Texture "calibration" with quick trip to Tony's in SF

Guidance sought.... We did a mini-marathon, eating at Capo's and Tony's on Sat. Chicago cracker crust and Quattro forni at Capos and Napolitano and Sicilian at Tony's. As suspected, my texture for the Sicilian (and focaccia) is way off--much too tough and chewy--much too rustic in crumb. I was impressed by the uniform crumb in the Sicilian at Tony's with only a hint of crunchiness on the bottom. Mine is much more crunchy on the bottom and the crumb is more irregular. I am pleased with the flavor I achieve but mine has always seemed too chewy and "stiff". Tasty, but not the texture I would like. It almost has the texture of stale bread. I follow the recipe in the book to a "T", using All Trumps, no poolish. I suspect it may be the length of time of the double bake that is a problem, and that is one place to look, but other guidance would be appreciated. Kneading time? I follow the guidelines in the book. Sorry that I may not have all of the variables written down, but this should be a fair amount of info as a point of departure. Oh, yes, I use two baking steels and the oven temp is quite accurate.

The first photo is Tony's Sicilian from the other night, the 2nd is my ciabatta (I am not sure which flour but either All Trumps or Tony's Artisan), third and fourth are examples of my focaccia and Sicilian. I think the photos show very uniform crumb in Tony's Sicilian, almost cake-like--same with the focaccia that we were served-- as well as my ciabatta, but my Sicilian and focaccia (which look pretty identical!) are more irregular and rustic.

Which factors will change the texture the most? I would like to start there.

(BTW, surprises of the evening: the best surprise was a simple soup served at Capo's---a simple chicken broth perfectly seasoned with thyme and a hint of basil--absolutely delicious. Next best was how good the quattro forni was--in particular, the quality of the prosciutto was excellent. Next was how soft crust of the Napolitano was--great leopard spotting, but rather floppy. It was only lukewarm when served, so I wonder if that has something to do with it? Should the crust be floppy? Not sure what it should be and I am interested to know, as I never stopped in Naples. I know that Tony had been in the kitchen the night before, as we saw him working his butt off in the kitchen when we walked by on our way to Kusakabe, but he was not there on Saturday night when we were there. I heard the waiter mention to the table next to us that they did not have the Caputo red flour and used the blue, but I doubt that would have that great an affect on the texture---in my experience, limited to NY style in my home oven, both were delicious with similar texture. Last surprise was the focaccia that was served at Tony's, not Capo (at least I assume it was focaccia that was on the table)--nice crumb, but not very flavorful. No one ate more that 1/2 of a slice, in part because of the Herculean task we had set about to do damage to four pizza!)

Thanks for the guidance,

Medium 1 tony sicilian

Medium 2 ciabatta ken

Medium 3 focaccia ken

Medium 4 ken sicilian

Ken K.
posted over 4 years ago

Save 0

Anyone out there?? (just checkin')

Ken K.
posted over 4 years ago


I have worked in bakeries, using Hobard mixers, proofing equipment and all kinds of other goodies that makes a baker/pizza maker giddy.

The professional proofing equipment is something you cannot replicate at home without major improvisations. I think the difference in TG's crust and yours truly lies in the way it's proofed and the dough is managed.

With that said, you may try a tad lower hydration and a bit less yeast. Proof for a minimum and see what happens. TG's crust looks a bit denser than yours so I'd start with those two variables I mentioned.

Perhaps Tony can chime in as well.

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Mike K.
posted over 4 years ago

Hi Ken, I've made about 10-12 Sicilian pies at home and have noticed the bottom is a bit crunchier/crispier than I was hoping for. I've also had the benefit of making a Sicilian with Tony at Tony's Pizza Napoletana. Because of this, I'm stumped. The procedure outlined in the book is identical to what we did at the restaurant.

I'm even using the same pan: an Allied Black Buster aluminum pan. I'm wondering if it's the oven. The only other thing that comes to mind is that my pans aren't that well seasoned. But I doubt that's it.

Next time I will try skipping the parbake even though that's how Tony does it.

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Raj Irukulla admin
posted over 4 years ago


A word of caution when doing the raw bake vs. the par-bake. The crust of a Sicilian takes a lot longer to bake through than a regular pie and your toppings may be well overdone before the crust is baked through.

I wouldn't do a raw bake but you might as well give it a shot and report back.

- Mike   over 4 years ago

Thanks, guys. I am gratified to know that I am not alone in noticing a difference between the product at Tony's and the home product. First, I want to repeat that I have no problems with the home product--we are very pleased (perhaps too pleased with the results, noting my 10# weight gain since beginning this quest, as well as that of croissants and other baked goodies...) with the results. It is just that I am trying to fathom the variables that I might try that would change the crumb. We are not going to be in town consistently for the next two weeks, but I thought I would first start with a change in how I stretch the dough to fit the pan, then possibly a slightly shorter par-bake time, and I may also change the flour and try Tony's Artisan. Raj, our "count" is 8-10 Sicilians using those great Allied Black Buster pans. I have cut back the oil from 1/4 cup to about a tablespoon, as Jeanette did not like the greasiness of the crust. I like the crunchiness of the crust and noted that Tony's restaurant version was MUCH less so than ours. It sounds like your crust is similar to ours. And perhaps there is not much that can be done based on Mike's fine reminder that professional proofing equipment cannot be replicated at home.

I will report back in a couple of weeks.

Ken K

- Ken   over 4 years ago

Ken, I'll make a few Sicilians over the next couple of weeks and report my progress in a separate thread.

- Raj   over 4 years ago

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