You're right, reverse engineering dough is difficult!!
Again, hats off to Buzz for getting a recipe closer to Giordano's than Uno's - I hate when when folks lumped the two crusts together as if they are similar Chicago Style crusts.
I can tell you that I have been obsessed with getting this crust recipe in the past. Buzz has re-invigorated my interest, so thanks to you Buzz.
As far as common processes, etc. most high level franchises do require common equipment, ovens, assembly process steps of the pizza and of course even look and feel of building. I might be stating the obvious, but one of the reasons there is such consistency between franchises (and also why most of these dough recipes are still veiled in secrecy) is because the franchisee is requred to purchase much of the product through a distribution center.
A Franchisee receiving pre-mixed-formulated, dough, cheese, etc. from a distribution center will never know the true ingredients of the product. Believe me, Giordano's pizza joints are not fort knox. If they had part time employees mixing up their famous one of a kind dough, the recipe would be all over the internet long ago.
I did not verify if Giordano's specifically sends the dough pre-made to the franchisee, but just look at any Subway and you will see them baking fresh bread. They certainly do not make their own dough there, but merely receive the dough and stick it in the oven.
When places like Uno's or Giordano's sends mails their pies, I don't believe they parbake them. Rather they are usually made just the way they are in the resturaunt and flash frozen. I saw this on one of those Food network shows for uno's - not sure if its the same for all.
Regarding the term stuffed. Its always meant top and bottom layer dough (i.e. enclosed/stuffed). Perhaps others have been misusing the term. A non-thin crust pizza (chicago style or otherwise) is of course a pan pizza or deep dish pizza. Its only when there is a top layer of crust does it qualify for "stuffed".
Now as far as the Giordano's true dough recipe is concerned, most would be suprised to know how far off they really are. I can't stress that you simply cannot make the giordano's crust simply by re-formulating the ultra-basic pizza dough ingredients (fat, flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water). Think about it... does the dough really taste that basic?
I argue that it contains other ingredients that, once perfected soon, I'd be happy to share with everyone. The ingredients list may surprise you. It always makes me chuckle when I read the rationalization that they can't possibly use eggs or milk, etc. because of spoilage or complexity. But again, you gotta remember that the franchise and distribution center partnership.
I'll be in touch.