Tonight I finally had a chance to bake two pies using the cheese powder from the Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner package I wrote about on March 26th. I put in about 5 teaspoons to a pound of flour. While this powder did add flavor to the crust, it also acted as a dough conditioner. The dough was quite slack after fermenting. Unfortunately, it did not yield THAT SMELL*.
For reasons I will explain later, I sprinkled some cinnamon onto the second skin. As expected, one could smell cinnamon in the kitchen after about 7 minutes. But, the crust had hints of cinnamon, not THAT SMELL*.
I note that King Arthur also sells Pizza Dough Flavor (item 1043). You can read the ingredients statement on their website. It contains cheddar cheese powder plus quite a few other ingredients, including the infamous "natural flavor". I looked at this product a long time ago, but decided against buying it because it contained flavors I knew were not in Shakey's crust. But the 132 reviews for this product form a springboard for discussion for what gives Shakey's crust its unique smell and taste. One recent reviewer wrote, "I noticed a difference by using this product. The aroma in my kitchen is to die for...just like a real pizzeria. I got a more noticeable flavour when making foccacia with no sauce than your typical all dressed type of pizzas, which is the main reason that I purchased this product."
I bring this up because a few days ago I took 1/3 of one the Shakey's pepperoni pies pictured here out of the freezer:http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,518.msg173916.html#msg173916
These were wrapped in Heavy Duty aluminum foil, then overwrapped with plastic wrap. I was amazed that after all this time it still had THAT SMELL*. It had notes of wine, plus other smells I just could not place. I learned one valuable lesson from this: stick with plain cheese pies when procuring samples.
After reheating them (I reheat from the frozen state at 400 degrees for 10 minutes) I obtained THAT SMELL*. I noted a hint of cinnamon. But, others had used cinnamon in the kitchen recently. That is the reason for sprinkling cinnamon on one of the skins today. But cinnamon does not seem to be a component of THAT SMELL*.
I was very disappointed with myself that, here, I had samples (from a corporate Shakey's restaurant) in my hand but could not place the source of the aroma and taste. I now believe that if all the people who work on this project get together in one place with samples of the current version of the Shakey's pizza they are attempting to clone, this mystery will be solved.
Another problem is that I have not been able to procure a mozzarella like used on current corporate Shakey's pies. The cheese is obviously a blend that includes stinky cheeses. But this cheese, when reheated, remains very soft and pliable. I think it may have to do with the fact that these pizzas are formulated for the lunch buffet. This cheese has a much longer holding time than even Grande whole milk mozzarella, the best cheese we used so far. The only thing we found close to Shakey's cheese was the pizza cheese used by the Golden Corral buffet restaurant chain. Raw cheese samples were obtained by taking a baked potato to the pizza maker and requesting some cheese for the potato. The cheese readily melted, but was very wet.
One question repeatedly asked by Lightmeter is "What would Shakey have done?". Unfortunately, I draw a blank. No one so far has assured us that the pizza made by Shakey in 1954 was the same as that made in the 70's by franchisees nationwide. We don't know if and when any food scientists got involved.
EDITED to correct reheating oven temperature.
* THAT SMELL is a trademark of DNA Dan for a smell that is real but its source is unknown.