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Nov 14, 2006 12:01 AM

On the topic of am I going to burn my house down.....

I was seeing my MD last week and conversation turned to food and cooking. Namely pizza. He is learning to make his own. The conversation turned to ovens and he told me he is planning to disable the locking function of the self-cleaning cycle so he can get that oven and stone really hot and cook that pizza in 2.5 to 3 mins.

Okay, I am bothered and uneasy about this idea. Yeah I know the oven is insulated and when I use the self-cleaning cycle I do not set my cabinets on fire. I leave my really thick pizza stine in the oven all of the time even when cleaning and logically I know that the lock on the self-cleaning cycle is to keep you form burning your self but I am bothered. Has anyone tried this? Does the idea make you as uneasy as it does me? Am I worrying needlessly?

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  1. This is absolute MYTHOLOGY that restaurants have "hotter" ovens and that's why their food tastes so much better.

    The ovens actual operating temperature can't be much higher than 500 degrees. Why not? Because the YEAST DIES at that temperature! You get burned, unrisen garbage. The restaurant's ovens are constantly being opened and closed and the temp comes down as a result.

    Just cook your pizza at 450 and ignore this "You just aren't equipped" cop-out/supremacism. Finish it by turning on the broiler above it if you want the slightly charred top effect. There is no difference in the result when you know what you're doing.

    5 Replies
    1. re: peeder

      The oven temperature has an effect on the final characteristics of the crust. Some types of pizza crusts, like Pizza Napoletana, simply can't be achieved at temps. below 800°.

      Before you go pontificating about the actual operating temp. of commercial ovens and how 450° is just fine, I suggest you surf over to Jeff Varasano's website at < > and check out the pics of his pies cooked at home in an 800° oven and and spend some time reading the posts by Pete-zza, Varsano, and Pizzanapoletana, as well as pizza industry consultants SliceofSlomon (Evelyn Slomon, author of _The Pizza Book_) and Tom Lehmann (aka, The Dough Doctor) on the relationship between temperature, oven spring, crust texture, and tooth, and post some pics of your results at 450° showing you can get the same results.

      1. re: peeder


        commercial ovens get hotter than 500. coal/wood fired can get considerably hotter, especially if there's a bellows of some sort. here's one i found w/ a quick google...

        also, commercial ovens used in applications where they are frequently opened/closed generally are 3-phase, which heat up faster and hold more consistent temps.

        and if there is a convection fan, commercial ovens generally have a cut-off that stops the fan from pushing out the warm air when the door is open.

        pro equipment often exceeds the performance of residential. that said, pretty good pizza results can be produced in the home oven. i'm not sure that disabling the lock would help; most ovens will not reach cleaning temps unless the lock is activated. so, the lock would have to be modified to engage the cleaning cycle, but allow the door to open. dangerous? a little. worth it? not in my opinion, especially if the oven is under warranty (also note that if a fire is traced back to the oven, and it has been modified, the insurance company will just laugh at you). if you're that into making pizza, get a pizza oven.

        1. re: peeder

          i asked the pizza dudes at lombardi's (nyc) once about the temp of their coal-fired oven. they said the temp is always in the range of 800-900 degrees, give or take. these guys know from pizza. also, having worked in a restaurant for several years, it is absolutley true that commercial ovens run hotter than 500. a 700 degeree oven is the savior of many a line cook in the weeds.

          that being said, i have had good luck with my baking tiles if i crank the oven to 550. (The oven runs a little hot anyway, closer to 600 when it has been blasting for a while.) i don't think it is necessary to disable the lock. if the stone is preheated for a half hour and his dough is good, he should have good results. my pizza is better than any pizzeria, save lombardi's and totonno. crust is always nicely charred on the bottom but still chewy. i've never timed it, but my pizzas cook in under 5 minutes.

          1. re: laguera

            I noticed that Jeff, the Atlanta pizza guy in the link below said that a pizza took 20 minutes to cook in a 500 degree oven. Not in mine. With the stone, my pizzas come out in less than 5 minutes too.

            But they certainly don't have that beautiful, springy, hole-y crust he has.

            1. re: danna

              I'm fairly certain that the 20 min. Jeff mentioned is for high hydration (67%) dough made with Caputo 00 flour rather than all purpose flour at hydration levels specifed in typical pizza recipes (52-56%).

              At low temps—and for pizza baking, 500°F is low temp—Caputo 00 flour does take significantly longer to brown than all purpose and bread flour do.

        2. Umm, the yeast dies in a 450 degree oven too. The rising takes place outside the oven as far as yeast is concerned. What takes place in the oven is from steam trapped in all those lovely little pockets the yeast made.

          Wood fired ovens at home and in restos do get up to some pretty high temps due to their thermal mass. This speeds up the cooking dramatically.

          As far as disabling the safety interlocks to acheive this in a conventional oven, this just strikes me as such a bad idea.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Scrapironchef

            Not all the rising takes place outside the oven: the heat of of the oven cavity causes the yeast to give off one last burst of CO2 before it dies from the heat: a phenomenon called "oven spring."

            It's not steam that creates the air pockets: it's carbon dioxide given off by the yeast. If the oven temp. is too low when the dough goes in, the outer surface of the dough forms a skin (crust) that prevents the dough from rising before the yeast has been killed by the heat, i.e., no or poor oven spring.

            1. re: mclaugh

              I'm aware of that, I was just pointing out that the yeast are going to be killed at any oven temp. What takes place in the oven is not done by living yeast.

          2. I certainly would never open the door of an oven in the cleaning mode: I think the heat would produce instant burns.

            1. Unless he knows how to disable it himself, I doubt that he will be able to get anyone to do it for him, so it might be a moot question.

              5 Replies
              1. re: jillp

                ooooh he is planning to do it himself

                1. re: Candy

                  I can hear the insurance adjuster now...

                  1. re: Candy

                    I think you should be happy you have an MD who thinks for himself and is willing to go against conventional wisdom. I also think you should be happy you're not married to him. ;-)

                    1. re: danna

                      He is young enough to be my son and he is a great MD. He is often thinking outside the box. I am glad to have him.

                2. That is what I am trying to reconcile in my brain. The temperature is not really an issue vis a vis kitchen cabinetry etc, don't think he is in danger if setting the kitchen on fire. Most of us have self cleaning ovens. My MIL is the only person I know who is afraid to use the self cleaning feature and has never cleaned an oven that I know of manualy or electronicaly. It is opening the oven door at the elevated temperatures that really bothers me I guess. It realy makes me uneasy.