Well, guys, it was probably a combination of things, but I got a NY pizza procedure almost perfect. Based on many of the suggestions I've read recently on this board, I made a batch the other day, and speaking as an ex-pat New Yorker, I can tell you that the result was about as close to the real deal as you can get....fuhgeddaboutit!
Here's what I changed to make it tasty:
--Weighed the ingredients with my new scale. I can't thank you guys enough for this idea; not only does it ensure consistency, but it also made it easy to follow Steve's recipe exactly. Thanks Steve! Oh, I forget if Steve's called for sugar in any amount; on my own, I added about a half a tablespoon and dissolved it into the water prior to adding the yeast.
--I didn't dissolve the yeast into the water; I simply added the yeast to the water and stirred it in real quick, for about 30 seconds, just to get the water looking "brown". Then into the flour it went, and the mixing was on!
--I mixed the dough until it was cohesive, which took a little under 5 minutes. Then I let it sit and rest for 5 minutes (never done that before); then mixed again for another 5-7 minutes or so. I let it mix longer than I normally do at the end; when I removed the dough, it was a bit sticky and wet, but after I rolled the ball around on a cutting board for a minute or two, the outer moisture wore off, and I was left with a nice smooth, satiny-feeling dough.
--Overnight rise in the fridge in plastic bags.
--For sauce, I took a can of 6-in-1, and mixed in a small can of "Unico" pizza sauce. This, I found out, is what a guy who runs a long-time pizzeria in NYC does (although he probably doesn't use Unico brand or 6-in-1....but you get the idea; use the best store-bought pizza sauce you can get your hands on). Then I mixed in a good bit of ground oregano (I didn't measure it, just stirred it in and kept smelling the sauce until it started to smell right to me). And I didn't cook the sauce at all.
--In the recent past, I've always gotten the oven up to as high as it'll go. But in my early days of attempts to duplicate a NY pizza, I used to do the oven at lower temperatures. I wound up raising the temps back then because the resulting pizza didn't taste as good; but I figure that I erroneously blamed that on the oven temp. On a hunch, this time around I put the oven at 475. Sure enough, this seemed to be a better temp. On higher temps like 500 or 550, the crust cooks too quickly, resulting in a crust that was too crisp; and the bottom burnt part of it tended to separate completely from the rest of the pizza. Also the cheese wouldn't melt quite as well. But on 475 it worked perfectly--the pizza cooked at just the right speed, without any dough separation, and it maintained that chewiness of the inner part of the dough that is essential.
One other thing I did, which I might not do next time, is add a pinch (a little less than 1/4 teaspoon) of garlic powder to the flour and salt at the beginning. I could just taste a hint of it in the pizza dough. I wasn't crazy about the result, since I'm not a huge garlic lover, but some of you might want to experiment with it--if you really like garlic, you might like it.
So, there you have it--the pizza was absolutely to die for. My wife's eyes opened wide when she tasted it. She simply said: "That's it--you've done it." High-fives all around!