Author Topic: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?  (Read 145760 times)

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Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom - Your Thoughts, Experiences, and Recipes
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2011, 11:18:33 AM »
Thanks for the info, Pete!

I feel somewhat silly because in my post above, I declared that molasses must be the key ingredient, then in another later post in another thread, I cast doubt on that just based on my own tastes, etc.

I think I am probably using too much molasses.  I was replacing 100% of the sugar in my PJ clone dough with molasses.  I want to try lessening that and either not making up the Sugar difference, or also using a little diastatic barley malt (I also want to try one with no molasses and some diastatic malt in some amount or another.)

I had not thought of youtubing MM to see what was out there, so I will definitely check out those links.  I may request a kitchen tour next time I go to MM as well, just for kicks.  I think emailing them is also a great idea.

I will try to keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I have several posts I need to make. . . .. I had a total disaster last night with a high-hydration (69-70%) neapolitan attempt so I'm really feeling quite downtrodden!   :'(


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2011, 01:16:40 PM »
Biz,

I thought that you might find this article of interest: http://www.nbcdfw.com/the-scene/food-drink/Mellow-Mushrooms-House-Special-Recipe.html. I am generally skeptical of articles that attempt to replicate commercial pizzas at home, especially when the instructions say to use an oven/pizza stone temperature of 450 degrees F and a 25-30 minute bake time, as does the abovereferenced article. However, it may well be that the amounts of dough (12 ounces), sauce (3 ounces) and cheese (4 ounces) are correct for the 10" size pizza discussed in the article. If those numbers are correct, by extrapolation the corresponding amounts of those ingredients for a 14" size with the same characteristics come to 23.52 ounces, 5.88 ounces, and 7.84 ounces, respectively. It is also possible that the amount of sauce is by volume rather than by weight. There is no way to know for sure. But, if the above numbers are anywhere near correct, a plain 14" MM cheese pizza would weigh somewhere around 37 ounces pre-baked and somewhat less when fully baked. Adding pepperoni to the pizza would typically add around two more ounces. Having actual weights to work with as previously discussed would tell us if the above numbers are off the wall. However, in your experience, did you feel that the MM pizzas are on the hefty side?

BTW, I merged some other scattered MM posts into this thread to keep things together as much as possible. I will also be moving this thread to the American board. I do not think that the original Georgia Tech founders of MM would have considered their pizzas to be California style.

There is still a random MM thread out there sitting by itself, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,15063.msg149088.html#msg149088. Since you started that thread, I can delete it if you'd wish, either before or after you have had a chance to consider whether you want to add something from that thread to this thread.

Peter

Offline StrayBullet

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Re: Mellow Mushroom clone?
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2011, 03:00:13 PM »
Here in the Tampa area, Dave and Bob were messing around with this and they locked in on it pretty good.  I don't know if they ever posted the recipe/process but I'll see what I can dig up :)
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 06:28:38 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2011, 05:37:33 PM »
Yep, let's delete that thread I started. .I had forgotten about this older one.  

Thanks for your advocacy of this topic!! LOL

I honestly don't know if I'd consider an MM Medium hefty or not.  It's actually been quite a while since I've patronized the local MM. I really want to swing by soon though.

I called MM today and got someone who said it was their first day on the job and they'd have to get back to me on the Nutritional Info.  Didn't hear back from her BUT I did get an email response, which said they are trying to gather nutrition facts for all their menu items but have it completed it yet.   ???

I am really intrigued by the Wheat Germ references in the links you supplied earlier.  I keep thinking about what gives their crumb such a golden color... not brown, but really golden-y, as I remember it.  Germ could do it, but much molasses (as I have used about 1.5 TBSP in a 24oz ball) turns it a pretty dark brown.   I've never baked with wheat germ so not sure how that would affect the color (and of course taste).  Not sure what added Barley Malt Powder would do to color/flavor either.

I am not nearly as technically inclined as you so in my mind I'm thinking more in terms of qualitatively getting the flavor and color right.

But I definitely feel energized to solve this riddle.  It'll be a nice way to salve my pride after the aforementioned recent neapolitan disasters.


Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom clone?
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2011, 07:41:03 PM »
Here in the Tampa area, Dave and Bob were messing around with this and they locked in on it pretty good.  I don't know if they ever posted the recipe/process but I'll see what I can dig up :)

SWEET!!!

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2011, 08:23:28 PM »
Biz,

As a veteran of many reverse engineering and cloning projects, I think that, absent insider information, you cannot realistically reverse engineer and clone a commercial dough/pizza in a reasonable time frame without numbers. Numbers means weights, dimensions, nutrition information and ingredients lists from which the pecking order of the ingredients, by weight, can be ascertained. Concentrating on flavors and color is subjective in nature and, in the abstract, can mean endless experiments to achieve the desired end results. Moreover, flavors and color are largely a function of the precise ingredients used. Often these ingredients are not available to the average home consumer at the retail level. The best marriage is to come as close as possible on the dough formulation and the ingredients actually used to make the dough and the rest of the pizza that is to be cloned.

On the matter of the flour, when I researched that specific ingredient in the context of the MM dough, I saw references to the flour being 1) a high gluten flour, 2) a Vitamin E enriched high gluten flour with wheat germ, and 3) whole wheat flour. I think it is safe to rule out whole wheat flour because, while containing the E Vitamin (alpha tocopherol), and while containing wheat germ and a fairly high protein content (in some cases as high as 15% or more) that can contribute to dough and final crust color, whole wheat flour does not have the gluten forming characteristics of most high protein refined white flours and it cannot yield a dough with the forming, stretching and tossing characteristics as shown in the videos referenced earlier.

Wheat germ by itself, whether raw/crude or toasted, contains a fair amount of Vitamin E (see, for example, the Nutrition Facts for the Kretschmer toasted wheat germ supermarket product at http://www.quakeroats.com/products/more-products-from-quaker/content/cereals/kretschmer-toasted-wheat-germ.aspx). By contrast, regular refined white high gluten flour, while enriched with various B Vitamins, does not contain Vitamin E (see, for example, the specs for the General Mills All Trumps high gluten flour at http://www.gmiflour.com/gmflour/flour.aspx?type=Espring#50121). If the above analysis is correct, then a Vitamin E enriched high gluten flour with wheat germ seems to me to be the most logical combination of ingredients.

As the MM chain expands, it would also be entirely logical and natural for the flour used by the various MM stores to be a blend made especially for MM. It is also possible that, if the molasses is in dry form, it also can be included in the flour blend (actually a pre-mix) along with yeast (if IDY) and salt. In a home environment, you would have to experiment with blends of wheat germ and high gluten flour and molasses and introduce the yeast and salt in the normal manner.

The increased dough coloration that some writers mentioned can come from the wheat germ and the molasses used by MM in its doughs. Since the MM red sauces do not contain added sugar (there are natural sugars in the tomatoes used to make the sauces, however, and small amounts in mozzarella cheese), this is one of those instances where having the Nutrition Facts for the MM dough would give us a rough idea as to how much molasses is likely to be used in the dough. It would help, of course, to know whether the molasses is in liquid or dry form since that can also affect the math.

Malt, both in liquid and in dry form, and nondiastatic in nature, has been used before in commercial doughs. A good example is the early Sbarro NY style pizza dough. I have used the liquid form of malt and it will add color to both the unbaked dough and the final crust and crumb. If liquid malt can have that effect, then molasses should have a similar effect. I would stick with the molasses for your experiments.

Peter

EDIT (4/15/14): For the most recent link to the GM All Trumps flour, see http://professionalbakingsolutions.com/product/all-trumps-enriched-flour-50-lb/50111000

« Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 08:33:12 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2011, 10:50:47 PM »
As a veteran of many reverse engineering and cloning projects, I think that, absent insider information, you cannot realistically reverse engineer and clone a commercial dough/pizza in a reasonable time frame without numbers.

Totally agree. . . I was just sayin that I don't know if I'm capable of truly reverse engineering this sucker, though it does sound like fun.  

Is it the case that without detailed nutritional information we can't really make progress outside of trial and error subjectivity?

I'd be willing to get an MM pie for laboratory purposes but sounds like it wouldn't do a whole lot to help the cause without knowing more about what's in the thing.

In the meantime, thanks for the additional info and logical deductions based on what we do know at this point.

(Coincidentally, I made some poolish baguettes from BBA tonight and it seemed that they almost had an MM taste to them.  The recipe uses finely sifted whole wheat flour - an approximation of clear flour.  Not sure if this was a fluke or due to the Germ/Vitamin E type of thing we've discussed.  I should also point out it's been a while since I've had an MM pie so my memory may be off.  Either way,  I agree that MM definitely doesn't use all whole wheat flour, but I have seen it postulated that a small % may be used.)

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2011, 10:12:35 AM »
I was just sayin that I don't know if I'm capable of truly reverse engineering this sucker, though it does sound like fun.  

Is it the case that without detailed nutritional information we can't really make progress outside of trial and error subjectivity?

I'd be willing to get an MM pie for laboratory purposes but sounds like it wouldn't do a whole lot to help the cause without knowing more about what's in the thing.

Biz,

Having nutrition information is helpful although by itself is not as useful as one might think because nutrition information can be hard to analyze and there are a lot of quirky things about nutrition facts and the way that that information is created (mostly using specialized software for this purpose). My preferred combination for reverse engineering and cloning purposes is having an ingredients list and nutrition information. Also very helpful is actual pizza data such as the weight of the target pizza and its size (diameter), thickness, number of pepperoni slices, estimated amounts of sauce and cheese, etc., since these help define the physical characteristics of the pizza. Specific brands of ingredients is also good to know, since that also helps define the ultimate dough formulation and final pizza configuration. Unless MM has changed things since they have expanded their scope of operations, I think we pretty much know the ingredients used to make the dough--flour (most likely high gluten flour with wheat germ), spring water (or its equivalent), molasses, salt, yeast and oil. It would be helpful to know whether the MM dough is a same-day dough fermented at room temperature or cold fermented since that should help us determine how much yeast to use. If MM makes its doughs in its stores, which seems likely, that information might be obtainable from workers in the stores.

I might add that I did not intend that you personally do the reverse engineering and cloning of a target MM pizza. I am willing to help you with this to the extent that I am able. I am handicapped because I have never had an MM pizza to be able to analyze it and, hence, have to rely on others who have had such a pizza to tell me if a clone is successful and, if not, why not. Perhaps other members who have played around with MM clones may be able to add something to the effort. What I have in mind at the end of the exercise is an MM clone dough formulation with baker's percents, ingredients, etc., for you to test and experiment with. I am not big on just running one experiment after another testing one thing after another hoping to hit paydirt. That is far too much like work, and is not fun for me.

Peter

Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2011, 11:05:35 AM »
Ahh yep. . . I follow you. 

I think i'd like to start by visiting a store and seeing what kind of info I can gain from them, if any.

Then perhaps I'll get the "lab pie" so we can take some measurements, etc.

I suppose I'll keep you posted!  In the meantime maybe some other members will come up with some info.

Offline wucactus1

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2011, 11:17:15 AM »
mellow sells dough balls...small is $3 and medium $4.  The dough actually comes in balled and frozen, in one day batches.  No effort is put in to keeping them at a consistant temp throughout the day as well...


Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2011, 01:45:40 PM »
mellow sells dough balls...small is $3 and medium $4.  The dough actually comes in balled and frozen, in one day batches.  No effort is put in to keeping them at a consistant temp throughout the day as well...

Holy Toledo, Batman!!   :o

How did you come across this info?  Do you work there?

I did call my local MM and at first the girl was like "hmmm I don't think so" but she went and asked and sure enough, they do sell the dough.

She quoted prices of $4 for small, $6 for medium, and $8 for large.  She said they are kept at room temp, as you stated.

I tried to get a little more info out of her by asking if the dough they use in the restaurant is made fresh or arrives frozen in balls.  She said "a little of both."  I didn't want to press the issue so left it at that.

Pete - where does this put us for our reverse engineering project?  I would think this is a quantum leap forward!  Maybe I could get some ingredient/nutritional info when purchasing a ball . ..

Online scott123

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2011, 01:49:14 PM »
She quoted prices of $4 for small, $6 for medium, and $8 for large.

 :o :o :o :o

$8 for a dough ball?!? What the...

Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #32 on: August 17, 2011, 02:25:12 PM »
:o :o :o :o

$8 for a dough ball?!? What the...

Yeah, not sure if you've got MM in your neck of the woods, but their pies are REALLY pricey. .. like $20 bucks for a large House Special.

But maaaaannnnnn they're tasty.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #33 on: August 17, 2011, 02:37:55 PM »
I did call my local MM and at first the girl was like "hmmm I don't think so" but she went and asked and sure enough, they do sell the dough.

She quoted prices of $4 for small, $6 for medium, and $8 for large.  She said they are kept at room temp, as you stated.

I tried to get a little more info out of her by asking if the dough they use in the restaurant is made fresh or arrives frozen in balls.  She said "a little of both."  I didn't want to press the issue so left it at that.

Pete - where does this put us for our reverse engineering project?  I would think this is a quantum leap forward!  Maybe I could get some ingredient/nutritional info when purchasing a ball . ..


Biz,

I did a Google search and was able to confirm that there are MM stores that do sell dough balls. I also saw a piece at http://thecriticalelephant.blogspot.com/2007/04/downtown-athens-eating-tavern-at-arch.html that confirms that MM uses frozen dough balls, at least in some stores. Using frozen dough balls is becoming quite common, including in some pizza chains. For example, Pizza Hut has been using frozen dough in its stores for several years, and Donatos has been using frozen dough it its stores for some time. There are also many independent pizza operators--more than most people know--that also use frozen dough balls, from places like Lamonica's (which ships all around the country, including to the Costco pizza food courts) and Rich's, to name just a couple such outfits that make frozen pizza dough balls. It would help to know where MM is getting its frozen dough balls. Some chains use commissaries to make dough balls for several stores but you usually need enough stores to justify a commissary. Some pizza operators contract with local sources for its dough needs. There is no reason why the dough balls can't be fresh or frozen. However, the big commercial frozen dough ball companies use very expensive equipment for flash freezing dough balls that have a window of usability of up to six months.

Being able to purchase a dough ball from MM might help to compare with a dough ball that you might make. But not all chains have Nutrition Facts for their pizzas. For example, Buddy's, a small regional pizza chain in the Detroit metro area, put up a web page for that purpose at http://www.buddyspizza.com/nutrition.asp, but when I emailed them to find out when that information would be available I was told that it was not imminent. I was hoping to use that information to analyze the Buddy's pizzas. If MM doesn't already have Nutrition Facts or similar information for its pizzas, you aren't going to get anything from MM store workers.

Peter

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #34 on: August 17, 2011, 05:27:45 PM »
Following up on my last post, I did some more searching and found photos apparently taken at the MM in Nashville, TN and showing what appears to be dough making commissary, at photos 43-46 at http://www.mobile.mellowmushroom.com/nashville/gallery/show/photo/108777623450#/store/gallery/nashville/show/photo/108777593450. In photo 44, one can see bags of flour at bottom left of the photo. Noe also the large containers of spring water in photo 54. MM has ten stores in TN. So, maybe MM does use a commissary business model. That would allow them to make and ship both frozen and fresh dough balls to their stores.

It also looks like the set of photos at flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasongriset/1336195609/in/set-72157601895895177/ and at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tikiloti/3298173733/in/photostream/ contain some photos of the MM dough balls/skins.

Peter
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 06:59:29 PM by Pete-zza »

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #35 on: August 17, 2011, 06:27:36 PM »
So, maybe MM does use a commissary business model. That would allow them to make and ship both frozen and fresh dough balls to their stores.


MM does use a commissary. According to the last paragraph in the article at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_41_40/ai_n26707254/, MM stores in the Atlanta area get fresh dough balls and all of the other stores outside of that market get frozen dough balls.

Peter

Offline Biz Markie

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #36 on: August 17, 2011, 07:05:04 PM »
Wow, Pete!

That's amazing info. thanks so much.

I feel like we're really getting some great info but not really sure how we get at the dough formulation.  I guess other than what we feel are the sure-fire ingredients - HG Flour, Wheat Germ, Molasses, yeast, oil, salt - sans nutrition info or insider info, all we can do is trial and error. . .? 

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2011, 07:09:16 PM »
In the interest of pizza science, there are two nutritional guides that I have seen.  How accurate or where they came from I don't know.

1) http://www.myfitnesspal.com/nutrition-facts-calories/mellow-mushroom
2) http://www.livestrong.com/article/364574-mellow-mushroom-nutrition-guide/?utm_source=popup&utm_medium=1
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2011, 07:40:08 PM »
In the interest of pizza science, there are two nutritional guides that I have seen.  How accurate or where they came from I don't know.

1) http://www.myfitnesspal.com/nutrition-facts-calories/mellow-mushroom
2) http://www.livestrong.com/article/364574-mellow-mushroom-nutrition-guide/?utm_source=popup&utm_medium=1


Gene,

I consider outfits like myfitnesspal.com and livestrong.com to be essentially diet/nutrition "content farms" or "community created content" entities that are created to link people to articles and advertising based on searches and search terms. Not long ago, I discussed how content farms basically operate at Reply 204 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13686.msg140103/topicseen.html#msg140103. Often the information is incomplete and not particularly useful as a result. Also, it isn't also always clear what the provenance of the information is. If I am going to spend a lot of time studying and analyzing nutrition information, which I do, I want it to be reliable and from a good source. As it so happens, livestrong.com, which has its fingers in a lot of pies, is affiliated with Demand Media, which is mentioned in the post referenced above.

Thanks anyway for your efforts. I appreciate it.

Peter

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Re: Mellow Mushroom Pizza found in Atlanta and surroundin areas...Recipes?
« Reply #39 on: August 17, 2011, 08:04:48 PM »
I feel like we're really getting some great info but not really sure how we get at the dough formulation.  I guess other than what we feel are the sure-fire ingredients - HG Flour, Wheat Germ, Molasses, yeast, oil, salt - sans nutrition info or insider info, all we can do is trial and error. . .? 


Biz,

I think it is very helpful to understand MM's business model and to know that the dough balls used by MM come in fresh and frozen form. If I had to guess, I would say that the dough formulations for the fresh and frozen dough balls are quite likely different, especially with respect to the frozen dough balls. For our purposes, and to simplify matters, I think we should concentrate on the fresh dough balls.

Two pieces of information that would be helpful at this point are the weight of a typical MM baked pizza, for example, a medium (14") pizza, and the corresponding dough ball weight for that pizza size. You get the first piece of information by buying and weighing an MM pizza. The best choice is a plain cheese pizza but a pepperoni pizza is OK too so long as you note the size (diameter) and number of pepperoni slices. You should be able to get the second piece of information (the corresponding dough ball weight) by calling your local MM store. If they are willing to sell dough balls, they should be willing and able to tell you their weights. I would ask them for all of the dough ball weights, not just the one for the 14" pizza. That way, we can see if the thickness factors are the same or different for the different pizza sizes. If the MM store won't give you that information, you can call another MM store to see if you can get the information or just buy a dough ball, such as one for the 14" size. In my experience, the amounts of sauce and cheese used on 14" pizzas, especially for chain pizza, fall within a fairly narrow range and should serve as a good starting point for those ingredients.

With the above information, I think we should be able to come up with a test dough formulation for you to play around with. There is no guarantee that you will achieve the results you are looking for but you have to start somewhere. It is never easy to reverse engineer and clone someone else's pizza in the absence of insider information. To drive home this point, you might check out the NJ Boardwalk Pizza reverse engineering/clone thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9068.0.html. There are currently 738 posts in that thread spread over 37 pages and we still haven't nailed it.

Peter



 

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