I've really struggled with the Giordano's, or more accurately, stuffed crust pizza. First, I was indifferent to Giordano's as it was not my favorite pie at all, in fact, I thought Edwardo's did a better stuffed crust than Giordano's, I liked Ed's sauce better. Second, when I did try out a recipe over a year ago I really didn't like what I had done with the crust so I never took pics and never detailed my results...mostly out of embarrassment for the looks of the finished product. I know, that's a bad reason not to post pics. What has given me a drive to figure this one out is, after reading foodblooger's (foodblogger, he of the Gino's clone fame and doesn't come around much anymore) thoughts, the Wig & Pen in Iowa City's stuffed pie. Foodblogger thinks it's the best pizza outside Chicago. I tried it and immediately recognized, for my tastes, it's the best stuffed pizza I've ever had. This is a pie I'd like to work on so back to tackling the stuffed crust Chicago style pizza.
A couple things before explaining what I did with this latest effort. A thread just after the first of this year discussing the Malnati's/Bobby Flay "Throwdown" took on the subject of browning and oven spring. http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7594.msg65148.html#msg65148
These pies don't get too dark, don't blow up, yet are still very flavorful. By these pies, I mean Malnati's, Giordano's, Gino's East, Edwardo's, even Wig & Pen, I don't remember Nancy's, it's been about a thousand years since I was there. There's little browning of the pie yet the sugars from the tomato sauce can blacken from the high heat, a notable aspect of Gino's East pies. Why wouldn't the crust get darker after such a long cooking time? Peter brought up a very interesting thought that I kinda dismissed at the time but now I'm beginning to think this may be the reason for both the reduced browning and limited oven spring. Exhausting the sugar supply. High amounts of yeast will gobble up all sugars to survive but when those are depleted what happens? You'll get a crust that looks just like it did before cooking holding the same form without oven spring to "smooth out" the imperfections of pressing out or laying the dough into the pan. It will give you a cooked, crumbly, crumb. Like Giordano's edge retaining that chiseled look. More oven spring would change the look of that edge. Oven spring can also be reduced by increasing the oil content of the dough, as Peter tested, but it won't reduce the browning. That has to be done by a depletion of sugar. Is a total depletion of sugar possible? Will the yeast continue to covert starches for it's food? Peter? This also would take some serious timing, wouldn't it? Hitting a point when the sugar is all gone but before the dough goes bad. I haven't "ruined" a dough by starving the yeast but I'm going to assume it won't be good for long after the yeast begins it's "death". Is the dough being used at pizza places that have a light colored crust old dough? Not likely. Gino's is the only one of these places that we know uses sugar in their dough formulation as it's in their ingredients listing. No, Giordano's does not, per Peter's research into their ingredient listings and nutritional info. All that being said, I'll probably try an increased yeast experiment with my next effort to see what happens.
Here's the formulation that I used for a 12" pie. I used corn oil instead of vegable oil as I had none on hand. This had an oil increase even though an earlier discussion had us reducing the amount of oil in the dough. That info begins here http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5674.msg72220.html#msg72220
I didn't like the results with the reduced oil %.
KA AP Flour 100% 501g
Water 50 251
Corn Oil 18 91
Salt 1 5
IDY .8 4
Total dough weight = 852g (TF = .16)
Used for bottom layer = 564
Used for top layer = 282
Amount leftover after trimming (most coming from the top layer) = 125g
All dry ingredients were combined in a bowl and the water and oils combined in my KA mixer bowl. The dry was added by big, heaping tablespoon after big, heaping tablespoon until all was in then I upped the speed to 3 (I know there's no 3 setting but you can find a speed between 2 and 4) for four minutes. That knead time might have been a little long and next time I'll lower that to probably two and a half or three minutes. Unfortunately, I have the "C" dough hook on my Artisan mixer which doesn't do a great job of kneading, but this doughball, whether it was size, hydration, oil content, or a combination of all of them, kneaded quite well.
The dough ball was separated into the two weights listed above, balled, placed in bowls with lids (not sealed) and into the fridge for a 24 hour cold ferment.
I pulled the dough from the fridge to bring to room temp and actually had it out only about a half hour before working with it. Coated each dough ball with bench flour. I rolled out the larger dough ball for the bottom layer and layed that into a 12" pan with it's bottom greased with butter. I rolled the top layer out as thin as possible without tearing it, about 14-15". In went 3/4 lb. of shredded Stella low-moisture part-skim mozzarella (the amount I use for regular deep dish pies) and pepperoni. Top layer goes on and gets four vents torn into it then tucked down into the corners and then trimmed. Topped with sauce. The sauce was a 35 oz. can of Cento Italian whole tomatoes, cores and seeds removed, then hand crushed and drained then returned to it's puree. This turned out to be the perfect amount for this size pie. The sauce was seasoned with about a 1/2 t sugar, 1 1/2 t salt, 1 t ground black pepper, and 3/4 t basil.
Oven 500* for 20 minutes.
Topped with parm and oregano when it came out of the oven.
My assessment: Great taste, needed more cheese (compared to most stuffed pies I've had), a little breadier than I would've liked and that's why I'll reduce the knead next time around. Overall really good but needs to get better to truly emulate what I'm trying to clone.