Author Topic: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?  (Read 203496 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #125 on: September 21, 2011, 06:17:17 PM »
Norma,

On the matter of the wheat germ, I wondered how much flavor and color it might have imparted to the finished crust. Theoretically, if the wheat germ is finely ground, it should still taste pretty much the same (a toasty flavor "with a mild, lingering nut-like taste"). Maybe it is worth an experiment to use more toasted wheat germ. As I mentioned earlier, the expert at Garuda International put the range at up to 10%.

My question about the molasses was to see if you thought the crust was only mildly sweet, which would suggest that one might want to add more. When I had the MM pizza recently, I thought that the crust was noticeably sweet, even more so than the Papa John's crusts I have made, which contain around 4% sugar. However, sweetness is a personal thing that can be adjusted as desired.

You didn't say how long the cold fermentation period was but I assumed you selected the amount of yeast to get to about 2-3 days of cold fermentation. In one of the videos I referenced earlier in this thread, at , the owner/manager says (at 4:30 in the video) that the dough at his MM location (Germantown/Memphis, TN) takes 48 hours for the pizza dough to get ready to go to the oven. Since that location presumably uses frozen MM dough balls, I assumed that the first day was to let the dough balls defrost and for the second day the defrosted dough balls are held in the cooler until ready to use. It was on this basis that I decided on 0.60% IDY, to simulate a defrosted dough ball case. For any other application, I would select the amount of yeast to conform to the desired period of cold fermentation, just as you did. As noted previously, I do not have any idea as to the type and duration of fermentation for the MM stores that use fresh dough balls.

You indicated that you had some difficulty incorporating the oil into the dough. You used the "Lehmann method" (which was also the E.J. Pyler method going back several decades), which is to incorporate the oil after the initial mix. I found that that worked if the amount of oil was around 1% but when it got to around 4-5% or higher, I experienced difficulties incorporating the oil into the dough in my basic KitchenAid stand mixer with the C-hook. So, I decided to use the method that member November advocates and that is to add the oil to the water. His logic is that the oil is more uniformly incorporated into the dough that way.

As far as the rim of the MM pizza that I had is concerned, I would say that it was reasonably moist but it was on the dense side. That is one of the reasons why I decided to use less oil in the dough formulation. I didn't want the rim to be soft and tender and open and airy. In due course, I might reduce the amount of oil even further. Or possibly try an even lower hydration value.

At some point, I may decide to try an MM clone myself. To be honest, until you tried the MM clone dough formulation I proposed, I had some lingering doubts about whether the formulation was any good for MM cloning purposes. A lot of my pizza making was put on hold this year due to the brutal summer we had in Texas. I don't think I have used my oven since about last May. We broke all kinds of temperature records, and set a new one by having 70 100-degree days so far this year. We missed the record for consecutive 100-degree days by two days, when a temporary breeze came over Texas from Oklahoma and cooled things down enough so that the temperature only got to 97 degrees at the DFW airport where the temperatures are measured. The prediction is for warmer than normal weather for the rest of the year, along with continued drought. It has been around the 90s lately. That prompted me to get my sweaters out. I may also have to get the instructions for my oven out to refresh my memory on how to use it :-D.

I will be anxious to read Biz's report on his MM visit last night. That might help tighten up the MM clone dough formulation. Of course, your test and report were also very helpful, especially since you were able to use your commercial deck oven. It may turn out that in a home oven setting it might be worth using a combination of screen and stone to get comparable results. That was the approach I used to make the Papa John's clones as my best approximation to a commercial conveyor oven.

Peter

Peter,

With the toasted wheat germ and dark molasses added to the dough, I also wondered what color the of crumb the pizza would have.  I took a picture of the toasted wheat germ I purchased at the Country Store.  I guess it would be from Dutch Valley Food, http://www.dutchvalleyfoods.com/products/flour-and-grains/grains/156056/wheat-germ-toasted-25lb  since the Country Store does carry Dutch Valley products.  Looking at the toasted wheat germ in the picture below and in person, some of the toasted wheat germ is ground finer and some is coarser.  I will await your decision to see if you decide to add more toasted wheat germ to the formula.  If you do decide to add more toasted wheat germs to the formula, would more water need to be added?

I don’t think the Brer Rabbit molasses is really sweet, but then each person has their own ideas about sweetness.  I forget now, when I made the Papa John’s pizza in my experiments how sweet I thought those crusts were.  That was when I was first on my adventure to make a longer fermented dough for market, so I really can’t compare what I thought of the MM crust compared to what the Papa’s John’s sweetness was.  If you do decide to add more molasses to the formula I will try it and see if there seems to be too much sweetness in the crust.  My daughter just tried a reheated slice of the MM attempt from yesterday and she really liked the MM crust and whole slice.  She could detect a small amount of sweetness in the crust like Steve and I could.

I made the dough Sunday morning, and used 0.25% IDY and had a final dough temperature of 73.4 degrees F, and my MM dough was fermented for about 53 hrs.  I think I either could have added more IDY or could have achieved a higher final dough temperature for the dough to ferment better, but I don’t think I would add a lot more yeast in the next attempt, if I follow about the same time in fermentation.

I never knew to use November’s method of adding the oil to the water before.  I can understand that is a good idea for mixing with more oil.  I will try that in my next attempt to get the oil incorporated better and faster.

I watch the weather channel and have seen what hot weather all of the Texas members have been having all summer.  I don’t know how all of the members in Texas, including you have withstood that hot weather and drought.  I understand why you wouldn’t want to turn on your oven.  Lol, getting your sweaters out at 90 degrees made me chuckle and also getting out your oven manuals.  :-D

I was also interested in the MM pizza businesses and their pizzas because I never have seen any pizzas businesses decorated like they decorate them. Cool!  8) Back in the late 50’s when I was a teenager, I almost became a beatnik (something like hippies in the 60’s)  I wore all black clothing and tried to write poetry. I wasn’t even aware of what a beatnik really was, but older teenagers tried to be like them in my small town area, so I followed.  I almost ran away with a friend of mine to NY city to become a real beatnik.  Thankfully, my friend chickened out at the last minute.  I had great parents and they would have been horrified if I ran away to become a beatnik.  They let me wear all the black clothing, but were none the wiser of what I planned to do.  Thankfully, also that phase quickly went away.  The way MM decorates their pizza businesses remind me back in the days of my carefree youth and how some teenagers do stupid stuff, including me. :-D

I forgot to mention before, that I did add a screen near the very end of the bake.  I thought the crust would get too brown.  I guess it was the molasses added that made the crust seem to want to get too brown, something like all the sugar in a Papa John’s pizza needs a screen.

I am also anxious to read Biz’s report!   :)

Norma
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 06:19:35 PM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!


Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #126 on: September 21, 2011, 08:26:17 PM »
Norma,

If more wheat germ is used, that can affect the required hydration but we wouldn't be using enough to worry about, maybe 4-5%. Whether you decide to grind the toasted wheat germ you have on hand, that will also affect the required hydration. I would imagine that if the wheat germ is ground to a flour-like consistency it should hydrate better because of the finer particle size. Since you did not detect the wheat germ in the finished crumb, I don't think I would worry about grinding it down further. It would be interesting, however, to know if the wheat germ that MM uses in its commissry can be seen in the MM frozen dough balls. If not, that would suggest a wheat germ product with a flour-like consistency such as sold by Garruda International.

I forgot to mention earlier that as between the coarse cornmeal and the corn flour, I would go with the coarse cornmeal. My bag of cornmeal just says "cornmeal". It doesn't say coarse or fine. However, corn flour would not be a particularly good choice in a pizza operation because it can wreak havoc on the air conditioning system. I understand that is one of the reasons why Papa John's adds some oil to their semolina/flour Dustinator blend that is used on the bench. You can see a photo of cornmeal being used in the photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tikiloti/3298855934/in/photostream/. You might also note the related photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tikiloti/3298971932/in/photostream/ where you can see some bubbling in the skin as it is being formed.

I checked the molasses I have on hand and it is the Grandma's Original brand. Grandma's also has a Robust version that is darker in color and has a more pronounced flavor. MM most likely uses a commercial grade molasses such as sold by companies like Malt Products Corporation (http://www.maltproducts.com/products.molasses.html). Since you are a professional, you might call Malt Products and ask them to send you a 55-gallon drum of one of their liquid molasses products to experiment with :-D. I would think that it would make more sense for MM to use a dry molasses in its commissary operation or even in the stores that make their own dough. The dry molasses can even be part of a pre-mix.

BTW, it is not too late to become a hippy. You might dig out your black garb, get a few tattoos, and join Willie Nelson on his road tour. You would fit right in, especially when they see what you can do with a bag of flour. You can send in periodic reports to the forum from the road as Aimless Ryan has been doing.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 09:20:13 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #127 on: September 21, 2011, 09:25:45 PM »
Norma,

If more wheat germ is used, that can affect the required hydration but we wouldn't be using enough to worry about, maybe 4-5%. Whether you decide to grind the toasted wheat germ you have on hand, that will also affect the required hydration. I would imagine that if the wheat germ is ground to a flour-like consistency it should hydrate better because of the finer particle size. Since you did not detect the wheat germ in the finished crumb, I don't think I would worry about grinding it down further. It would be interesting, however, to know if the wheat germ that MM uses in its commissry can be seen in the MM frozen dough balls. If not, that would suggest a wheat germ product with a flour-like consistency such as sold by Garruda International.

I forgot to mention earlier that as between the coarse cornmeal and the corn flour, I would go with the coarse cornmeal. My bag of cornmeal just says "cornmeal". It doesn't say coarse or fine. However, corn flour would not be a particularly good choice in a pizza operation because it can wreak havoc on the air conditioning system. I understand that is one of the reasons why Papa John's adds some oil to their semolina/flour Dustinator blend that is used on the bench. You can see a photo of cornmeal being used in the photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tikiloti/3298855934/in/photostream/. You might also note the related photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tikiloti/3298971932/in/photostream/ where you can see some bubbling in the skin as it is being formed.

I checked the molasses I have on hand and it is the Grandma's Original brand. Grandma's also has a Robust version that is darker in color and has a more pronounced flavor. MM most likely uses a commercial grade molasses such as sold by companies like Malt Products Corporation (http://www.maltproducts.com/products.molasses.html). Since you are a professional, you might call Malt Products and ask them to send you a 55-gallon drum of one of their liquid molasses products to experiment with :-D. I would think that it would make more sense for MM to use a dry molasses in its commissary operation or even in the stores that make their own dough. The dry molasses can even be part of a pre-mix.

BTW, it is not too late to become a hippy. You might dig out your black garb, get a few tattoos, and join Willie Nelson on his road tour. You would fit right in, especially when they see what you can do with a bag of flour. You can send in periodic reports to the forum from the road as Aimless Ryan has been doing.

Peter

Peter,

I will wait to see what Biz posts on his visit to MM to see what he reports on the flavor of the crust, if he purchased a dough ball, and his observations. If Biz or another member does purchase a dough ball, I also think it would be interesting to know if any wheat germ can be seen in MM’s frozen dough balls. Then if you decide to change the formula at all in terms of molasses or wheat germ, I will try whatever you post.  I liked the crust just the way it was, but understand you want to get as close as you can to a MM formula. 

Thanks, for letting me know you would go with the coarse cornmeal.  I had tried the finer cornmeal before, when John (fazzari) had told me to try that on my peel for a Reinhart dough.  I don’t think I ever tried corn flour in any formula or to dust my peel.  I can understand corn flour could cause havoc on an air-conditioning system. and that is why Papa John’s does add some oil to its Dustinator blend that it uses on the bench.

Brer Rabbit also sells a stronger flavor of molasses, just like your Grandma’s molasses. I can understand MM probably would use a commercial grade of molasses.  Thanks for that link about the Malt Products Corporation.  I see they do sell a dry form of molasses that is spray dried that is ideal as a flavor and color enhancer.  Being as crazy as I am, if at some point you get this all figured out, I might try to get a sample of the sprayed dried molasses.  http://www.maltproducts.com/products.molasses.html
You never know what you can get until you try.  I just don't know where I would store the sprayed dried molasses if I could get a sample.

I am still adventurous, but after my last gig at market, and all that dragging stuff around, I think I will try to remain calm and try to just stick to regular market.  Hippy stuff is still interesting to me, but I don’t think I am ready for a road tour with Willie Nelson or anyone else.  Aimless Ryan is a lot younger than I am, but find how he travels around interesting.  No cares and you get to travel.  Sounds good to me.  ;D

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Biz Markie

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 147
  • Location: Tennessee
  • Pass the partially-hydrogenated lard
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #128 on: September 21, 2011, 11:25:06 PM »
Hola everyone!

Sorry to keep you in suspense for so long but things have been hectic around here lately.  I will have to go back and catch up on all the posts I've missed.

I wasn't able to obtain as much intelligence from my MM visit as I had hoped, but I did gain perhaps some insight.

Let's see how to start....

First I guess I'll point out that I hoped to chat with one or more of the employees behind the counter assembling the pies.  Unfortunately, I was not able to engage any of them.  Similar to what Peter noted in his Jacksonville report, the prep area at this location was not really approachable.  There was just enough distance between me and the kitchen that it was too far to really have a conversation.  I was able to see a decent bit, however, and I'll report on that:

1. Oven:  The MM that I visited was using a "Montague Hearth Bake" deck oven (or maybe it was 2 of them).  I couldn't see the temperature as there was no digital thermostat.  There was an upper deck and a lower deck, both quite wide, probably 6-8 feet.

2. Dough prep:  I was a little confused at first because before I saw the oven doors opened, I noticed lots of pizza screens around, and skins being carried about on screens.  Once I realized they were using a deck oven, I presumed that they must be pre-forming the skins on screens.  I'm not sure this is correct. . .I have extremely limited knowledge of kitchen operation.
I definitely saw employees forming skins by hand, mostly stretching them with their fists.  I did see some twirling and tossing, but mostly just stretching.  The dough was extremely "tolerant". .. that is, they were stretching the tar out of that dough!  I mean really working it over.  It struck me at the time that the dough must be rather dry for this to be possible.  The word "tough" kept coming to mind as I watched them pull the skins to the limits.
One of the more important things I noticed is that no one seemed to be forming rims on the skins.  Immediately after stretching/twirling, the skins were laid down and dressed.  I couldn't actually see the skins because of the counter, but I did not see any motions that resembled the forming of a rim.  I thought this was very interesting, but see my comments below on the finished product.

3. Sauce:  I noticed the sauce was kept in a heated pot thingy.  This may be standard practice but it struck me as a little peculiar.  I tried to look for "spoodle" usage but the only such implement that I saw was a regular ol' stainless steel ladle.  I saw one person dress a skin using this ladle in the standard method.

4. Dough color:  I was not able to get a very close look at the uncooked dough, but from what I could see, the color was very similar to my first 2 MM clone attempts.  Of course, if they were side-by-side they might appear more dissimilar.  I definitely was not close enough to look for germ flecks.

That's about all I could tell from loitering around the kitchen.  I looked pretty silly just standing there staring!  A couple folks asked if I needed anything.  So at least they had attentive employees!  On the other hand, the guys making the pizzas met my eyes a few times but just returned stony expressions - not particularly friendly fellows.

So we ordered 2 pies.  Two 10'' pizzas - one "mega veggie" with no cheese and one half cheese-half hawaiian.   
As we have already established, it's standard practice for them to butter and parm the crust, so in true vegan form we requested no butter or parm on our veggie pizza. 
I also requested a cup of the pizza sauce for dipping, and so that I could bring it home for possible cloning.

At least 15 minutes later (though I didn't time it) the pies came out.  Here are my observations of the pies:

1) Rim - I was very surprised that the rim was barely any more pronounced than my most recent MM attempt which I deemed a failure.   I was expecting a big rim but this was definitely not a big rim.  This is not what I remembered from my previous MM visits, but it has been a while.
I observed other customer's pizzas on their tables and none of them had what I consider to be a pronounced rim.  For example, nothing like Norma's pie in the previous posts.  I will say that the larger 14'' pies I saw seemed to almost inherently have a slightly bigger rim than our 10''s

2) Color - the crust and crumb was also not quite what I remembered.  It was not as yellowy-golden as I recall.  I did not see any germ in the crumb or otherwise.

3) Texture - I was also quite disappointed in the texture of the crust.  The rim crust was fairly "done" on the outside.  The crumb was pretty soft and somewhat squishy, but there was so little crumb to speak of that the overall texture of the rim crust was again not all that far off from my "overbaked and under-sprung" attempt from last week.  This pie was definitely not as overbaked as mine, but it was nowhere near as chewy as I remember from the past.
The bottom of the pie was pretty crispy too. .see next point.

4) Thickness - in the past we ALWAYS had to eat our MM pizzas with a fork because the crust was so thin.  One thing to note is that in the past we also ALWAYS got the House Special, but anyway - our Veggie pie last nightseemed to me to be pretty thick.  A fork was definitely not required to eat it.

5) Crust flavor - in general, again the flavor of the crust was not as striking and unique as I remembered.  Aside from that, definitely the most noticeable feature was the sweetness.  In fact, that's about all I could take from it.  I felt like I could sense the molasses (which also by the way seemed inherently linked to the outer crunch of the crust).  I'm not saying the germ did not contribute to the flavor profile, but I did not detect any particular "nuttiness" from the germ.  Again, the main characteristic was the sweetness.  Not to say that it was like eating a cinnamon roll, but definitely sweet.
As noted above, our veggie pizza was ordered without butter and parm.  But the kids' pizza was prepared with the normal butter and parm.  For the sake of science, I took one taste of the kids' crust. 
I did not actually detect any Garlic, though it's been postulated that it's garlic butter used.  The server just called it "butter" but not sure how much that's worth.  I did not taste any garlic, unless it was so minute that I missed it. 

6) Sauce - the first thing I tasted when the food came out was the sauce from the cup I requested.  Initially I seemed to sense a fennel type of taste which is odd because there was no fennel.  As I continued to taste the sauce, I came to hone in on just the simple, slightly tangy tomato-ness of it (as Peter had reported).  It was not overly sweet.  It had a fair amount of salt, I'd wager, but not "salty."  I think there's a good deal of black pepper and I also think some olive oil, due to the heavy mouthfeel.  I did seem to find a few specks of basil or oregano, but there was not a discernible herby flavor.  Pretty good sauce.

Well, that's about it as far as the pizza itself.  As you can probably tell, I was pretty disappointed.  Overall it was not nearly the awesome pizza I remember from many previous (though none very recent) visits.  I wonder if some of it was due to the 10'' size - maybe they don't make as many of these and we just got badly made pies.

ADDITIONAL INFO:
1) Based on Peter's wish that he could learn the oil used in the MM dough, I decided to ask the waitress, who was very attentive.  She gave me a very odd look but went to the kitchen to ask.  She came back and reported that. . . lo and behold. . .. it's "Soybean Oil."
2) I attempted to purchase a dough ball but when I asked the server, she said they didn't sell them.  I told her that I called the store a month or 2 ago (as recorded in an earlier post of mine in this thread) and was advised they DO sell the balls.  So she went to ask.  She came back and said they cannot sell them due to health code concerns.  I figured I'd worn out my welcome at this point.  We paid the bill and left.

UPON RETURNING HOME
We took one full piece of the veggie pie home, and it so happened that we also had a leftover piece from Sunday night's "failed" MM Clone attempt. 
So I compared.  Suprisingly the rims were very similar, as noted above.  The crumb structure was nearly identical.  The color of the crumb was also practically identical.  The flavor, however, was not quite the same, but I believe there are at least a couple reasons.  One is that my pie was definitely overbaked, no question.  It had that overbaked taste to it, whereas the MM pie did not.  Secondly, the MM slice was less than 24 hours old at the time of comparison, and my slice was about 72 hours old. 

SUMMARY - KEY POINTS
I was not impressed with the pizza on this particular visit.  They are using Soybean Oil, apparently.  This location did not seem to be forming rims on the skins and it showed in the finished product.  The predominant flavor characteristic of the crust is simply sweetness.  The butter used on the rim did not seem to be garlic butter.

I really think our formulas are very close.  In my case, I think if I can just improve my methods slightly, I will basically be there, with either my initial guesstimate formula or Peter's 24-hour formula.  I think the use of Soybean Oil (I did not have any on hand in my 2 tests) will help.  I'm eager to try my ground germ too.  I'm not sure if I'll form a rim on the skin or not in my next attempt, but if I can get the bake time right, I think I for one will be satisfied.

I am posting a pic of the actual MM crust profile and of the bottom of the pie.  The rim actually appears somewhat "high" in the picture but believe me, it wasn't.  Sorry I didn't get better pics.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #129 on: September 22, 2011, 08:00:35 AM »
Hola everyone!

Sorry to keep you in suspense for so long but things have been hectic around here lately.  I will have to go back and catch up on all the posts I've missed.

I wasn't able to obtain as much intelligence from my MM visit as I had hoped, but I did gain perhaps some insight.

Let's see how to start....

First I guess I'll point out that I hoped to chat with one or more of the employees behind the counter assembling the pies.  Unfortunately, I was not able to engage any of them.  Similar to what Peter noted in his Jacksonville report, the prep area at this location was not really approachable.  There was just enough distance between me and the kitchen that it was too far to really have a conversation.  I was able to see a decent bit, however, and I'll report on that:

1. Oven:  The MM that I visited was using a "Montague Hearth Bake" deck oven (or maybe it was 2 of them).  I couldn't see the temperature as there was no digital thermostat.  There was an upper deck and a lower deck, both quite wide, probably 6-8 feet.

2. Dough prep:  I was a little confused at first because before I saw the oven doors opened, I noticed lots of pizza screens around, and skins being carried about on screens.  Once I realized they were using a deck oven, I presumed that they must be pre-forming the skins on screens.  I'm not sure this is correct. . .I have extremely limited knowledge of kitchen operation.
I definitely saw employees forming skins by hand, mostly stretching them with their fists.  I did see some twirling and tossing, but mostly just stretching.  The dough was extremely "tolerant". .. that is, they were stretching the tar out of that dough!  I mean really working it over.  It struck me at the time that the dough must be rather dry for this to be possible.  The word "tough" kept coming to mind as I watched them pull the skins to the limits.
One of the more important things I noticed is that no one seemed to be forming rims on the skins.  Immediately after stretching/twirling, the skins were laid down and dressed.  I couldn't actually see the skins because of the counter, but I did not see any motions that resembled the forming of a rim.  I thought this was very interesting, but see my comments below on the finished product.

3. Sauce:  I noticed the sauce was kept in a heated pot thingy.  This may be standard practice but it struck me as a little peculiar.  I tried to look for "spoodle" usage but the only such implement that I saw was a regular ol' stainless steel ladle.  I saw one person dress a skin using this ladle in the standard method.

4. Dough color:  I was not able to get a very close look at the uncooked dough, but from what I could see, the color was very similar to my first 2 MM clone attempts.  Of course, if they were side-by-side they might appear more dissimilar.  I definitely was not close enough to look for germ flecks.

That's about all I could tell from loitering around the kitchen.  I looked pretty silly just standing there staring!  A couple folks asked if I needed anything.  So at least they had attentive employees!  On the other hand, the guys making the pizzas met my eyes a few times but just returned stony expressions - not particularly friendly fellows.

So we ordered 2 pies.  Two 10'' pizzas - one "mega veggie" with no cheese and one half cheese-half hawaiian.  
As we have already established, it's standard practice for them to butter and parm the crust, so in true vegan form we requested no butter or parm on our veggie pizza.  
I also requested a cup of the pizza sauce for dipping, and so that I could bring it home for possible cloning.

At least 15 minutes later (though I didn't time it) the pies came out.  Here are my observations of the pies:

1) Rim - I was very surprised that the rim was barely any more pronounced than my most recent MM attempt which I deemed a failure.   I was expecting a big rim but this was definitely not a big rim.  This is not what I remembered from my previous MM visits, but it has been a while.
I observed other customer's pizzas on their tables and none of them had what I consider to be a pronounced rim.  For example, nothing like Norma's pie in the previous posts.  I will say that the larger 14'' pies I saw seemed to almost inherently have a slightly bigger rim than our 10''s

2) Color - the crust and crumb was also not quite what I remembered.  It was not as yellowy-golden as I recall.  I did not see any germ in the crumb or otherwise.

3) Texture - I was also quite disappointed in the texture of the crust.  The rim crust was fairly "done" on the outside.  The crumb was pretty soft and somewhat squishy, but there was so little crumb to speak of that the overall texture of the rim crust was again not all that far off from my "overbaked and under-sprung" attempt from last week.  This pie was definitely not as overbaked as mine, but it was nowhere near as chewy as I remember from the past.
The bottom of the pie was pretty crispy too. .see next point.

4) Thickness - in the past we ALWAYS had to eat our MM pizzas with a fork because the crust was so thin.  One thing to note is that in the past we also ALWAYS got the House Special, but anyway - our Veggie pie last nightseemed to me to be pretty thick.  A fork was definitely not required to eat it.

5) Crust flavor - in general, again the flavor of the crust was not as striking and unique as I remembered.  Aside from that, definitely the most noticeable feature was the sweetness.  In fact, that's about all I could take from it.  I felt like I could sense the molasses (which also by the way seemed inherently linked to the outer crunch of the crust).  I'm not saying the germ did not contribute to the flavor profile, but I did not detect any particular "nuttiness" from the germ.  Again, the main characteristic was the sweetness.  Not to say that it was like eating a cinnamon roll, but definitely sweet.
As noted above, our veggie pizza was ordered without butter and parm.  But the kids' pizza was prepared with the normal butter and parm.  For the sake of science, I took one taste of the kids' crust.  
I did not actually detect any Garlic, though it's been postulated that it's garlic butter used.  The server just called it "butter" but not sure how much that's worth.  I did not taste any garlic, unless it was so minute that I missed it.  

6) Sauce - the first thing I tasted when the food came out was the sauce from the cup I requested.  Initially I seemed to sense a fennel type of taste which is odd because there was no fennel.  As I continued to taste the sauce, I came to hone in on just the simple, slightly tangy tomato-ness of it (as Peter had reported).  It was not overly sweet.  It had a fair amount of salt, I'd wager, but not "salty."  I think there's a good deal of black pepper and I also think some olive oil, due to the heavy mouthfeel.  I did seem to find a few specks of basil or oregano, but there was not a discernible herby flavor.  Pretty good sauce.

Well, that's about it as far as the pizza itself.  As you can probably tell, I was pretty disappointed.  Overall it was not nearly the awesome pizza I remember from many previous (though none very recent) visits.  I wonder if some of it was due to the 10'' size - maybe they don't make as many of these and we just got badly made pies.

ADDITIONAL INFO:
1) Based on Peter's wish that he could learn the oil used in the MM dough, I decided to ask the waitress, who was very attentive.  She gave me a very odd look but went to the kitchen to ask.  She came back and reported that. . . lo and behold. . .. it's "Soybean Oil."
2) I attempted to purchase a dough ball but when I asked the server, she said they didn't sell them.  I told her that I called the store a month or 2 ago (as recorded in an earlier post of mine in this thread) and was advised they DO sell the balls.  So she went to ask.  She came back and said they cannot sell them due to health code concerns.  I figured I'd worn out my welcome at this point.  We paid the bill and left.

UPON RETURNING HOME
We took one full piece of the veggie pie home, and it so happened that we also had a leftover piece from Sunday night's "failed" MM Clone attempt.  
So I compared.  Suprisingly the rims were very similar, as noted above.  The crumb structure was nearly identical.  The color of the crumb was also practically identical.  The flavor, however, was not quite the same, but I believe there are at least a couple reasons.  One is that my pie was definitely overbaked, no question.  It had that overbaked taste to it, whereas the MM pie did not.  Secondly, the MM slice was less than 24 hours old at the time of comparison, and my slice was about 72 hours old.  

SUMMARY - KEY POINTS
I was not impressed with the pizza on this particular visit.  They are using Soybean Oil, apparently.  This location did not seem to be forming rims on the skins and it showed in the finished product.  The predominant flavor characteristic of the crust is simply sweetness.  The butter used on the rim did not seem to be garlic butter.

I really think our formulas are very close.  In my case, I think if I can just improve my methods slightly, I will basically be there, with either my initial guesstimate formula or Peter's 24-hour formula.  I think the use of Soybean Oil (I did not have any on hand in my 2 tests) will help.  I'm eager to try my ground germ too.  I'm not sure if I'll form a rim on the skin or not in my next attempt, but if I can get the bake time right, I think I for one will be satisfied.

I am posting a pic of the actual MM crust profile and of the bottom of the pie.  The rim actually appears somewhat "high" in the picture but believe me, it wasn't.  Sorry I didn't get better pics.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Biz,

Your report on your visit to MM was very interesting and you did gather a lot of information!   ;D

I find your comments about the pizza screens interesting.  I wonder what the purpose of those pizza screens were with the skins on. “Stretching the tar” out of dough seems to me almost like some doughs I have made with lower hydrations and a lot of oil.  I did watch pie men at Knoebels and at Mack’s stretch doughs that looked very similar to what you watched. Your comment on no one seemed to be forming rims is interesting too.  Since that are so many photos of different MM pies on the internet, I would guess that Peter’s earlier comment how the younger pizza makers forming the rim or not forming the rim might be different from store to store, in how the rims turn out in the final pizzas.

The sauce being in a heated container was good detective work.  I would think, but really don’t know if that can change the flavor profile of the sauce.  I had kept my sauce in a heated kettle recently at a Art’s and Craft festival, and although the sauce was still good, it did change the flavor profile some from heating.  I would imagine that MM does use their sauce fairly fast though, so the flavor profile might not pertain to their sauce.  The heated kettle could be just to keep the sauce safe for food inspectors.

The crust texture, flavor, and thickness you posted on were also very interesting.  Sorry to hear you were disappointed in the overall MM pizzas.

Your attempted MM clone crumb and the real MM crumb do sound very similar.  

Will be interested in your next experimental MM’s clone pizza.  Best of luck!  :)

Thanks so much for taking the pictures and your great investigated report!  :)

Norma
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 08:03:47 AM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #130 on: September 22, 2011, 09:32:38 AM »
Biz,

Thank you very much for your trip report. What you learned should help us move the ball further down the field. Hopefully, with a few tweaks here and there in the MM dough clone formulation (even though Norma seems quite satisfied with the present one), we should get closer to the goal line.

I am somewhat surprised that your pizzas didn’t turn out better. With a few exceptions (principally the MM stores that make their own dough), the MM business model is predicated on making an extremely robust dough that can be frozen and delivered to their stores and where all that is required of the workers is to defrost the dough balls on day 1 and use them on day 2 or maybe even day 3. The process is so simple that even kids who come and go and are really only interested in making a few bucks pocket cash to carry them over to the next paycheck can make the pizzas. Asking them to make rims on the skins should not be an issue, and may reflect either poor training or a management problem. Of course, it is not an absolute requirement that they form the rims or that they get large, somewhat bulbous rims in the baked crust. However, that feature appealed to me when I sampled the MM pizza in the Jacksonville Beach, FL location recently, and I thought the same thing when I saw pizzas that were delivered to other tables. I thought that the pronounced rim with a thinner center made for a unique, distinguishable and appealing looking and appetizing pizza.

Apparently, the reality is that pizza, although a core part of the typical MM menu, and maybe even the best selling item on the food menu (as the owner/manager of the Germantown/Memphis unit intimated in the video I referenced earlier), represents only a piece of the total MM formula. The other major components are art and unique architectural designs, a highly developed beer program, other food offerings (like calzones and hoagies), and entertainment (background music, TVs, bands, etc.). If you think that the pizzas are pricey, there is a good reason, and I can tell you that it is not because of the cost of the dough. To see why, check out the franchise costs given at http://www.mellowfranchise.com/get-the-details/financial-stuff. Norma, with her current set-up, and she were so inclined, could replicate the pizza part at fairly low cost. And, she has already shown that she can make a good clone, even if it doesn’t exactly replicate a real MM pizza.

On the matter of the pizza screens you saw, and although I did not see any in any of the videos and photos I looked at or in any of my research, it is not uncommon for pizza operators to use them with their deck ovens. It may be an issue unique to the Montague deck ovens since I did not see any screens used with the Blodgett deck ovens at the Jacksonville Beach MM unit. Some operators have their workers make the skins right on the screens because it is easier to train them to use the screens than to use peels (hence, fewer mishaps). In MM’s case, there should be little need to use this approach because the skins made from their dough balls shouldn’t stick to the peels, especially when using cornmeal (and typically a fair amount of it) as a release agent. Other operators use the screens in order to reduce the risk of the bottoms of the crusts cooking too fast and possibly burning, especially given the fairly high sugar (molasses) content of the dough. The screens can be placed under dressed pizzas at the outset and removed once the pizzas start to set up and become firm, or they can be placed under the baking pizzas toward the end of the bake to lift the pizzas off of the deck and prevent or minimize burning. I think the latter method is the better one since the screens do not slow down the baking process. This usually means a better oven spring. This is also the method that Norma uses from time to time with her deck oven. I have used similar methods even in my standard electric home oven.

It also seems that your reaction to the molasses and its effect on the crust was the same as mine. The effect of the molasses on the “crunch” of the rim that you noted and mentioned may have been because of the caramelization of the molasses and its participation in the Maillard reactions (which requires simple sugars). I think at this point I would be inclined to increase the amount of molasses in the dough formulation that Norma used. I am also leaning toward lowering the hydration a bit and using a bit less oil (to stiffen up the dough a bit), and a bit more yeast (for a roughly two-day cold ferment). I am not entertaining major changes in the formulation at this point.

I can’t say that I was surprised by the revelation of the type of oil used in the dough as being soybean oil. However, as I previously noted, I do not accept as truth everything that a store worker tells me about their dough, especially one that is prepared off-site and where the store workers are not told anything about what goes into the dough. That said, however, soybean oil would have been my first guess as the oil used in the MM dough. It is pervasive and it is cheap. Also, when you get above a few percent oil, better oils like olive oil, even the lighter ones, can have too strong a flavor impact. Also olive oils, even the cheaper pomace olive oils, cost more than the other oils. Something like corn oil just does not seem to be a good “fit” for the type of pizza we are talking about. Canola oil, or a combination of canola oil and soybean oil, would be a fairly logical blend and fit the MM “healthy” dough model, but there are some people who do not like the taste of canola oil because of a perceived “fishy” taste/smell. Soybean oil is a fairly neutral oil and can be safely used in large quantities. It is also the oil that Papa John’s uses for its doughs.

Hopefully over the next day or so, after I have had a chance to absorb everything that has transpired on this thread over the past few days, and after you have had a chance to catch up, I will set forth the next iteration of the MM dough formulation. If I have forgotten or missed anything, please let me know.

Peter

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #131 on: September 22, 2011, 02:48:28 PM »
Peter,

Your link you referenced in your last post to Biz at http://www.mellowfranchise.com/get-the-details/financial-stuff was eye opening.  That is a lot of money to be able to open a MM pizza business.  :o

Norma
« Last Edit: September 27, 2011, 06:13:29 AM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #132 on: September 22, 2011, 03:27:11 PM »
Norma,

I thought you'd like that information.

You mentioned that you liked the MM clone dough formulation you used and that your daughter liked the pizza itself. Did you both treat the pizza as just a novelty or curiosity item or would you want to make it again, either for yourselves or at market?

Peter
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 03:37:09 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #133 on: September 22, 2011, 04:40:56 PM »
Norma,

I thought you'd like that information.

You mentioned that you liked the MM clone dough formulation you used and that your daughter liked the pizza itself. Did you both treat the pizza as just a novelty or curiosity item or would you want to make it again, either for yourselves or at market?

Peter

Peter,

Your were right. that I did like that information, but never would have thought a MM Franchise would cost that much money.  No wonder MM's pizzas are expensive, like Biz posted.

As you already know I have tried so many experimental doughs at market, and never know what I will attempt next.  I have been thinking over maybe trying to sell a pizza like the attempt I did Tuesday, but don’t know what I will do yet.  I will wait until I try your next experimental dough formula you set-forth and go from there.  I guess my search is for something different customers would like. 

When you mentioned that I might be able to get a sample of regular molasses from Malt Products Corporation, I thought I would use the contact page at their website last night and write them about their spray dried molasses.  I got a phone call from John Johansen this afternoon about the spray dried molasses.  I asked John about using the spray dried molasses in a premix.  He said the spray dried molasses is like black strap molasses and wouldn’t do well in a pre-mix of dried ingredients. John said the pizza dough would turn out too dark. He mentioned if I wanted to try something different in a pizza dough or premix he would send me some spray dried malt (Dry Malt DME-B), that can’t be purchased in the retail market. I am going to see about getting the technical information of the spray dried malt.  John is sending me a sample to try.  I will continue that discussion on my Dough Enhancer thread, when I find out more information.  If MM is using a premix, at least we probably know that they wouldn’t use Malt Products Corporation for their supplier for MM’s commissaries.  :-D

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!


Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #134 on: September 22, 2011, 04:54:37 PM »
Norma,

Did John at Malt Products say that it was OK to use their dry molasses in a pizza dough but not in a pre-mix? BTW, I am starting to move away from the idea of MM using a pre-mix. If MM has a commissary, they shouldn't need a third party to make the pre-mix for them, especially if all of the ingredients (other than the spring water) are dry. Keeping the process in-house would give MM better control over the product, including proprietary information, and a greater ability to make adjustments.

Peter

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #135 on: September 22, 2011, 05:17:40 PM »
Norma,

Did John at Malt Products say that it was OK to use their dry molasses in a pizza dough but not in a pre-mix? BTW, I am starting to move away from the idea of MM using a pre-mix. If MM has a commissary, they shouldn't need a third party to make the pre-mix for them, especially if all of the ingredients (other than the spring water) are dry. Keeping the process in-house would give MM better control over the product, including proprietary information, and a greater ability to make adjustments.

Peter

Peter,

John said that the spray dried molasses (dried) wouldn’t be good in a pizza dough or a pre-mix.  He said the taste of the dried molasses would be too strong in a pizza dough.  John said mostly the professionals that use the dried molasses would use it for something like pumpernickel bread.  Do you think MM commissaries are using dried or liquid molasses?

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #136 on: September 22, 2011, 05:30:59 PM »
Do you think MM commissaries are using dried or liquid molasses?

Norma,

I really don't know. It just seemed to me to be easier and more convenient to use a dry form of molasses than a wet form. It looks like I am going to have to do research on molasses :-D. I have to believe that there are many forms and versions of dried molasses.

BTW, I believe that MM has only one commissary, in the Atlanta area. That might change as the company moves out of the Southeast more and has a critical mass of new stores to support another commissary.

Peter

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #137 on: September 22, 2011, 05:38:27 PM »
Norma,

I really don't know. It just seemed to me to be easier and more convenient to use a dry form of molasses than a wet form. It looks like I am going to have to do research on molasses :-D. I have to believe that there are many forms and versions of dried molasses.

BTW, I believe that MM has only one commissary, in the Atlanta area. That might change as the company moves out of the Southeast more and has a critical mass of new stores to support another commissary.

Peter

Peter,

Doing research on molasses is hilarious!  :-D  You just never know where a reverse engineering project will take you.  Good luck, if you decide to do searches on dried molasses!  :) I too, would believe that using dried molasses would be easier in a commissary.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #138 on: September 22, 2011, 08:02:34 PM »
Norma,

Here are some examples of what is out there in terms of dry molasses: http://www.adm.com/en-US/Milling/drysweeteners/Pages/Molasses.aspx (see, also, http://www.adm.com/en-US/products/food/sweeteners/Documents/ADM%20Dry%20Sweeteners%20Sales%20Sheet.pdf) and http://www.dominospecialtyingredients.com/?pageId=1090&rowId=11208. Both companies have been around for a long, long time. Domino is in Florida. ADM is global. The dry molasses products of both companies appear to be suitable for baking applications and functional in both liquid and dry formulations. What is not entirely clear and may require further research is if any sucrose is present in any of the product, which would be a no-no.

Peter

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #139 on: September 22, 2011, 08:57:09 PM »
Norma,

Here are some examples of what is out there in terms of dry molasses: http://www.adm.com/en-US/Milling/drysweeteners/Pages/Molasses.aspx (see, also, http://www.adm.com/en-US/products/food/sweeteners/Documents/ADM%20Dry%20Sweeteners%20Sales%20Sheet.pdf) and http://www.dominospecialtyingredients.com/?pageId=1090&rowId=11208. Both companies have been around for a long, long time. Domino is in Florida. ADM is global. The dry molasses products of both companies appear to be suitable for baking applications and functional in both liquid and dry formulations. What is not entirely clear and may require further research is if any sucrose is present in any of the product, which would be a no-no.

Peter

Peter,

Thanks for the links about dry molasses.  Before this thread, I didn’t even know anything about dry molasses.  I don’t understand why any sucrose present in dry molasses is a no-no.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #140 on: September 22, 2011, 09:08:04 PM »
I don’t understand why any sucrose present in dry molasses is a no-no.

Norma,

Sucrose is table sugar, which is a refined sugar, and MM has said that it doesn't use refined white sugar in either its dough or sauce: http://mellowmushroom.com/public/old_site1/aboutus.html (third page).

Peter
« Last Edit: October 22, 2011, 09:22:54 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #141 on: September 22, 2011, 09:14:59 PM »
Norma,

Sucrose is table sugar, which is a refined sugar, and MM has said that it doesn't use refined sugar in either its dough or sauce: http://mellowmushroom.com/public/old_site1/aboutus.html (third page).

Peter

Peter,

I didn’t read the link you provide in you last post before.  I now understand why sucrose in molasses would be a no-no.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!


Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #142 on: September 23, 2011, 06:10:55 AM »
Peter,

I was researching some about different types of retail molasses and if this article is correct, there might be different amounts of sweetness from what brand is used in a product.  http://www.davidwalbert.com/2010/08/20/whats-really-in-the-molasses/
I wonder if other members that might want to try the MM formula if they try one of the retail brands if they will get varying amounts of sweetness in the crust if a different brand of molasses is used.  It seems like there even a difference in flavor of baked products with Grandma’s Original and Brer Rabbit molasses, and that isn’t including the other brands of molasses like the Crosbys, one brand of molasses I never heard of at: http://www.crosbys.com/cooking_molasses.asp  and a PDF. For one of their molasses
http://www.crosbys.com/assets/Specification_Light_Molasses_2011.pdf

BTW, I did contact Domino sugar to see if I can get a sample of their dried molasses.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #143 on: September 23, 2011, 09:11:13 AM »
Norma,

Just as I learned recently that there are differences between commercial forms of wheat germ and what we can get in supermarkets, there no doubt are differences between commercial forms of dried molasses and what we can get for home use without having to buy 25-pound and 50-pound bags. For all practical purposes, and despite some minor inconvenience in using wet forms of molasses (even though molasses seems to blend easily with water), our members will perhaps do just fine using one of the retail level brands of molasses such as Grandma’s and Brer Rabbit (the Crosby brand appears to be a Canadian product and may not be sold in the U.S.).

As you noted, there can be flavor and sweetness differences between the different retail brands of molasses, but we are pretty much stuck with those brands and have to make the best of them. Also, different people have different sensitivities to sweetness levels that will dictate how much molasses to use. We might even discover at some point that the liquid form of molasses is better than the dry form. Where the dry form of molasses becomes preferential is when you have to use a lot of it and handling and storage issues and convenience and ease of use become important, as I imagine would be the case for Mellow Mushroom at its commissary.

I did not try to do an exhaustive search for dry molasses for home use, but I found these sources: http://www.bulkfoods.com/search_results.asp?txtsearchParamCat=1&txtsearchParamType=ALL&txtsearchParamMan=ALL&txtsearchParamVen=ALL&txtFromSearch=fromSearch&txtsearchParamTxt=4117 and http://www.preparedpantry.com/natural-molasses-crystals-economy-size.aspx.

The molasses powder from bulkfoods.com is a blackstrap molasses but if you click through to the page at http://www.bulkfoods.com/molasses.asp, you will see how that product can be substituted for the two versions of Grandma’s molasses. However, it may well turn out that to get the desired degree of sweetness in the finished crust, too much of the blackstrap molasses may have to be used and result in a crust flavor that is overwhelming.  

If the organic cane sugar that is part of the Prepared Pantry “Natural Molasses Crystals” is a natural product and not a refined sugar that is added to the “certified organic molasses”, then I suppose that that would pass muster from a MM perspective. I have also seen dry molasses that includes maltodextrine, which I assume is an added ingredient and might be considered a "refined sugar". I might add that that doesn't mean that MM isn't using such a product. Products change over time and, unless someone is tracking the changes, it is easy enough to just stick with the old boilerplate language that is used in advertising and promotional materials.

If you also research the different dry molasses products at the ADM website at http://www.adm.com/en-US/Milling/drysweeteners/Pages/Molasses.aspx, you will also see that dry molasses is not 100% molasses (solids). Knowing which particular product to use is something that one would have to research and get advice and opinions from the producer.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 09:22:14 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #144 on: September 23, 2011, 11:35:32 AM »
Peter,

I agree with what you posted about probably any brand of regular molasses will work well in a MM formula, and different members do have difference sensitivities to sweetness levels.  All I wanted to point out was maybe someone that wants to try your formula might think it is too sweet or not sweet enough and then they would have to change the amount of molasses they use.  Since I never tried a real MM pizza and maybe other members that might want to try to make a MM pizza that haven‘t tried one won‘t ever know if they achieved the right amount of sweetness as a MM pie has.  I know I won’t ever know if I achieved the right amount of sweetness in the crust. 

Thanks for the other links about the different kinds of molasses and how molasses powder can be made to mimic different other molasses products.

I never knew so much about molasses until this thread.  Thanks for your help in understanding molasses and its different forms.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #145 on: September 23, 2011, 12:39:01 PM »
Norma,

To add to what I already reported, this morning I called ADM and asked to speak to someone about their dried molasses products as listed at http://www.adm.com/en-US/Milling/drysweeteners/Pages/Molasses.aspx. I was referred to an ADM sales rep. To put our discussion in context, I described the Mellow Mushroom dough with the molasses and wheat germ and their perceived effects on taste and color and asked if any ADM dry molasses product would make a good fit for such a dough. The sales rep said that he had heard of using honey (both dry and liquid) in pizza dough but not molasses (he had not heard of the MM chain either). However, he said that their dry molasses products are intended to be used in mixes and his best advice was to conduct tests using one or more of their products. As suggestions, he mentioned the Sweet’n’Neat 4000 dry molasses powder and the Sweet’n’Neat 65 spray-dried molasses powder. Both products can be used on a one-to-one basis as substitutes for liquid molasses.

Since the ADM dried molasses products are not 100% molasses (apparently there is no way to get 100% dried molasses), I asked the sales rep what ingredients are used to make up the balance. He said that the balance includes things likes wheat starch, maltodextrin (which is made from corn), and calcium stearate (which I believe is a preservative). The maltodextrin is not a natural product. It is a man-made form of sugar.

From my discussion with the ADM sales rep, a professional such as yourself should be able to get samples to test. I don't know the sample sizes used at ADM, but their dry molasses products come in containers with sealable plastic bags and weigh 50 pounds.

One of the things I wondered about is whether dry molasses products for food applications were available in 1974 when the original three MM founders started their company. I had heard of dry molasses products used for animal feeds and gardening applications back then, but not for food applications. The sales rep did not think that the food-grade dry molasses products were available in 1974. Of course, MM could have started with liquid molasses and switched over to dry forms over time, especially once they went to a commissary model. Clearly, a dry form of molasses gets around the need for pumping systems and other equipment for handling liquids, and is a neater, cleaner system.

Peter

Offline Biz Markie

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 147
  • Location: Tennessee
  • Pass the partially-hydrogenated lard
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #146 on: September 23, 2011, 05:12:44 PM »
Just a couple things:

Regarding the screens I saw at the MM in Franklin - I didn't see any of them actually in use in the ovens at the time I was watching.
I did see several pies go into the oven, directly onto the deck as far as I could tell, and I didn't see anyone slide a screen under a pie that was in the oven already.  But that's not to say they don't do either.  The only places I saw the screens were folks carrying them with skins on them over to the prep area, and unused screens in a rack above the oven.

Peter - what would be your recommendation as far as baking method for my next attempt?  I'm starting to become skeptical of my Emile Henry stone. . I've maybe connected a few dots.  My last pizza had very little spring, and now that I think about it, some hearth breads I've attempted to make from BBA have also had very little spring.  Not to mention, there's the inconvenience (in my case due to my Sunday night schedule) of heating the thing for a hour and heating up the house.
In my first MM attempt (and in my former PJ Clone pies which I got down pretty well) I used a screen and had good results other than just under-baking the pie I believe.
While I do respect the desire to completely clone the MM pie and methods, I have to be honest that for me, taste is king. . as long as it tastes good and is pretty stinkin' close to the real thing, I'm happy.

That being said, I suppose for this weekend I will try your 24-hour formula.  I will be going back to the KASL and I also finally have soybean oil.  I also have the ground wheat germ I ground in my Hario coffee mill.  I plan to form a rim (I may try the method shown in the video at which I've never tried - I normally just make the skin a little bigger than the screen/peel and "roll-up" a rim just prior to dressing.

Any suggestion for a bake time? 


Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23869
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #147 on: September 23, 2011, 05:19:21 PM »
Peter,

Your talks with the sales rep at ADM were interesting.  Since both products, (of the dry molasses) the sales rep suggested could be used on a one-to-on basis as substitutes for liquid molasses, (if they are tried) that would be a good thing.  There would be no need to guess what amount of molasses to add to a formula for experimental purposes.  I will use the sample request at ADM and see if I can obtain samples of the Sweet’n’Neat 4000 dry molasses powder and the Sweet’n’Neat 65 spray-dried molasses powder.  At least it would be a good experiment to see how dry molasses works in your formula.  Since you found out there is no such thing as 100% dried molasses and they add other ingredients to make up the balance, (like maltodextrin, which is made from sugar) I wonder how MM can states they use no sugar in their dough if they use dry molasses.  Maybe it has to do with that 2%  thing from the FDA.

I never thought about dry molasses not being available back in 1974 for the three original founders that started MM.  I can understand there probably wouldn’t be any need for dry molasses back then.  As you commented before regular molasses is fairly easy to use, and dissolves in water. 

Thinking how they now make dry and spray-dried products, makes me think about when we used to make Caramel Popcorn.  That corn syrup was so sticky and got on everything.  It was not easily removed.  I see they now have dry corn syrup now.  It now makes me wonder if that would have been a good product to try.  I can’t believe all the commercial products companies have come up with to use in food products.  I have never heard of most of them before.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #148 on: September 23, 2011, 06:22:31 PM »
Just a couple things:

Regarding the screens I saw at the MM in Franklin - I didn't see any of them actually in use in the ovens at the time I was watching.
I did see several pies go into the oven, directly onto the deck as far as I could tell, and I didn't see anyone slide a screen under a pie that was in the oven already.  But that's not to say they don't do either.  The only places I saw the screens were folks carrying them with skins on them over to the prep area, and unused screens in a rack above the oven.

Peter - what would be your recommendation as far as baking method for my next attempt?  I'm starting to become skeptical of my Emile Henry stone. . I've maybe connected a few dots.  My last pizza had very little spring, and now that I think about it, some hearth breads I've attempted to make from BBA have also had very little spring.  Not to mention, there's the inconvenience (in my case due to my Sunday night schedule) of heating the thing for a hour and heating up the house.
In my first MM attempt (and in my former PJ Clone pies which I got down pretty well) I used a screen and had good results other than just under-baking the pie I believe.
While I do respect the desire to completely clone the MM pie and methods, I have to be honest that for me, taste is king. . as long as it tastes good and is pretty stinkin' close to the real thing, I'm happy.

That being said, I suppose for this weekend I will try your 24-hour formula.  I will be going back to the KASL and I also finally have soybean oil.  I also have the ground wheat germ I ground in my Hario coffee mill.  I plan to form a rim (I may try the method shown in the video at which I've never tried - I normally just make the skin a little bigger than the screen/peel and "roll-up" a rim just prior to dressing.

Any suggestion for a bake time? 

Biz,

Your explanation on the screens actually seems to fit what I have seen in the videos and photos better than my attempted explanation. Usually pizzas are removed from the oven with a metal peel and carried to the area where the pizzas are sliced. Screens do have some limited capacity to lift the pizzas off of a work surface and thereby help keep the pizzas from becoming soggy (by keeping the moisture released from the hot pizza from being redirected back into the pizzas), although that is not something that I have seen done by pizza operators where deck ovens are used (it is done with conveyor ovens however). I suppose screens make sense if the pizzas have to be carried some distance to reach the cutting station or if several oven workers are all working in parallel getting pizzas to the cutting station(s). The screens can also be used for the purposes I mentioned, if necessary.

For a baking protocol, you might try using a pizza screen if you have doubts about your pizza stone. You can use just the pizza screen as I did with the Papa John's clones, or you might use a combination of screen and preheated stone. For the latter approach, you could preheat your stone on the lowest oven rack position at around 500-525 degrees F for about an hour, bake the pizza on the pizza screen at an upper rack position until the rim of the pizza starts to turn brown, and then shift the pizza off of the screen onto the preheated pizza stone to get better bottom crust browning. In my standard electric oven, I would usually expect the total bake time to be around 8 minutes but the actual time will also depend on how many things are put on the pizza. I might add that there were some members who baked their Papa John's clone pizzas entirely on pizza stones but they had to watch the bottom crust browning fairly closely because of the high sugar content that could lead to premature bottom crust browning and even burning. I should mention that if you use a pizza screen, that will somewhat limit how much cornmeal you use since you don't want the cornmeal dropping off of the skin and hitting the lower heating coil and flaring up.

As you have no doubt noticed, in my reverse engineering and cloning projects I try to come as close to the target pizzas as possible. For me, that is the fun and intellectually challenging part. It is also where I learn new things. However, I can appreciate that there is a point where you have to decide how far you want to take the process. I used to drive bosses crazy because I could always find reasons and ways to make my work product better and wouldn't turn it in until the eleventh hour.

I expect soon to post the next iteration of the MM dough formulation. It will be mainly tweaks to stiffen up the dough a bit more and will be for a two-day cold fermentation.

Peter

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 23234
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #149 on: September 23, 2011, 06:37:34 PM »
Your talks with the sales rep at ADM were interesting.  Since both products, (of the dry molasses) the sales rep suggested could be used on a one-to-on basis as substitutes for liquid molasses, (if they are tried) that would be a good thing.  There would be no need to guess what amount of molasses to add to a formula for experimental purposes.  I will use the sample request at ADM and see if I can obtain samples of the Sweet’n’Neat 4000 dry molasses powder and the Sweet’n’Neat 65 spray-dried molasses powder.  At least it would be a good experiment to see how dry molasses works in your formula.  Since you found out there is no such thing as 100% dried molasses and they add other ingredients to make up the balance, (like maltodextrin, which is made from sugar) I wonder how MM can states they use no sugar in their dough if they use dry molasses.  Maybe it has to do with that 2%  thing from the FDA.

Norma,

If you go back to the list of ADM dried molasses products, and even click on the links for more information, you will see that not all of the products list maltodextrin as an ingredient. Of course, you may learn more once you get the samples and related specs if they are provided. But even if MM is using a dry molasses with maltodextrin, one can argue that it is not a "refined sugar". In fact, I have read that in nutrition labels maltodextrin is included under Total Carbohydrates, not under the "sugars" sub-part. I do not think that the 2% FDA rule applies. If it does, then ADM will have to list the maltodextrin under the 2% part of the ingredients list. As you might recall with the Caravan folks, they were not readily forthcoming with information about their products, for proprietary reasons, and I would expect ADM to behave the same way.

Peter