Do you advise any other changes to the formula for another attempt? All these clone MM doughs fascinate me in that the dough doesnít seem to ferment much when left at room temperature for awhile. I wonder what causes that.
Let me think about possible changes.
I think that there are several possible reasons why you have not seen a lot of fermentation when the dough balls are left at room temperature prior to using.
First, a frozen dough ball does not get much fermentation to begin with. You will get a little while the dough ball rests at room temperature for a brief period before placing into the freezer, and it will continue to ferment a bit longer until it freezes. Once frozen, there is zero fermentation. The real part of the fermentation occurs during defrosting and tempering before using the dough ball. But a good part of the time that the dough ball is in the refrigerator is spent defrosting. It might not be until the second day in the refrigerator that the dough ball experiences more fermentation. That fermentation will continue once the dough ball is removed from the refrigerator and allowed to temper at room temperature. Of course, a tempered dough will ferment faster in a warm room temperature environment than a cooler one, and it will ferment more if a long temper time is used as opposed to a shorter one.
Second, molasses includes a mixture of simple sugars, and those sugars are fermented at different rates by the yeast. As noted previously, one of those simple sugars is fructose, and there is a fair amount of it (the sucrose is inverted by the enzyme invertase to fructose and glucose). Yeast prefers other simple sugars over fructose, so there may be reduced fermentation activity as a result, especially given that the window of "active" fermentation is fairly short to begin with--maybe not long enough for the yeast to ferment a good part of the fructose. If honey is also used, there is even more fructose in the dough (honey is 38% fructose).
Third, a hydration of around 53-54% is low, even when effectively increased by a couple percent or so because of the water content of the liquid sweeteners and any added oil. All things being equal, a low hydration dough will ferment more slowly than a higher hydration dough. You would perhaps need a lot more yeast to see real signs of fermentation, as manifested by a significant rise in the dough.
Fourth, freezing damages part of the yeast. The extent of the damage may vary from one case to another, including the temperature of the freezer, how fast the dough is frozen, whether the freezer has a defrost cycle, and the duration that the dough is held in the freezer.
There may be other factors that affect the rate and degree of fermentation but I believe the above reasons are the main ones.