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,