Peter, here are the responses to your questions:
I had to call the store to find out. . . it's Heartland Mills. Upon checking their website and calling them, I discovered that they now call this flour "Strong Bread" and it only has a 12.5% protein content. So a big change from my first attempt using KASL. I don't think I'll use this flour for pizza again, at least while I still have some KASL (which I don't know if I can continue to keep around).
I did not use the normal dough course. I used the "homemade" course which allows you to turn on and off each individual cycle. . .I have it set only to "KNEAD" for 15 minutes. I've been using this method for months with all my pizza doughs with no problems. My only thing is that I don't know how the Zo mixing times compare to standard stand mixer times.
I actually didn't realize MM formed a rim on the skin. For some reason I've always felt shame for doing so. Not sure where I got the idea but I've always felt that this was a novice's shortcut. So this time I thought I would not form a rim to see what kind of spring I could get on the rim just from the oven. I much prefer the results when I do form a rim on the skin so maybe I'll keep doing that.
I have a piece of junk electric Hotpoint oven which until very recently only had 1 oven rack! I heated the stone for 45 mins on the absolute lowest position then baked it on the second-to-lowest rack. I don't think I actually moved it up to the broiler - I just turned the broiler on for about a minute.
Yes indeed! Used cornmeal on the peel and slid the sucker right on there. BTW, I'm using an Emile Henry "Flame" 14'' Pizza Stone.
No, but I think that's because the rim was so thin and overcooked to boot, so the crust basically tasted like a cracker.
I'm considering it but I don't know what I'd do with it. Meaning, I don't know how long it would need to ferment if any, etc, etc. But it would be quite interesting to observe the color and texture.
I will respond to your questions using the same numbering scheme I originally used.
1. The Flour: I have read on a few occasions that MM uses “organic” flour. However, I never saw MM refer to its flour as being organic. If it were organic, then MM would use that feature in its advertising, especially given the “healthy” theme that MM has used since its beginning and the heightened interest on the part of the public in more healthful ingredients and foods. I would go back to the KASL for your future MM clone experiments. FYI, King Arthur does offer an organic high-gluten flour but it is very expensive. I see no need to go that route.
2. The Zo: I think that the Zojirushi bread maker does a better job of mixing and kneading than a basic KitchenAid stand mixer, especially one with a C-hook, with or without using the paddle attachment. Consequently, I believe that 15 minutes of kneading in the Zo is too much, especially given that the dough ball is only about 18 ounces. I would go with about 7 minutes. Too much kneading can toughen the dough and yield a crust that is too dense and maybe even on the flat side. The Papa John’s experience is useful but I wouldn’t rely on it too much. The PJ clone dough formulations and the MM clone dough formulation are not exactly alike.
3. The Rim: I definitely think that you should shoot for a distinct rim. It is a signature feature of the MM pizza. Some doughs, especially those with a high hydration and enough bottom heat will almost automatically form a rim even if you jump up and down on the outer edge or go over it with a steam roller to prevent one. However, from what I have seen in photos and videos of the MM dough, I do not believe that the MM dough is amenable to forming a large, bulbous rim without intentionally forming one in the skin as it is being opened up and shaped.
4. The Oven: I suggest that you use the lowest oven rack position and, if necessary, move the pizza to a higher oven rack position if you need more top crust color or to finish cooking the various toppings used on the pizza. You want to get as much bottom heat as possible to increase the oven spring, especially if the dough is as lowly hydrated as I have come to believe.
5. The Stone: I would place your pizza stone on the lowest oven rack position and preheat it for at least an hour. Have you ever measured the temperature of your stone just prior to loading a pizza onto it? I am not personally familiar with the Emile Henry “Flame” 14” Pizza Stone other than to note that one of our resident stone experts, scott123, was not impressed with it, as he so noted at Reply 3 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12382.msg121903.html#msg121903
. However, I do not want to knock your stone without knowing much about it. If it turns out that your next MM experiment using that stone also produces unacceptable results, then you might try using a combination of a pizza screen and a stone, as I described in the PJ clone thread, to see if we can rule out the stone you are using as a probable cause of the results you recently achieved.
6. Sweetness of the Crust: This is something that will have to await your next experiment. Sweetness is a personal thing, and can vary widely from one person to another. I use very little sugar in my diet and, as a result, I can pick up the smallest amount of sugar in just about any food. You will have to rely on your own palate. However, I don’t think that the sugar (molasses) range will be wide even given the different tolerance to sugar levels.
7. Buying an MM Dough Ball: The reason I asked the question about buying an MM dough ball is because I think you can learn a lot from such a dough ball, at a fairly modest cost. For example, you can compare one of your doughs with such a dough ball, especially when it is defrosted, to see if the color is the same. And you can look to see if you detect fragments of wheat germ. You can also note the hydration of the defrosted MM dough ball in relation to one of yours. If you’d like, you can use only a part of the defrosted MM dough ball to make a pizza and save the rest for future comparisons. For example, if you use say, a half of the defrosted MM dough ball, which is 9 ounces, you can make a roughly 10” pizza with the same finished characteristics as a 14” MM pizza. The roughly 10” pizza won’t have the same finished characteristics (mainly in the thickness of the crust) as a real MM 10” pizza because the MM 10” pizza is based on a considerably higher thickness factor value.
For now, I will reserve suggesting changes to the MM clone dough formulation until I see how Norma makes out with her test dough.