The results are in for my latest HRI clone dough experiment. To recapitulate, this is the dough with Gold Medal unbleached Aleppo's flour, 51% hydration, 2.5% ADY (used in dry form), 2% salt, and 19% corn oil.
I used the dough yesterday after about two days of cold fermentation. At that point, based on the poppy seed spacing, the dough had expanded in volume by about 126%. That was at about the same point as it was a day before although, as I noted before, it had risen more than that at one point but fell back to its final value of 126%. At all times the dough was firm to the touch even though I could see from the bubbling at the bottom and sides of my glass storage container that there had been a lot of fermentation. Forming the dough into a skin was very easy. However, this time I did not use a rolling pin. I formed the skin entirely by hand. The fluted rim formed easily and it remained upstanding during the 15 minutes that the skin (docked) proofed on my perforated disk. To further simulate the methods used in HRI's pizzerias, I dressed and baked the pizza right after the 15-minute proof period. In other words, I did not pre-bake the crust.
I intentionally loaded up the pizza with mozzarella cheese (diced low moisture, part-skim Precious mozzarella cheese), sauce and toppings in order to see how that would affect the bake. In this case, the toppings were sausage (modified Johnsonville Hot sausage), pepperoni (14 slices, as usual), and diced green peppers. The total unbaked pizza weight was 35.63 ounces. As it turned out, that weight posed some problems baking the pizza in my home oven. I started by baking the pizza in the middle rack position of my oven at 425 degrees F. It remained there for about 12 minutes. The bottom crust achieved the desired color in some places but not as much in the middle. To get more top heat to cook and slightly brown the cheese, I moved the pizza to the topmost oven rack position for about another minute and a half. This bake protocol reminded me of how a home oven is not a conveyor oven. It may well turn out that to bake an HRI clone pizza with a lot of things on it in my home oven, it may be necessary to use a pre-bake of the crust, just as you did with your last HRI clone. But, this is how we learn.
The finished baked weight of the pizza was 33.16 ounces. That represented a loss during baking of almost 7%. Had I used a higher oven temperature and a longer bake, I am sure that the losses would have been greater.
Overall, I thought that the pizza turned out very well. However, the rim was not as distinct as your last pizza. I would say that it looked more like the crust as shown in the flicker.com website that your referenced recently at A delicious thin crust Chicago style pizza topped with sausage, Pepperoni, and Green Peppers.
. This leads me to believe that not all of the pizzas baked in HRI's pizzerias have the distinct fluted rim. This does not come as a surprise. The reality is that commercial operations have quite wide variations in the pizzas they produce. In my case, the pizza had a nice crunchy rim and adjoining parts but was softer in the middle, no doubt because of a slight underbaking. I concluded that I much preferred the rim of my pizza over the hard rims of the HRI frozen pizzas that I previously baked. As for the flakiness characteristic, I can't say that I detected much in the way of flakiness in the finished crust. Again, this may be a baking issue.
Out of curiosity, after I was done making the pizza, I estimated what it cost me to make it. Some of the items I used to make the pizza had been purchased on sale but the total cost was around $4.65. That is for a 12" pizza size (11.5" after baking). I checked with an HRI menu, and the same size pizza with the same toppings pizza sold in its pizzerias would have cost $18.50, or almost four times the cost of my pizza. However, it may well be that HRI uses more toppings on its store pizzas than on its frozen pizzas. Out of necessity, we have been using the HRI frozen pizza model (based on the related Nutrition Facts), not the one used in its pizzerias, of which we know very little. But, that said, I think trying to emulate the HRI pizzeria pizzas is the better course to take.
Oven the ensuing days, as I work my way through the leftovers, I will think about what changes to try next. I may lower the hydration a bit and I might try to tame the yeast a bit more so that it can work in a one to three day cold fermentation window without overfermenting. There is no assurance that this will cure all ills. It may well turn out the the baking protocol is more important. The final point I want to leave with everyone is that the dough formulations that you and I and Bob have been testing recently can result in some very good pizzas even if they aren't exact or perfect clones of HRI's pizzas. They will also be less costly than the HRI frozen pizzas, albeit at the loss of convenience of the frozen versions.