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my pizza tastes great BUT......

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  • yum Jan 1, 2007 05:28 AM

the crust is too hard. everything on top is good, the store bought dough was pretty good too but the very bottom is almost rock hard. how do i make it so it's a nice crust that's crisp but not rock hard? i had the pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and on the highest temperature. was that the problem?

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  1. been making pies for 13 years. how close is your stone to the heating element. this may be your culprit. if the bottom is cooking so fast, the top may not get done. try different distances on your stone. we usually cook our stone-baked at around 550 degrees F.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cook.p.everett

      it's on the very bottom of the oven, not even on a rack..should i put the rack on the bottom level?

    2. How thick was the crust before baking?
      How long did the pizza take to cook?
      How thick of a stone are you using?
      What are the ingredients in the store bought crust?

      1 Reply
      1. re: scott123

        the only answer i have to that is, i cooked it for about 10-15minutes.. and it wasn't that big?

      2. Get a copy of Peter Reinhart's book, "American Pie, My Search for the Perfect Pizza."

        It's a two-parter with the 2nd part full of pizza baking recipes and methods. Pages 98-99 discusses the use of a baking stone.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChiliDude

          I totally agree. Anyone who has invested in a pizza stone should have this book. It is fantastic! It will raise your pizza making to a new level.

        2. Why are you using store bought dough.

          That is part of your problem, you have no control over your ingredients.

          However the pizzerias in Napoli (are there any better?)have incredibly hot ovens much hotter than 550 F. That is always one of the problems with domestic kitchens, we can't get our ovens hot enough.

          Two great chefs in this country (England) have a couple of different approaches to the problem...

          Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall thinks that the only way is to build your own clay oven. However if you don't have an open space it's a problem.

          Heston Blumenthal (recently named "Best Chef in the World") suggests that you turn on you grill/broiler and get it really hot, whike this is heating you put a large cast iron frying pan/skillet on a high flame leave both for about 20 mins to get incredibly hot. Construct your pizze, then place it on the base of the hot pan, and put the whole thing under the grill.

          The problem with this is you can really only do one an hour.

          However make your own dough and make sure that you have got the gluten really streched. Use Canadian Red Wheat strong flour or something similar. Shop bought dough uses the cheapest ingredients, and will not have a very high gluten content which is necessary for good pizze.

          1. Last month we had posted a link at the Home Cooking Forum http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349883 , to the very informative website by Jeff Verasano where he provides very detailed instructions for making perfect NYC style thin crust pizzas.

            It is possible that Varasano’s website and pizza making instructions might contain clues to your problem.

            1. 10-15 minutes is a long time for pizza unless you're talking about some kind of deep dish variety. I can't imagine cooking a pizza for more then 8 minutes - 10 would be if something went wrong.

              Perhaps you're not rolling it thin enough, or you have too many toppings, which is increasing your perceived cooking time.

              I agree with the notion of making your own dough, or picking it up from a pizza shop, rather than store bought. I suppose it could be good, but it's quite possible you're doing everything right, but have goofy dough.

              2 Replies
              1. re: GDSinPA

                I always cook my pizza for at least 10 minutes. Closer to 12. It's beautiful stuff. Very thin crust, only mozz/parm, pepperoni, and sauce (plus a few secret spices).

                But I do use an electric stove, and have not calibrated it. I set it for 500 degrees, but who knows...

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  We must be doing something different (not necessarily bad on either part). I was actually being generous giving it 8 minutes. If I cooked my pizza for 12 minutes, it would become a black cracker.

                  As it is, I usually get a slightly crispy crust and bubbling cheese (just starting to get color) right at 6 minutes. I set mine for the highest it will go - 550 - but it's a fairly new oven and I've never calibrated either - maybe it's getting even hotter than that.

              2. I bake my pizzas on quarry tiles in the lowest level in the oven.
                I place the other oven rack about 4 " from the broiler. When
                the pizza crust just begins to get color I move it to the broiler
                rack and turn on the broiler. That way the top is complete done,
                bubbly and slightly browned. You have to watch it closely so it
                doesn't burn. I usually watch it with the oven door open. It
                doesn't take much time at all under the broiler, usually 2 to 3
                minutes. This is with scratch bake homemade pizza crust.

                1. Has anyone tried the pizza dough recipe in the November/December 2006(I think or maybe it was September/October) issue of Cook's magazine? I have never made my own pizza dough but I'm gearing myself up to trying that recipe.

                  Whenever I have made pizza I haven't been at all happy. I push out the crust in a greased jelly roll pan and put my toppings on baking it in a cranked oven with a pizza stone on the bottom. I try to keep the dough relatively thin and the toppings light but so far I get no crispness at all. The one time I tried to place the pizza on the stone directly with the aid of a wooden peel I had a disaster in my oven.

                  I've been improving the results bit by bit but it's still nothing to invite people over to try. Any hints would be gratefully accepted.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: KingsKetz

                    I always place my dough on a very thin, floured aluminum cookie sheet, then dress it with sauce/toppings, then place the cookie sheet directly on top of the pizza stone. I had similar disasters as you, and stopped trying to slide the pizza directly onto the stone.

                    Works a treat. Trust me. Great pizza.

                    1. re: uptown jimmy

                      This will only work well with a perfectly flat cookie sheet. If the sheet is slightly warped, the part touching the stone will get a lot hotter than the portion that's insulated by a pocket of air.

                      Plus, there is the prevalent theory that the porous stone draws moisture out of the dough and creates a better crust. With aluminum, porosity is not a factor.

                      1. re: scott123

                        Yeah, I figured something like this. Hard to get that pie off the sheet and onto the stone, though.

                  2. Yum,
                    You guessed right. The problem is you put the stone on the very bottom of your oven. The pizza is cooking from the bottom up, so by the time the top is done the bottom is a rock. Just move it up a level or two, depending on how your oven is designed (others may have their own preference, but I say try to keep it about 1/4 to 1/3 from the bottom of the oven). And as others have recommended, make it hot. 450 is the absolute minimum. 500 works for me.

                    And don't worry about using store bought dough. It may not be the absolute best, but it's good enough most of the time.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Zeldog

                      so, just checking...maybe put the rack on the third level( i have a small oven, so..the lowest rack?) and cook at 500?

                    2. I have an exposed element, so I can only put the stone on the rack set on the lowest setting. I've never had a problem with my crust being anything but perfect. I bake at 500, preheating the stone for an hour first.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: personalcheffie

                        Preheating is a must. An hour is not excessive.