Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Making New Haven-style pizza at home


Dante
 Share

Recommended Posts

Thank you all for your responses!

 

I really was looking more for diy than for places to go to get it, and was wondering how it different in terms of recipe, method, etc.

 

So, looking over your links and responses, are the coal oven, and shape, the main distinguishing factors, does anyone know? Or is there more to it than that?

 

Sincerely,

        Dante                                         

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, looking over your links and responses, are the coal oven, and shape, the main distinguishing factors, does anyone know? Or is there more to it than that?

 

Sincerely,

        Dante                                         

 

I highly recommend this book.  It served me well when I was researching pizza for an article some years ago.

 ... Shel


 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dante,

 

This is my home version of Pepe's white clam pizza. Please know that I've never been to New Haven or eaten at Pepe's, but many  other people other than I have enjoyed this pizza and liked it a lot.

 

This is my current favorite pizza crust recipe:

 

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/quick-beer-crust-pizza-recipe

 

It's only meant for 10" to 12 inch rounds, but I spread it very thinly on an 11" x 17" heavy oiled cookie sheet.

 

Okay, here's the hard part. New Haven pizzas get cooked at 700 or 800 degrees F in coal ovens. I don't have one of those. What I do have is a lemonade out of lemons oven. My landlord refused to fix the broken furnace for a couple winters, so I used space heaters, and the electric oven to heat the house. I didn't know at the time that if you persisted in running the oven with the door open, it would burn out the thermostat. Wouldn't have done it, had I known. Now that it's done, I have an oven that must be tended like a wood-fired one (which is no cherry to me). The lemonade part is that this horrible 1970's GE electric oven can now be taken up to 700 or 800 degrees F. Definitely a fire hazard, but I can still cook a cake in it at 350 degrees with an oven thermometer and a lot of vigilance.  :smile:

 

After you ferment your crust ala King Arthur and spread it ultra thin, I use this guideline (not a recipe) to come out with a very, very good white clam pizza. From Roadfood.com's reveiw of Pepe's:

 

"To this day, Pepe's premier pizza is made without mozzarella. It is called a white clam pie, and it is nothing but crust strewn with freshly-shucked littleneck clams, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and a dash of grated cheese."

 

I toss my canned clams in some good olive oil before placing on the pizza, and I don't put them on until the crust has cooked a few minutes. You don't want them to dry out and become rubbery, and canned, clams are, already cooked.

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In almost every example it requires anthracite coal ovens that burn at 700-800 degrees. All the other details are irrelevant unless you have this.

 

 

Respectfully, Jason, in regards to the temperatures, I disagree.  For quite some time, I labored under the impression that most styles had fairly narrow, fairly static temperature ranges (NY=500-600, NH=700-800, Neapolitan=850-1000).  While NY and Neapolitan do generally fall into these parameters, a couple years back I did some consulting with a NH mobile pizzeria, and, the extensive research that I put in on NH style pizza revealed a far greater spectrum of baking temps than what I was expecting.

 

I'm not really sure what causes it, maybe it's the larger size of the ovens (more opportunities for cool spots) or maybe it's the forced air aspect of coal, but, whatever the reason, the classic NH places see pretty widely fluctuating oven temps from day to day (and possibly even from hour to hour).  I've had trusted sources clock 3 minute bakes all the way up to 11 (yup, 11!). While a 3 minute bake, for a fairly well hydrated dough like Pepe's, could translate into 700-750, an 11 minute bake isn't going to be a degree above 550, and most likely not even above 500.

 

And, as far as I know, this is not a new phenomenon either. The highly changeable nature of coal oven baking makes New Haven style pizza very hard to define.  One could argue, as I have many times :) that 700 makes a puffier/superior version of NH style pizza, but it wouldn't be completely fair to those trying to recreate the pies from their favorite place- a place that might be consistently working with a cooler oven.

 

I also disagree in regards to the necessity of coal.  Coal burns a bit drier than wood, gas and electric, but the dryness of the baking environment, can, to an extent, be compensated for with a slightly less hydrated dough. Coal also tends to create very directional heat.  Most NH style pies one sees have one side that's a bit more colored than the other.  In a wood oven (using drier than normal wood), this can be achieved quite easily.  In an electric oven, I've played around with foil wall(s) in an attempt to bounce some radiant heat and that's helped a little with side heat, but, as far as the price one pays for a home baked NH style, I think the lack of uneven baking could be a very small price, indeed- besides, what you pay for in lack of uneven baking, you more than get back in the ability to fine tune your dough making process.  Pepe's, for instance, might cold ferment, but, they don't go to anywhere near the lengths that a home cook can go to achieve the perfect dough.

 

Lastly, if you've ever read Sam's brilliant and timeless Understanding Stovetop Cookware tutorial, you'll know that temperature is completely relative to the baking material.  While 700 deg, firebrick does, imo, make the best NH style pizza, 550 1/2" steel, combined with broiling during the bake, can perfectly match those results and hit that magic 3-4 minute bake- and, if one wants something slower, the oven can be turned down as well.

 

So, in summation,

 

1. Typical NH baking range is far greater than 700-800

2. (Dry) wood can create perfect facsimile in a WFO

3. 550 1/2" steel (with broiler) will also recreate the same effect

4. Home bakers have a BIG leg up on commercial pizzerias, as they can devote a lot more attention to their dough- as well as apply additional knowledge to the process.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are commercial flours are only available regionally, and national labels vary in protein content so there's a chance that they use a slightly different type of flour than you may have access to.

 

Technically speaking, the big names (Pepe's, Sally's) use flour that's been labeled specifically for them, so their flour isn't available anywhere.  That being said, NH flour analogs (same protein content, bromated), are available in many places East of the Rockies, so I wouldn't necessarily consider 2/3rds of the country to be 'regional.'

 

You can't walk into a supermarket and purchase these analogs, though.  Restaurant Depot carries them, some Costco's, as well as some restaurant suppliers that are willing to sell to the public. There's also very limited online options, but I wouldn't trust those due to the exorbitant shipping prices and questionable turnover.

 

NH pizza utilizes bromated medium high gluten flour- 12.7 to 13.2% protein.  The bromated aspect is the tricky part, and, unlike the lack of a coal oven (which can be worked around), bromate is, imo, kind of critical.  King Arthur Bread Flour is 12.7%, which falls in place perfectly protein wise, but, alas, it isn't bromated. I wouldn't necessarily tell Dante to give up on DIY NH pizza if he can't find bromated flour, but I would highly recommended that he pull out all the stops looking for it, before he compromises and ends up with KABF- because there is a tangible difference in oven spring.

 

I highly recommend this book.  It served me well when I was researching pizza for an article some years ago.

 

In an industry where bones have been broken and lives have been taken for betraying/stealing pizza making secrets, I think what Evelyne Slomon was able to glean was nothing short of miraculous. That being said, though, we are talking about a book written 30 years ago, and a considerable amount of knowledge about pizza has been acquired since then.  In addition, Evelyne's exposure was to the legendary NY coal oven pizzerias, not NH.  I wouldn't necessarily say NY coal and NH are apples and oranges, since they are both coal, but there are some pretty stark differences, once you dig beneath the surface.

Edited by scott123 (log)
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi scott123,

 

You really seem to have the pizza cred, including  a 7-page "The scott123 appreciation thread!" at PizzaMaking.com.

 

I would value your opinion greatly on this issue with New Haven style pizza at home: can ascorbic acid or another acid like vinegar, which I have experimented with in my home pizza doughs, be substituted for potassium bromate? It seems that many countries have banned bromate as a food additive due to its possible carcinogenic potential.

 

Oven spring is critical with this style of pizza, and anything that helps that to happen is very desirable to me.  I love the thin crust style, but not cracker style which rises little.

 

As for me I vacillate between lazy (KA Quick Beer Crust, awfully good for so little effort and time) and obsessive (spending years developing my own recipe with dated, detailed notes of any variations I tried).

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

can ascorbic acid or another acid like vinegar, which I have experimented with in my home pizza doughs, be substituted for potassium bromate? It seems that many countries have banned bromate as a food additive due to its possible carcinogenic potential.

 

Thanks for the Crepes, ascorbic acid cannot be substituted for bromate.  If it could, the American baking industry wouldn't be fighting so hard to prevent bromate from being regulated and they would all just voluntarily make the switch.  Some larger entities with national distribution (ie, west of the Rockies) have voluntarily moved away from bromate due to California's overbearing labeling laws, but bromate is still a very key player in the baking industry.

 

While both ascorbic acid and bromate are dough strengtheners, ascorbic acid just doesn't posses bromate's volumizing effects. In addition, from my own experimentation with ascorbic acid, I've noticed that ascorbic acid has a preserving effect on dough. For a product where controlled spoilage produces a great deal of flavor/maillard friendly compounds, preservation is not ideal.

 

I've had clients in other parts of the world where higher protein flour (anything above 11% protein) was impossible to find.  A great portion of the planet is, unfortunately, in these shoes due to the lack of climate/technology for growing strong flour. It's in these areas where ascorbic acid can come to the rescue- providing crucial strength and structural augmentation. Are you familiar with the yogurt traditionally used in Naan?  That's a perfect example of a culture using acid to overcome climatically/technologically challenged wheat to make bread.

 

So, in other words, ascorbic acid does have a role (outside the U.S.), but nothing can compensate for the effect of bromate.

 

As far as bromate's safety is concerned, the parts per billion found in pizza are completely and utterly harmless.  California, the scarediest cats of them all, allows as much bromate in their municipal water supplies as one finds in pizza.  Gargantuan quantities have been known to give rats cancer, but a lot of foods, if consumed in large amounts, can hurt you.  Salt, if you eat enough of it, can kill you.  Even if there was incontrovertible proof that bromate is a carcinogen for humans (and, believe me, there isn't), it would be incredibly shortsighted not too look at pizza from a perspective of dosage.

 

 

Oven spring is critical with this style of pizza, and anything that helps that to happen is very desirable to me.  I love the thin crust style, but not cracker style which rises little.

 

I'm not much for cracker crust either (although I have friends who do cartwheels over it). Oven spring has been my paramount goal for all the pizza I make, regardless of style.  Which is why bromate is so important to me- because it provides that extra little bit of volume.

 

Within the general scheme of things, though, bromate is pretty low on the 'factors that impact oven spring' list. Top of the list is heat.  Next is properly fermented dough (not too little not too much).  Next is probably the acumen at which you form the skin.  After that, maybe bromate.

 

As I said, before, everyone East of the Rockies should be looking for bromate flour if they want to kick up their pizza a notch. But lack of access to bromated flour shouldn't stop anyone from making pizza at home.

 

Btw, I don't do it all the time, but I have had times where I've fallen asleep with the oven on.  With a working thermostat, this is generally quite safe, depending on what's in the oven. Without one, though, it could easily produce a dangerous situation. I have a 1970's GE electric oven of my own that I couldn't live without- most modern ovens just don't pump out the same amount of heat.  I've never had any issue finding replacement parts on ebay.  I highly recommend finding a thermostat and repairing it.  It's probably something you could do yourself for pennies.

Edited by scott123 (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How does New Haven apizza differ from other forms of pizza and how possible is it to duplicate in the home?

 

IIRC, Peter Reinhart covered New Haven style pizza in his cookbook, American Pie. He had recipes and techniques suitable for a home cook.

 

Unfortunately, Reinhart is stingy in allowing people to preview his book, whether on GoogleBooks or Amazon, so I could not confirm what content is really there. Try your public library for this book.

 

If you google "peter reinhart new haven pizza" some relevant links will come up. Reinhart labels the pizza dough as "neo-neapolitan" dough.

 

Reinhart's blog with the recipe:

http://www.fornobravo.com/pizzaquest/instructionals/59-written-recipes/92-classic-pizza-dough-neo-neapolitan-style.html

 

A discussion about the recipe:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=26370.0

 

In my neck of the woods, Whole Foods carries 00 flour in its bulk department, and Italian specialty groceries also carry it.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

IIRC, Peter Reinhart covered New Haven style pizza in his cookbook, American Pie. He had recipes and techniques suitable for a home cook.

 

The recipes found in American Pie leave a lot to be desired.  My thoughts on this matter can be found in a conversation I had with Peter here:

 

http://www.fornobravo.com/pizzaquest/peters-blog/44-peters-blog/412-peters-blog-august-8th-alright-controversy.html (warning: very long read)

 

The cliff notes: basically, I felt that his recipes played far too fast and loose to be considered representative of the regional styles he was attempting to showcase.  At the time of the conversation, I was focusing primarily on his shortcomings portraying NY style, but, since that time, as my knowledge of NH style has increased, I feel the exact same way on the New Haven front as well.

 

The travelog component of American Pie is a pretty good read, but I highly recommend avoiding the recipes at all cost.

 

 

While Peter has figured out a few things since American Pie was written, that Neo-Neapolitan recipe still drops the ball in a few key areas.

 

First, 00 flour most likely plays a role in NY coal pizza (most likely as part of a blend), but, 00 is not used in New Haven.  Ever.  It's recommended use in that particular recipe is especially self defeating, as 00, due to it's lack of enzymes/malt is a very powerful browning inhibitor.  The recipe already has issues with browning, due to the insane quantity of water, predominantly heat agnostic approach and potentially insulating effects of a baking pan.  Add 00 to that and you've got an extremely long bake- which, in my experience, produces leather.

 

Second, I know that he's trying to make it easy for the home baker, but the exponentially superior/more consistent results of working with an actual fermentation schedule far outweigh the, imo, extremely slight hassle of having to plan pizza in advance.  I know that we all lead busy lives, but the difference between a properly fermented dough and improperly fermented dough is night and day. A fermentation window of between 6 hours and 3 days is like playing darts blindfolded.  Sure, once in a while you might hit the actual dartboard, but it's not like using your actual eyes.  "Hey, it's Wednesday, if I want to make pizza on Friday, I have to make the dough today"- that's vision, understanding- that's going to give the beginning pizzamaker the best possible chance for success.

 

Lastly, I know some famous bread bakers who use very high amounts of water, so that's probably where Peter is coming from, but, pizza isn't bread.  Pepe's uses a relatively wetter dough than your average pizzeria, but it's only slightly wetter.  75% hydration + bread flour is basically soup.  It takes forever to bake, is extremely difficult to work with, and has no connection in any way to New Haven (or East Coast pizza in general).

Edited by scott123 (log)
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This may be a stupid question, but does cooking with coal impart a flavor to the pizza, as one might find with a wood fired oven? If so, isn't the discussion of temps, flour, hydration, etc. a bit moot if the goal is to reproduce a New Haven style pizza at home?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This may be a stupid question, but does cooking with coal impart a flavor to the pizza, as one might find with a wood fired oven? If so, isn't the discussion of temps, flour, hydration, etc. a bit moot if the goal is to reproduce a New Haven style pizza at home?

 

 

The concept that wood fired ovens impart flavor to pizza is a myth.  Any potential flavor compounds emanating from the wood are traveling through the smoke.  The pizza bakes well below the smoke line and thus is unaffected.  The only time wfo pizza comes in contact with the smoke is during doming, and it's never long enough to make an appreciable difference in smoke flavor.

 

Coal is the same thing.  The smoke from the coal runs along the top of the chamber, while the pizzas bake at the bottom.

 

If you can match the heat of a coal oven and replicate the bake time (which can definitely be done with steel plate in an oven that goes to 550 and that has a broiler in the main compartment), then you can make flawless New Haven pizza at home. Here's one example of what steel can do in a home oven:

 

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=88ad2e1046539a37f903483aa400c035&topic=23827.0

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ive been down to Pepe's several times.  i actually traveled to N.H. three time to take "exams' I could have taken in Boston, or New York (  :wacko:  on the NY )

 

Why ?  strategy :  get to N.H. for an early Pepe's pizza  ( two : white clam and bacon ) eat slowly  only one beer.

 

move quickly through that 'exam' the next day so you could get to Pepe's before the dinner rush ( same pizza's  maybe two beers )  get a take out of the bacon 'for the road'

 

( white clam, not so good for breakfast, just saying )

 

during the NYC thing, there was a ferry involved, so you could get the White Clam and the Bacon, and 'eat the white clam' on the way.

 

to me, finest pizza Ive ever had.  Just the White Clam and the Bacon

 

others there might be good

 

these are Great

 

times change, no more Exams to take

 

:sad:

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...