Author Topic: A word on Papa John's clones.  (Read 1050 times)

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Offline Bisquick

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A word on Papa John's clones.
« on: February 07, 2015, 09:46:55 PM »
I have at theory about Papa John's pizza, and maybe it's right and maybe it's not. A couple of years ago, when still a beginner to making pizza dough (I now consider myself an official amateur), I made a straight dough that accidentally tasted a lot like Papa John's. (I used a very basic store bought tomato sauce with some added sugar and standard store bought 100% mozzarella cheese.) Not that this means that Papa John's makes his the same way. I'm very aware that imitation products can taste very similar to the real thing while containing none or very little of the real product. (Think imitation crab meat made entirely of pollock and seasoning or any number of candies/chewing gums that use artificial flavors.) This being said, I remember the dough having a fair amount of yeast (1/2 teaspoon to about 7 oz dough), a decent amount of sugar (I think about 5%) and around double the recommended 2% of salt. (I also used a small amount of vegetable oil, probably about a half teaspoon).  I was just getting my feet wet, had not yet discovered the artisan (slow, longer ferments) method of dough making, and was interested to see what doughs made with higher amounts of salt would taste like. I had made a few doughs with around 4 % salt but little or no sugar in them, and honestly they came out tasting very much like pretzels. While some people might enjoy this, a pizza crust that tasted like a pretzel was not what I wanted, so one day I added about 5% sugar to the dough, and "viola", without trying, I had a pizza that tasted very similar to Papa John's. (I made this dough from scratch and proofed it about 40 minutes in a cold oven, so the time from actually making the pizza to it coming out of the oven completely baked was less than 2 hours.) Unless this experience was just a coincidence, I can't help but wonder if Papa John's uses more than the standard 2% salt in his doughs and uses a higher amount of sugar to mask the flavor of it. (The hydration of the dough was around 58% and I baked it at around 425 degrees.)
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 03:52:23 AM by Bisquick »


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A word on Papa John's clones.
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2015, 09:48:36 AM »
Bisquick,

Maybe you already know this but just about everything I know about the Papa John's products from the reverse engineering and cloning perspectives is covered in the PJ clone thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.0.

The last time I analyzed the PJ nutrition information for its dough was back in 2011. And my calculations at the time suggested that PJ used just under 2% salt. My calculations were based my understanding that PJ used the same amount of dough--about 20 ounces--as it used to make a 14" (large) pizza to make 10 breadsticks (more on this below). I also assumed for calculation purposes that the protein content for PJ's flour, which is milled exclusively for them, was around the mid-13% range. That number was based on comparing the Dietary Fiber number given in the PJ nutrition information against other flours with about the same amount of Dietary Fiber. This morning, I looked at the most recent PJ nutrition information for the PJ breadsticks, at http://order.papajohns.com/nutrition/2/subMenu.html, and while there have been a few tweaks since 2011, the amount of Sodium is unchanged. The reason why I used the breadstick nutrition information for analysis purposes is because you do not have to take into account the nutrients that are present in the sauce, cheese and any toppings and how they change during baking. In the case of Sodium, it does not change with baking so it much easier to determine its quantity. 

In my analysis, I assumed that the entire 20 ounces of dough were used to make the 10 breadsticks. I learned along the way that not all PJ stores make their breadsticks the same way. Some use the entire 20 ounces of dough to make 10 breadsticks whereas others trim the rolled out dough to get 10 nice rectangular shaped breadsticks. This latter method can be seen in the second video at Reply 461 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg259785;topicseen#msg259785. For my calculations, I assumed that all of the 20-ounce dough ball was used to make the 10 breadsticks as is shown, for example, in the first video referenced in Reply 461. I eventually posted a revised PJ clone dough formulation at Reply 585 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg273667#msg273667. As you can see from Reply 585, the amount of salt that I reported was 1.9%.

There is no way that PJ would ever use around 4% salt, or even consider it, no matter what amount of sugar might be added to disguise the large amount of salt. Food preparers and food processors have for several years been under a lot of pressure from the regulators and health organizations and advocacy groups to reduce the amount of Sodium (mostly from salt) in their products. Now, based on recent studies, they are also being asked to reduce the amount of sugar in their products, and there is a move afoot to require food processors to state specifically how much sugar (sucrose or other forms) is being added to their food products separate and apart from other Sugars that are naturally present in their products. So, food preparers and food processors are very sensitive to these pressures, especially in an Internet environment where bad publicity gone viral can be a killer. At the moment, the American Heart Association is asking Americans to keep their Sodium content at less than 1500mg a day, even in the face of recent studies that say that too little salt is as bad as too much salt from the standpoint of cardiovascular health and other related health concerns, including stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But, at 1500mg, you would only need to eat about 5 1/2 PJ breadsticks to meet that daily requirement, and that would not count any dipping sauces or any other salt consumed from other foods the same day. At 4% salt, you would need less than 3 PJ breadsticks to meet the daily need for Sodium. For comparison purposes, you could eat about two slices (out of eight) of a 14" PJ original cheese pizza or about 1 3/4 slices (out of eight) of a 14" PJ pepperoni pizza to get 1500mg of Sodium. I think you can now see how the average American consumes about 3400mg of Sodium daily and why you will not see PJ increase the salt levels in its foods.

Peter



Offline Bisquick

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Re: A word on Papa John's clones.
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2015, 01:01:12 PM »
I assume what I achieved was most likely either a simple coincidence - similar to an effect achieved with artificial flavoring in foods - or perhaps the formula I used effected the yeast in just the right way to produce a flavor similar to PJ's. I may have used a formula that produced a similar flavor, but a flavor that can be achieved with less salt.  I'm specifically referring to the temperature of the water, the flour, and my kitchen. I do remember it being springtime - about 65 degrees outside, the flour being at room temperature and the water being at room temperature. The dough was hand mixed and kneaded, which I'm sure raised the temperature of the dough a bit and looking back, probably helped make up for the lack of proofing time I gave the dough. What has kind of stuck with me and what makes me wonder if it was indeed a coincidence is that it was a straight dough with very little time for a full proof and for the gluten strands to relax. (I never tossed my doughs back then. I just stretched them as much as I could and prepped and baked them. I hadn't learned to properly toss the dough yet.) I have previously read your PJ's clone recipes and the formula you used with the explanation given seems very logical and the end result appears very close to a PJ's pizza. This is what makes me wonder if what I achieved was an "artificial" coincidence, or if I somehow achieved the same "fermentation effect" with an almost entirely different method. (The texture of the pizza I made was nowhere near a PJ's pizza, as it was a straight dough, but the flavor was similar and the crust and rim browned very nicely.)
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 01:06:56 PM by Bisquick »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A word on Papa John's clones.
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2015, 01:47:50 PM »
Bisquick,

About the only way for you to tell how close you came to a real PJ pizza is to repeat your experiment and compare your results with a real PJ pizza, which is what I did before I entered my first PJ clone dough formulation in the PJ clone thread at Reply 2 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg58197#msg58197. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to do in a matter of a few hours what takes anywhere from 3-8 days to achieve with a real PJ dough. You might get a fair amount of fermentation but you won't get the same types and quantities of fermentation byproducts that contribute to the aroma, flavor, taste, color and texture of the final crust.

I conducted several experiments to try to make an "emergency" PJ clone dough and pizza, as I described, for example, at Reply 52 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg66312.html#msg66312, Reply 107 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg80757.html#msg80757, and Reply 172 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg96745/topicseen.html#msg96745. While I had no illusions about being able to replicate a real PJ pizza with my emergency doughs, I was satisfied overall with the results, as I so noted, for example, in the last paragraph of Reply 52 referenced above. Otherwise, I would not have posted on the emergency dough experiments.

Peter

Offline Bisquick

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Re: A word on Papa John's clones.
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2015, 03:09:25 PM »
There's a chance I may repeat the experiment, but honestly making a straight dough with 4 percent salt will probably not be something I can easily bring myself to do, even if I thought it would achieve a similar result. I've made doughs with as much as 2.5% salt since then, but I generally don't like to go above that, and I can't remember the last time I had any desire to make an emergency or straight dough. I posted the info about the accidental result mainly because I'd read the posts from yourself and others about PJ's clones and wondered if perhaps those results could be improved, and now, assuming the idea that a high amount of salt will not produce a flavor like PJ's, I can't help but wonder if the result I got had something to do with the way the dough was proofed/fermented. I used a higher amount of yeast than I do now, and I'm thinking that maybe what I did was actually "cheat" the dough by using more yeast and compensating for it by jacking up the salt and using a shorter ferment. Theses methods are contrary to the way I make doughs now, mainly because "cheating" a dough usually results in a strong flavor but a less than pleasant aftertaste, where as a more complex flavor profile gives a strong flavor but a savory aftertaste. Something else I was wondering about Papa John's is this - I notice in their ingredient list they have enzymes listed as an ingredient. Does this mean that dried enzymes from a "mother starter" could actually be responsible for the unique flavor of PJ's pizza's? I looked at a boxed sourdough mix in Walmart a couple of weeks ago before deciding to start my own levain and noticed that in the ingredient list the only ingredient outside of any normal bread mix ingredient was the listing of "enzymes". I've been wondering about the possibility of not just Papa John's but also other restaurants like Little Caesars using dried enzymes from a starter. I worked at a Little Caesars very briefly in the 90's, back when they mixed their dough fresh, and most of it was mixed right out of the bag with mildly warm tap water, cut, weighed, and placed directly in the cooler. I've since wondered how such a simple process could produce unique results, and what I'm thinking is that perhaps specifically engineered enzymes are the reason.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 03:15:28 PM by Bisquick »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A word on Papa John's clones.
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2015, 04:27:08 PM »
Bisquick,

Your instincts to offset the increased amount of yeast by increasing the amount of salt, which has an inhibiting effect on the yeast and its performance, were sound. However, I believe that you could have used less of both ingredients and maybe come close to the same results. I can't say for sure because I don't know if the increased amount of yeast causes a faster rise than the larger amount of salt can inhibit. It's like a race but I don't really know who wins.

You are also correct that a fast rising dough can lead to off flavors that make the finished crust less appealing. There are cases, however, where a large amount of yeast can be used to get a "yeasty" flavor in the crust, with cracker crusts being a good example.

As for your question about the enzymes used in PJ's pizza dough, I do not believe that the enzymes have to do with the possible use of a dried starter of some sort. There are many enzymes that can be used in dough (see, for example, the article at http://www.biokemi.org/biozoom/issues/516/articles/2309) but I think that the enzymes that PJ uses in its doughs may be fungal or bacterial amylase. To put this matter into perspective, you might take a look of the chronology of the various versions of the PJ dough that I set forth at Reply 492 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg260041#msg260041, to wit:

Circa 2001: Pizza Dough: Bleached, enriched wheat flour (niacin, iron (reduced), thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), malted barley flour, clear filtered water, sugar, soybean oil, salt, yeast, inactive dried yeast, ascorbic acid, (added as dough conditioner), enzymes. (https://home.comcast.net/~tfcozzo/food/PapaJohns.htm)

Circa 2003: Pizza Dough: Unbleached, enriched flour (niacin, iron (reduced), thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), malted barley flour, clear filtered water, sugar, soybean oil, salt, yeast, ascorbic acid, (added as dough conditioner), enzymes. (http://web.archive.org/web/20120723105440/http://www.vegfamily.com/forums/showthread.php?t=503&page=2)

Circa 2005: Pizza Dough: Unbleached enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, ascorbic acid, enzyme, niacin, iron as ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar, soybean oil, salt, yeast, wheat starch.

Circa 2008-Present [2013]: Pizza Dough: Unbleached enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, wheat starch, ascorbic acid, enzyme, niacin, iron as ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar, soybean oil, salt, yeast [fungal or bacterial derivatives NO animal derivatives]. No trans fat.


From the above, you can see that the "enzyme" appeared in the early versions of the flour that PJ was using but that most likely was before PJ started using the flours milled exclusively for them. The fungal and bacterial statement was used most recently when PJ also added the wheat starch. That suggests a connection. And fungal or bacterial derivatives usually means a fungal or bacterial form of the amylase enzyme. If I am correct on this, the fungal or bacterial form of amylase would be a second source of amylase enzyme. The other source would be the malted barley flour, which is a cereal-based amylase enzyme.

Since you mentioned Domino's, it also uses an enzyme, with wheat starch, in its hand tossed dough, as noted at https://order.dominos.com/en/pages/content/nutritional/ingredients.jsp. At http://www.veganeatingout.com/dominos-pizza-e-mail/, Domino's said that that enzyme is alpha amylase.

It is possible to use a starter to make a PJ clone dough. I actually tried that, as you can see from Reply 38 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg60892#msg60892. But active starters can be difficult to manage in the context of a commissary business model that entails shipping refrigerated dough balls across the country to thousands of stores. So, I do not envision Papa John's, Domino's or Little Caesars doing that. However, there are dried sourdough-type ingredients and conditioners that could conceivably be used, such as I have seen for faux sourdough breads in my local supermarket with a bakery department, but, to the best of my knowledge, no major pizza chain is doing that.

When I started the original PJ clone thread (at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.0), my intent was to make a 3-8 day cold fermented dough that emulated what PJ was doing. But I soon saw that such a dough would be hard to make in a typical home setting. Like you, I wondered whether I could improve upon the original PJ clone dough. That led to several other versions with much shorter fermentation periods, including the two-day cold fermented version as set forth at Reply 20 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg59217#msg59217. In my mind, that version was an improvement because it could be made much more easily in a home setting. I also envisioned that someone could actually take that version and build a business around it. In fact, based on emails I have gotten, I think that some people have trying to do that but outside of the U.S. I receive more emails and PMs on the PJ clones than any other recipe I have come up with.

Peter

Offline Bisquick

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Re: A word on Papa John's clones.
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2015, 09:30:48 PM »
Yes I know what you are saying about cracker and thin crust doughs that have high amounts of yeast, and I've even seen recipes for New York Style doughs, which are notoriously thin and floppy, that call for higher amounts of yeast.  I have supposed they control fermentation of the yeast by using cooler temperatures and a very specific hydration. This, along with the correct amount of salt, would help prevent the yeast from going crazy. I also think that the gluten network can make a big difference in controlling the result of yeast fermentation, because if I am correct, a tighter gluten network will prevent the carbon dioxide from causing big gassy bubbles in the dough but will still allow for a lot of flavor. In some ways, pizza making really is a medley of different factors working harmoniously in unison. After thinking about it for a while, I think you are probably right about national chains not using dried starters in their dough, most likely because of how difficult it would be to maintain and supply such a massive amount of starter culture on a regular basis. Smaller operations, like independent bakeries or pizza restaurants, may be able to do this because on a smaller scale it's much easier to accurately predict how much demand a product garners and therefore easier to control losses, whereas one major problem that national chains face is the unpredictability of the market.  I think this is why national chains have so many sales and coupons - to keep their business flowing and prevent them from having to throw out their product because of expiration.  I think this is also one reason why the prices at some independent pizza places (the good ones) tend to be higher than national chains, because they have more direct control over the result of the flow of their business and don't face as much in losses. (I think it's also because a national chain can buy their ingredients in much larger quantities, meaning they can pay less for them, which means they can sell their product cheaper and still maintain the same profit margin.)
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 09:54:08 PM by Bisquick »

Offline Giggliato

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Re: A word on Papa John's clones.
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2015, 12:00:07 PM »
If Papa Johns cut back the sugar a bit in their dough and sauce I'd order from them more often, I also think they need to increase their fermentation time, not to mention their cooking time  :-D