Thank you very much for your MM trip report. I think what you did should help us get closer to what MM is doing.
With respect to weights, I have found the best weight information to be "before" and "after" weights. Those weights are good because they allow you to determine the weight loss during baking. Par-baked weight data isn't as useful because there may be a material amount of moisture still remaining in the pizza in the par-baked state. In this case, this might not matter much because you aren't going to get the weight of a real unbaked small MM cheese pizza anyway and the MM Nutrition Facts do not give weights for the MM pizzas, either whole pizzas or slices. They are one of the few companies that do not give weights. I am aware of only one other chain pizza company that does not give that data.
Summarizing your data, this is what I get:
Par-baked pizza weight = 502 grams = 17.70 ounces
Cheese = 164 grams = 5.79 ounces
Sauce estimate = 3.5-4 tablespoons
In order to get a weight for sauce, I weighed 4 tablespoons of a sauce I have been using and it came to 65.78 grams, or 2.32 ounces. On a volume basis, it was about 1/3 cup. One thing to remember about sauce on a baking pizza is that sauce is typically around or over 90% water. On a simple cheese pizza, I would say that a good part of that water is driven off through evaporation during baking. I have stripped off cheese from purchased pizzas before and it looked like there was just a small amount or film of dehydrated tomatoes. And some of the sauce may adhere to the cheese if the cheese is stripped off of the baked pizza. Most generic mozzarella cheeses contain around 50% water. However, I do not believe that much of that water is driven off during baking. There will be some moisture driven out of the dough, but since the dough is covered by sauce and cheese, it will perhaps give off less moisture than if it were baked without anything on it (for bread dough used to make loaves, a typical number I have seen is around 10-12%). You indicated that the MM employee told you that the sauce is not measured out. I can't speak for the MM location you visited, but many, if not most, of the MM locations use a portioning device that is often referred to as a "Spoodle", which is a combination of a spoon and a ladle. From what I can tell, the workers use only one size but they know from practice and experience how to use that portioning device to measure out different amounts of sauce for the different size pizzas. I think you may be correct on the types of tomatoes that MM uses for its sauce. I don't know if they use the 6-in-1s but MM has reported before that they use a fresh-pack style tomato, which Escalon, Stanislaus and San Benito offer.
Further to the cheese, the only brands of cheese that I have seen from my reading (and from information that I believe Norma supplied in relation to an MM litigation matter) is Grande and Premium Saputo (at the MM Tempe, AZ location). MM has always touted that they use a low-fat mozzarella cheese (shredded). This is in keeping with their promotion of a "healthy" pizza with less fat. When I looked at the MM Nutrition Facts, and using the Grande low-moisture part skim shredded mozzarella cheese Nutrition Facts (at http://www.grandecheese.com/products/Pages/Product_Spec.aspx?ProductMasterID=18
), and specifically the cholesterol numbers (which relates to the cheese only), I get an amount of that cheese as used on a small cheese pizza of about 4.33 ounces. You are correct that the MM workers do not weigh out or otherwise use portioning cups for the cheese. Everything I have seen point to free-throwing of the cheese.
If we assume that a small dough ball weighs 11 ounces, and that the cheese is 5.79 ounces (your number) and that the sauce is 2.32 ounces (my number), then the total weight is 19.11 ounces. For all intents and purposes, this is for a small unbaked cheese pizza. Subtracting 17.70 ounces from 19.11 ounces yields a presumptive loss during baking of 1.41 ounces. That is a loss of 7.4%. That is not an unusual number. In fact, when I made my Papa John's clone pizzas, using a basic pepperoni pizza as a benchmark, I routinely got losses of around 7-8%. For my calculations for this project, I have been using the same number but with respect to a 12-ounce dough ball. Pending more data on weights, I would say that an 11-ounce dough ball is a credible number.
You didn't indicate whether you weighed the cornmeal that I believe the MM dough balls come with from the MM commissary. I also believe that the frozen dough balls are wrapped with clear plastic wrap. To get an idea as to how much cornmeal might be used for a small MM dough ball, this morning I took a small MM clone dough ball (without any cornmeal on it) that I have been defrosting in the refrigerator and dusted it in some cornmeal. I used a basic house brand enriched degermed yellow cornmeal. I weighed the dough ball before and after adding the cornmeal. Since my regular scale does not have a good enough accuracy to measure a small amount of cornmeal, I removed all of the cornmeal from the MM clone dough ball and weighed it on my small digital scale. The weight of the cornmeal (about 0.8 grams) represented 0.23% of the weight of the dough ball. So, in my case, the difference is almost negligible. Moreover, according to the Nutrition Facts for generic cornmeal at the nutritiondata.self.com website at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5693/2
, the moisture content for generic cornmeal (the same type as I used) is about 11.29%, or not much less than the generic 14% number for most white flours. That is good news since it means that our numbers (baker's percents) do not have to be changed solely because of the cornmeal. I should also mention that I ran an additional test where I weighed both the cornmeal and a sheet of clear plastic wrap of a size to adequately wrap my dough ball. The results indicated an added weight to my MM clone dough ball of 0.54%. For an 11-ounce dough ball, that would increase its weight to 11.06 ounces (without plastic wrap, the dough ball with cornmeal comes to 11.03 ounces). As previously noted, we do not know what weights MM uses for its Nutrition Facts.
I will await the results of your hydration tests (and Norma's as well if she conducts a similar test) before testing out numbers for an 11-ounce MM clone dough ball. In the meantime, I will also play around with the MM Nutrition Facts for a small cheese pizza even though the Nutrition Facts do not give weights for that pizza.
Thanks again, Bob. You are a real trooper.