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Homemade Pizza at super-hi heat: it works

I've been making pizza myself for a long time with decent results cooking with the typical instructions. Then I heard Peter Reinhart on NPR talking about his book. He said to cook any pizza - homemade, frozen store bought, leftovers - at a really high temp. In fact, he said to go as high as your oven would go.

So, after this, I started inching up the temp - first to 425, then 450, etc. I was worried about going much higher. OK, I'll be honest, my wife was holding me back - figuring there's no way it would get done evenly. We were both worried that I might burn the outside of the crust or cheese.

For no particular reason I cranked my oven up to 550 this time, and let it get good and hot. Wow, what a difference! I used the same recipe and I ended up with the best pizza I've ever had.

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  1. If you dig around for great pizza recipes (as everyone who has bought a pizza stone is wont to do) you'll find a lot of advice on how to disable the lock for your oven's self-cleaning cycle to get it REALLY hot.

    My oven is a low-tech non-cleaning gas version which only goes to 500, and my method is to set it as high as I can and leave it there for at least an hour. Not gas-budget-friendly, but it does produce the closest thing to a NY style crust that I've managed.

    1. I bake mine at 550 F. I also use a stone that live in my oven. Stone on lowest rack, pre-heat the oven & stone for at least 45 mins before baking pizza. I make a rather soft pizza dough that is quite sticky so i form it on parchment. I slide the pizza on the parchment on to the stone with my peel and after about 7-8 mins. I can remove the parchment. It makes great crisp crust.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Ditto, almost in it's entirety. My tiles sit on the floor, not on the lowest rack. And I totally agree that a rather soft dough makes a superior crust. But--I've tried putting the dough on parchment and find that it burns onto the bottom crust and is a pain in the neck to scrape off. Do you ever have that problem? I've read that some people bake the crust for a few minutes just to stiffen it up before slipping the peel between the crust and the parchement and removing the parchment, but that just seems like such a pain. In the end, I nearly always use lots and lots of cornmeal. It makes a mess of the oven, but it does (usually) keep the dough from sticking and I kinda like the added crunch.

        Any special tricks you use to keep the parchment from burning? to be able to remove it in one piece?

        1. re: JoanN

          I've had no trouble with parchment but I stretch the crust pretty thin, so by the time the parchment is blackening the pizza's done. Not sure it would work with a thicker crust.

      2. That's what I do, too!

        I turn the dial as high as it will go, and the pizza comes out great, plus the pizza only takes about 10 min to cook.

        1. I have perfected the ability to make thick crust (+/-1")pizza, and still get a crispy crust. The oven must be as hot as possible(500F) and the stone must be allowed to come to max temperature (at least 45 minutes), the crust must be blind baked for 5 minutes before it is topped.
          The extra baking time gives the thicker crust the time needed to bake, and the blind baking allows the crust to start to form before the wet toppings are applied. It is also much easier to handle the crust with a peel once it has firmed up. If you don't have a peel, you do as as Candy said, but I have found that a lightly coated,rimless cookie sheet will also suffice.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Kelli2006

            That's the way I do it, too. I usually check in during the 'blind bake' and pop any bubbles that are coming up.

            1. re: Kelli2006

              Aye, I do the "blind baking" as well.. just about 3 minutes or so on the stone. Before I got my peel, it was the only way I had to keep from ruining my pizza as I put it in the oven. Boy, would that make me mad when it happened.

              I don't use my stone (actually, it's a floor tile) for the actual baking with toppings though... I figured it's mainly there to keep the oven from losing heat when I'm opening the door. I bake it on one of those perforated pie pans.

              And yes, high temp = win.

              1. re: Kelli2006

                When you say "thick crust" are you referring to a "Chicago Pizza type???

                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  It will work in a deep-dish Chicago style, but I can make a American "Pizza Hut"/foccicia style, thicker crust as well.

              2. I always cook on the pizza stone after heating the oven at 500 for an hour.