Curiosity got the better of me so I decided to conduct a couple of experiments to make a Mack’s basic cheese pizza even though I have never had a Mack’s pizza.
My first attempt was to see if I could make a robust Mack’s clone dough for a 14” pizza using all-purpose flour. I have made robust all-purpose doughs before that handled like the doughs in the YouTube video at
but not with any consistency. I managed to make a pizza with the dough but thought that the finished crust was only so-so from a flavor and texture standpoint and that it was perhaps unlikely that Mack’s uses all-purpose flour.
My next effort was to make a dough using the King Arthur bread flour (KABF) as supplemented with Hodgson Mill vital wheat gluten (VWG) to achieve an effective protein content for the blend of 14.4%, which is a bit more than the 14.2% protein content of the King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour. To do the allocation, I used November’s Mixed Mass Percentage Calculator at http://tools.foodsim.com/
. For this effort, I assumed that a Mack’s pizza is an 18” pizza. So I decided to make a dough ball for that size. I elected to use a 21-ounce dough ball, which translates to a thickness factor of 0.082525. I will have more to say about the thickness factor later.
The dough formulation I decided to use is the following one, based on the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html
|KABF/VWG Blend* (100%):|
Vegetable (Soybean) Oil (3%):
|370.47 g | 13.07 oz | 0.82 lbs|
214.87 g | 7.58 oz | 0.47 lbs
0.82 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.27 tsp | 0.09 tbsp
7.41 g | 0.26 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.33 tsp | 0.44 tbsp
11.11 g | 0.39 oz | 0.02 lbs | 2.45 tsp | 0.82 tbsp
5.56 g | 0.2 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.39 tsp | 0.46 tbsp
610.23 g | 21.52 oz | 1.35 lbs | TF = N/A
Note: For a 21-ounce dough ball for a single 18” pizza (with a corresponding thickness factor of 0.082525); bowl residue compensation = 2.5%.
*The KABF/VWG Blend comprises 358.79 grams (12.66 ounces) KABF and 11.69 grams (0.41 ounces) Hodgson Mill VWG (about 3.9 teaspoons)
To prepare the dough, I used the basic methods and techniques as described in the thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.0.html
. I used this approach because I have found it to produce a more robust dough than I have made using other methods. For the Mack’s application, I thought that getting a robust dough was essential if I were to endeavor to simulate the Mack dough handling methods. In keeping with this objective, I selected a hydration of 58% to achieve a dough that would be easy to handle and not be overly extensible. The yeast quantity, at 0.22%, was selected to allow a cold fermentation of about 2-3 days, but with a possibility of going out another day or so. I used some sugar in the dough in the event I decided to go beyond two days.
To make the dough, I started by sifting the KABF and the VWG. I then placed the formula water, at around 51.5 degrees F, into the mixer bowl of my basic KitchenAid stand mixer (with a C-hook). With the mixer at stir speed and with the whisk attached, I gradually added the KABF/VWG blend to the mixer bowl until the whisk started to labor and to groan, about 2 ˝ minutes. I then switched to the flat beater attachment, and with the mixer still at stir speed, I gradually added the remaining KABF/VWG blend. Because of the relatively low hydration of the dough, at 58%, I found it necessary to intervene from time to time to manually help form the dough into a fairly cohesive mass, particularly when the flat beater attachment started to bog down. This part of the exercise took about 2 minutes. I then switched to the C-hook and, with the mixer at speed 2, I added the oil, salt and sugar to the mixer bowl. After these ingredients were mixed into the dough, I added the IDY. The dough was then kneaded for about 12 minutes. I had to again intervene in the process but the dough ultimately came together into a smooth, cohesive mass. I hand kneaded the final dough for about 30 seconds and shaped it into a round ball. The finished dough temperature was 77.2 degrees F. I oiled the dough ball lightly and placed two poppy seeds space apart by one inch at the center of the top of the dough ball. To simulate Mack’s use of a sheet pan and “body bag” fermentation approach, I used a metal cookie tin and secured a sheet of plastic wrap over the cookie tin, using a rubber band for this purpose.
The dough remained in the refrigerator for almost 3 days. After 24 hours, the spacing of the poppy seeds suggested a roughly 42% rise. After 48 hours, the dough ball had almost doubled in volume. After about 67 hours, when I brought the dough out of the refrigerator to warm up at room temperature (about 76 degrees F), the dough ball had increased in volume by an additional 25%. The dough remained at room temperature for about 1 ˝ hours. At this time, I shaped and stretched the dough ball into an 18” skin. I had no trouble doing this. The dough was a bit elastic and it wasn’t as robust as the dough shown in the abovereferenced video, but I managed to open up the dough ball and to slap and stretch the dough to form the 18” skin. I was also able to toss the dough skin. There were some fermentation bubbles in the skin as I formed it but they were on the small side. The Mack’s dough in the video does not have any visible fermentation bubbles that I could detect.
As you know, I cannot bake an 18” on my 14” x 16” pizza stone. So, as I have done many times before with an oversized skin, I used an 18” pizza screen in conjunction with the abovementioned pizza stone. The baking approach I decided to use was to start the bake of the pizza on the lowest oven rack position of my electric oven and to shift it onto the pizza stone, which was placed on the topmost oven rack position. The oven was preheated for about an hour at around 525 degrees F. From time to time during the oven warm-up time, I turned on the broiler to apply more top heat to the pizza stone.
As the oven was getting ready for my pizza, I dressed the 18” skin on the screen. To get a better idea as to the amount of sauce and cheese to use, I watched the abovementioned video several times, watching every hand movement until I had them memorized. For the sauce, I used the Wal-Mart Great Value crushed tomatoes. Since the crushed tomatoes had small chunks, I found it necessary to use my stick blender to make the sauce as smooth as possible. This was important since I planned to use my small plastic squeeze bottle (shown in an earlier post) to dispense the sauce on the pizza and I did not want any of the chunks to clog the nozzle of the squeeze bottle. To the crushed tomatoes, I added dried oregano, garlic powder and sugar. This was not an attempt to simulate the Mack’s sauce, which uses a different tomato product. It was just a simple sauce to use for the experiment. Based on my review of the video, I estimated that about 7 ounces of sauce is used for an 18” Mack’s pizza. It could be more, but I would need more information on the nature of the sauce actually used by Mack's.
For the cheese, I used a blend of shredded extra sharp NY white cheddar cheese and shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese. My best estimate of the total amount of cheese used for a Mack’s 18” cheese pizza was about 8 ounces. I used mostly white cheddar cheese for the blend, maybe 90-95%. I used the mozzarella cheese just to soften the flavor of the extra sharp white cheddar cheese.
I dressed the pizza in the way shown in the video, starting with a first layer of the cheese blend (a large fistful), then the pizza sauce, which I dispensed in a circular spiral pattern using the squeeze bottle, and finally the second layer of the cheese blend (another large fistful). I would say that the two applications of the cheese blend were about the same. The only problem I experienced was that some of the sauce clogged the nozzle of the squeeze bottle and splattered onto the pizza below the nozzle. That is why it is important that the sauce be very smooth if a squeeze bottle is to be used. But, in the end, the dressed pizza looked to me to be very similar to what is shown in the video. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a photo of the dressed pizza. The total unbaked pizza weight was 1023 grams, or about 36 ounces.
The dressed pizza was baked on the screen on the lowest oven rack position for about 5 minutes. I then moved the pizza off of the screen (which I then removed from the oven) onto the preheated pizza stone on the topmost oven rack position. The top heating coil kept coming on and off but the pizza did not seem to be harmed by that action. The pizza was perhaps at the topmost oven rack position for about 3 minutes. Were I to attempt another 18” Mack’s clone pizza, I think I would use the method I usually use to make oversized pizzas and start the pizza on the 18” screen at a top oven rack position and shift it onto the pizza stone at the lowest oven rack position. The method I used, while ultimately successful, did not strike me as being the most reliable one to use.
The photos below show the finished pizza. I thought that the pizza was excellent. The pizza looked like a NY style pizza but the crust was almost cracker-like in part, especially at the rim and the crust near the rim. The crust was also generally crispy and chewy, and there were a few large bubbles in the rim and a fair amount of blistering. The slices started out a bit on the limp side but stiffened as they cooled. When the pizza came out of the oven, oil from the slices dripped onto my paper plate. The cheddar cheese flavor was dominant, but quite enjoyable.
In terms of possible changes, I think I would use less dough next time. The dough I made seemed to be more than what I saw in the video. I think I would use a thickness factor of around 0.072, or something like that, and adjust further if necessary for future experiments. A less sharp cheddar cheese might also be in order. In your case, you should use the pizza sauce that Steve picked out for you. However, there was nothing wrong with the sauce I used. It is a good, generic sauce that is useful for experiments like this one.