the video has close-up shots that show how Dom makes the his pizzas.  It looks like Dom deck stones are thick like Walter's deck stones.  Dom says in the video that he does not want his pizzas to stay in the oven for more than 5 minutes. 

http://www.businessinsider.com/di-fara-pizza-brooklyn-2013-8

I also would like to ask Arctic Pizza how he plans to try to clone a Di Fara's pizza, since he posted at reply 594 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,33753.msg347624.html#msg347624 that his oven has limitations, and he bakes more pan pies because he likes pan pies better. 

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 19, 2014, 10:58:14 AM
If anyone is intersted the article at the Business Insider has a video of Dom making pizzas. Some of the video has close-up shots that show how Dom makes the his pizzas.  It looks like Dom deck stones are thick like Walter's deck stones.  Dom says in the video that he does not want his pizzas to stay in the oven for more than 5 minutes. 

http://www.businessinsider.com/di-fara-pizza-brooklyn-2013-8

I also would like to ask Arctic Pizza how he plans to try to clone a Di Fara's pizza, since he posted at reply 594 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,33753.msg347624.html#msg347624 that his oven has limitations, and he bakes more pan pies because he likes pan pies better. 

Norma

Hi Norma,

I didn't want to experiment on my home oven, so I bought a used 30" Maytag double wall oven off Ebay for $240 for the purpose of baking higher temperature pizzas as explained in the following video by Jeff Varasano who bakes NY-Neapolitan pies.  Going to clip off the oven lock lever set on lock and have the oven set to it's cleaning cycle.  By doing so, the oven can reach 800 degrees.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWehogHNlIg

One characteristic of Di Fara pizza is high heat is needed to quickly char and crisp the veneer of the crust before the rest of the crust has chance to dry out.  The inside of the crust must remain tender.  Also, the cheese is cooked more well done than most pizzerias. You could bake a pie at 550 for 5+ minutes and get charring and desired crispness, but the inside of the crust will have turned dry and biscuity.


Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 19, 2014, 11:22:40 AM
Hi Norma,

I didn't want to experiment on my home oven, so I bought a used 30" Maytag double wall oven off Ebay for $240 for the purpose of baking higher temperature pizzas as explained in the following video by Jeff Varasano who bakes NY-Neapolitan pies.  Going to clip off the oven lock lever set on lock and have the oven set to it's cleaning cycle.  By doing so, the oven can reach 800 degrees.

One characteristic of Di Fara pizza is high heat is needed to quickly char and crisp the veneer of the crust before the rest of the crust has chance to dry out.  The inside of the crust must remain tender.  Also, the cheese is cooked more well done than most pizzerias. You could bake a pie at 550 for 5+ minutes and get charring and desired crispness, but the inside of the crust will have turned dry and biscuity.

Arctic Pizza,

Thanks for explaining how you are going to do your bakes for a Di Fara attempt.  Be careful about about clipping off the oven lock lever set lock.  I think it is posted here on the forum about the possible dangers of doing that.

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 19, 2014, 12:55:01 PM
Arctic Pizza,

Thanks for explaining how you are going to do your bakes for a Di Fara attempt.  Be careful about about clipping off the oven lock lever set lock.  I think it is posted here on the forum about the possible dangers of doing that.

Norma

Yes, people who attempt this should be careful and do at your own discretion!  I wouldn't do this on my home oven, I'm using a 2nd hand used oven I bought cheap on Ebay in the garage.

Few things: All modern ovens with a self cleaning function are padded and insulated to handle the higher temperatures.  Some people are concerned about the oven window breaking, but I doubt that would happen because they don't break during a normal cleaning cycle where the oven gets up to 900-1000 degrees.  The lock feature is just to protect people from burning themselves, by keeping them locked out.  It's really a simple concept.  Also, I made sure to get an oven where there is a metal lock/hook that comes out of the frame and hooks to a hole on the door and not the other way around.  If the hook is on the door and mates into the frame, I'm not sure if it'll work as the mechanism may be different. 

Additionally, there is some fidgeting to get it working in a practical sense for pizza.  Jeff Varasano places his stone 6-8 inches from the broiler elements, not directly under it.  Therefore, one would need to get the top of the oven hotter than the stone surface or else your crust will cook much faster than the top.  He wrote about this on his blog, where he will loosely wrap foil around his stone which reflects heat, which allows the ceiling of the oven to get hotter than the stone.  Once the ceiling registers 850 with IR thermometer, he removes the foil from the stone and it should read around 700.  The first pie will bake very quickly, probably under three minutes.  The ensuing pies will bake much better, akin to making pancakes.  The stone temp will have moderated enough while the oven walls will be at a sufficient high temp.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Tscarborough on November 19, 2014, 05:58:35 PM
It also fries the electronics in the oven eventually.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 19, 2014, 07:10:20 PM
While I was searching the archives of the forum to assist another member, I stumbled across a post I had written in 2008, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7527.msg64773.html#msg64773 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7527.msg64773.html#msg64773), in which I posited a possible explanation as to how Dom DeMarco came to use a blend of the Caputo 00 flour and high gluten flour. In rereading the post, my explanation seems credible but I have no idea as to whether it is correct.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 19, 2014, 07:54:52 PM
While I was searching the archives of the forum to assist another member, I stumbled across a post I had written in 2008, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7527.msg64773.html#msg64773 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7527.msg64773.html#msg64773), in which I posited a possible explanation as to how Dom DeMarco came to use a blend of the Caputo 00 flour and high gluten flour. In rereading the post, my explanation seems credible but I have no idea as to whether it is correct.

Peter

There could very well be a blend, but I would guess it's mostly Caputo 00, or an equivalent 00 flour with maybe some hi-gluten cut in but I'd say it's 25% or less.  Also, contrary to popular belief, Caputo 00 is not a low gluten flour, it is equivalent of KABF at 12.5% protein, so it stands somewhere in the middle.  I have had Di Fara enough times in the past 10 years and twice in past week to discern a texture difference in their pies vs the vast majority of NY street pizza made with hi-gluten flour boosted with potassium bromate additive.  Unfortunately, this can't be explained or described in pictures, but by words or you'll have to just try it yourself.   Ive observed that most people on the board don't actually talk about the other senses, like taste, the bite, the texture in the mouth, and are focusing more on visual aspects.  The one obvious difference in the Di Fara crust compared to 99% of NY street pizza places is that it is not chewy and heavy.  The crust is crispy, thin but not too thin, and much lighter than most NY pizza.  If had to define on what side of the flour spectrum that Di Fara pies are at, I'd say they are more akin to what you'd expect when using an AP flour.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 19, 2014, 08:39:15 PM
While I was searching the archives of the forum to assist another member, I stumbled across a post I had written in 2008, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7527.msg64773.html#msg64773 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7527.msg64773.html#msg64773), in which I posited a possible explanation as to how Dom DeMarco came to use a blend of the Caputo 00 flour and high gluten flour. In rereading the post, my explanation seems credible but I have no idea as to whether it is correct.

Peter

Btw, I did an experiment using two different dough hydrations, same ingredients otherwise, didn't finish writing about it before so here it is.  I used Caputo 00 in both.  One at 55% hydration and another at 70%, I set those to extremes to see how they'd handle.  Standard home oven with stone set on bottom rack, full blast preheat for 1 hour.  IR temp reading at 580-600 deg F on the stone, I stretched both to small 8" pies, only put sauce on them and put them on the stone to bake.  After 5 minutes, I removed them.  Both had no problems with getting a good oven spring, this has more to do with mixing/kneading, Caputo 00 is not as forgiving as higher gluten flours in that regard.  That Caputo 00 will only do a good oven spring at 800 degrees is a myth.  But the 55% hydration dough was nearly burnt, and the rest of crust was dried out.  The 70% hydration was dotted with black marks but it was nowhere near burnt and the crust was good, it could probably have baked another minute without suffering.  This tells me with a higher temp bake in their ovens at Di Fara, I would think they are using a higher hydration, in the 67-70% range.  Also, I am curious from reading your post in the link you provided, as to why you believe Di Fara runs his ovens at low temp, whether that is just anecdotal or your own personal experience.  Last two times I went, my pies were clocked at a little over 5 minutes and a little under 5, I timed him on my Iphone stopwatch.  I believe their ovens are running very hot, and he's using a high hydration dough.  Also, as I was discussing with TXCraig, an IR reading on the ceiling could very well be 800, but the ambient temp may be different, and the floor may be well below that as pies are constantly being baked, creating cold spots.  I think the more important thing about baking their pies or any Neapolitan inspired pie, whether NY style or traditional is that the ceiling temp is at least 30-40% higher than the floor.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 19, 2014, 08:41:17 PM
Arctic Pizza,

I tried different formulations with Caputo and other flours at regular temperatures in my deck oven and thought there were some good results at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,17128.0.html I know you want to create a pizza like Di Fara's though at higher temperatures.  Do you have any photos of your attempts so far?  I think it might be interesting for members to be able to see your progression in your attempts.

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 19, 2014, 08:50:40 PM
Arctic Pizza,

I tried different formulations with Caputo and other flours at regular temperatures in my deck oven and thought there were some good results at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,17128.0.html I know you want to create a pizza like Di Fara's though at higher temperatures.  Do you have any photos of your attempts so far?  I think it might be interesting for members to be able to see your progression in your attempts.

Norma

Hey Norma,

Thanks for the link.  I have yet to try to do a Di Fara inspired pizza until I get my second oven from Ebay.  Once I do, I'll show how I cut the lock/hook with and will post pictures of the process once I have that going.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 19, 2014, 09:11:25 PM
Hey Norma,

I have yet to try to do a Di Fara inspired pizza until I get my second oven from Ebay.  Once I do, I'll show how I cut the lock/hook with and will post pictures of the process once I have that going.

Arctic Pizza,

I will be looking forward to see what happens in a home oven that is modded.

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 20, 2014, 12:01:00 AM
"The twinkie of flours"

Found a video of Jeff Varasano talking about bromated flour and how NY pizzerias evolved into using it.  Thought it was interesting opinion.  I did not know it's illegal in the rest of the world except the US. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX3NlDItRn8

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 20, 2014, 09:58:01 AM
This tells me with a higher temp bake in their ovens at Di Fara, I would think they are using a higher hydration, in the 67-70% range.  Also, I am curious from reading your post in the link you provided, as to why you believe Di Fara runs his ovens at low temp, whether that is just anecdotal or your own personal experience.
Arctic Pizza,

The DiFara reverse engineering and cloning project was my first such effort on the forum. And even though I had very little experience in reverse engineering and cloning a dough and/or pizza, I still tried to be fact oriented rather than opinion oriented. So, if Dom De Marco told me something, I took it as the truth. To this day, I do not think Dom was playing games with what he told me, and also what he told Pete Taylor who had also visited DiFara's and spoke with Dom. I think that you can see the nature of the man in Pete Taylor's post at Reply 70 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg9951.html#msg9951 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg9951.html#msg9951). I believe that the mystique about DiFara's was created largely by articles, reviewers, and the media, and that the DeMarcos were beneficiaries of their praise without having to lift a finger. But, I learned later from subsequent reverse engineering and cloning projects that it isn't always easy to get to the facts and the truth. There is a lot of anecdotal stuff out there that often turns out to be incorrect or misleading, as well as ignorance, even from insiders who should be much better informed about their products. In some cases, I suspected that I was being given incorrect or misleading information intentionally. So, these days, my practice is to trust but verify.

To answer your question more directly, I don't specifically remember asking Dom about his oven temperature or bake times. So, it is quite possible that what I learned about those matters came from reading various articles and blog reports about DiFara's and Dom. But my general recollection is that while Dom's oven was modified in some way as to operate at higher temperatures than other gas fired deck ovens that were used at the time, his bake times were not as brief as you mentioned. The other thing that sticks out in my memory is that there seemed to be very few complaints at the time about Dom burning pizzas and otherwise over-charring them. Maybe I missed such complaints but I noticed that they became quite common as time passed on, and persist to this day. Whether it was because of oven issues or maybe because Dom was not as nimble and attentive as he used to be, I cannot say. Now in his late 70s and having made pizzas for over 50 years, I suspect that Dom knows that his pizza making days may be coming to a close. So his objective at this time is perhaps to cement his legacy by building a mini-chain of DiFara's for his family and investors to benefit from after he is gone.

As for the hydration issue, my calculation based on the volume measurements that Dom gave to me and Pete Taylor was that the hydration was perhaps around 65%. That is higher than what I would have expected based on the absorption rates of the Caputo 00 flour and All Trumps flour, but that was the best I could come up with based on what Dom told us.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 20, 2014, 01:20:12 PM
Arctic Pizza,

The DiFara reverse engineering and cloning project was my first such effort on the forum. And even though I had very little experience in reverse engineering and cloning a dough and/or pizza, I still tried to be fact oriented rather than opinion oriented. So, if Dom De Marco told me something, I took it as the truth. To this day, I do not think Dom was playing games with what he told me, and also what he told Pete Taylor who had also visited DiFara's and spoke with Dom. I think that you can see the nature of the man in Pete Taylor's post at Reply 70 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg9951.html#msg9951 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg9951.html#msg9951). I believe that the mystique about DiFara's was created largely by articles, reviewers, and the media, and that the DeMarcos were beneficiaries of their praise without having to lift a finger. But, I learned later from subsequent reverse engineering and cloning projects that it isn't always easy to get to the facts and the truth. There is a lot of anecdotal stuff out there that often turns out to be incorrect or misleading, as well as ignorance, even from insiders who should be much better informed about their products. In some cases, I suspected that I was being given incorrect or misleading information intentionally. So, these days, my practice is to trust but verify.

To answer your question more directly, I don't specifically remember asking Dom about his oven temperature or bake times. So, it is quite possible that what I learned about those matters came from reading various articles and blog reports about DiFara's and Dom. But my general recollection is that while Dom's oven was modified in some way as to operate at higher temperatures than other gas fired deck ovens that were used at the time, his bake times were not as brief as you mentioned. The other thing that sticks out in my memory is that there seemed to be very few complaints at the time about Dom burning pizzas and otherwise over-charring them. Maybe I missed such complaints but I noticed that they became quite common as time passed on, and persist to this day. Whether it was because of oven issues or maybe because Dom was not as nimble and attentive as he used to be, I cannot say. Now in his late 70s and having made pizzas for over 50 years, I suspect that Dom knows that his pizza making days may be coming to a close. So his objective at this time is perhaps to cement his legacy by building a mini-chain of DiFara's for his family and investors to benefit from after he is gone.

As for the hydration issue, my calculation based on the volume measurements that Dom gave to me and Pete Taylor was that the hydration was perhaps around 65%. That is higher than what I would have expected based on the absorption rates of the Caputo 00 flour and All Trumps flour, but that was the best I could come up with based on what Dom told us.

Peter


Thanks for you reply.  I have read your topic threads on Di Fara, and gained some valuable insights.  I'm sure many others have as well.  You are right, there are basic facts and truths via measurements, tools, ingredients etc. as a beginning guide to understand the process, but what I have discovered in baking, cooking, etc is that you can give two people the same recipe and come out with very different products.  This is where the infinite variation of skill comes to play, a variable that is largely ignored.  Most of us don't even know his dough kneading/mixing process.  We can have proportions, but the process is even more important.  If you give a guy a 1959 Les Paul guitar and the same amp, one doesn't just become Eric Clapton.   The past 2 times I visited Di Fara, I made sure to inspect the pizza visually but this time I really wanted to taste it and think of the words that would best describe the bite.  I think cloning/reverse engineering anything is helped significantly by those other senses that people don't really talk much about.  It's the other experiences besides the sights that is important.  It's pizza afterall, we eat it. 

I believe Di Fara's product is specifically theirs.  We can only try to emulate them, but it will never be the same exact thing.  Having said that, let's discuss some other things.  The times you have been to Di Fara, what did it taste like to you?  What makes it different than other places? 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 20, 2014, 04:36:51 PM

Thanks for you reply.  I have read your topic threads on Di Fara, and gained some valuable insights.  I'm sure many others have as well.  You are right, there are basic facts and truths via measurements, tools, ingredients etc. as a beginning guide to understand the process, but what I have discovered in baking, cooking, etc is that you can give two people the same recipe and come out with very different products.  This is where the infinite variation of skill comes to play, a variable that is largely ignored.  Most of us don't even know his dough kneading/mixing process.  We can have proportions, but the process is even more important.  If you give a guy a 1959 Les Paul guitar and the same amp, one doesn't just become Eric Clapton.   The past 2 times I visited Di Fara, I made sure to inspect the pizza visually but this time I really wanted to taste it and think of the words that would best describe the bite.  I think cloning/reverse engineering anything is helped significantly by those other senses that people don't really talk much about.  It's the other experiences besides the sights that is important.  It's pizza afterall, we eat it. 

I believe Di Fara's product is specifically theirs.  We can only try to emulate them, but it will never be the same exact thing.  Having said that, let's discuss some other things.  The times you have been to Di Fara, what did it taste like to you?  What makes it different than other places?
Arctic Pizza,

I agree with everything you have said. In my experience, where many people have a difficult time cloning someone else's pizza is not having the right ingredients (or access to them), and/or not having the right oven. I could have the exact dough formulation and instructions, directly from the owner, and the right ingredients but, without the right oven, I am unlikely to end up with something that replicates the real deal. So, something has to change, either the formulation and related methods, or the oven. And if the oven is a standard unmodified home oven, the task can be very difficult. That is why those who have standard unmodified home ovens will have a difficult time making pizzas exactly like those of members like Norma, Craig, Walter and Pizza Garage, all of whom have commercial ovens, either at their homes or workplace. Fortunately, there are certain styles that do quite well in standard unmodified home ovens, perhaps with some modifications to the dough formulation, and, in some cases, can come close enough to the originals to make it worth the effort to try to emulate the originals.

To answer your question about the pizza that my family and I had at our one and only visit to DiFara's, it can be seen in the second photo at Reply 120 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11210.html#msg11210 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11210.html#msg11210). The first photo was of someone else's pizza that was on the counter while I was waiting for our pizza. Our pizza tasted fine but it was on the wet side because of all of the toppings, which necessitated using a knife and fork. So it was not the best pizza to use for taste testing purposes.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 20, 2014, 04:43:17 PM


To answer your question about the pizza that my family and I had at our one and only visit to DiFara's, it can be seen in the second photo at Reply 120 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11210.html#msg11210 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg11210.html#msg11210). The first photo was of someone else's pizza that was on the counter while I was waiting for our pizza. Our pizza tasted fine but it was on the wet side because of all of the toppings, which necessitated using a knife and fork. So it was not the best pizza to use for taste testing purposes.

Peter

I think Dom's pies are getting much more inconsistent with age.  Luckily last 2 times I got good ones, but I got there early at 11am, and beat the line  A good Di Fara pie should never be wet.  You went on a bad day most likely.  Di Fara pies should be crispy even if you order the special loaded with toppings.  Just curious, Di Fara does not provide knives and forks.  Did you bring your own?

There was a recent video of a random couple eating a special pie. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU-qXTZtAnU

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 20, 2014, 05:46:58 PM
Just curious, Di Fara does not provide knives and forks.  Did you bring your own?
Arctic Pizza,

It's possible in our case that we ended up asking someone behind the counter for knives and forks, or else we found them somewhere near our table. To satisfy myself that my mind was not slipping, I did a search on the subject and came up with articles where people at DiFara's talked about using knives and forks. See, for example, the 2006 blog review at http://petercherches.blogspot.com/2006/08/back-to-di-fara.html (http://petercherches.blogspot.com/2006/08/back-to-di-fara.html), the 2008 review at http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/di-fara-pizza-its-worth-the-trek-to-brooklyn (http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/di-fara-pizza-its-worth-the-trek-to-brooklyn), and a 2009 Yelp review at http://www.yelp.com/biz/di-fara-pizza-brooklyn?start=320 (http://www.yelp.com/biz/di-fara-pizza-brooklyn?start=320) (see Pete M. comments). It will help to use the page search feature, such as CntrlF.

Maybe Dom discontinued the practice of providing knives and forks at some point.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on November 21, 2014, 02:20:10 PM
Arctic Pizza,

It's possible in our case that we ended up asking someone behind the counter for knives and forks, or else we found them somewhere near our table. To satisfy myself that my mind was not slipping, I did a search on the subject and came up with articles where people at DiFara's talked about using knives and forks. See, for example, the 2006 blog review at http://petercherches.blogspot.com/2006/08/back-to-di-fara.html (http://petercherches.blogspot.com/2006/08/back-to-di-fara.html), the 2008 review at http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/di-fara-pizza-its-worth-the-trek-to-brooklyn (http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/di-fara-pizza-its-worth-the-trek-to-brooklyn), and a 2009 Yelp review at http://www.yelp.com/biz/di-fara-pizza-brooklyn?start=320 (http://www.yelp.com/biz/di-fara-pizza-brooklyn?start=320) (see Pete M. comments). It will help to use the page search feature, such as CntrlF.

Maybe Dom discontinued the practice of providing knives and forks at some point.

Peter

Ok, I've been going to Di Fara for over 10 years and I've NEVER seen a knife and fork but I guess someone could ask for it and they'd provide it.  This is definitely not a knife and fork pizza like a WFO style Napoletana style pie but I have observed reviewers saying that the consistency of the pie has been going down last few years.  Curious as to when was the last time you went?  Whenever I go, and Dom slices the pies, there is that obviously loud crunch as the pizza slicer traverses the pie.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 21, 2014, 06:56:46 PM
Ok, I've been going to Di Fara for over 10 years and I've NEVER seen a knife and fork but I guess someone could ask for it and they'd provide it.  This is definitely not a knife and fork pizza like a WFO style Napoletana style pie but I have observed reviewers saying that the consistency of the pie has been going down last few years.  Curious as to when was the last time you went?  Whenever I go, and Dom slices the pies, there is that obviously loud crunch as the pizza slicer traverses the pie.
Arctic Pizza,

I believe I visited DiFara's sometime in April, 2005.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on December 19, 2014, 02:23:57 PM
4th time at Difara in a month.  Ordered a regular pie with pepperoni and I asked for some sauce on the side to eat with the pizza, and she gave it to me in a plastic cup straight from the metal pizza sauce pot on the bench. 

Few observations. 

It is definitely cooked sauce with addition of uncooked roughly cut canned tomatoes added to it.  The cut tomatoes taste fresher and brighter than the rest of sauce.  A nice contrast.
There is an underlying meaty smokiness and slighlty fatty taste to the sauce, I identify it as pork.  I'm fairly certain the sauce is cooked with a small block of pancetta and removed after.  This is what my former boss used to do as well back in the 80's.  The herbs I taste are fresh oregano, fresh basil.  I can see the herbs are chopped and larger than dried herbs.



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on December 19, 2014, 03:29:06 PM
The cut tomatoes taste fresher and brighter than the rest of sauce.  A nice contrast.
There is an underlying meaty smokiness and slighlty fatty taste to the sauce, I identify it as pork.  I'm fairly certain the sauce is cooked with a small block of pancetta and removed after.  This is what my former boss used to do as well back in the 80's. 

I would think a ham hock is more likely.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on December 19, 2014, 04:03:16 PM
I would think a ham hock is more likely.

Makes sense, a roasted ham hock would probably be better on a commercial scale.  Dom Demarco is from Caserta, which is in Campania.  They cook pork in almost everything.






Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on December 19, 2014, 04:07:18 PM
They cook pork in almost everything.

Hard to find much fault in that  ;D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Arctic Pizza on December 21, 2014, 11:46:31 PM
Hard to find much fault in that  ;D

The 20 year minimalist trend is ending in pizza world.  Welcome back animal trans fats, indulgence and all things "bad" for you

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Obsauced on December 27, 2014, 12:57:30 AM
There could very well be a blend, but I would guess it's mostly Caputo 00, or an equivalent 00 flour with maybe some hi-gluten cut in but I'd say it's 25% or less.  Also, contrary to popular belief, Caputo 00 is not a low gluten flour, it is equivalent of KABF at 12.5% protein, so it stands somewhere in the middle.  I have had Di Fara enough times in the past 10 years and twice in past week to discern a texture difference in their pies vs the vast majority of NY street pizza made with hi-gluten flour boosted with potassium bromate additive.  Unfortunately, this can't be explained or described in pictures, but by words or you'll have to just try it yourself.   Ive observed that most people on the board don't actually talk about the other senses, like taste, the bite, the texture in the mouth, and are focusing more on visual aspects.  The one obvious difference in the Di Fara crust compared to 99% of NY street pizza places is that it is not chewy and heavy.  The crust is crispy, thin but not too thin, and much lighter than most NY pizza.  If had to define on what side of the flour spectrum that Di Fara pies are at, I'd say they are more akin to what you'd expect when using an AP flour.

I did sit down interview with maggie about three years ago and they use a blend of a 00 flour and all trumps if that helps with the clone. There's nothing like Di faras in the world and it's nearly impossible to replicate it
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: rparker on January 21, 2015, 11:02:32 PM
On the matter of pork, I've known two people from the Penn-NJ-NYC area to use a Boston Butt as a base meat for a meat-sauce. About the only thing I recall is that the roast was browned in the pan before other ingredients got added. This would obviously be something not for pizza, especially NY-style as I like it, but something I thought may have some relevance.

I do wonder something, though. Is there any chance that the pork-fat element in the sauce help to keep the dough and sauce elements from combining too much? Perhaps act as some sort of shield?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on October 28, 2015, 08:24:40 AM
I tried DiFara pizza today. I used only italian 00 flour with 13% protein and for lower Temperatures. 16 hours dough. Fermented at room temperature. I used san marzano dop sea salt and oregano in the pizza sauce. Cheese mozzarella, grana padano, permigiano regiano.  Evoo dop. Launched bad but it tasted heavenly  :drool:
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on October 28, 2015, 09:34:24 AM
Very nice!

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: parallei on October 28, 2015, 06:50:50 PM
Very nice!

Peter

I'll say!  Great job.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on October 29, 2015, 12:34:23 PM
Thanks Peter and Parellei
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Obsauced on November 03, 2015, 07:08:48 PM
I tried DiFara pizza today. I used only italian 00 flour with 13% protein and for lower Temperatures. 16 hours dough. Fermented at room temperature. I used san marzano dop sea salt and oregano in the pizza sauce. Cheese mozzarella, grana padano, permigiano regiano.  Evoo dop. Launched bad but it tasted heavenly  :drool:

the real judgment is to invite us over so we cn chow down ;). these look outstanding
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on November 24, 2015, 12:31:00 PM
Just chiming in, as I'm trying to develop a great cooked sauce for my squares and I loved DiFara's cooked sauce.

- Though a cooked sauce, it still has a fresh taste to it. This, to me, does not taste like a cooked marinara sauce. There is no discernible garlic taste to me. It's very well balanced. There may very well be some canned tomato being added back to the sauce.
- I did not detect any "meatiness" in the sauce. I could be wrong.

If I had to guess, probably canned tomatoes cooked with a halved onion and some herbs for a few hours, before adding some uncooked canned tomatoes back to the sauce.

4th time at Difara in a month.  Ordered a regular pie with pepperoni and I asked for some sauce on the side to eat with the pizza, and she gave it to me in a plastic cup straight from the metal pizza sauce pot on the bench. 

Few observations. 

It is definitely cooked sauce with addition of uncooked roughly cut canned tomatoes added to it.  The cut tomatoes taste fresher and brighter than the rest of sauce.  A nice contrast.
There is an underlying meaty smokiness and slighlty fatty taste to the sauce, I identify it as pork.  I'm fairly certain the sauce is cooked with a small block of pancetta and removed after.  This is what my former boss used to do as well back in the 80's.  The herbs I taste are fresh oregano, fresh basil.  I can see the herbs are chopped and larger than dried herbs.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jvp123 on November 24, 2015, 01:05:37 PM
I tried DiFara pizza today. I used only italian 00 flour with 13% protein and for lower Temperatures. 16 hours dough. Fermented at room temperature. I used san marzano dop sea salt and oregano in the pizza sauce. Cheese mozzarella, grana padano, permigiano regiano.  Evoo dop. Launched bad but it tasted heavenly  :drool:

What type of yeast was used on this pie and was the basil applied before or after the bake? 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 26, 2015, 01:38:13 PM
What type of yeast was used on this pie and was the basil applied before or after the bake?

italians use fresh yeast most of the time. So i used fresh yeast as well. I saw a picture of difara on the net. His sauce got basil so i put basil in my sauce as well. After finish baking i putmore basil like he does
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 26, 2015, 01:41:32 PM
Here is a close shot of hia sauce
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 26, 2015, 01:55:01 PM
Great picture.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 27, 2015, 08:48:42 AM
Great picture.

indeed. Thats the picture which i am going to put on the wall of my project pizza bus
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 27, 2015, 08:54:05 AM
Todays difara pie. I bump up the hydro to 70% . With that kind of hydro one has to got skills if you want to make a lot of pies in a short time.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 27, 2015, 08:57:36 AM
More
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on December 02, 2015, 01:49:11 AM
Has anyone tried making a round or square pie using the weights at http://www.pizzacentric.com/journal/2012/10/19/di-fara-weights-and-measures.html ?

For the round, it's a little under a 0.09 TF assuming an 18" pie and more grana/parm by weight than low moisture mozzarella. I'm also guessing, based on the dough weights, he's not using the same dough ball size (or even two of one dough ball) for the 12x 18" square.

What I found most interesting is the weight for the square sauce, which seems to list ingredients. The tomatoes, olive oil, onion, and spices. No mention of garlic or a ham hock/prosciutto chunk. To me, what's listed on that website jives with what I've tasted. I didn't see chunks of onion so he probably halves a couple and cooks 'em in the sauce. Has anyone tried making a cooked sauce based on that information?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on December 03, 2015, 11:53:06 AM
Are you sure there was a meatiness to the sauce? I did not taste pork in the sauce, and was told the sauce used to be cooked with a hunk of prosciutto but is no longer because of vegetarians.

Also, do you think the roughly cut tomatoes are uncooked? Maybe that's just how they prep the tomatoes for the sauce and they remain semi whole through cooking? For example, the round sauce has chunks of roughly cut tomato in it and it is uncooked. Maybe the cooked sauce is just that sauce cooked down with onion and olive oil?

I really love this sauce (it's my favorite cooked sauce for a square) and I'd love to approximate it.

4th time at Difara in a month.  Ordered a regular pie with pepperoni and I asked for some sauce on the side to eat with the pizza, and she gave it to me in a plastic cup straight from the metal pizza sauce pot on the bench. 

Few observations. 

It is definitely cooked sauce with addition of uncooked roughly cut canned tomatoes added to it.  The cut tomatoes taste fresher and brighter than the rest of sauce.  A nice contrast.
There is an underlying meaty smokiness and slighlty fatty taste to the sauce, I identify it as pork.  I'm fairly certain the sauce is cooked with a small block of pancetta and removed after.  This is what my former boss used to do as well back in the 80's.  The herbs I taste are fresh oregano, fresh basil.  I can see the herbs are chopped and larger than dried herbs.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: CaptBob on December 03, 2015, 07:56:33 PM
Todays difara pie. I bump up the hydro to 70% . With that kind of hydro one has to got skills if you want to make a lot of pies in a short time.

Those look terrific!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on February 17, 2016, 10:01:54 AM
Ling time no pizza but today. I pulled the thermostat out of the baking chamber. Wow ! Stone reached 690F
Only 3 min -3.50min bake time. Soft and fluffy. Melted in my mouth
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on February 17, 2016, 11:04:06 AM
Good looking pies Pizzaheim.  I like the crumb shots and the look of the melted cheese.  Difara pies, at least from the videos, looks and sounds crispy.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on February 17, 2016, 11:43:33 AM
Thank you Jackie. Yes i guess difara pies are crispy as well. My other pies were crispy . But i no longer like crispy and chewy pies. I enjoyed eating soft pies of today. It was something New for me. Even though it looked crispy it was soft. Upper heating element didnt shut down since the thermostat was out of the bake chamber. Worked like broiler modus all the time
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on February 22, 2016, 10:06:04 PM
Ling time no pizza but today. I pulled the thermostat out of the baking chamber. Wow ! Stone reached 690F
Only 3 min -3.50min bake time. Soft and fluffy. Melted in my mouth
Nice work...I'd much rather eat your nice melt in the mouth pizza than a Dom Burnt Charintor!!   >:(dew
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jsaras on February 22, 2016, 10:25:27 PM
I think it's fair to say that DiFara would want to reverse engineer YOUR pizza!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on February 24, 2016, 02:18:16 PM
Lol  :-D thank you guys. There is an old saying ; if the newbie ( aprentice) wont do better than the master does then the Art (profession) dies.

I am just a newbie about pizza making. I wish i even could eat one of his burned pizza. It musnt be that easy to make a lot of pies when his costumers watching  carefully every moves of him. I wouldnt feel myself comfortable and would probably burn or drop down the pies :D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: chrisinroch on February 29, 2016, 02:19:31 PM
I'm pretty sure the finishing cheese is pecorino Romano.   Both me and my partner thought it had the telltale Romano "funk".    And Dom buys all of his stock (tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, flour, etc) from one single distributor.    (I can't recall who, but it was fairly easy to figure out with your google machine)

Also, the Asian kid is not his son, just a long term employee/apprentice.  His son is the small guy (mid 20s?) that stays in the back.   Otherwise he has daughters that work but I don't know how regularly.   When Dom retires, it will survive based on the daughters' desire to keep it going.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on March 01, 2016, 12:39:48 AM
I've never tasted romano on his pizzas. There seems to be two camps...those who prefer parm and those who prefer pecorino and they don't seem to ever intermingle on the same pizza.

Dom prefers parm/grana padano. Lucali only uses parm as well. Personally, I prefer parm to pecorino...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Minolta Rokkor on March 01, 2016, 08:53:43 AM
What is so special about DiFara's pizza? How are they made?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jsaras on March 01, 2016, 09:36:39 AM
It's basically an emergency dough with good toppings baked in a hot oven. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 01, 2016, 09:55:04 AM
It's basically an emergency dough with good toppings baked in a hot oven.
Minolta Rokkor,

I couldn't put it more succinctly than Jonas no matter how hard I would try, but if you want to read my analysis even though it is several years old, see Reply 122 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg11222;topicseen#msg11222 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg11222;topicseen#msg11222).

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Minolta Rokkor on March 01, 2016, 10:23:59 AM
Oh ok. I learned something thanks!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Ogwoodfire on March 04, 2016, 09:46:33 PM
First try on a difara square pie. I had some extra of my Neapolitan dough which is Caputo at 60% hydration 3 days CF. I cooked down some of my ciao tomatoes and topped with a blend of shredded mozz and Bufala Mozz. Not bad for a first try but I would prefer it lighter with a more cooked down sauce. Overall it was okay but I won't be leaving Neapolitan for this anytime soon.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: keylime73 on March 24, 2016, 03:47:12 AM
Minolta Rokkor,

I couldn't put it more succinctly than Jonas no matter how hard I would try, but if you want to read my analysis even though it is several years old, see Reply 122 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg11222;topicseen#msg11222 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg11222;topicseen#msg11222).

Peter

Quote
The dough is made up of a 75/25 ratio of Caputo 00 flour and General Mills All Trumps high-gluten flour (by volume)

75% Caputo/25% AT?-- is that right?  Pretty soft.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 24, 2016, 09:53:43 AM
75% Caputo/25% AT?-- is that right?  Pretty soft.
Yes, that is what I was told. But if you assume that the Caputo 00 flour has a protein content of 12.5% as noted at http://caputoflour.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/00-Pizzeria-SPECS.pdf (http://caputoflour.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/00-Pizzeria-SPECS.pdf), and that the AT flour has a protein content of 14.2% as noted at http://www.generalmillscf.com/services/productpdf.ashx?pid=50121000 (http://www.generalmillscf.com/services/productpdf.ashx?pid=50121000), then, according to the Mixed Mass Percentage Calculator at http://foodsim.toastguard.com/ (http://foodsim.toastguard.com/), the 75/25 blend noted above would have a protein content of 12.925%. Even then, the blend may be different than other blends because the quality of the protein is different for the two flours.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jersey Pie Boy on March 24, 2016, 05:19:51 PM
This is so interesting to learn..Thanks Peter!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: politon on May 24, 2017, 10:32:18 AM
FWIW, Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations season 4, episode 3, titled, "Brooklyn" which first aired on 10/11/2016 visited Di Fara Pizza.

They interviewed Dom's daughter, Margaret and she demonstrated how to make their uncooked sauce. The ingredients were simple:They crush each tomato by hand.

The host, Andrew Zimmern, stated that the dough is made with a mix of AP flour and "00" flour. Margaret brings out a tray of proofed dough balls. A small bag of Caputo "00" chef flour can be seen sitting on the bench and a larger bag of AP flour is visible in the background.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on May 27, 2017, 11:32:26 PM
DiFara is one of the most overrated (albeit good) pizzerias in history.  it's rated #1 by so many journalists past 15 years as a counterpoint to NYC gentrification.

btw, they cook their sauce.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on May 28, 2017, 08:48:52 AM
DiFara is one of the most overrated (albeit good) pizzerias in history.  it's rated #1 by so many journalists past 15 years as a counterpoint to NYC gentrification.

btw, they cook their sauce.

Hugely overrated, yes but not the most overrated by a long stretch. Lombardi's holds that distinction hands down.

The last time I was there, I thought the sauce on the square was cooked, but the sauce on the round didn't seem cooked.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on May 28, 2017, 09:06:43 AM
btw, they cook their sauce.
HarryHaller73,

I know that they cooked the sauce for the Sicilian pizza, because I once saw some on the stove cooking as I passed through the kitchen on my way to the restroom, but I do not recall that they cooked the sauce for their regular pizzas. I think I would have recalled that if that was the case since I was looking for the smallest of details. But that was long ago and I suppose it is possible that I missed that. But in Reply 122 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg11222;topicseen#msg11222, I posted that the sauce was uncooked. I don't think that I would have said that unless I read it somewhere or Dom told me.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on May 30, 2017, 02:27:21 PM
HarryHaller73,

I know that they cooked the sauce for the Sicilian pizza, because I once saw some on the stove cooking as I passed through the kitchen on my way to the restroom, but I do not recall that they cooked the sauce for their regular pizzas. I think I would have recalled that if that was the case since I was looking for the smallest of details. But that was long ago and I suppose it is possible that I missed that. But in Reply 122 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg11222;topicseen#msg11222, I posted that the sauce was uncooked. I don't think that I would have said that unless I read it somewhere or Dom told me.

Peter

They cook both the sauces for round and square pizza, just the square sauce is cooked much longer.  They remove the portion for round pies and let the remainder keep cooking.  As I mentioned in another sauce thread, when old NY pizzerias used to cook their sauces for round pies, it wasn't for very long either (not making marinara), just a short simmer to meld flavor of spices and grated cheese (what some people do with microwaving MAE, but back then there was no microwave), release natural sugars, and begin to get the rawness out.  NY slice pizza is traditionally not typified by fresh tasting tomato flavor as in other styles though many pizzerias now take shortcuts and bypass the simmering to save time and add diluted heavy pastes and white sugar.

Having been to Di Fara several times in the past few years, I observed they no longer use separate sauces, instead the same sauce container for both round and squares, I don't know if this is out of laziness or what, but they don't have separate sauces anymore at least the times I went, and I always order both a round and a square pie to go. 

I would also add that  many NY pizzerias have a separate sauce than their regular slices for a pie called the "NY Margherita" which is a homage to NP style with fresh mozz and basil, and use straight uncooked canned san marzano or san marzano style tomato pureed.  This is also the case for many grandma pies.  They certainly taste more fresh.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on May 30, 2017, 02:58:21 PM
HarryHaller73,

Thanks for the clarification.

A few posts back, at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg482380;topicseen#msg482380, it was mentioned that Dom uses a combination of 00 flour and all purpose flour. Long ago, when I looked into Dom's pizzas, he was using 00 flour and a high gluten flour, not an all-purpose flour. I know that Dom would change things up from time to time, but do you know if he is now using all-purpose flour instead of a high gluten flour?

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on May 30, 2017, 03:35:09 PM
HarryHaller73,

Thanks for the clarification.

A few posts back, at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg482380;topicseen#msg482380, it was mentioned that Dom uses a combination of 00 flour and all purpose flour. Long ago, when I looked into Dom's pizzas, he was using 00 flour and a high gluten flour, not an all-purpose flour. I know that Dom would change things up from time to time, but do you know if he is now using all-purpose flour instead of a high gluten flour?

Peter

Most likely it's the same mix of 00 and high gluten since it tastes the same to me.  There's nothing special about their crust.  Again, I think their pizza is really basic and simple and that's what makes it good but I certainly do not think it's the best in the country, never have..  It's the homestyle flavors that stand out with the grana padano stravecchio and imported Ligurian basil topped like a veggie.  That's the first thing that hits you while oil drizzles down your face.

I've found other NY slice joints like New Park Pizzeria and Margherita in Astoria much harder to replicate than Di Fara.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on May 30, 2017, 04:04:42 PM
Most likely it's the same mix of 00 and high gluten since it tastes the same to me.  There's nothing special about their crust.  Again, I think their pizza is really basic and simple and that's what makes it good but I certainly do not think it's the best in the country, never have..  It's the homestyle flavors that stand out with the grana padano stravecchio and imported Ligurian basil topped like a veggie.  That's the first thing that hits you while oil drizzles down your face.
HarryHaller73,

I did some searching and managed to find the Bizzare video at https://wn.com/bizarre_foods_delicious_destinations_season_4_episode_3_brooklyn. The two flours are shown at around 7:08 in the video. I cannot make out what is in the larger bag of flour or what its brand is. I believe that that part of the video was staged inasmuch as I do not believe that Dom uses the sizes of bags of flours shown in the video. Also, Dom's daughter did not mention all purpose flour. It was Andrew Zimmern who said that.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on May 30, 2017, 04:17:38 PM
HarryHaller73,

I did some searching and managed to find the Bizzare video at https://wn.com/bizarre_foods_delicious_destinations_season_4_episode_3_brooklyn. The two flours are shown at around 7:08 in the video. I cannot make out what is in the larger bag of flour or what its brand is. I believe that that part of the video was staged inasmuch as I do not believe that Dom uses the sizes of bags of flours shown in the video. Also, Dom's daughter did not mention all purpose flour. It was Andrew Zimmern who said that.

Peter

Most likely staged.  Dom's daughter also mentions that NY water is part of the difference in the video.  And their sauce is certainly not just hand crushed tomatoes and basil.  Their sauce is a  potpourri of dry and fresh spices.  You can also see this in this video here: https://youtu.be/RcV3MshVsto?t=26s   

The dry spices have darkened along with the sauce itself, that will only happen with cooking.

I don't blame her though, it's a family secret.  Often when people go in and ask what kind of hard cheese they use, she'll just say imported parmesan as Andrew Zimmern also says in the video, when it is in fact aged Grana Padano.


Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: invertedisdead on May 30, 2017, 05:04:28 PM
Some screenshots of the sauce from the vid Harry linked. i thought the whole tomato in this shot was interesting, definitely a rusticly chunky sauce.

Edit: Note the dry spices stuck to the metal container above the sauce line in the second picture... definitely dried oregano plus some others.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on May 30, 2017, 06:28:06 PM
The sauce on DiFara's round is not cooked. It's Dom's tomatoes that are that color. Very deep red.

The square is cooked. It has celery carrot onion and I believe garlic in it. It tastes distinctly different from the round sauce.

I confirmed this with them when I went in for some slices and was tasting sauces for my squares.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on May 30, 2017, 06:35:19 PM
By clicking on the photos that Ryan cited, to enlarge them, you can easily see that there is stuff in the sauce besides tomatoes.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on May 30, 2017, 06:35:27 PM
The sauce on DiFara's round is not cooked. It's Dom's tomatoes that are that color. Very deep red.

The square is cooked. It has celery carrot onion and I believe garlic in it. It tastes distinctly different from the round sauce.

I confirmed this with them when I went in for some slices and was tasting sauces for my squares.

They will tell people, anything... I've heard the daughter tell people they put fresh mozzarella in their round pies, when it's Polly-o WMLM.

I've never had a need to ask them anything, I've watched inside the corridor and seen them pour sauce out of a large simmering pot and pour it into a container and out to the front.
They used the same container to make my round and square pie last time few times I was there.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on May 30, 2017, 06:54:37 PM
I remember about 10 years ago, they got "caught" using Berio olive oil, and a food critic mentioned they used "supermarket olive oil".  The daughter quickly denied it, though they did use it for years, and then they switched over to imported Vantia brand olive oil.  They use Vantia San Marzanos.  They are not dark red like that photo out of the can and the tomatoes and spices are obviously cooked.  Dry spices will turn dark at higher temps. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Essen1 on May 30, 2017, 09:31:44 PM
Felippo Berio is a doctored-up olive oil sold at premium prices.

They are in "good" company, it seems.

    Pompeian
    Bertolli
    Colavita
    Star
    Sasso
    Antica Badia
    Primadonna
    Carapelli
    Mazola
    Felippo Berio
    Safeway
    Whole Foods
    Carapelli
    Coricelli
    Mezzetta

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/01/05/poor-quality-olive-oil-companies-revealed-the-brands-to-avoid/

The real deal:


    Corto Olive
    Ottavio
    Omaggio
    Bariani Olive Oil
    Lucini
    Kirkland Organic
    Lucero
    Olea Estates
    McEvoy Ranch Organic
    Cobram Estate
    California Olive Ranch

Big fan of Kirkland and Corto.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jkb on May 31, 2017, 12:27:40 AM
Felippo Berio is a doctored-up olive oil sold at premium prices.

They are in "good" company, it seems.

    Pompeian
    Bertolli
    Colavita
    Star
    Sasso
    Antica Badia
    Primadonna
    Carapelli
    Mazola
    Felippo Berio
    Safeway
    Whole Foods
    Carapelli
    Coricelli
    Mezzetta

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/01/05/poor-quality-olive-oil-companies-revealed-the-brands-to-avoid/

The real deal:


    Corto Olive
    Ottavio
    Omaggio
    Bariani Olive Oil
    Lucini
    Kirkland Organic
    Lucero
    Olea Estates
    McEvoy Ranch Organic
    Cobram Estate
    California Olive Ranch

Big fan of Kirkland and Corto.


I don't want it to be good if I'm cooking it.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Obsauced on May 31, 2017, 02:15:08 PM
HarryHaller73,

I did some searching and managed to find the Bizzare video at https://wn.com/bizarre_foods_delicious_destinations_season_4_episode_3_brooklyn. The two flours are shown at around 7:08 in the video. I cannot make out what is in the larger bag of flour or what its brand is. I believe that that part of the video was staged inasmuch as I do not believe that Dom uses the sizes of bags of flours shown in the video. Also, Dom's daughter did not mention all purpose flour. It was Andrew Zimmern who said that.

Peter

Pete, I did a video interview a few years ago where Maggie says they use a 00 and All Trumps. Never went in the kitchen to scope it out though
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on May 31, 2017, 02:37:54 PM
Pete, I did a video interview a few years ago where Maggie says they use a 00 and All Trumps. Never went in the kitchen to scope it out though
obsauced,

Thanks for that input. That is my recollection also but I believe that the 00 flour was, at different times, the Caputo 00 flour or the Delverde 00 flour. As previously mentioned, Dom would switch things around from time to time. He did that with tomatoes and with hard cheeses and oils also. Maybe it was price but maybe it was what was available, or a possibility of both.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Obsauced on June 04, 2017, 10:05:48 AM
obsauced,

Thanks for that input. That is my recollection also but I believe that the 00 flour was, at different times, the Caputo 00 flour or the Delverde 00 flour. As previously mentioned, Dom would switch things around from time to time. He did that with tomatoes and with hard cheeses and oils also. Maybe it was price but maybe it was what was available, or a possibility of both.

Peter

I also have more intel from my Visit yesterday.

1. I came by at 7 on a Saturday and my pie was a 10 minute wait!
2. I saw Alex take out dough at 7:15 when I was eating. I can update with a picture when my phone gets back on charge.
3. It was unclear to me if he did bench flour or put it in the mixer (from my perspective it looked like mixer) but they seemed to use Heckler's flour for something.
4. They did use caputo 00 when Dom is stretching his pizza as I saw Robert put some in his bowl.

So maybe from that visit it can seem that the pizza is fermented for at least 18 hours as they open around 1pm on Sundays
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on June 04, 2017, 02:18:48 PM
obsauced,

Maybe things have changed at DiFara's over the years but when I visited I learned that Dom fermented his dough for only a few hours, at the bottom shelf of the oven in a warm place. The report of my trip to DiFara's is at Reply 122 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg11222#msg11222.

Hecker's flour, which is the same as the Ceresota flour, is an all-purpose flour out of Chicago but it has an above average protein content that makes it like a bread flour. Maybe Dom is now using that flour instead of a high-gluten flour.

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Josh123 on June 04, 2017, 07:10:50 PM
DiFara is one of the most overrated (albeit good) pizzerias in history.  it's rated #1 by so many journalists past 15 years as a counterpoint to NYC gentrification.

btw, they cook their sauce.

Compared to who? Joes? Lombardis? Uno? Bianco? Dom's pizza in the mid to late 2000's is the best pizza I've ever had, not to mention inventive. Took the NY slice pie and combined elements of neapolitan to make something totally new and delicious. The attention to quality and individually crafted pies is unlike anything we have seen. Aside from when he burns them lol.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on June 04, 2017, 07:35:58 PM
Compared to who? Joes? Lombardis? Uno? Bianco? Dom's pizza in the mid to late 2000's is the best pizza I've ever had, not to mention inventive. Took the NY slice pie and combined elements of neapolitan to make something totally new and delicious. The attention to quality and individually crafted pies is unlike anything we have seen. Aside from when he burns them lol.

In my opinion, DiFara is good and certainly different (that's the Ligurian basil, a ton of oil, and Polly-O + grana strevecchio for a homestyle flavor reminiscent of some Italian grandma's lasagne recipe) and the best thing on their menu isn't even the round pie, it's the greasy squares.  It's overrated in the sense that it got way too much media attention as DiFara fits into that tourist appeal and narrative, the old Italian guy performing a show upcharging $5/slice $30/pie within an era of gentrification for people to experience a bit of old NYC.  It all started with a comment by influential food critic Jim Leff, in his book The Eclectic Gourment Guide to NYC coinciding with Brooklyn gentrification.  They needed a face to go with NYC pizza traditions, they found him.  Before that, Di Fara was a relatively unknown neighborhood slice joint for 30+ years.   I'm of the belief that whatever the media rates #1 in the nation for anything it always isn't.

As an example, the same food media rates Joes as #1 slice in NYC.  That's fake news.  Joe's is not only overrated but bad.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: quietdesperation on June 06, 2017, 07:17:59 PM
>>Joe's is not only overrated but bad.

I don't think Joe's is great but I'd be hard-pressed to say it's downright bad. I also agree with Craig on Lombardi's, imo, is probably most overrated in NYC. Having said that, after many visits (it was one of my partner's favorites), I did have one good pie there.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 23, 2017, 06:14:31 AM
A PRICELESS PIZZERIA IN BROOKLYN
Domenico DeMarco has been making pizzas at Brooklyn’s famous Di Fara Pizza since 1965.

Wonder if that is true if Dom's pizzas are only in the oven for 5 minutes.  Like how Dom says you have to make pizza with your heart.  Looks like Dom might be using the Hecker's Wingold H&R AP flour to mix with the 00 flour.

Forgot that Walter timed one of Frank Giaquinto's bakes in my oven at a lower temperature:

I sent Norma a camera to film Frank at her shop.  She asked me to time a bake on one the Frank videos for her when she returned it back to me to get downloaded to the net.  I timed the bake for her and it came in at 5:25 and I think her oven is around 530 degrees.  The pie was evenly browned top/bottom.  My Blodgett 1000 ovens, which are the equivalent of the bakers pride at Defara's, do an even top/bottom bake in about 6 minutes I would guess.  Frank was at Defara's  last week and declined buying a pie/slice or converse with Dom.  I asked if it was crowded and Frank said no.  He told the place was filthy both behind the counter and in the customer area. He said Dom looked ragged too and felt it a disgrace to the profession.  I have never been to Defara's but have heard continual issues with the cleanliness of the place and being shut down by the board of health from members here.  Frank said for those prices and the look of the place he passed and got a pie down the street, 18", for $13 that was really good.  Walter

http://video.newyorker.com/watch/a-priceless-pizzeria-in-brooklyn?mbid=social_facebook

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 23, 2017, 09:58:23 AM
Norma,

The Wingold flour is from Bay State Milling:

http://www.baystatemilling.com/ingredients/flour/traditional-bakery/.

There is perhaps no reason why Dom cannot use all purpose flour for the 25% part of his blend if that is what he is doing, but do you suppose that the all purpose flour might be used for his Sicilian style pizza rather than his NY style or maybe for something else? Offhand, I do not recall what Dom was using to make his Sicilian dough or whether that was covered in this thread.

Peter



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on November 23, 2017, 09:59:40 AM
A PRICELESS PIZZERIA IN BROOKLYN
Domenico DeMarco has been making pizzas at Brooklyn’s famous Di Fara Pizza since 1965.

Wonder if that is true if Dom's pizzas are only in the oven for 5 minutes.  Like how Dom says you have to make pizza with your heart.  Looks like Dom might be using the Hecker's Wingold H&R AP flour to mix with the 00 flour.

Forgot that Walter timed one of Frank Giaquinto's bakes in my oven at a lower temperature:

I sent Norma a camera to film Frank at her shop.  She asked me to time a bake on one the Frank videos for her when she returned it back to me to get downloaded to the net.  I timed the bake for her and it came in at 5:25 and I think her oven is around 530 degrees.  The pie was evenly browned top/bottom.  My Blodgett 1000 ovens, which are the equivalent of the bakers pride at Defara's, do an even top/bottom bake in about 6 minutes I would guess.  Frank was at Defara's  last week and declined buying a pie/slice or converse with Dom.  I asked if it was crowded and Frank said no.  He told the place was filthy both behind the counter and in the customer area. He said Dom looked ragged too and felt it a disgrace to the profession.  I have never been to Defara's but have heard continual issues with the cleanliness of the place and being shut down by the board of health from members here.  Frank said for those prices and the look of the place he passed and got a pie down the street, 18", for $13 that was really good.  Walter

http://video.newyorker.com/watch/a-priceless-pizzeria-in-brooklyn?mbid=social_facebook

Norma

Di Fara constantly changes their workflow, ingredients and process.  Last time I was there earlier this year, my pie took over 8 min to bake, the oven is likely running lower temp than in the past.  This is evident in the crust, they aren't charred anymore like they were 5-10 years ago when they must have been running the ovens upwards of 600deg F + for less time per pie.  To char crust made with an 00 flour mix + other flour, you need more heat.  Also, keep in mind that his hydration is different.

It wouldn't be a proper comparison to Frank's pie, when using a different formulation/hydration and flour.  Difara dough hydration is also very high for NY style, but he does use alot 00 bench flour.  His dough is opened with just 5-6 knuckle pulls to 18". 




Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on November 23, 2017, 10:09:07 AM
I did a search of the thread and I see that I raised the possibility of Dom using a flour other than high gluten flour for his Sicilian style pizza, at Reply 129 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg12363;topicseen#msg12363.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 24, 2017, 07:00:50 AM
Norma,

The Wingold flour is from Bay State Milling:

http://www.baystatemilling.com/ingredients/flour/traditional-bakery/.

There is perhaps no reason why Dom cannot use all purpose flour for the 25% part of his blend if that is what he is doing, but do you suppose that the all purpose flour might be used for his Sicilian style pizza rather than his NY style or maybe for something else? Offhand, I do not recall what Dom was using to make his Sicilian dough or whether that was covered in this thread.

Peter

I did a search of the thread and I see that I raised the possibility of Dom using a flour other than high gluten flour for his Sicilian style pizza, at Reply 129 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg12363;topicseen#msg12363.

Peter

Peter,

You might be right that perhaps there is no reason why Dom can't use AP flour for the 25% part of the blend, or maybe he is using the Wingold flour for the Sicilian dough. 

Thanks for the link to where you raised a possibility that maybe DiFara's used a lower protein flour for the Sicilian dough.  The post right above your post at Reply 128 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=504.msg12359#msg12359 says the other flour might be Full Strength.  Wonder how true that is.  At least jjsb22 lived nearby, saw inside the side door where the flours were stored and talked to DiFara's supplier.  By looking at DiFara on Google maps it doesn't look like Dom's pizzeria is really that big.

I also see in jjsb22 introductory post that he says each pizza might be dressed differently.

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=3944.msg11937#msg11937

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 24, 2017, 07:01:27 AM
Di Fara constantly changes their workflow, ingredients and process.  Last time I was there earlier this year, my pie took over 8 min to bake, the oven is likely running lower temp than in the past.  This is evident in the crust, they aren't charred anymore like they were 5-10 years ago when they must have been running the ovens upwards of 600deg F + for less time per pie.  To char crust made with an 00 flour mix + other flour, you need more heat.  Also, keep in mind that his hydration is different.

It wouldn't be a proper comparison to Frank's pie, when using a different formulation/hydration and flour.  Difara dough hydration is also very high for NY style, but he does use alot 00 bench flour.  His dough is opened with just 5-6 knuckle pulls to 18".

Thanks for the information Harry.

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: bigMoose on November 24, 2017, 05:06:08 PM
Just some conjecture... the latest video up stream post 346, Dom's son said he is now doing 8 minute bakes.  Could it be that as the son moves towards the front of the operation he was allowed to do some maintenance on the oven and implement a few changes?  If the bake went from 5 to 8 minutes, the temp of the oven sure came down.  From the folks on the DiFara's threads that did test bakes in their commercial ovens (Norma and others) it looked to me that the 5 minute bakes were in mid to high 600 defF ovens.  The 8 minute bakes are then moving into more conventional deck oven temps of perhaps mid to likely upper 500 defF.

That said, might a flour change from 00 be necessary at these lower temps?  Could the AP flour now be the 60 to 75% component, and the 00 dropped from the recipe?  The remainder 25% or so now being AT or FS?

To me this is a very interesting thread as it spans a decade or so.  I find it interesting how Dom has changed his ingredients and perhaps workflow, yet retained a loyal customer base.  Fresh basil, hard accent cheeses and liberal olive oil seem to have a notable place in the "trademark ingredients" of DiFara pizza.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on November 25, 2017, 08:01:11 AM
Just some conjecture... the latest video up stream post 346, Dom's son said he is now doing 8 minute bakes.  Could it be that as the son moves towards the front of the operation he was allowed to do some maintenance on the oven and implement a few changes?  If the bake went from 5 to 8 minutes, the temp of the oven sure came down.  From the folks on the DiFara's threads that did test bakes in their commercial ovens (Norma and others) it looked to me that the 5 minute bakes were in mid to high 600 defF ovens.  The 8 minute bakes are then moving into more conventional deck oven temps of perhaps mid to likely upper 500 defF.

That said, might a flour change from 00 be necessary at these lower temps?  Could the AP flour now be the 60 to 75% component, and the 00 dropped from the recipe?  The remainder 25% or so now being AT or FS?

To me this is a very interesting thread as it spans a decade or so.  I find it interesting how Dom has changed his ingredients and perhaps workflow, yet retained a loyal customer base.  Fresh basil, hard accent cheeses and liberal olive oil seem to have a notable place in the "trademark ingredients" of DiFara pizza.

Dave,

In my opinion that are so many changing things it is hard to figure out what is done and what changes things.  Someday I would like to taste a DiFara pizza.

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Josh123 on November 25, 2017, 11:47:52 PM
I've had pizza all over the US, but a cheese pizza from Di Fara that I had in 2011 is still the best I've ever tasted. I think it's went downhill since, and Dom is becoming a bit geriatric now.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on November 26, 2017, 01:38:28 AM
Dom doesn't, and hasn't made every pizza himself for years. His kids know the process well; they grew up around it. Don't sell them short.

It all tastes the same to me. It's likely difficult getting consistency with the volume he does with that small baking capacity - it wouldn't surprise me he'd get some pies that bake longer than others.

The dough is nothing special but he definitely doesn't cheap out on the toppings. There is tons of hard cheese on every pie - I think it was weighed to be more than the weight of the mozzarella, actually....don't quote me on that. It's a significant portion, however.

I've had pizza all over the US, but a cheese pizza from Di Fara that I had in 2011 is still the best I've ever tasted. I think it's went downhill since, and Dom is becoming a bit geriatric now.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hammettjr on November 26, 2017, 07:34:16 AM
....There is tons of hard cheese on every pie - I think it was weighed to be more than the weight of the mozzarella, actually....don't quote me on that. It's a significant portion, however.

Here's a writeup from 2012 stating that he uses more hard cheese than mozz

https://www.pizzacentric.com/blog/2012/10/19/di-fara-weights-and-measures?rq=Di fara

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hammettjr on November 26, 2017, 08:45:22 AM
I've had pizza all over the US, but a cheese pizza from Di Fara that I had in 2011 is still the best I've ever tasted...

Do you make a "Di Fara" as a specialty pie?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on November 26, 2017, 08:59:48 AM
Here's a writeup from 2012 stating that he uses more hard cheese than mozz

https://www.pizzacentric.com/blog/2012/10/19/di-fara-weights-and-measures?rq=Di fara

Would correct the cheese amount, they use half a 1lb block of polly-o whole milk mozzarella, and about 2 handfuls of grana padano, once before and another after bake.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on November 26, 2017, 09:21:26 AM
Dom doesn't, and hasn't made every pizza himself for years. His kids know the process well; they grew up around it. Don't sell them short.

It all tastes the same to me. It's likely difficult getting consistency with the volume he does with that small baking capacity - it wouldn't surprise me he'd get some pies that bake longer than others.

The dough is nothing special but he definitely doesn't cheap out on the toppings. There is tons of hard cheese on every pie - I think it was weighed to be more than the weight of the mozzarella, actually....don't quote me on that. It's a significant portion, however.

I find his crust unique, it's lighter than regular NY slices and the black spots in the undercrust and charring from his old BP deck (a 60's DS805) give it a nice old school flavor.   It's a higher hydration dough, the texture is light and snappy.  It isn't "expensive toppings" on an emergency dough that people like to call it here.  A 1 lb block of Polly is $2 at the supermarket.  I think his specific way of doing things is what differentiates his pie, he doesn't follow any NY slice workflow.  For instance, he hand slices the mozzarella right on the pie, he has the grana padano grated right before use.  These things make a difference, shredded mozzarella sitting in a bin for an hour will taste different than freshly sliced.  An example in cooking where small changes make big differences.  They use Vantia brand tomatoes which is like $1 per 16oz can for the sauce with a ton of herbs in it, and Vantia olive oil.  The signature DiFara flavor is from the Grana Padano, copious amounts of oil, and the fresh cut Ligurian basil which is sweeter than most domestic basils.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: quietdesperation on November 26, 2017, 09:43:14 AM
we didn't have a great experience there, the crust was tough and underdone, no charring on the bottom:
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=47072.msg472126#msg472126

not sure if we're going to head back this year when there are so many other places to try
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on November 26, 2017, 09:46:39 AM
we didn't have a great experience there, the crust was tough and underdone, no charring on the bottom:
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=47072.msg472126#msg472126

not sure if we're going to head back this year when there are so many other places to try

The pies made by Dom Jr, and Rob are different.  Gotta go when Dom's making pies which is like 2 days a week now tho Dom is likely past his prime and admittedly the pies are not as good as they were 10 years ago.  In the end, pizzamaking is an art, different hands different product.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: quietdesperation on November 26, 2017, 10:05:38 AM
imo, the time cost of diFara's is too high at this point. It's about a 40 min ride from our apt in manhattan, there may be a 1-2 hour line, no place to sit, there's a chance dom might not be cooking or, if he is, the pizza might not be great.  alternatively, it's a five min walk to sal and carmines or a 20 min subway ride to suprema or prince st
Title: Re:Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: LuisInfante on December 10, 2017, 12:42:09 PM
I recently conducted a couple of experiments in which I used a proofing box in the course of making pizza dough.  In one experiment, I intentionally introduced moisture and humidity to the dough.  In the second experiment, I repeated the first experiment but without the introduction of moisture and humidity.  The results of those experiments are reported under the Proofing Box thread. 

For both experiments, I intentionally selected flours to try to produce a dough and crust similar to those produced by DiFara's in Brooklyn.   More specifically, I used 50% Delverde 00 flour (4.8 ounces) and 50% King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour (4.8 ounces).  I used 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast which I proofed in a tablespoon of warm water, 3/4 teaspoon sea salt and 5.8 ounces water (less the one tablespoon for proofing).   The flours and the salt were combined in my stand mixer, the yeast/water mixture was added and, using the paddle, everything was kneaded at low speed (#1) for about 1 minute.  The paddle was replaced by the dough hook and the dough mixture was kneaded at low-medium speed (#2) for about 10 minutes, and at medium speed (#3) for a final 2 minutes.  I had adusted the temperature of the water used to achieve a dough temperature off the hook of around 80 degrees F.  No autolyse period was used.  The dough easily passed the windowpane test. 

The dough was put into a bowl, covered, and put into the proofing box for about 6 hours.  At the end of that time period, after a short duration while the toppings were being readied, the dough was shaped into a 16-inch round, placed on a 16-inch pizza screen, dressed and baked for part of the total bake time on the screen and slipped onto a preheated (500-550 degrees F) pizza stone for a few final minutes to provide additional browning on the bottom of the crust.

The pizza round was dressed with DOP San Marzano and fresh tomatoes, fresh fior di latte mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, some Mexican oaxaca melting cheese, pepperoni on half and half Margherita style, olive oil, fresh basil and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

I took photos of the two pizzas made using the proofing box for proofing the doughs, but unfortunately the photos for the first pizza (the one where moisture and humidity was introduced to the dough) did not take because the camera batteries had expired.  However, with replacement of the batteries, I was able to take photos of the second pizza, one of which is shown below (the whole pizza) and the other (a slice) in the following posting.

Peter

Pete, hope you are doing great!

I'm making pizzas in Mexico, I normally use mozzarella cheese from costco, I usually get the loaf and shred it myself, however they regularly run out of that loaf cheese and only have the shreded mozzarella, which I don't really like.

on the other hand, it is very easy to find whole milk Oaxaca cheese here in Mexico, I saw that you tried Oaxaca on pizza, how does it compare against mozzarella? do you remember the brand you used?

I have never tried Oaxaca cheese on pizza, but I will do it for sure.. maybe that's the way to go.

the picture below is a cheese pie I made yesterday using costco cheese, I shreded it right before making the pizza, that's the best result I have gotten so far.

best regards,
Luis Infante
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on December 10, 2017, 02:01:12 PM
Luis,

It's been such a long time that I tried the Oaxaca cheese. I'm sure I tried it because it is similar to mozzarella cheese, and because I live in an area that has a lot of Hispanics I was able to find it quite easily in one of the local supermarkets where many Hispanics shop. I'm pretty certain that the brand was Cacique:

https://www.caciqueinc.com/products/oaxaca/

I don't recall how well the Oaxaca cheese performed on the pizzas other than to say that if it was bad I think I would have remembered that. But in your case, there is no harm in trying it if it readily available to you where you are in Mexico. I don't recall whether the Cacique brand is an American brand or a Mexican brand. Next time I am in the store, I can check since the store also sells other Mexican products, such as the Selecta flour.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: LuisInfante on December 10, 2017, 02:11:20 PM
Luis,

It's been such a long time that I tried the Oaxaca cheese. I'm sure I tried it because it is similar to mozzarella cheese, and because I live in an area that has a lot of Hispanics I was able to find it quite easily in one of the local supermarkets where many Hispanics shop. I'm pretty certain that the brand was Cacique:

https://www.caciqueinc.com/products/oaxaca/

I don't recall how well the Oaxaca cheese performed on the pizzas other than to say that if it was bad I think I would have remembered that. But in your case, there is no harm in trying it if it readily available to you where you are in Mexico. I don't recall whether the Cacique brand is an American brand or a Mexican brand. Next time I am in the store, I can check since the store also sells other Mexican products, such as the Selecta flour.

Peter

Peter, thank you for your reply!

we can find Oaxaca cheese at supermarkets like waltmart, most of them are part skim, however the best flavor cheeses are found at the local market, sometimes they don't have a brand, they are produced by local family companies, I'm pretty much sure that those cheese are whole milk.. more fat, but better flavor.. I will try it on pizza for sure next time I make.

best regards,
Luis Infante
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: norma427 on January 27, 2018, 10:42:17 PM
Another recent video of Dom making pizzas.

Domenico De Marco Di Fara pizza sports the Brooklyn hipster look and makes artisan pizza long before it was hip!

https://vimeo.com/252871580

Norma
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: John_Copley on February 28, 2018, 07:00:13 PM
Had my first attempt at the Di Fara square tonight. I took quite a few pointers from here and thankfully my oven had a lot of options. I think I got pretty close even though a lot of ingredients are hard to source here in the uk. I can go into more depth if anyone wants it.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on February 28, 2018, 07:10:03 PM
Looks great.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jvp123 on February 28, 2018, 07:13:16 PM
Had my first attempt at the Di Fara square tonight. I took quite a few pointers from here and thankfully my oven had a lot of options. I think I got pretty close even though a lot of ingredients are hard to source here in the uk. I can go into more depth if anyone wants it.

Looks very close! Nice work. :chef:  I had a couple squares from there a couple months ago.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on February 28, 2018, 08:07:30 PM
Legit! 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: parallei on February 28, 2018, 08:48:30 PM
Had my first attempt at the Di Fara square tonight. I took quite a few pointers from here and thankfully my oven had a lot of options. I think I got pretty close even though a lot of ingredients are hard to source here in the uk. I can go into more depth if anyone wants it.

Looking very good. :pizza:
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jersey Pie Boy on March 01, 2018, 09:10:32 AM
John, that looks wonderful!

I'd love to hear about this beauty!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Makisupapoliceman on March 09, 2018, 02:17:05 PM
hi I know it has been a while for this thread but I was reading thru and have a few questions. I am going to experiment with 00 and KASL/all trumps and see which I prefer. one thing I did not see on this thread though (and maybe I missed it) is if people are using IDY and adding directly to flour or if they are using ADY and hydrating before mixing it into the flour, and which they have found to work better. Also, what kind of yeast do you suppose Dom uses, red star? I am looking forward to hearing all your answers thanks!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on March 09, 2018, 02:58:41 PM
Also, what kind of yeast do you suppose Dom uses, red star? I am looking forward to hearing all your answers thanks!
Makiisupapoliceman,

As I previously reported in this thread, Dom once told me when I visited his shop that he used fresh yeast. But that was many years ago and Dom is known for switching his ingredients based on availability and price. I had meant to try fresh yeast for one of my clone experiments but was not able to find fresh yeast in any of the stores where I shopped. So, I simply used IDY. But any commercial yeast used in the right amount should work. Dom no doubt uses the brand of fresh yeast, if he is still doing that, that his supplier has on hand.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HarryHaller73 on March 09, 2018, 10:10:56 PM
Makiisupapoliceman,

As I previously reported in this thread, Dom once told me when I visited his shop that he used fresh yeast. But that was many years ago and Dom is known for switching his ingredients based on availability and price. I had meant to try fresh yeast for one of my clone experiments but was not able to find fresh yeast in any of the stores where I shopped. So, I simply used IDY. But any commercial yeast used in the right amount should work. Dom no doubt uses the brand of fresh yeast, if he is still doing that, that his supplier has on hand.

Peter

The current flour combo is Heckers + Wingold H&R
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Makisupapoliceman on March 16, 2018, 04:10:19 PM
how many of you use fresh cake yeast? I am going to try it soon. never have before. do you think a lot of the NYC pizzerias use this instead of dried yeast? I'm going to order some I'm just also concerned about storing it. I've seen mixed reviews about freezing fresh yeast. any insight?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizapizza on March 16, 2018, 08:10:55 PM
how many of you use fresh cake yeast? I am going to try it soon. never have before. do you think a lot of the NYC pizzerias use this instead of dried yeast? I'm going to order some I'm just also concerned about storing it. I've seen mixed reviews about freezing fresh yeast. any insight?

its only $1 at restaurant depot so ive never really worried about storing it. i only use a small amount so i end up throwing 95% of it away. its usually good for about a month till it expires but ive used it past the expiration date with no problem
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Makisupapoliceman on March 17, 2018, 09:22:47 AM
its only $1 at restaurant depot so ive never really worried about storing it. i only use a small amount so i end up throwing 95% of it away. its usually good for about a month till it expires but ive used it past the expiration date with no problem

do you find many differences between the fresh and dry yeast?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on March 17, 2018, 09:35:44 AM
do you find many differences between the fresh and dry yeast?

If you do notice a difference, it's much more likely that it's something else you did differently and not the yeast.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Makisupapoliceman on March 28, 2018, 05:06:03 PM
Hi again everyone. I have been using this dough recipe with different types of 00 and HG flour and finding which I like best. I think I finally found which I like most. but my question now is about cold fermenting. usually I will cold ferment from 24-48 hours but my question is what do do before cold fermenting. I use IDY and put 105-110 degree water when mixing, and I keep it out at room temperature for a half hour before throwing in the fridge for a day or two. is that not long enough? how long do you guys usually keep it room temp before putting it in the fridge for cold fermenting? thanks in advance hope to hear from some of you soon!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chi_Guy on March 30, 2018, 01:45:56 AM
do you find many differences between the fresh and dry yeast?

I experimented with fresh yeast a while back and found that it imparted a certain aroma that dry yeast doesn't.  But performance wise, there wasn't much difference between it and IDY. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: MarkMarkyMark on March 30, 2018, 10:19:42 AM
Hi again everyone. I have been using this dough recipe with different types of 00 and HG flour and finding which I like best. I think I finally found which I like most. but my question now is about cold fermenting. usually I will cold ferment from 24-48 hours but my question is what do do before cold fermenting. I use IDY and put 105-110 degree water when mixing, and I keep it out at room temperature for a half hour before throwing in the fridge for a day or two. is that not long enough? how long do you guys usually keep it room temp before putting it in the fridge for cold fermenting? thanks in advance hope to hear from some of you soon!

Ken Forkish recipe does this but leaves it out for 2 hours
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Makisupapoliceman on March 30, 2018, 01:02:22 PM
Ken Forkish recipe does this but leaves it out for 2 hours

I made a couple the other day and left them out for 3 hours and then punched one down and left one regular and put in fridge for 2 days. great results. do most people on here just put directly into fridge after making the dough?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: NepaBill on May 03, 2018, 07:46:33 AM
I only saw recipe attempts posted early in this thread..  Did you guys ever get close to this recipe?  if so, what page of the thread?  I scan from back to front, and front to back..  I only saw recipes early on..
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: nirc on September 03, 2018, 03:18:26 PM
I only saw recipe attempts posted early in this thread..  Did you guys ever get close to this recipe?  if so, what page of the thread?  I scan from back to front, and front to back..  I only saw recipes early on..

+1
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 04, 2018, 08:41:06 AM
 I wanted to eat something crispy than my usual pizza. Neapolitan dough with caputo pizzeria. %67hydro. Baked at 700f/750f . A little bit more than 3 min bake. Bayernland full fat mozzarella (like grande in the states) Gustarosso San marzano. EVOO and a lot of Parmigiano and Basil. First picture difara clone second my usual pizza. same dough with different bake temp. and ingredients
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: tinroofrusted on November 04, 2018, 09:27:18 AM
They both look great. If you make me pick one I'd go with the first.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hammettjr on November 04, 2018, 10:22:12 AM
Nicely done! The top really looks like Di Fara

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 05, 2018, 03:37:16 AM
Thank you guys. My favorite is still neapolitan pizza but i enjoyed eating NY pizza.  ;D

Someone knows where can i find this hand grater for pizzeria?

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HansB on November 05, 2018, 05:57:28 AM
Ebay may be the only place to find something like that?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jkb on November 05, 2018, 06:27:42 AM
Grating cheese is the part of pizza making I detest.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: vtsteve on November 05, 2018, 09:52:13 AM
Grating cheese is the part of pizza making I detest.

Until I can justify a Cheese Hog, it's shredded Empire for me!*   :-D



*I use a Norpro 354 coarse grater for *cold* cheddar & muenster, 1-2# per bake.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: nirc on November 05, 2018, 10:21:48 AM
Grating cheese is the part of pizza making I detest.

I have been using this for years with great success.

https://www.amazon.com/Presto-02910-Shooter-Electric-Shredder/dp/B00006IV0R/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1541431235&sr=1-5&keywords=electric+cheese+grater
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Josh123 on November 06, 2018, 11:15:41 PM
My attempt at a Di Fara square
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 06, 2018, 11:19:50 PM
My attempt at a Di Fara square

Did you par-bake the crust?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Josh123 on November 06, 2018, 11:29:34 PM
Did you par-bake the crust?

Actually, no. Its a bit thinner than a Di Fara square, so I didnt need to. I baked this 13 mins at 550 in a Bakers Pride Y600. Final 2 mins were straight on the deck. Had the thinness of a grandma slice more than a classic Sicilian though Di Fara's square isnt super thick compared to other squares in NYC
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 06, 2018, 11:31:55 PM
I like it. Looks just like it other than - as you noted - the thickness.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on November 06, 2018, 11:33:02 PM
Does Dom pull his out of the pan for the end of the bake?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Josh123 on November 06, 2018, 11:37:37 PM
Does Dom pull his out of the pan for the end of the bake?

I'm not sure actually. He does pour a %$# ton of olive oil in the pan at various points in the bake so the bottom is basically fried. No need I guess  :-D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on November 07, 2018, 02:33:45 AM
that square looks good but you are incorrect in your assumption that you don't need to parbake because of the thickness. The parbake gives the pie an entirely different texture. The texture I had in that square slice was one that could only be achieved with a parbake.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Josh123 on November 07, 2018, 07:07:18 AM
that square looks good but you are incorrect in your assumption that you don't need to parbake because of the thickness. The parbake gives the pie an entirely different texture. The texture I had in that square slice was one that could only be achieved with a parbake.

I'm definitely not incorrect here lol. Parbaking something this thin would completely dry out/burn the crust before the toppings were done. People dont parbake for the sake of it; they do it so the middle is done when the toppings are. You dont need to do this with thinner pizza.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hotsawce on November 10, 2018, 01:52:04 AM
I'm not arguing the application of straight bake vs parbake. I'm telling you that a bake from raw will never approximate the texture of dom's parbaked pizza. Everything comes together differently doing it in different stages.

I'm definitely not incorrect here lol. Parbaking something this thin would completely dry out/burn the crust before the toppings were done. People dont parbake for the sake of it; they do it so the middle is done when the toppings are. You dont need to do this with thinner pizza.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: CIZ28 on November 13, 2018, 01:16:20 AM
The reason Sicilians are parbaked is because there’s just no time to make them fresh. People don’t want to wait hours for a pizza. Even when parbaked, once topped, they’ll still usually take almost double the time of a regular pizza in the oven. You can also let it rise and refrigerate it but that’s not practical because it’ll continue to slowly rise and you have no idea when someone will order one, so you’d have to keep pushing it down. Then you’d still have to cook it about half way before topping it anyway. It’s about convenience and timing really.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 14, 2018, 08:16:08 AM
First try  ;D I am quite satisfied with the taste. La Fiammante tomatoes, Bayernland fullfat mozzarella, Parmigiano, basil and Mozzarella %100 latte di bufala campana
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on November 25, 2018, 04:37:02 PM
Hello Guys 😁 another try with round pie in my way

My classic neapolitan dough %67 hydro. 12+6 RT

Started with 734°F. after turning the pie a few times the oven temperature dropped down till 644°F.
4/5 min bake. Bayernland full fat Mozzarella, La Torrenta Pelati, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil, Parmigiano, EVOO

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: chrisgraff on December 07, 2018, 07:21:18 PM
Hello Guys 😁 another try with round pie in my way

My classic neapolitan dough %67 hydro. 12+6 RT

Started with 734°F. after turning the pie a few times the oven temperature dropped down till 644°F.
4/5 min bake. Bayernland full fat Mozzarella, La Torrenta Pelati, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil, Parmigiano, EVOO

Fine looking pizza, sir!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on December 07, 2018, 07:39:40 PM
Those really look a lot like the real thing.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jvp123 on December 07, 2018, 08:16:49 PM
Those really look a lot like the real thing.

Really does!  Pretty impressive given most, if not all, of the elements going in to it are different.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Josh123 on December 09, 2018, 10:32:27 AM
Awesome pizza!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: tdub154420 on May 30, 2019, 01:26:15 PM
I just recently got back from a week long trip to NY, it was my first time visiting, and I tried my hardest to grab pizza from all the most notable spots.  I never made it down to Totono's or all the way up to Patsy's in Harlem, and I'm sad to say that there was just no time for Lucali.  But I think I tried most other notable places.  My top 3 NY slices were from Luigi's on 5th Ave, John's on Bleecker Street, and the best slice I had was Di Fara's, and it wasn't even the one in Midtown.  This was the DiFara's in Williamsburg. No Dom, no Dom Jr. But hell if it wasn't the best slice I'd had all week. 

So I got home and tried to make one, but it was very sloppy.  Couldn't even tell you the percentages of my dough, and it was a hand kneed couple hour proof.  But it was about 75% Caputo and 25% All Trumps with fresh yeast and kroger sea salt. 

The cheese was Restaurant Depot WM Mozz, Ovalini Mozz, Parm Reg
The sauce was some DOP San Marz, 7/11's, Dried Oregano, Basil, Salt, Pepper
I blended some Yellow and Green Filippo Berrio oil to put on before and after, and topped with just some Restaurant Depot Basil

If you look at the pictures be warned, these went on Instagram first so there is a "rustic" filter on it to make it look better.  But even still, I feel the pizza didn't look bad, but it sure didn't taste the best. 

First of all, I got to ditch the Restaurant Depot cheese.  I may opt for grande but I saw HarryHaller73 mention that it might be Polly O mozz so I may try that next time.  The Parm Reg was from Restaurant Depot too so I think I need to try a quality Grana Padano next.

But I came to one conclusion while making this pie and meditating on the Di Fara pizza.  Its all about the blend of high quality Italian style and more base quality NY style. 

I know a lot of people liked to point out that they use yellow Filippo olive oil to finish the pies but no way that was yellow Filippo or even the green EVOO.  I think it probably is Yellow Filippo Berio cut with some high quality EVOO.  And I think the same shows for the dough and sauce which it seems people have a good read on.  NY style dough but cut with 00 flour.  I think its a NY sauce but cut with DOP San Marzano.  The Cheese very well could be Polly O Mozz but covered in a really good Grana Padano.  I'm not completely sure on the Ovalini yet, I'm not 100% certain the slice I had from Di Fara even had a second type of Mozz. 

I'm gonna try to give this another shot trying higher quality ingredients. I'll make sure to post here.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on May 30, 2019, 05:38:29 PM
I'd hit it....hard!👌
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: quietdesperation on May 30, 2019, 09:34:01 PM
  My top 3 NY slices were from Luigi's on 5th Ave, John's on Bleecker Street, and the best slice I had was Di Fara's, and it wasn't even the one in Midtown.

luigi' on 5th avenue in brooklyn is one of my favorites. I tried to convince the chau tour to visit to no avail. There is no diFaras in midtown, did you mean johns?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: tdub154420 on May 30, 2019, 10:29:12 PM
luigi' on 5th avenue in brooklyn is one of my favorites. I tried to convince the chau tour to visit to no avail. There is no diFaras in midtown, did you mean johns?

Sorry I meant the Di Fara's in Midwood. 

And Luigi's was great.  So many people had recommended Joe's but nobody really had mentioned Luigi's and in my opinion Luigi's is a lot better. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: quietdesperation on May 31, 2019, 03:52:14 PM
well, joe's is more accessible as most visitors to nyc don't travel outside of Manhattan for pizza! good on you for getting out there!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jkb on June 02, 2019, 12:35:10 PM
The secret ingredient is mouse turds.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on June 05, 2019, 06:33:44 AM
The secret ingredient is mouse turds.

Worked well for Disney too.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jersey Pie Boy on June 05, 2019, 06:45:51 AM
Happiest place on Earth  :-D >:D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzainthe6ix on June 12, 2019, 08:57:25 AM
Hello Guys 😁 another try with round pie in my way

My classic neapolitan dough %67 hydro. 12+6 RT

Started with 734°F. after turning the pie a few times the oven temperature dropped down till 644°F.
4/5 min bake. Bayernland full fat Mozzarella, La Torrenta Pelati, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil, Parmigiano, EVOO
Wow these are amazing.  What type of oven?  Can you share the complete details of the recipe including flour
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pizzadaheim on June 15, 2019, 12:51:43 PM
Wow these are amazing.  What type of oven?  Can you share the complete details of the recipe including flour

Oven was an electric_oven. Flour was Caputo Pizzeria. 12 hours Bulk + 6 hours in balls. 4 minutes bake without Mozzarella di bufala another 2-3 min bake with Bufala.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Obsauced on July 01, 2019, 12:57:30 PM
Oven was an electric_oven. Flour was Caputo Pizzeria. 12 hours Bulk + 6 hours in balls. 4 minutes bake without Mozzarella di bufala another 2-3 min bake with Bufala.

Do you have a full recipe on this?! These look absolutely amazing!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: iLLEb on July 10, 2019, 03:41:59 AM
Could you give me the amounts pizzadaheim? what amount of yeast do you use?

12+6H is RT?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 15, 2019, 11:03:19 PM
60/40 blend, same day, 6hr rt bulk, 2 he balled.

660 on the Blackstone, 4.5 min. I believe some folks have been underestimating the power of Dom's oven... I'm going with 700 on next one.

Got extra ball in fridge now to see what I can come up with tomorrow.

This pie did not have the ultra $ cheese's but was still damn good. Hopefully tomorrow's will have the sources good bull dick gravy stuff.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 15, 2019, 11:07:05 PM
Sausage, mushroom, black olive... Light hand.

Center was a wee bit wet... I'll fix that on next one.

I put light cheese on the bottom, topped, then another light cheese on top... Basil was post bake.  Good stuff. 😋
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: hammettjr on July 16, 2019, 12:11:52 PM
Good stuff. 😋

Looks awesome!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jon in Albany on July 17, 2019, 06:16:02 PM
That looks really good, Bob!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 17, 2019, 09:11:24 PM
Thanks guys.... Doing another tonight. 🤗
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: quietdesperation on July 21, 2019, 11:03:53 AM
that's a beauty, looking forward to photos of the next one!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 29, 2019, 11:25:11 PM


Another Dom...... These things are good, y'all need to join in!!  :drool:
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 29, 2019, 11:27:59 PM
 :-\Can't see the pano....

Those are canned, organic shrooms.... Real good strong flavor.   ;)
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foreplease on July 29, 2019, 11:45:43 PM

Another Dom...... These things are good, y'all need to join in!!  :drool:
Happy to. Thank you for the invitation. When and what time is the next one? What can I bring?  ;D
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on May 08, 2020, 06:03:43 PM
The goldbelly thread inspired me to make one.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on May 08, 2020, 06:14:05 PM
One I had there:
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Little bean on May 08, 2020, 07:31:37 PM
The goldbelly thread inspired me to make one.

very nice !
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on May 08, 2020, 08:51:16 PM
On the side by side comparison.... I prefer Craigs. Plus, you get the assurance that no ingredients were harmed (infested) in the making of his great looking pie.  🤗🍕🍻
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Wilsonwilsonn on May 16, 2020, 12:27:01 AM
The goldbelly thread inspired me to make one.

Craig that's an incredible looking pie! Not sure which looks better! I have just read the full thread (took a while) & was wandering which route you took for this final result? I'd be interested to hear any details. Flour ratio, poolish or fresh yeast, cooked sauce, temps etc. If you dont mind?



Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on May 16, 2020, 12:51:29 AM
Craig, great job.  It looks just like DiFara's!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: scott r on May 16, 2020, 12:55:54 AM
except better
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: nickyr on May 16, 2020, 01:06:02 AM
Craig that's an incredible looking pie! Not sure which looks better! I have just read the full thread (took a while) & was wandering which route you took for this final result? I'd be interested to hear any details. Flour ratio, poolish or fresh yeast, cooked sauce, temps etc. If you dont mind?
I would too!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on May 16, 2020, 11:52:28 AM
Thanks all for the kind words. This pie was:

Grocery store brand BF
61% water
3% veg oil.
2% salt
1% sugar
0.5% IDY
0.2% LDMP

~24H CF. Baked at 585F on 2-hour preheated 1/2" steel for about 5:30.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Wilsonwilsonn on May 16, 2020, 02:03:51 PM
Thanks all for the kind words. This pie was:

Grocery store brand BF
61% water
3% veg oil.
2% salt
1% sugar
0.5% IDY
0.2% LDMP

~24H CF. Baked at 585F on 2-hour preheated 1/2" steel for about 5:30.

Thanks for the info Craig. What does LDMP stand for? Also how did it taste? & did you go for a cooked sauce?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on May 16, 2020, 03:10:05 PM
Thanks for the info Craig. What does LDMP stand for? Also how did it taste? & did you go for a cooked sauce?
Wilsonwilsonn,

For future reference, see:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=20056.msg196875#msg196875

Peter

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on May 16, 2020, 05:08:04 PM
Thanks for the info Craig. What does LDMP stand for? Also how did it taste? & did you go for a cooked sauce?

No. I didn't use a cooked sauce. I prefer uncooked. It was Cento Italian WP, fresh oregano, dry oregano, red pepper flakes, fresh garlic ground to a paste with kosher salt, and pepper.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Wilsonwilsonn on May 16, 2020, 06:41:39 PM
Wilsonwilsonn,

For future reference, see:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=20056.msg196875#msg196875

Peter

Thanks Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Wilsonwilsonn on May 16, 2020, 06:43:12 PM
No. I didn't use a cooked sauce. I prefer uncooked. It was Cento Italian WP, fresh oregano, dry oregano, red pepper flakes, fresh garlic ground to a paste with kosher salt, and pepper.

Sounds like a nice flavourful sauce Craig.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Wilsonwilsonn on May 25, 2020, 10:21:37 AM
Here's my 1st attempt of many I imagine
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on May 25, 2020, 11:15:15 AM
That's really pretty!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Movefast on July 04, 2020, 07:12:04 AM
Cooked a little too long as my oven was acting up.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: TXCraig1 on July 04, 2020, 08:47:53 AM
Looks great nonetheless.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on July 04, 2020, 09:26:23 AM
Cooked a little too long as my oven was acting up.
Movefast,

Looks great. Can you tell us what dough recipe you used and how you baked the pizza?

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Movefast on July 04, 2020, 11:52:20 PM
This is what I used. Mixed it into one batch, divided into two balls and into a bag in the fridge. 24 hours in the fridge.

Let it come to room temp for 2 hours if not a touch more.

My oven only goes to 520 but will sometimes sit at 475 once it goes over for a long period.

I tried the oven on broil to really preheat the steel but after it hit 550 and going back to bake it only maintained 480-500, if that. As if it gets tired lol. Preheat for almost two hours.

When I launch it, door opens, it loses a lot of heat and I wasn’t able to cook at 500+. That’s why it was too long and a bit dry as I have a good gauge on time at 500+ but it was hovering around 475.

It was light on cheese to be honest. Blend of brick Mozzarella and fresh mozzarella.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Movefast on July 07, 2020, 10:44:30 PM
I keep trying to perfect this one. Definitely my go to za!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 07, 2020, 10:46:54 PM
I keep trying to perfect this one. Definitely my go to za!
looking good!  :chef:
Y'all gotta burn it a lil though to be authentic.  😎
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on July 08, 2020, 03:03:06 PM
I keep trying to perfect this one. Definitely my go to za!
Movefast,

That is also a nice looking pizza, along the lines of the appearance of DiFara's pizzas.

Can you tell me what kind of flour you used? The last time I was involved in this thread, Dom was using a blend of high gluten flour and 00 flour. Dom was prone to switch vendors so I do not know which ones he now uses. My recollection also is that Dom did not use oil or sugar in his dough but I can see how you might have done so because you are using a home oven and baking steel, not a supercharged deck oven like Dom uses.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Glutenboy on July 08, 2020, 07:14:00 PM
Here's my 1st attempt of many I imagine
That is on point!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on July 13, 2020, 12:43:49 AM
Some random thoughts:

I had an excellent experience at Di Fara's today.  No wait, and much better pizza than the last time I was there.  Dom has Changed brands on everything it seems.  I saw new brands of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, oregano, and olive oil.  Even the crust seemed a bit different to me.  His hard grating cheese tasted much less sharp than what he was using last time (pretty sure it was grana padano).   I found it interesting that he is now using passata (jarred liquified tomato) mixed with canned san marzanos.  Last time I was there he was using fresh tomatoes and canned san marzano's.

He definitely used the same sauce for both the Sicilian and the round pies, and he used buffalo mozzarella only on the Sicilian.

The place was still incredibly dirty even after the board of health shut down.

I know this is a very old post but from what I am reading and what I read in a couple other post it seems as if Dom doesn't stick to the same ingredients over time and goes with different brands and such.   Also from Yelp review pictures and from videos he doesn't seem to be very consistent in the baking of the pies.  Sometimes they are more charred than other times they aren't charred at all, and rare occasion they crossed the line from charred to burnt.  Even the finished pie's top looks different often.  Now I'm not knocking DiFara but those are my observations and with that said it is the general concenses this is the best pizza in NYC.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pizza_Not_War on July 13, 2020, 01:01:25 AM
The best pizza is a purely hype business. Some grow by legend, deserved or not and others just have great marketing people and nowadays the Internet influencers spreading the word.

Back in my time growing up in New York, we didn't seek out these places because nobody talked about them and our local pizza joints were excellent.

You could probably find a lot of places that bake great consistent pizzas all day long. And they aren't constantly chasing low priced suppliers or having to switch because they are late on paying vendors. Just guessing here, but why else switch suppliers?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foreplease on July 13, 2020, 07:35:14 AM
You could probably find a lot of places that bake great consistent pizzas all day long. And they aren't constantly chasing low priced suppliers or having to switch because they are late on paying vendors. Just guessing here, but why else switch suppliers?
I’ve never been there, don’t like what I have learned about the place, and would not consider eating there. There could be a dozen or more reasons to switch suppliers. This is not a good thing to guess about and post. Because you don’t know, your statement is borderline libelous. We can suppose, we can suspect, but we do not know what we need to know in order to say (or write).
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pizza_Not_War on July 13, 2020, 11:48:01 AM
I’ve never been there, don’t like what I have learned about the place, and would not consider eating there. There could be a dozen or more reasons to switch suppliers. This is not a good thing to guess about and post. Because you don’t know, your statement is borderline libelous. We can suppose, we can suspect, but we do not know what we need to know in order to say (or write).
LOL - tell them to borderline sue me.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on July 13, 2020, 02:00:07 PM
I’ve never been there, don’t like what I have learned about the place, and would not consider eating there. There could be a dozen or more reasons to switch suppliers. This is not a good thing to guess about and post. Because you don’t know, your statement is borderline libelous. We can suppose, we can suspect, but we do not know what we need to know in order to say (or write).

What did you learn about it that place that you don't like?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foreplease on July 13, 2020, 02:23:32 PM
What did you learn about it that place that you don't like?
The long history of health department violations published by various news organizations. I also don’t like what I saw of their work with Goldbelly.com that was discussed and documented in another thread here.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foreplease on July 13, 2020, 02:36:10 PM
LOL - tell them to borderline sue me.
First of all, my comment was not meant as a personal attack. Secondly, that is kind of exactly the point. Anonymous screen names, like mine or yours, aren’t a license to...well, I’ll just say it is easier to be brave or careless anonymously - and - I suspect it weighs less on the conscience when there is no chance the alledger will ever have to face or be found out by the target.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 13, 2020, 03:51:54 PM
I believed difara's could probably care less what anyone says about them.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Wilsonwilsonn on July 14, 2020, 01:58:43 AM
Movefast,

That is also a nice looking pizza, along the lines of the appearance of DiFara's pizzas.

Can you tell me what kind of flour you used? The last time I was involved in this thread, Dom was using a blend of high gluten flour and 00 flour. Dom was prone to switch vendors so I do not know which ones he now uses. My recollection also is that Dom did not use oil or sugar in his dough but I can see how you might have done so because you are using a home oven and baking steel, not a supercharged deck oven like Dom uses.

Peter

Hi Peter,

I recently watched an interveiw with Maggie DeMarco of Di fara & she touched on flour & tomatoes.

She mentioned they use a caputo 00 flour (from the video I got the impression the red bag) & sometimes other 00 flours mixed with a heckers unbleached all purpose flour, due to the high protein.
She also said they are currently using a form of Mutti tomatoes & also a California brand which I cant remember off the top of my head but "vala rosa" or something along them lines rings a bell.

This interview was May of this year so as you stated they still use the 00/high gluten blend.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on July 14, 2020, 11:31:39 AM
Wilson, good work.  When reverse engineering a pizza or any food you want to use as close of a formula as the real deal you are copying but how much difference in this case would the type of flour make?  What if you used 100% high gluten for example but you used the same tomatoes and cheese and baked it the same?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Wilsonwilsonn on July 16, 2020, 09:53:27 AM
Wilson, good work.  When reverse engineering a pizza or any food you want to use as close of a formula as the real deal you are copying but how much difference in this case would the type of flour make?  What if you used 100% high gluten for example but you used the same tomatoes and cheese and baked it the same?


I think it would make a big difference! If you just used high gluten flour you would have different characteristics compared to blended 00 flour i.e  different dough, different texture, chew & fermentation etc. Not to say that's good or bad but if your trying to reverse engineer a pizza I guess you want to be as accurate as possible. Unless you want to make something similar & experiment & put your own stamp on it.

Give it a whirl & see how it turns out!?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: LeviCampbell on July 25, 2020, 06:38:03 PM
This is what I used. Mixed it into one batch, divided into two balls and into a bag in the fridge. 24 hours in the fridge.

Let it come to room temp for 2 hours if not a touch more.

My oven only goes to 520 but will sometimes sit at 475 once it goes over for a long period.

I tried the oven on broil to really preheat the steel but after it hit 550 and going back to bake it only maintained 480-500, if that. As if it gets tired lol. Preheat for almost two hours.

When I launch it, door opens, it loses a lot of heat and I wasn’t able to cook at 500+. That’s why it was too long and a bit dry as I have a good gauge on time at 500+ but it was hovering around 475.

It was light on cheese to be honest. Blend of brick Mozzarella and fresh mozzarella.

Tried my hand at this recipe and had some great results!

2 day cold ferment, took out 3 hours before bake.  7 minutes on the baking steel at 500 (preheated for 1.5 hours with broiler on for the last ten before launch).  Then flipped the broiler back on for the last 3 minutes.

Sauce was Scalfani tomatoes, little salt, and a few basil leaves that I left sit overnight in the fridge.

Whole milk low-moisture mozz pinched on, margherita pepperoni cut thick, and then shredded some parm on top after using scissors to cut the basil :)

Great taste!  Can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow  :drool:
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: jvp123 on July 25, 2020, 07:27:22 PM
Tried my hand at this recipe and had some great results!

2 day cold ferment, took out 3 hours before bake.  7 minutes on the baking steel at 500 (preheated for 1.5 hours with broiler on for the last ten before launch).  Then flipped the broiler back on for the last 3 minutes.

Sauce was Scalfani tomatoes, little salt, and a few basil leaves that I left sit overnight in the fridge.

Whole milk low-moisture mozz pinched on, margherita pepperoni cut thick, and then shredded some parm on top after using scissors to cut the basil :)

Great taste!  Can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow  :drool:

Very nice!  :chef:
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on August 08, 2020, 06:11:45 PM
Here is my attempt at Di Fara. Because I never had Di Fara before I’d say this inspired by but not an actual reverse engineered version.  I went by what people said here but because I never tried it I can’t input based on experience.   I can’t tell if it taste like the real thing.  With that said I loved the way it taste.   The dough seemed very wet and hard to handle so when I launched it one side got out of shape and didn’t stay round.  Baked it on my LBE about a 650 Stone temp and maybe 625 air temp.  I think it took about 4 minutes to bake. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on August 08, 2020, 06:25:26 PM
I may add that because there are so many theories on how he makes the pizza and then there are fact. Fact that he uses 75% 00 flour and 25% High Gluten.  I think I read that here that someone confirmed that.  With that said I used 70% Power Flour and 30% 00.  This is almost the opposite of what he uses but for what it’s worth it was good.  Next time I’ll do 75% 00 and 25% High Gluten.

Some theorize the sauce is uncooked, some day cooked, and some say cooked and fresh tomato added to the cooked sauce or canned whole tomato added. I make a good pasta sauce so when I made meatballs last week I made pasta sauce to cook meatballs in so I took 3/4 cup of pasta sauce out after it simmered 20 minutes.  Then today I added 3/4 cup Mutti brand to the 3/4 cup pasta sauce and used that as my pizza sauce.  Used Joseph Farms WMLM mozz.  Sliced it in the grater.  Put some fresh mozzarella.  Freshly grated pecorino romano.  Swiss brand pepperoni and sliced cooked Italian sausage.  Put olive oil on it and then launched it.  Planned on making a 15 inch but the dough was so wet it was hard to handle and it stretched out to 16.  Fine because the bigger the pizza the better.  I try to limit pizzas to 14 or even 12 when I experiment then when I get it down I make 18 inch pizzas.  This time I thought I’d do 15 instead of 14 but it ended up 16 minus the deformation on one side.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: RHawthorne on October 01, 2020, 12:59:48 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB9JqGFNwDU
Probably the longest 'behind the scenes' video I've seen of the pizza making process at DiFara. Not necessarily a lot of detailed information on specific brands or recipes given, but a good view of their processes and a nice up-close look at the pizzas pre-bake. What's always struck me the most of what can be seen of their pizzas is that the crust itself looks somewhat unremarkable. It looks fine, but it looks very flat to me, despite the fact that  a lot of people seem to think that it's the closest thing to Italian pizza. I've seen lots of pizzas, and while the pizzas at DiFara look very appealing, they don't look like any Italian pizza I've ever seen. Maybe they're close to the tonda Romana style where the actual crust is concerned, but apart from that, I see no resemblance at all. Furthermore, I can't say I've ever heard anyone go into any great depth in describing the quality of the crust; all people ever seem to talk about is the toppings. Another thing that strikes me is that (unless my slight color blindness is leading me astray), I've always detected a slight golden hue to the crust of their pizzas. I've been suspecting for some time now that they might be using some proportion of durum flour, but I'm probably way off on that one because nobody else has ever mentioned it and I've never seen any visual confirmation of that. Anyway, I think this video is well worth watching.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: waltertore on October 01, 2020, 06:52:34 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB9JqGFNwDU
Probably the longest 'behind the scenes' video I've seen of the pizza making process at DiFara. Not necessarily a lot of detailed information on specific brands or recipes given, but a good view of their processes and a nice up-close look at the pizzas pre-bake. What's always struck me the most of what can be seen of their pizzas is that the crust itself looks somewhat unremarkable. It looks fine, but it looks very flat to me, despite the fact that  a lot of people seem to think that it's the closest thing to Italian pizza. I've seen lots of pizzas, and while the pizzas at DiFara look very appealing, they don't look like any Italian pizza I've ever seen. Maybe they're close to the tonda Romana style where the actual crust is concerned, but apart from that, I see no resemblance at all. Furthermore, I can't say I've ever heard anyone go into any great depth in describing the quality of the crust; all people ever seem to talk about is the toppings. Another thing that strikes me is that (unless my slight color blindness is leading me astray), I've always detected a slight golden hue to the crust of their pizzas. I've been suspecting for some time now that they might be using some proportion of durum flour, but I'm probably way off on that one because nobody else has ever mentioned it and I've never seen any visual confirmation of that. Anyway, I think this video is well worth watching.

Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it.  I see they are using all ovens now and it must be fun to have locals coming back with the long lines gone.  We get a mix of tourists and locals - about 80% regulars.  It is a nice blend of new faces and old :)  The stones look like newer ones in the ovens. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: NY_Mike on October 02, 2020, 11:00:40 AM
This was my shot at a Di Fara's style.
Overall was very happy with how these pies turned out.
Great flavor in the dough....about a 5 minute or so bake on a stone, top rack, with a broil to get a little extra color on the crust.
It had a surprising feel in that it is crispier than it looks and didn't really get soggy as it cooled and sat.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: nyMike on October 20, 2020, 10:09:12 PM
Caught this off the DiFara instagram.
Looks like they’re using Heckers AP flour.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on November 07, 2020, 01:32:39 PM
Some here have said here that the sauce may be a combination of cooked and uncooked but in Instagram I asked this and the guy named Dino said it's all uncooked until it is on the pizza and cooks on the pizza.  So apparently it's fully uncooked going on the pizza, although it is strange it looks cooked. Here is a photo of my question but he answered by talking not by typing so you don’t see the answer or hear it.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Georgev on November 07, 2020, 02:22:06 PM
For what it’s worth I saw 2 boxes of valoroso pear tomato boxes on the ground in the last video posted. My guess he just stick blends them and uses them as is.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: RHawthorne on November 07, 2020, 07:10:05 PM
Some here have said here that the sauce may be a combination of cooked and uncooked but in Instagram I asked this and the guy named Dino said it's all uncooked until it is on the pizza and cooks on the pizza.  So apparently it's fully uncooked going on the pizza, although it is strange it looks cooked. Here is a photo of my question but he answered by talking not by typing so you don’t see the answer or hear it.
I've also heard that they use some cooked tomatoes mixed in with canned product. Makes sense to me.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Charlie on November 28, 2020, 02:21:38 PM
Some good stuff in here. Thanks to everybody that’s shared their results. I used what I had available to me which was harvest king and Caputo blue. Cheese is Polly O. I was lucky enough to score some quality Grana Padano and fresh mozzarella.

Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pvura on December 18, 2020, 01:46:00 PM
So, as far as I know, their sauce (which is what i am most interested on recreating) is possibly made from one of three brands.
In many of their behind the scenes videos i have seen, there are cans of vantia tomatoes near the oven. So it could be just those stick blended or dumped through a food mill.
I have seen many videos where Dom Jr says the sauce is a combo of canned and fresh whereas in other videos, dom says it is all fresh. Not sure what to believe here.
I just DM’d Di Fara on instagram to ask about what goes into their sauce and they replied saying the sauce is just canned Mutti tomatoes which I dont know if i can trust because i see Vantia tomatoes in their kitchen all the time.
Other forum members also say that it could be Valoroso tomatoes so...
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: RHawthorne on December 19, 2020, 12:40:02 AM
So, as far as I know, their sauce (which is what i am most interested on recreating) is possibly made from one of three brands.
In many of their behind the scenes videos i have seen, there are cans of vantia tomatoes near the oven. So it could be just those stick blended or dumped through a food mill.
I have seen many videos where Dom Jr says the sauce is a combo of canned and fresh whereas in other videos, dom says it is all fresh. Not sure what to believe here.
I just DM’d Di Fara on instagram to ask about what goes into their sauce and they replied saying the sauce is just canned Mutti tomatoes which I dont know if i can trust because i see Vantia tomatoes in their kitchen all the time.
Other forum members also say that it could be Valoroso tomatoes so...
If they're using Mutti tomatoes, I'd really like to know what distributor they're getting them from, because that's been my favorite brand for years, and I didn't think they put their tomatoes out for the professional foodservice world.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on December 29, 2020, 09:34:38 PM
I tried.  I never ate Di Fara’s but I’ve seen countless videos of Di Fara on YouTube and seen lots of Yelp pics too.  I put way too much cheese on it.  As far as taste goes I liked it.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: pvura on January 11, 2021, 02:05:30 PM
Caught this off the DiFara instagram.
Looks like they’re using Heckers AP flour.

Actually a combination of caputo cuoco 00 flour and wingold h and r all purpose flour.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on March 27, 2021, 12:51:01 PM
Hi all.  I want to make a square DiFara.  I never made a square slice before and have been following this thread and even posted pics of my round version.  I believe that square style normally is pretty thick but from pics in this discussion of Boy Hits Car’s square and even on the internet and YouTube as well as the video someone posted the DiFara doesn’t seem thick like a regular Sicilian square. 

Is this the case?  Did Dom decide to make his thinner than traditional square Sicilian or is there another square version that is thin and Dom followed that? I always took square to be thicker like Detroit style.  Although not thick it has to be thicker than the round Dom makes.

I’m going to copy Boy Hits Car version.  I think he put the TF at .12 which doesn’t seem thick at all. I think the round is .09.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: nickyr on March 28, 2021, 06:24:53 PM
Hi all.  I want to make a square DiFara.  I never made a square slice before and have been following this thread and even posted pics of my round version.  I believe that square style normally is pretty thick but from pics in this discussion of Boy Hits Car’s square and even on the internet and YouTube as well as the video someone posted the DiFara doesn’t seem thick like a regular Sicilian square. 

Is this the case?  Did Dom decide to make his thinner than traditional square Sicilian or is there another square version that is thin and Dom followed that? I always took square to be thicker like Detroit style.  Although not thick it has to be thicker than the round Dom makes.

I’m going to copy Boy Hits Car version.  I think he put the TF at .12 which doesn’t seem thick at all. I think the round is .09.
Di Fara’s square is very thin. Like a grandma, except the edges go farther up the sides of the pan so it can hold a massive pool of sauce
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on March 28, 2021, 09:12:06 PM
Di Fara’s square is very thin. Like a grandma, except the edges go farther up the sides of the pan so it can hold a massive pool of sauce

One more thing, when he pulls it out there is a lot of oil bubbling around.  Does he put a lot of olive oil during the pre-bake or does he put a little in the pre-bake then add a lot more during the second bake.  I can't tell from the videos. 


Thanks!
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 14, 2021, 02:59:19 PM
For those who are interested, there is an interview of Maggie Mieles, who is the daughter of Dom DeMarco:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBIXiMQWWs4&t=70s

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on April 14, 2021, 07:16:45 PM
It's been awhile since I've made one of these.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foodiebuddha on April 14, 2021, 09:26:47 PM
For those who are interested, there is an interview of Maggie Mieles, who is the daughter of Dom DeMarco:

Peter

thanks for posting. have you watched it yet? does Maggie get into any of the nuances of their process for making pizza?
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: nickyr on April 14, 2021, 10:16:41 PM
One more thing, when he pulls it out there is a lot of oil bubbling around.  Does he put a lot of olive oil during the pre-bake or does he put a little in the pre-bake then add a lot more during the second bake.  I can't tell from the videos. 


Thanks!
Sorry I missed this, but I don’t know the answer. I always vote for more oil at every opportunity though :-)
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: PizzaEater101 on April 14, 2021, 11:13:52 PM
Sorry I missed this, but I don’t know the answer. I always vote for more oil at every opportunity though :-)

I finally noticed in a video he puts oil (prob just enough or a little) for the pre-bake then after he lifts it up and puts a substantial amount in the pan after it has been pre-baked.  I tried that when I tried doing a DiFara square pizza.  The pizza looked like his but I was too lazy to take a picture and post it.  I will next time. 
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 15, 2021, 10:01:12 AM
thanks for posting. have you watched it yet? does Maggie get into any of the nuances of their process for making pizza?
foodiebuddha,

I watched a part of the video but plan to watch the whole video this weekend.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foodiebuddha on April 15, 2021, 12:01:33 PM
foodiebuddha,

I watched a part of the video but plan to watch the whole video this weekend.

Peter

thanks Pete - i'll try and watch it too but if you get to it before i do - would love to know what kind of info is in it.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 18, 2021, 10:03:41 AM
thanks Pete - i'll try and watch it too but if you get to it before i do - would love to know what kind of info is in it.
foodiebuddha,

Last night, I viewed the entire video featuring Maggie Mieles of DiFara's.

By way of background, Maggie is the middle child of seven DeMarco children (boys and girls). She has been involved since childhood in the DiFara business. Dom DeMarco is now 84 years old and apparently spends little time in the store these days. So, it appears that Maggie is now in charge of the business, which now includes a few pizzerias and a ghost kitchen. DiFara's also struck a deal with Goldbelly to ship frozen pizzas across the country.

In the video, Maggie discusses how they are coping with the Covid pandema and trying to find workers for their operations, which apparently has been a challenge.  All of their stores are currently limited to pick-up and delivery.

There is not much in the video in the way of discussion of the DiFara pizzas per se or how they are made. However, Maggie said that they continue to use the same recipes and related ingredients at all locations and to continue to do so even if the prices of those ingredients increase. The way that they assemble the pizzas will remain the same. One material change that she did mention was with respect to the frozen pizzas. Instead of shipping an 18-inch pizza, the amount of dough was adjusted to make two 12-inch pizza. I believe that I heard Maggie say that they cut the two pizzas in half to facilitate shipping. The two pizzas are the minimum shipping order.

I personally enjoyed the video but there is not much in it for people looking for secrets or even basic information about the pizzas themselves.

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: RHawthorne on April 18, 2021, 10:03:44 AM
One more thing, when he pulls it out there is a lot of oil bubbling around.  Does he put a lot of olive oil during the pre-bake or does he put a little in the pre-bake then add a lot more during the second bake.  I can't tell from the videos. 



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XynVVH1ZPZo This video might help to answer that question, starting at 0:48 in . He clearly puts a pretty good amount of oil in the pan at what appears to be a later stage of the bake, judging by the way he's able to pick it up. I can't say for sure how late in the bake that pie is, but it doesn't look especially dark to me. I've heard that he actually did a 3 or 4 stage process with his square pizzas.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: HansB on April 18, 2021, 10:32:49 AM
Note too, he uses two different oils.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foodiebuddha on April 18, 2021, 11:20:58 AM
foodiebuddha,

Last night, I viewed the entire video featuring Maggie Mieles of DiFara's.


Peter

thanks peter for the in depth review - i look forward to watching it myself. Sounds like a good watch even in the absence of pizza making insights.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Pete-zza on April 18, 2021, 12:21:36 PM
thanks peter for the in depth review - i look forward to watching it myself. Sounds like a good watch even in the absence of pizza making insights.
foodiebuddha,

Maybe I missed it in the video (there are parts where the quality of audio is not all that great, at least to my aging ears) but I did not hear anything from Maggie about her brother Dom Jr. who opened up a pizzeria in Nevada in 2010 that was inspired by his experience working with his father in the flagship store in Brooklyn:

https://nypost.com/2010/07/13/son-of-nyc-pie-master-opens-pizzeria-in-vegas/

I recalled briefly chatting with Dom Jr. when I made my visit to the flagship store. The Nevada location is still in operation:

https://www.domdemarcos.com/

But recent Yelp reviews do not give the high scores that the flagship store has gotten:

5-star 29%
4-star 27%
3-star 26%
2-star 7%
1-star 11%

Peter
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: RHawthorne on April 18, 2021, 02:57:47 PM
foodiebuddha,

Maybe I missed it in the video (there are parts where the quality of audio is not all that great, at least to my aging ears) but I did not hear anything from Maggie about her brother Dom Jr. who opened up a pizzeria in Nevada in 2010 that was inspired by his experience working with his father in the flagship store in Brooklyn:

https://nypost.com/2010/07/13/son-of-nyc-pie-master-opens-pizzeria-in-vegas/

I recalled briefly chatting with Dom Jr. when I made my visit to the flagship store. The Nevada location is still in operation:

https://www.domdemarcos.com/

But recent Yelp reviews do not give the high scores that the flagship store has gotten:

5-star 29%
4-star 27%
3-star 26%
2-star 7%
1-star 11%

Peter
You can tell just looking at the pizza on that website that it's not the same as the original. It might be very good, but it's definitely different.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: foodiebuddha on April 19, 2021, 03:31:46 PM
Pete -
i had a short conversation with Dom back when my buddy took me there a few years ago - in all honesty, i think this is a classic example of "no real secrets just great execution". I'll see if i can dig up notes from that conversation but i doubt i took any TBH ... i wasn't into pizza making back then like i am now.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Frank Cozzo on April 20, 2021, 11:55:04 AM
Interesting Q&A from Scotts Pizza Tours, backs up what a lot of people have been posting about. Tomatoes from Parma, so looks like Mutti. Hit its peak in the early 2000's, recipe has changed.

https://www.scottspizzatours.com/blog/inside-di-fara-pizza-midwood-brooklyn/
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: bertanderny on April 21, 2021, 04:44:40 AM
Interesting Q&A from Scotts Pizza Tours, backs up what a lot of people have been posting about. Tomatoes from Parma, so looks like Mutti. Hit its peak in the early 2000's, recipe has changed.

https://www.scottspizzatours.com/blog/inside-di-fara-pizza-midwood-brooklyn/

Interesting to see that they combine whole tomatoes with passata - something backed up with this video here:
https://youtu.be/Yb9fuZ5Ade4?t=28

Might give this a try.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: CheeseMcSauceface on June 06, 2021, 05:59:17 PM
Here is my attempt at a Difara square pie. It is basically Craig’s Difara dough but made with 70/30 Anna 00 flour and KASL. Par-baked at 500 with a little Sauce for about 5 mins. Put cheese Sicillian oregano and Sicilian olive oil on then baked again for 10 mins. Broiler was on to finish.
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: CheeseMcSauceface on June 06, 2021, 06:12:20 PM
Oooops! I forgot the basil! :-[
Title: Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
Post by: Jackie Tran on October 09, 2021, 08:52:51 PM
Oooops! I forgot the basil! :-[

Only when basil is added does it become a Difara pie.  ;D