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Offline bluewalls

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PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« on: November 08, 2018, 06:29:13 AM »
I have tried several times to make a Papa John's clone with Pete-zza's recipe. Not only does my pizza not taste like Papa John's, it doesn't taste as good as any of the good restaurant chains. It tastes maybe slightly better than a frozen pizza. I am using high gluten flour, Stanilaus tomato magic, and Grande part skim cheese. I've tried King Arthur's bread flour as well. I've tried cooking various ways: with a pizza stone, with a pizza screen, 500 degrees, 550 degrees, broiler on for a couple of minutes. I feel like if the sauce tasted more like Papa John's, it would probably be a lot better. I am wondering if maybe it's the spices I am using. Otherwise, I have no idea what else to do.

Offline bigMoose

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 11:03:05 AM »
In your journey for a spicier pizza sauce take a look at Red November's #2 sauce.  Here is a summary thread with links to most of the subtleties of it https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=21570.msg448212#msg448212

Your ingredient list looks good.  Cheese is great, Stanislaus products are great.  For flour when you say hi gluten, you want a typical bread flour for PJ's, something with around a 12.6% protein level, I like to use GM Full Strength.  Just re read and saw you used KA bread, that should be fine.  I bake my clone at 500 degF on a preheated cordierite stone in an electric oven.  I also used Peters formula and things worked pretty good.  When serving teen's I found they prefer a sweet sauce.

For more help, share your workflow, and dough formula and fermenting procedure if you vary from Peters suggestions.  I'm sure we will all chip in to help you.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 11:06:40 AM by bigMoose »
All the best, Dave

Offline bluewalls

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 12:48:19 PM »
I was thinking maybe my current source for spices is no good. I dunno though. Most of it is McCormick brand and probably pretty old. I'm sure it's not even close to optimal but I wonder how much difference this makes with the taste.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 02:05:16 PM »
bluewalls,

I agree with Dave (bigMoose) that your basic dough ingredients, including the Grande cheese, the Stanislaus tomatoes, and the King Arthur bread flour (KABF), are in good order. In fact, I am sure that the Grande cheese is better, at least to my palate, than the Leprino cheese that PJ uses. As for the flour, I believe that at one time PJ was using a high gluten flour but I later learned that they went with a flour that was somewhat lower in protein content than the high gluten flour. As a result, I have been recommending a flour that has a protein content of about 13+%. That is hard to find at retail, but a flour like the KABF is fine, whether used alone or as supplemented with vital wheat gluten to raise the protein content of the KABF.

It would help to know which of my PJ clone recipes you used. When I did my cloning work, I had the benefit of being able to buy PJ pizzas and to do side by side comparisons with my clones. With the dough recipe that I believed came closest to what PJ was doing, I could not tell the difference. And I so noted that. I would not have posted at all had my early clones not been close to what PJ was doing. But I should also note that I came up with other PJ clones that were easier for our members to make, inasmuch as my early clones required that the dough be cold fermented for about 5-8 days. That is hard to do in a home setting so I came up with versions that could be made from a few hours to about three days. If they were not close enough matches to the real PJ pizza, I would not have posted the recipes. But in those cases, my practice was to say what the differences were between my clones and the real thing. So it is important to know which recipe you used and how to made and managed the dough, and how you baked the pizza. And if you deviated from what I posted, it would help to know what those deviations were.

I should also note that PJ's pizzas have changed over the years. Their dough formulation has changed as well their cheese. But from what I have seen at the PJ website at https://www.papajohns.com/company/papa-johns-ingredients.html, their pizza sauce does not seem to have changed much, at least from an ingredients standpoint. When I tried to clone the PJ sauce, at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6633.msg56931#msg56931, I relied on the PJ ingredients statement that PJ gave to me. I mention all of this because it is possible that my clones, even the best one from a comparison standpoint, no longer emulate the real PJ pizzas. In the past, I have tracked the changes in the PJ pizzas based on the changes in their nutrition information but I have not done so recently. So, I may want to update that exercise to be more up-to-date on what may have changed.

Peter

Offline bluewalls

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 04:11:03 PM »
As for the dough, I have been using this one: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg60076#msg60076. At first, I used regular King's Arthur's bread flour, then later switched to King Arthur's high gluten flour. Do you think I should switch to the 5 day dough? Most of the time, I cooked in the middle of the oven, usually at 550 F, for 7 minutes, though I did try 500 a couple of times (maybe for 8 minutes or so, can't quite remember). I tried it both on a pizza screen and a preheated stone. I suppose I should get a bit more scientific with it from now on and take more accurate notes. I have just been discouraged as my pizzas don't taste nearly as good as the well-known pizza restaurants like Papa John's, Pizza Hut, etc.

Anyhow, I feel like the sauce is the bigger problem. I'm not saying something is wrong with your recipe. I'm saying maybe I did something wrong. I also don't necessarily need it to taste exactly like Papa John's. I just want it to be good. I started with this: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6633.msg57044#msg57044. I used cento san marzanos at first, then later switched to Stanilaus tomato magic and tried this: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6633.msg61296#msg61296. I even accidentally used this one (I think it was with the Stanilaus but I'm not sure): https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6633.msg59208#msg59208.

Sorry, I just don't really know what I should try anymore.

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Offline Pod4477

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2018, 04:50:08 AM »
I have tried several times to make a Papa John's clone with Pete-zza's recipe. Not only does my pizza not taste like Papa John's, it doesn't taste as good as any of the good restaurant chains. It tastes maybe slightly better than a frozen pizza. I am using high gluten flour, Stanilaus tomato magic, and Grande part skim cheese. I've tried King Arthur's bread flour as well. I've tried cooking various ways: with a pizza stone, with a pizza screen, 500 degrees, 550 degrees, broiler on for a couple of minutes. I feel like if the sauce tasted more like Papa John's, it would probably be a lot better. I am wondering if maybe it's the spices I am using. Otherwise, I have no idea what else to do.

Sorry this will be long. Iím no expert, as Iíve only been making pizza consistently for about 4 years and only on here since June. My journey on here started out trying to clone Lucalis, and then Pizzeria Regina and Pizza Hut. Looking back on my pizza from 10 years ago to 4 years ago, and then from June, and then to now, itís amazing how much has changed with the help of these forums. I was so discouraged because my pizzas were good, but were not coming out like the pizzerias here in MA and not like Pizzeria Regina. Pizzeria Regina is my favorite pizza place, but I also love Dominos , Pizza Hut, Papa Johnís, UNO, and tons of local sub shops and pizzerias. Peter is far more experienced in pizza and Papa Johnís than I am. He really knows his stuff, like other members on here do as well.  There are so many variables when making a recipe at your home vs someone elseís home and different ways we visualize and taste different ingredients added to the pizza. In trying to clone different pizzas, Iíve learned some things that have helped. I have Thad Papa Johnís in quite some time so my memory may be wrong, but for American Pizza I noticed Pizza Hutís stuffed crust had a commercial tasting sauce (maybe sugar and herbs I suspect added), commercial tasting dough (delicious but not as good as Pizzeria Regina dough to me), and commercial cheese/toppings. Since youíre trying to clone more of an American pizza, try to think commercial and not from scratch tasting.  Iíve listed some things Iíve learned below:

1.  Itís important to get very very familiar with the style youíre tying to clone. Each style is different and each style is prepared different. You may have to get obsessive with sampling your clone pizza of choice. My Pizzeria Regina samples were slice or pizza a day. Study those slices as much as you can. I also recommend buying slices or pizzas right before you make your pizza, and have them side by side for testing. Take pictures of them side by side and analyze the different aspects of how they differ or how they are similar. Also Iíve learned from members on here, try and get samples of the sauce and cheese off the line at the pizzeria. The sauce in its unbaked state is extremely valuable and so is the cheese.

2.  I was having a really tough time matching the taste of Pizzeria Regina using King Arthur Bread Flour. I may have just bought a bad bag at the supermarket, but the smell of the raw flour and taste of the dough just wasnít right. When I switched to Gold Medal All Trumps flour, I noticed a huge improvement on smell and taste. Lately I use Gold Medal Bread Flour and Gold Medal All-Purpose flour only, with exceptions of Bobís Red Mill and any left over King Arthur Wheat Flour I need to use up. I donít use All Trumps as much due to the Bromate in the flour. Iím not sure why the smell and taste was instantly better, but itís funny that even my baseline smell tests of the Gold Medal All Purpose smelled much better than the King Arthur All Purpose. I did also smell a difference between the Gold Medal Bread Flour and the Gold Medal All Purpose Flour, but I think this is because the GM Bread Flour uses Fungal Amylase instead of Malted Barley Flour. So it seems that you can make good pizza with any moderate to high protein flour (All-Purpose, Bread Flour, High-Gluten), not all flours smell and taste the same. Also, maybe were so used to the smell and taste of some of these commonly used flours in these pizzerias, that retail flour cannot compared to the commercial flour. I still think Pizzeria Regina is using ADM flour, but GM All Trumps or GM Bread Flour is close enough for me.

3.  The oven makes a big difference, but maybe not as big of a difference as some websites may say. Many people Iíve talked to (outside of this forum, mainly people who work for Pizzeria Regina) said I could never replicate Pizzeria Regina. My latest clones are not perfect, but they taste pretty close to me, and while PRís original North End location has an awesome 100+ year old oven (suspected to be around 500į-600į-700į, I knew that my pizza wasnít even tasting enough like the satellite locations. Their ovens are only 20 years old, I suspect, and the one in Braintree is set to only 485į. Iím sure the North End locationís oven is adding flavor from all the pizza they cook, perhaps off the oven walls or stones, but I had a feeling other things were at play too. I noted three things happening.  The temp of the oven is a big factor. The North End location cooks hotter, so it baked in less time and doesnít really get that deep brown crust that ends up tasting like wheat cereal. Their cheese is SUPER buttery (which I discovered from testing of their cold mozzarella cheese). I suspect they are adding something butterflavored to it or itís a special higherfat mozzerella. This stuff tastes like buttered popcorn and the staff seemed to comment on how buttery it is. And finally, their sauce is watered down a TON, about 50/50 canned tomatoes and water according to Pizzashark. Now I know PR is not Papa Johnís, but I suspect they are using products that go beyond what we can sometimes manufacture. I bet with Papa Johnís, commercial and artificial tastes are a good thing to clone, much like Pizza Hut. A lot of these chains are using conveyor ovens and that can be tough to replicate. I noticed they sometimes go through the conveyor at a faster speed and get cooked less because of this. Try experimenting with different temperatures in your oven. I feel that itís almost best with these chains to think the opposite of artisan baking.

4.  Donít give up! Iím currently trying to clone PR and Pizza Hut, and while they are very different they are similar too. Some more things about Pizza Hut that may help with your Papa Johnís clone: Pizza Hutís cheese seems very flavorful to me, but commercial tasting. It tastes milkier than most mozzarella cheese, but nowhere near as enhanced as PRís buttery cheese does in the butter flavor department . Now for the dough, Iíve found 3-7 days fermenting in the fridge makes a HUGE difference. I use a very small amount of IDY (usually .20%) and after mixing the dough and kneading it, I put it in a ziplock freezer bag and right into the fridge for 3-7 days. The smell is amazing after a few days and that fermentation will taste professional when tasting the crust.

So in summary I suggest 4 things to try, say if I was making a PJ clone:
1.  Make sure to knead your dough enough (windowpane test/nice stretch to the dough without tearing) and experiment with fermentation times in the fridge. Were not making Neapolitan dough, so the fridge can be our friend (which took me time to change my mind about).
2.  The sauce is the most predominant flavor on a pizza, so focus your efforts heavily on that and the dough. Try and get a sample and think industrial. I bet they arenít going over the top with sugar and herbs, but they are probably using more sugar than I would use. I havenít tried cloning their sauce but Peter would know. 
3.   Try switching up your sauce and cheese ratios. I now apply less cheese and sauce as the cheese will melt differently depending on how much you add, and the sauce will blend different depending on amount as well.
4.  Sometimes you want a dryer dough, but sometimes you want a wetter dough.  I love making a wetter dough because it doesnít dry out cooking at lower temps (therefore long bakes) in my home oven. I cook my Jimmy Johnís bread at 390į convection, and since itís very wet from water and tender from oil, it stays super soft and tender on the inside crumb. Since Papa Johnís is more of an American style pie, we kind of want an Americanized mass produced type of dough/crust. Try and get in the heads of these companies. I suggest trying to think of ways they may streamline their production/products and how chain pizza differs from NY style pizzas. American Pizza feels more like bread to me, kind of like my Jimmy Johnís bread. I bet they probably use more sauce and cheese than NY pizza, and a breadier type crust.

Sorry this wasnít long, but Iím sure Iíll have even more to add tomorrow haha. I hope to hear more about your bakes and good luck!
« Last Edit: November 09, 2018, 06:09:57 AM by Pod4477 »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2018, 11:36:43 AM »
As for the dough, I have been using this one: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg60076#msg60076. At first, I used regular King's Arthur's bread flour, then later switched to King Arthur's high gluten flour. Do you think I should switch to the 5 day dough? Most of the time, I cooked in the middle of the oven, usually at 550 F, for 7 minutes, though I did try 500 a couple of times (maybe for 8 minutes or so, can't quite remember). I tried it both on a pizza screen and a preheated stone. I suppose I should get a bit more scientific with it from now on and take more accurate notes. I have just been discouraged as my pizzas don't taste nearly as good as the well-known pizza restaurants like Papa John's, Pizza Hut, etc.

Anyhow, I feel like the sauce is the bigger problem. I'm not saying something is wrong with your recipe. I'm saying maybe I did something wrong. I also don't necessarily need it to taste exactly like Papa John's. I just want it to be good. I started with this: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6633.msg57044#msg57044. I used cento san marzanos at first, then later switched to Stanilaus tomato magic and tried this: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6633.msg61296#msg61296. I even accidentally used this one (I think it was with the Stanilaus but I'm not sure): https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6633.msg59208#msg59208.

Sorry, I just don't really know what I should try anymore.

bluewalls,

The particular version of the PJ clone dough recipe you used is not the best version to use if you are trying to come the closest to a PJ pizza. I came up with that version to help members who might have wanted a version that could be made in one day, as opposed to the 5-8 days of cold fermentation that PJ uses. Unfortunately, I did not have a PJ pizza on hand when I made the one-day clone dough so I could not do a side by side comparison of the two crusts. However, I did note where the crust from the one-day dough differed from a real PJ crust. To get closer to the real thing, you may want to try the PJ clone dough formulation as set forth at Reply 2 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg58197#msg58197

However, you may want to keep in mind that trying to make a dough that can sustain a cold fermentation period of from 5-8 days in a typical home setting with a standard refrigerator can be a challenge because the refrigerator temperature can very quite widely because of repeated opening and closing of the refrigerator door in normal everyday use. Also, some refrigerators tend to operate at above average temperatures, not the slightly above freezing temperatures that PJ uses from the time of making the dough balls to the time that the dough balls are delivered to their stores and are immediately put into the coolers at the stores and held at the same temperature. This is why I tried to come up with alternatives even though they might not produce the best equivalents to what PJ does. As it turned out, the PJ clone dough that seemed to be the most popular among the members is the one set forth at Reply 20 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg59217#msg59217

The two-day dough is about a day less than what PJ itself recommends. That is, PJ says that their dough will not be right and should not be used earlier than three days. But I took that advice into account when I modified the basic PJ clone dough formulation to be usable in two days, again to assist members in making a dough in a shorter time period.

I should add that later, after learning that PJ uses its dough for a 14" (large) pizza to make its 10-count breadsticks, and after analyzing the PJ nutrition for the breadsticks, I came up with an alternative dough formulation. You can see that formulation at Reply 585 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg273667.html#msg273667

I don't think the results achieved using the formulation set forth in Reply 585 for a three day dough will produce major differences but it is a version that you might find to be worth trying.

FYI, I revisited the PJ website to look at its latest nutrition information and posted on my review this morning at Reply 1435 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=6758.msg551058#msg551058

Good luck and keep us posted.

Peter

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 11:53:28 AM »
Pod4477,

Thank you for your detailed set of instructions and tips for trying to recreate pizzas of third parties, including the pizzas of major chains and even of regional chains like Pizzeria Regina.

One of the major reasons why I decided to try to recreate the Papa John's pizzas was because I could actually buy some of their pizzas and compare them with my own clone versions. In many of the other cases where I tried to reverse engineer and clone pizzas of others I did not have that advantage. I had to rely on ingredients statements, if they even existed, or on nutrition information, if that even existed. In most cases, I worked with others, such as Norma, who had access to the real products in many cases and was also willing and able to make experimental pizzas using her commercial oven, not a standard home oven such as I have. But even when I had access to the PJ ingredients statements and its nutrition information, and also input from members who at one time or another had worked for Papa John's and even information that I received from exchanges I had with PJ itself, it was a real challenge to try to reverse engineer and clone the basic original PJ pizza. I had to learn and understand FDA rules and regulations and the ins and outs of nutrition information. This was all new stuff to me and took me a lot of time and effort to get up to speed. But it was one of the best things I ever did and one of the best learning experieces I ever had.

Peter

Offline Pod4477

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 12:21:32 PM »
Pod4477,

Thank you for your detailed set of instructions and tips for trying to recreate pizzas of third parties, including the pizzas of major chains and even of regional chains like Pizzeria Regina.

One of the major reasons why I decided to try to recreate the Papa John's pizzas was because I could actually buy some of their pizzas and compare them with my own clone versions. In many of the other cases where I tried to reverse engineer and clone pizzas of others I did not have that advantage. I had to rely on ingredients statements, if they even existed, or on nutrition information, if that even existed. In most cases, I worked with others, such as Norma, who had access to the real products in many cases and was also willing and able to make experimental pizzas using her commercial oven, not a standard home oven such as I have. But even when I had access to the PJ ingredients statements and its nutrition information, and also input from members who at one time or another had worked for Papa John's and even information that I received from exchanges I had with PJ itself, it was a real challenge to try to reverse engineer and clone the basic original PJ pizza. I had to learn and understand FDA rules and regulations and the ins and outs of nutrition information. This was all new stuff to me and took me a lot of time and effort to get up to speed. But it was one of the best things I ever did and one of the best learning experieces I ever had.

Peter

Youíre welcome, but you know way more than me, so I was hesitant to say too much lol. Thank you for your detailed instructions as your PJ and pizza knowledge in general has really helped me a ton. Just wanted to share my experience and observations of chains here.  I hope I didnít say anything too inaccurate. Your PJ clone journey is amazing, and really shows how much work it takes in recreating pizzas, particularly big chains. Itís important to see how much work goes into it (way more than Iíve done).  You had help from Norma and others and PJís itself.  There is so much that goes into it like FDA regulations you spoke of and commercial walk-ins. I have a dedicated fridge that gets super cold, but even that is not like the walk-ins they have. I donít have the best info, but I can share my experience with working in a home setting and making a pizza Iím proud of and that tastes very close to the real thing. My Deep Dish pizza tastes so close to UNO now, that I save a lot of money eating in. Granted I did buy their pans.

Offline bluewalls

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2018, 12:59:04 PM »
Thanks for the input. I have some things to work on now.

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Offline Pod4477

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Re: PJ's clone doesn't taste like Papa John's
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2018, 07:47:10 PM »
Thanks for the input. I have some things to work on now.

Np. The people here are awesome at helping. Another thing I forgot to add was that I use a baking steel a lot in the oven. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JXVNUI6/?tag=pmak-20 And I got the .375Ē thick Pro version, I believe. When Iím not using my Ooni Pro outdoors or a pizza pan indoors, I use this steel and itís amazing. I donít have to worry about it breaking, but a baking stone does work pretty much as good. The steel seems to cook a bit better though and makes awesome NY pizza at home. Of course for more American styles, you can probably just use a screen as they are using a conveyor anyway. So just a thought but not needed unless you want to. I would also ask them for some pizza sauce on the side and see what they say, although you may need to specify you want the pizza sauce and not marinara incase they give Marinara like Pizza Hut does.

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