Influencer Interview Part 2: Flour + Water Pizzeria’s Ryan Pollnow and Elliott Armstrong

Influencer Interview Part 2: Flour + Water Pizzeria’s Ryan Pollnow and Elliott Armstrong
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In part 2 of our conversation with San Francisco-based Flour + Water Pizzeria’s Co-Founder Ryan Pollnow and Sous Chef Elliott Armstrong, we dive deeper into menu development. Then we tour the kitchen where the pizza making magic happens!

LloydPans: You specialize in a number of styles at Flour + Water Pizzeria
Pollnow: We looked at all these different styles. Sicilian — to me — is closer to focaccia than what most Americans think pizza is. What we liked about the rise of Sicilian was getting those irregular crumb structures, air pockets and what that second rise does. We looked at Grandma where cheese is on the bottom most often, then sauce and then baked. For Detroit, the best characteristic for us was the almost cheese frico that you get along the outside. We reverse engineered it knowing the characteristics that we love. All of our pizzas we do sauce in the middle, which is a base layer of cheese, then sauce and then garnishing cheese. Sauce in the middle gives us a couple of benefits for the rounds. 

One: heat retention, which is a huge benefit for our to-go program. 
Two: seasonings, because it’s cheese — it's got salt. 
Most importantly, the oven spring that you get because of that layer of cheese. It’s going into that 600 degree oven and that dough still has life to it, it wants to jump. How the pizza timeline goes, it’s going to sog out a lot slower because it has that barrier of protection.

LloydPans: Must have been tough to narrow it down for the menu!
Pollnow: After R&Ding and applying that to all the things we know about the world of square and rectangle pizzas, plus the best pan you can find on the market — LloydPans — we took all of those things and we started playing around. We landed on a 600 gram portion of dough, which goes through a four-day process. It’s stretched out into the pan and allowed to rise a second time. It’s tossed with a combination of aged mozzarella and Fior di latte. It’s then baked the first time, which is essentially a parbake that sets the oven spring and the crumb structure. Rounds get uncooked, squares get cooked marinara.

Because of our love for Detroit’s cheese skirt around the edges, we season with parmigiano reggiano, making sure that we go in all four edges so when we bake the second time we get the parm frico on the outside of the pizza. And we finish with basil. For the slice program, we add pepperoni. 

We headed to the kitchen to speak with Sous Chef Elliott Armstrong, who took the lead on developing the slice program.

LloydPans: Tell us more about your dough process.
Armstrong: We went from a 300 gram dough to a 600 gram dough, and the edges are pressed in and settled into the pan. At that weight for what we’re doing, the weight of the cheese will help carry the day there. The Fiore really helps weigh down and get us nice compression into the actual surface of the pan, and it can help us get the edges when they’re really perfectly proofed. When we have enough time, they’ll literally be pointed on each edge. It makes a much cleaner finish. After they’re parbaked for about two to three minutes, we get nice air pockets and it makes it sort of cavernous. It’s really simple after that — it’s just a perfect amount of tomato sauce and then we heavily break up basil and give it a heavy hand of parm dust. 

LloydPans: Loving the hybrid styles you have going on.
Armstrong: They’re not heavy enough to be Sicilians, and they’re not light enough to be considered Grandmas. They’re middle weighted. They’re very airy, very crispy, but they have a good spring. We were fortunate to be able to have a presentation of this slice without having to make any adjustment of the dough recipe at all. 

The primary dough that we do is also amazing. It kind of speaks to the pizza on that level, which is a bit of a hybrid too. It’s almost neapolitan shaped, but the bottom is very New York, so it's kind of cool that we’re doing sort of a nouveau hybrid on both the square and the round. 

One final thought from Pollnow:

I truly mean it when I say I have never worked with a better pizza pan, and also just cooking equipment in general. We obsess over details. It’s one of those things in the cooking world that seems so simple, but when it’s top quality the performance that you get out of it makes all the difference. When it’s something as simple as pizza you really have to pay attention to details, and LloydPans is a huge part of what allows us to consistently put out what we think is the best possible product.

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