As part of my efforts to reverse engineer the DiFara pizza, I decided recently to try to engineer a dough similar to the DiFara dough. I have a pretty good understanding of the various ingredients of the basic DiFara pizza, but few details on the dough itself, apart from the fact that the dough is a combination of "00" flour (the Delverde brand) and a high-gluten flour.

For my version of the dough, I decided to try a 50/50 (by weight) combination of "00" flour (Delverde brand) and KA Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour. I also decided that I wanted a 14-inch pizza with a thin crust. I don't know the percentage hydration (the amount of water) used by DiFara's for its dough, so I decided more or less arbitrarily to use 60%. What follows is more an exercise in how to engineer a dough from the ground up than anything else. But I believe the exercise is constructive since it allows one to pretty much engineer a dough using any number and types of flours and any desired hydration percentage.

I decided on the 14-inch diameter because that is the largest size my pizza peel and pizza stone can safely handle. Using that number, I calculated the weight of dough that I would need to produce a pizza dough round 14 inches in diameter and that would yield a thin crust. Using the standard equation W = Pi (the Greek letter, equal to 3.14) times the radius (R = 7 inches) squared times 0.10 (the thickness factor for a thin crust), the dough weight W came to 15.4 ounces (3.14 times 49 times 0.10).

To calculate the weight of each of the two flours and the weight of the water I would need, I put on my math hat and came up with the following expression:

0.50 x + 0.50 x + 0.60 x = 15.4 ounces

The value of x in this equation is 9.62 (15.4 divided by 1.6, that is, the sum of 0.50, 0.50 and 0.60). From the value of x, I was able to calculate that I would need 4.81 ounces (0.5 times 9.62) of 00 flour, 4.81 ounces (0.5 times 9.62) of high-gluten flour, and 5.77 ounces (0.6 times 9.62) of water.

Using my Soehnle Futura scale, I was able to weigh out the three ingredients and proceed with making the dough. As is my regular practice, I took the temperature of the room, the temperatures of the two flours (they were the same since both were at room temperature), and, using a friction factor of about 5 degrees F for my KitchenAid stand mixer, I calculated a water temperature of about 73 degrees F to get a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F (3 times 80, minus the sum of the flour temperature, room temperature and the friction temperature). After processing the dough, I weighed it and took its temperature. The weight came to 15.3 ounces--just slightly less than the calculated weight of 15.4 ounces--and the finished dough temperature was around 80 degrees F, right in line with the calculated finished dough temperature. The dough also passed the windowpane test.

The precision of the weight measurements is attributable to using a good scale. In my case, I also converted the weights to volume equivalents, which came to about 3/4 c. of the Delverde 00 flour, about 1 c. of the KA Sir Lancelot flour and about 3/4 c. water. Using the volume measurements will not be as accurate as the weight measurements, of course, but should come reasonably close for all practical purposes, especially if mid-course adjustments are made to flour and water during the processing of the dough.

The beauty of the above analysis is that it allows one to change parameters pretty much at will. For example, if one wanted to combine three different flours, with equal weights, and use, say, a hydration percentage 0f 65%, the above expression would be modified to be 0.33 x + 0.33 x + 0.33 x + 0.65 x = W (the calculated weight of flour for the desired diameter of pizza dough round). From the value of x, one would be able to easily calculate the required weights of the different flours and the water, just as was shown above.

In my case, after the pizza was prepared, about the only thing I might change for future pizzas of this type would be to aim for a bit thinner crust (I would use a thckness factor of 0.09 instead of 0.10) or I would just make the pizza dough round greater than 14 inches to get the increased thinness (in which case I would have to use a pizza screen of the right size because my stone wouldn't be able to handle the larger size).

Peter