Every month or so, TEAM SPT gets together for an educationally delicious adventure in pizza. Just a couple weeks ago we hit up Sofia Pizza Shoppe, the newish Upper East Side slice counter (Midtown East / Sutton Place). They have a nice assortment of NY slice essentials, but the fanfare is all about the extremely exclusive DOUGHDICI – a pan pizza that rises for 12 hours in special pans. It’s intense. It’s also $38.
The idea behind the pizza, and the name, is that it spends 12 hours rising on the counter. The number 12 in Italian is dodici, hence the pizzafied version DOUGdici. The first time they made one was an accident, the result of a Sicilian pizza that was left out to rise for far too long. It wasn’t likely to survive the bake without collapsing, but Sofia co-owner Tom DeGrazia baked it anyway. The result was pretty wild – with a high edge surrounding a pool of sunken cheese and tomato. The next attempt was a little different. Tom added oil to the dough throughout the day to prevent drying it out, which also allowed the dough to peak higher. The pieces were starting to come together and it wasn’t long before this accidental pie became a phenomenon.
After the dough has had a chance to rise, it gets topped with a cautious amount of cheese and sauce. One problem with this kind of rise is that the weight of toppings combined with the oven spring that happens at the top of the bake, is that the center of the pizza is destined to collapse. That’s part of the fun of this pizza – it reminds us that the puffy rise is the result of air. And the collapse is part of the product, leaving behind an interesting crumb structure.
This pie is a real contradiction. It’s a super thick Sicilian pizza that’s also really light. As for toppings, Sofia is making fresh mozzarella in-house. They dry it out so it can be sliced into sheets. Tom applies 4 or 5 sheets per pie, so it’s not goopy or runny. The sauce is a very simple tomato with light seasoning. Nothing complicated. The tricky part of this process is its long rise time. If the pan is in the wrong place and somebody bumps into it – game over. That’s definitely an issue and part of the reason the doughdici is only sporadically available.
Tom and his crew have been working with Allied Metal (a Bronx-based company that makes baking pans) to construct a container that will promote the doughdici’s rise while preventing such a dramatic collapse. I’ve seen it and it’s super exciting. In fact, I’ve had the doughdici on two separate occasions and the time Tommy made it with the Allied prototype was definitely better. The original pan he’s been using is a typical Detroit style steel pan, in which the entire sides are angled. The pie he made with it was fine, but not nearly as stable as the one made with the custom pan.
If you want to get your hands on a doughdici, you’ll have to keep your eyes on their Eventbrite page for upcoming opportunities. I know they’re on hiatus for a while but only for as long as it takes to perfect the process.