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### Author Topic: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas  (Read 197866 times)

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#### Arthur

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #80 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?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2005, 09:34:15 AM by Arthur »

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #81 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

#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #82 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.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2005, 12:06:12 PM by pftaylor »
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#### pizzanapoletana

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #83 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).
« Last Edit: March 29, 2005, 07:18:14 PM by pizzanapoletana »

#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #84 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.
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#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #85 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.

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

#### duckjob

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #86 on: March 30, 2005, 01:06:10 AM »

(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)

#### scott r

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #87 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.

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #88 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
« Last Edit: March 30, 2005, 08:04:38 AM by Pete-zza »

#### duckjob

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #89 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

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#### duckjob

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #90 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

#### duckjob

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #91 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

#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #92 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!     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!!

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #93 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

#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #94 on: March 31, 2005, 02:36:45 PM »
Here are the Di Fara pictures I promised...
« Last Edit: April 09, 2005, 07:36:32 AM by pftaylor »
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#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #95 on: March 31, 2005, 02:41:14 PM »
More...
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#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #96 on: March 31, 2005, 02:42:33 PM »
Final pictures...
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#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #97 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

#### pftaylor

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #98 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.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2005, 07:37:29 AM by pftaylor »
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#### friz78

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##### Re: Reverse Engineering DiFara's Pizzas
« Reply #99 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.

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