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pftaylor

Reproducing Patsy's Pizza at Home

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I have been attempting to reverse engineer a convincing home version of a fresh mozzarella pizza from Patsy's. I have high gluten flour, a grill which reaches 800 degrees, fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and yet I cannot come close to their extraordinarily light crust.

I wonder if Patsy's uses some sort of starter, biga, or chef to achieve their incredible taste and lightness. If any member has insight into their preparation techniques I would be appreciative of a helping hand.

BTW, I live in Tampa and travel to NYC three or four times a year for business and pizza.


Edited by pftaylor (log)

Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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What's the reasoning behind high-gluten flour? I don't actually know what kind of flour Patsy's uses -- it may very well be whatever generic wholesale stuff gets delivered to every pizzeria, or it may be a special order item -- but the dough gives some indications of being made from a relatively soft flour. Then again, appearances can be deceiving.

I doubt they use a biga or any sort of preferment, or San Marzano tomatoes for that matter!


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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I am almost positive that Patsy's East Harlem (the only Patsy's worth copying) uses a strong flour, most likely with some oil to tenderize it. This is common in the neo-Neapolitan style, and just about every pizzeria that is not a Neapolitan-style specialty place uses strong flour (even some of the "new Neapolitan places like Franny's use strong flour). Any time you see someone stretching a pizza dough in the air, flipping it around and pulling it aggressively, it's a strong flour. Pizzaioli working with soft flour doughs tend to do their stretching of the dough on the bench.


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The reason I'm guessing high gluten is because I've tried everything else and everything else isn't as close as high gluten. I'm using King Arthur Sir Lancelot and have gotten as close as I can get at this point.

Additionally, an associate was at the original Patsy's not long ago and noticed some 50lb white bags with markings of "Hi-Gluten" stacked up in the back. I'm not saying they use high gluten exclusively but that's a pretty good indicator of at least some usage.

I agree that their dough is somewhat soft but it doesn't taste as if it's been blended like Di Fara's.


Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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What I suspect leads to part of the Patsy's crust texture is that they are using higher hydration than most of the regular slice shops. This makes the dough more extensible and the extra moistyre contributes to oven spring and that special interior layer of soft, flexible crust.


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My recipe is currently at 62.5% hydration. Any suggestions on how high I should go? Also, any insight into their basic ingredients (type of cheese, sauce, etc).


Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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My recipe is currently at 62.5% hydration.

Really? That's very low. I have no expertise as to Patrsy's recipe (except for tasting the results!), but most pizza dough's are rather wet, using baker's percentages for water of 70% and up. 62.5% hydration would produce a very stiff dough, stiffer for example than most French bread doughs.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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My recipe is currently at 62.5% hydration. Any suggestions on how high I should go? Also, any insight into their basic ingredients (type of cheese, sauce, etc).

Make sure you include some oil, as this will tenderize the crust. You could also maybe bump up the hydration to 65%. Very important, I think, is to do a lengthy fermentation and to retard the dough in the refrigerator.

As for the toppings, Patsy's uses a very light hand with the toppings. This is important when the crust is so thin. They have two kinds of cheese, you cen have either fresh mozzarella or low moisture mozzarella. The sauce strikes me as a cooked puree of tomato without much in the way of herbs, garlic or onion (perhaps a bit but not much). The sauce is fairly dark in color, so I think it is likely cooked a fairly long time. You can find some good pictures of Patsy's pizza making set up here in the NY Pizza Survey thread.


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I currently use a biga which adds a great flavor to my dough recipe. I let it ferment in the fridge for 24+ hours. I'll try using a slightly higher hydration percentage and post my results. Also, I'll try adding more OO. Stay tuned.

If there are any other members out there who have insight into how Patsy's prepares their dough I would be appreciative of their guidance.


Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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The issue of high-gluten flour is an interesting one with pizza. I think it is a mistake to use it, at least use it completely. Gluten does two things to your dough, it makes it resistant to tearing (good), but also hard to stretch (bad). When I say "hard to stretch", I mean it actually is easy to stretch, but because of the elasticity of the dough, it tends to spring back into shape, just like a rubber band.

Just two weekends ago I made pizza with 100% high-gluten flour, and had to resort to rolling it with a rollling pin. Tossing it in the air did nothing.

A few years ago I made pizza with 100% all-purpose flour, and found it incredibly easy to stretch, but I had to be very careful because it was easy to tear.

Usually, I do a 50% mixture of the two flours, and it works out fine, but I never get the kind of stretchable, strong dough I regularly see pizzarias use. Perhaps I am working the dough too much, or perhaps not enough. Putting more water in, as people have suggested above, is an excellent suggestion which I will try next time.

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I have tried a blended flour approach and it just isn't the same high performance dough as what an elite pizzeria uses. Patsy's definitely uses a high gluten flour.

I am trying to determine what their dough management procedure is so that I can come even closer to replicating their ultra-light crust. Currently I use a 24 hour rise in the fridge with a 2 hour punch down before forming the skin for baking. Any guesses as to whether Patsy's uses a cold rise or a room temperature rise and for how long? Those answers would go a long way to solving the mystery.

Also, if any member has any idea as to what brand of flour (or any other ingredient) they use it would be helpful. From what type of yeast (fresh, dry, starter, etc) to the specific brands of cheese and sauce.

Thanks in advance.


Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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Okay here's what we have so far in reverse engineering a Patsy's Pizza. They have the world's lightest crust (outside of Naples) and may also use the most basic of all dough recipes; Flour, water, yeast, and salt. Can it be? Where's the sugar? Same for the Olive Oil? Where is it? Can you actually create a world class crust without those ingredients? I'm flabbergasted if that's the case.

Here are the facts as we know them:

1) They use a High Gluten flour to some extent. Probably 100%. I have seen the 50lb bags at the restaurant.

2) They do not use a high hydration dough as previously thought. An associate has bought 4-5 raw doughs for home use and claims they are relatively dry. Certainly not wet. I trust my associate's ability to tell the difference between a wet and dry dough. I could use help here in predicting the likely hydration range for use in a home recipe.

3) They use a refrigerated retardation/proofing process - probably overnight but again input on what the timeframe range alternatives are would be helpful. Again, visual sighting dough being stored in a refrigerated proofing box.

4) They do not use oil or sugar in the dough recipe. The source on this is their waiter. Could be reliable then again...

5) They MIGHT use a starter. I definitely need feedback here on the assumption that if you can culture their dough that's a pretty good indication that they use a starter. If so, they would be the only classic coal fired oven place to do so. Sounds like a longshot but ya never know. Somebody convince me on this pivotal point. I wanna believe...

6) They use Sassone tomatoes/sauce - Has anyone ever heard of this brand/distributor?

7) They have used a really hot coal fired oven since 1933.

The crust is ultra-light, not heavy. If you usually get full eating 3-4 slices of a traditional NYC pie, you would have no problem eating an entire Patsy's pizza and still not feel bloated. Part of it may be that unlike Di Fara's, they have a light hand when it comes to cheese and sauce. In this case, less seems to be more.

9) The crust is not cracker crispy, charred yes. In fact, it is sort of on the soft side for being so well done.

I would especially appreciate any and all feedback from anyone who has actually eaten at the original Patsy's in East Harlem. Anyone who can comment on the above list is more than welcome to jump in...Come on guys help us decode this!


Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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Are you also posting on pizzamaking.com? there is a thread on that message board about someone trying to reproduce Patsy's pizza.

Apparently the person bought the dough and has been feeding it for 2 1/2 years.

Look here for thread:

Getting closer to Patsy's Pizza

Good luck.

EDITED: Oops, I see you already have posted to the pizzamaking message board.


Edited by LNorman (log)

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I have high gluten flour, a grill which reaches 800 degrees, fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and yet I cannot come close to their extraordinarily light crust.

What kind of grill do you have that reaches 800 degrees, and how do you keep from burning the pizza with the direct flame?

I have always been frustrated by home-made pizza in the oven, and I often wondered if I could use my gas grill as a pizza oven. It seems to me that placing a pizza stone in the grill should work - is this what you're doing?

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pftaylor, it sounds like you really did your homework on patsy's. While i've never had patsy's pizza, i did run an artisan pizza shop for 3 years so i'll put my .02 in. I think your right on all 9 points except #5. I'll really don't think they use a starter. More than likely they're using either yeast and/or leftover dough to rise their product, and i'd probably bet on the extra dough given the fact that you know they're cold proofing overnite. we also cold proofed overnite and when we tried to use a straight yeast method we found that our dough tended to overproof even in the cold box.

We used high gluten, 60% hydration. you can hydrate further but again we found that this could potentially lead to overproofing and excessive "bubbles" in the dough while in the oven. We found that letting the stretched pie relax for 15 to 20 min. before topping gave us a thin line of what we called "insulation" separating the crunchy bottom layer from the toppings. Nothing worse in my opinion than a pizza thats 10 min. out of the oven and becomes a sloppy mess.

Salt, maybe the most important ingredient. We used 16 oz. for a 50 lb. bag of flour.

I'm unsure of your 800F grill, i've never done that but i've found that a 550F pizza stone works wonders.

Last point, don't overthink the dough production part. High gluten, 60% hydration, well salted, cold proof, leavened with rising dough. We put alot of time into our dough moreso than the sauce or cheese...which isn't saying we skimped on those or that they're not important. What i found was that the vast majority of pizza shops do things on the cheap...big time. i know people who have run pizza shops for 20 years and haven't put the thought and attention into their product that you have. I think the next phase of your project is "trial and error". You just might find you like YOUR pizza better than patsy's.

B.


...and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce it tastes alot more like prunes than rhubarb does. groucho

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NealH,

I have a TEC grill. It uses an infra-red technology. It has taken me months to figure out how to balance the ratio of bottom and top heat. The configuration which worked for me was to simply stack unglazed quarry tile on top of the grates. Worked like a champ. The only problem I have encountered is a warping of the hood due to the intense heat. The manufacturer clearly states to not close the hood when the grill is on high and I have chosen to ignore their warning. Pre-heat for 30 minutes and bake for 3. Hence, a warped hood.

bakerboy,

I appreciate all your comments. If I could post pictures of my pie your mouth would start watering. It looks great and tastes even better. The key for me was figuring out how to master the intense heat of the TEC grill. That was a huge breakthrough. I fumbled as badly as a college freshman trying to unlatch a bra one handed.

I am still perplexed about the ultra-light crust of Patsy's. It is unbelievable. I have never tasted a crust as flavorful or as light. That is what has led me to think about their incorporation of a starter of some kind. I had also been down the path of much higher hydration as a possible key but I now know that it is not necessary.

Here is what I've learned from all this. Patsy's learned their crust from Lombardi's. Lombardi's learned and was from Naples. In Naples, they do not use oil or sugar in their crust. The crust browns naturally at high temperatures. I have finally connected all the dots on the dough mystery from that aspect. The incorporation of sugar and oil took place when gas ovens started being used and they couldn't get the dough browned at 500 degrees. That's why all the coal oven joints don't use either but all the gas oven places do.

Overall I'm convinced there is no magic just good sound process and procedure.

Thanks for everyone's comments. Keep 'em comin!


Edited by pftaylor (log)

Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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hi,

you can check out sliceny.com for some pizza info. they also have other links to other pizza related websites. pretty cool. hopefully ill be joining you soon after i build a small brick oven in the backyard!

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Maui,

Welcome aboard the Patsy's train. There's plenty of room.

Brick oven in the backyard eh? If you live in Maui and have a brick oven, that beats me in Tampa with only a grill...Get ready for some new friends upon completion.


Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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I currently use a biga which adds a great flavor to my dough recipe. I let it ferment in the fridge for 24+ hours. I'll try using a slightly higher hydration percentage and post my results. Also, I'll try adding more OO. Stay tuned.

If there are any other members out there who have insight into how Patsy's prepares their dough I would be appreciative of their guidance.

If you use to much oo you will end up with very flaky dough that more resembles pastry. I have found that 75/25 yields better results. Now I am making a slightly different very thin Northern Italian style pie. I personally use 70% all purpose and 30% wheat flour. I roll my dough out until paper thin, then dock it.


Never trust a skinny chef

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irodguy,

Good point. I have learned to completely stay away from OO in my effort to recreate a Patsy's pizza. It's really unnessary when you have extremely high heat.


Grilling @ 800 Degrees

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I have a TEC grill. It uses an infra-red technology. It has taken me months to figure out how to balance the ratio of bottom and top heat. The configuration which worked for me was to simply stack unglazed quarry tile on top of the grates. Worked like a champ.

Ahh! Having control of the top and bottom heat makes sense!! My Weber wouldn't work very well - it would be like putting the pizza stone on the bottom of a gas oven and burning the crust. Where were you when I couldn't justify buying a more expensive grill!!! :biggrin:

NealH

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