Geek reverse-engineers NYC pizza

Jeff Varasano, a software engineer, has completed a multi-year project to reverse-engineer the pizza recipe from his favorite NYC pizza-joint, Patsy's on 117th Street. He's got something he swears tastes just as good as the real thing, and his hacker's delight at having cracked this puzzle is plain to see from the grin on his face as he takes his pies out of the oven.

I've been off high-carb stuff like pizza for about five years now, but I always make an exception for my favorite pizza, the slices from Massimo's on College Street in Toronto, which are the most incredible food ever created, bar none. It's tough to limit myself to three giant slices when I go to Massimos, and I've actually had dreams about their food when I'm on the road. Not a dream, mind you, but recurring dreams. It's that good.

Pizaa does indeed enflame a geek's passion.

It's all in the crust. My dough is just water, salt, flour and yeast. I use no dough conditioners, sugars, oils, malts, corn meal, flavorings or anything else. These violate the "Vera Pizza Napoletana" rules and I doubt that Patsy's or any great brick oven place uses these things. I've only recently begun to measure the actual "baker's percents" of the ingredients. Use this awesome spreadsheet to help you. The sheet allows you to track your experiments. Here's a basic set of ratios. The truth is that a lot of these recipes look the same and that you can vary these ingredients by several percentage points and it's not going to make a huge difference. You really have to learn the technique, which I'm going to explain in as much detail as I can, and then go by feel. Really, I just measure the water and salt and the rest is pretty flexible. The amount of flour is really, "add until it feels right." The amount of Sourdough starter can range from 3% to 20% and not affect the end product all that much. Weights are in grams. I also show this as both "Baker's Percents" (This has flour as 100% by definition and then all the other ingredients as their proportionate weight against of the flour) and using the Italian method which actually makes more sense to me, of showing the base as 1000 grams of water and all the other ingredients in proportion to that. Both methods are attempts to make the recipes scalable.


(via Cnet)