Having already invested a fair amount of time in analyzing and trying to replicate a Papa John’s Applepie pizza, I thought that it might be useful to purchase a “real” Papa John’s Applepie pizza for comparison purposes. So, for a purchase price of $3.99 plus tax, I bought one today from my local PJ store. Photos of the pizza are shown below.
The pizza itself was 10”, as previously noted. However, the dough ball used to make the pizza was a separate, dedicated dough ball, not half of a dough ball used to make a 14” (large) pizza, as I had previously speculated. The dough ball that was used to make my Applepie pizza was taken directly from the cooler and was cold and dense. As a result, the pizza maker who prepared the pizza found it necessary to use two dough dockers, both made of plastic, to flatten and open up the dough. The first dough docker had very short teeth and most closely resembled the dough docker shown at http://www.foodservicedirect.com/product.cfm/p/159264/Allied-Metal-Spinning-Full-Size-Dough-Docker-4-7/8-inch.htm
but with a plastic handle. That dough docker was used very aggressively (with better than 20 passes across the dough) to flatten the cold dough ball and press the edges outwardly to start to form a skin. Once that was done, a second dough docker with longer teeth was used on the dough skin, also aggressively. That dough docker looks like the one shown at http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/american-metalcraft/dd5701/p382701.aspx?source=googleps
but with longer teeth. After a few hand to hand flips, the skin was placed on a dark metal disk and dressed.
The pizza was dressed with an apple topping and a second topping (more on this below), and baked. The apple topping comprised diced apples with a fairly large dice size, considerably larger than the apple dice I used. That topping amply covered the surface of the pizza. The second topping was a sugar-based topping that was fairly light in color and sparsely applied on top of the apple topping. Later, when I was at home and was able to more closely examine the pizza, I could not find any evidence of the use of oats in the second topping, even after poking around both toppings and examining everything with a magnifying glass. I concluded that it was possible that my local PJs is using another PJ topping, called “Cinnamon Spread”, in lieu of the streusal topping earlier described. Such use would be contrary to the image of the Applepie pizza shown at the PJ website (http://www.papajohns.com/menu/side_applepie.shtm
) which, to my eye, and especially after magnifying the image, appears to show oat flakes. However, the Cinnamon Spread would seem to fit the profile for the Cinnapie pie, which, upon examining its image at the PJ website (http://www.papajohns.com/menu/side_cinnapie.shtm
), does not appear to contain any oat flakes. However, if brown sugar and a flour are used, it is perhaps proper to characterize the topping as a “streusal” topping, as PJs does in its promotional materials. If the Cinnamon Spread was used, it contains the following ingredients:Cinnamon Spread: Sugar, margarine (partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, water, salt, mono and diglycerides, lecithin, sodium benzoate and citric acid [preservatives], artificial flavor, artificial color, vitamin A palmitate added), bleached enriched flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), soy oil, molasses, cinnamon, water, potassium sorbate (preservative), and soy lecithin
After the pizza was baked, the icing was applied. That step was done behind a counter outside of my view but after the pizza was boxed and handed to me, I examined it and saw that the icing had already melted and had largely disappeared into the pizza. Once I got the pizza into the car, I weighed it. It was 17.92 ounces. When I got the pizza home, I examined it more closely. The crust of the pizza was thinner than mine, but as previously noted, I was using an "emergency" PJ clone dough with a lot of yeast (and using very warm water) that resulted in a very gassy dough after better than tripling in volume. The PJ Applepie apple topping also had a "pasty" texture indicative of the use of flour or some other thickener for the apple topping. As shown in the photos below, the rim of the pizza looks pockmarked. That was because of the use of the two dough dockers that riddled the dough skin with holes.
The pizza itself was quite tasty with a pleasant “apple pie” flavor. At $3.99 (plus tax), it might be considered a relative bargain and preferable to attempting to replicate it at home. However, it will have a more “commercial” quality, rather than a "homemade" quality, with a lot of chemicals and additives and preservatives that one might prefer to avoid.
EDIT (9/5/16): For the Wayback Machine version of the FoodServiceWarehouse link, see https://web.archive.org/web/20130825101837/http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/american-metalcraft/dd5701/p382701.aspx?source=googleps