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How would you make a better home pizza oven?

t
TVC15 Apr 16, 2011 12:20 PM

I've been making pizzas at home now and I'm having a little problem with heat distibution.
I have my stone on the bottom of my oven, heat it up for an hour at 550, but when I put in my pizza,
the bottom of the pizza cooks more rapidly than the top. I was thinking about getting a second stone and placing it on a rack in the middle of the oven. Do you think that would help with my problem?
Thanks

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  1. chefj RE: TVC15 Apr 16, 2011 12:25 PM

    The Idea of a Pizza stone is that the bottom cooks faster than the top.

    1. chefj RE: TVC15 Apr 16, 2011 12:26 PM

      And on that thought you could just skip the pizza stone entirely and just bake it on a sheet.

      1. ipsedixit RE: TVC15 Apr 16, 2011 12:28 PM

        but when I put in my pizza, the bottom of the pizza cooks more rapidly than the top.

        ___________________

        That's a good thing.

        Unless you are making a calzone, you want the crust to cook quicker than the toppings

        1. e
          escondido123 RE: TVC15 Apr 16, 2011 12:38 PM

          Maybe you don't need to heat it for so long. Half an hour is plenty with our stone.

          1. Bada Bing RE: TVC15 Apr 16, 2011 01:05 PM

            I find that putting my stone on the lowest rack setting works better than having the stone on the floor of my (gas) stove. My stove goes to about 550 degree F. If I totally preheat the stone on the floor, the bottom crust burns before the top cooks. I think it's best to preheat the stone 30 minutes at a minimum, preferably 45+

            But also keep in mind: different pizza dough recipes vary in their behaviors at high temp, so you ultimately need to find what works best for your preferred dough through experimentation. Good luck!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Bada Bing
              o
              ospreycove RE: Bada Bing Apr 16, 2011 01:14 PM

              a little "Brusca" on the crust is a good thing.

              1. re: ospreycove
                t
                TVC15 RE: ospreycove Apr 16, 2011 01:27 PM

                Sorry if i was a little unclear, but the the bottom burns before the top has a chance to get any color or ,if i'm making a pizza with cheese, before the cheese melts. I thought maybe a second stone would serve two purposes, help the top bake a bit quicker, and maybe increase the ovens overall temperature. Isn't a scalding hot oven the one of secrets to good pizza anyway?

                1. re: TVC15
                  r
                  rasputina RE: TVC15 Apr 16, 2011 01:55 PM

                  Move the stone up to a higher rack. I'd also make sure that your crust is thin enough and you don't have too many toppings. As pizza gets thicker it needs a lower temp to cook evenly through all that crust and topping. Super high heat makes awesome pizza but it needs to be thin crust and not a lot of toppings. I cook mine outside on a ceramic grill with a stone at 700+ dome temp.

                  1. re: rasputina
                    Woodfireguy RE: rasputina Apr 17, 2011 05:42 AM

                    +1. Where the stone is, is not the problem. For a better result with the same style pie the OP could try to use room temperature cheese. If there's meat like sausage, per-cook it. I think a thinner crust would also help.

                2. re: ospreycove
                  Bada Bing RE: ospreycove Apr 16, 2011 01:35 PM

                  Agreed. But I'm talking way more than a little!

              2. p
                pericolosa RE: TVC15 Apr 17, 2011 06:06 AM

                Different method sounds like it would help: prebaking the crust all by its lonesome. Then lay on the toppings and cheese and pop it back in or under the broiler for 5min to finish the top.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pericolosa
                  p
                  pine time RE: pericolosa Apr 18, 2011 01:22 PM

                  I do a version of this: "naked" crust gets about half-way baked, pull it out, add sauce/toppings, then bake again. Found this to be the best way for a crispy crust with no soggy middle areas.

                2. e
                  ESNY RE: TVC15 Apr 17, 2011 07:56 AM

                  Before buying a new stone, move your stone up a rack and see if that helps. It's also possible that your pizzas are too thick or you are adding too many toppings or you have too many wet toppings. Ay of those would prevent the top from cooking. How long do you cook your pie a for? At 550 degrees on a stone that is preheated for an hour, my pies take 6-8 minutes tops.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ESNY
                    t
                    TVC15 RE: ESNY Apr 17, 2011 07:23 PM

                    Hi. I don't overdo the toppings. In fact I'm very light on the amount of toppings i use.
                    My pizza leans toward thin, but not "cracker" thin. Lastly my pizzas cook in the same time as yours, 6 to 8 minutes. I feel the bottom is done in 4 to 5 minutes but the the tops still look so pale.

                    1. re: TVC15
                      ipsedixit RE: TVC15 Apr 17, 2011 09:09 PM

                      What toppings are you using?

                      Cheese and sauce, at those temps and times, will certainly be cooked. As would any veggies and what not.

                      1. re: TVC15
                        s
                        Surfwench RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 06:00 AM

                        as much as possible minimize 'moisture' in your toppings, raise your stone a bit, and try the initial bake, (4-5 minutes) on parchment paper with a 2 minute 'finish' directly on the stone. this formula works very well for my white pizzas in my cheap oven.

                        1. re: TVC15
                          e
                          ESNY RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 08:20 AM

                          Then unless your sauce/toppings are too wet (or are left too long on the raw dough before cooking), if you move your stone to either the bottom rack or even the middle of the oven, you should have better results.

                      2. Niki in Dayton RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 11:22 AM

                        Agree with everyone who suggested putting the pizza stone on a higher rack. I always used to put it on the bottom of the oven, but a recent Cook's Illustrated said the pizza cooks more evenly when the stone is on a middle rack, and that's been our experience. We make the pizza on parchment paper, then transfer the whole thing (including the parchment paper) onto the stone, and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes.

                        1. g
                          GutGrease RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 12:07 PM

                          Cooking pizza is pretty similar to baking cookies in my opinion. Watch it during the first batch, note how well it's cooking/baking, and make adjustments on the fly -- or in this case, the next time that you make a pizza. For you to hold on to some idealistic concept that you need to use a pizza stone or need to cook at 550 degrees is nuts. There have been some good suggestions here and I'd try every one of them before going to a second stone:

                          - move the stone to a higher rack or different spot in the oven
                          - don't use a pizza stone, use a pizza pan or something similar
                          - preheat the oven but don't preheat the stone as long
                          - try a lower overall temperature and slightly longer cooking time
                          - maybe try broiling for the last minute or two to get the right "colors" that you are looking for

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: GutGrease
                            Novelli RE: GutGrease Apr 18, 2011 12:21 PM

                            "preheat the oven but don't preheat the stone as long"

                            How does one do that without the risk of 'shocking' the stone and breaking it? Pizza stones need to be heated with the oven, from cold, to maintain the thermal mass and encourage better heat loss recovery.

                            To the OP...when you state the stone is on the bottom of your oven, does that mean it's physically on the oven floor? or on a rack in the lowest poistion? If on the floor, then it may be best to place the stone on a rack above the floor.

                            1. re: Novelli
                              t
                              TVC15 RE: Novelli Apr 18, 2011 01:29 PM

                              Yes, it is directly on the floor of the oven, not on the lowest rack.

                          2. r
                            Rella RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 01:02 PM

                            I've read the replies here to your query. Just want you to know that I do put a stone on the lowest rack and another on the highest rack in a cold oven. I set the temperature to 550, for at least 45 minutes, no less.

                            My crusts are neither very thin, nor very thick. I never over-cheese the pizza, nor do I over sauce the pizza.

                            One suggestion, why not do a pizza with the bare minimum of topping of sauce and cheese and see what you think about the doneness of the top of the pizza.

                            But, I see nothing wrong with placing a second stone on top.

                            1. Bada Bing RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 01:17 PM

                              More stone cannot hurt, I think, assuming that the second stone isn't so close over the top of the pizza that it affects moisture movements.

                              Many replies here suggest that you put fewer or different toppings on your pizza. That could be prudent if a certain crust effect is what you're after (esp. the spottily charred effect associated with wood-fired stone hearths). But it's totally legit to insist on the toppings you prefer, then trying to explore what dough and baking approach give you your desired effect.

                              I'll repeat my post from before, too: your dough recipe matters. Higher hydration doughs can take longer and higher heat before they begin to char. The only problem is that wetter doughs also require more care to avoid them sticking to the peel.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: Bada Bing
                                t
                                TVC15 RE: Bada Bing Apr 18, 2011 01:31 PM

                                I use Jim Leahys no knead pizza dough recipe. And I use topping very very sparingly.

                                1. re: TVC15
                                  Bada Bing RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 01:53 PM

                                  Should be very little problem of the top not cooking, then. Have you double-checked oven temp for accuracy?

                                  Unfortunately, not all oven thermometers go about 450 or so. But I recall when I moved from my previous place, where I was making screaming good pizzas in a gas oven, I found that my pizzas here were just not as good. Eventually I determined that my oven was about 70 degrees low when it said it was at 500. (There was an electronic appliance adjustment that helped me crank the temp up after that.)

                                  1. re: Bada Bing
                                    t
                                    TVC15 RE: Bada Bing Apr 18, 2011 02:03 PM

                                    My oven themometer read 535

                                    1. re: TVC15
                                      Bada Bing RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 02:08 PM

                                      Then I'm pretty confident at this point that you should try the pizza stone on the lowest rack, then move up experimentally, as need be. As I noted above, my crusts burn excessively on the bottom when the stone is on the floor of the oven, but they come out very well just one tick higher.

                                      1. re: Bada Bing
                                        t
                                        TVC15 RE: Bada Bing Apr 18, 2011 04:17 PM

                                        Agreed. This is my next move. After all, it's cheaper than getting a second stone.

                                  2. re: TVC15
                                    r
                                    Rella RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 03:20 PM

                                    I've tried using his recipe for my pizza dough, but so far I've not got it right. Do you divide the dough recipe in half after it has set overnight?

                                    And then, if so, do you let it set for about 1-1/2 hours before you start rolling it out into a pizza?

                                    1. re: Rella
                                      t
                                      TVC15 RE: Rella Apr 18, 2011 04:21 PM

                                      My dough sits 18 to 24 hours, then it is divided and let it rise another 2 hours. It is a tricky dough to work, it is very wet, but the texture and flavors are really good. I feel I just need to tweak the oven a bit

                                      1. re: TVC15
                                        r
                                        Rella RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 06:11 PM

                                        Thanks for the confirmation about the pizza dough.

                                        I really think you'll be OK with your problem with "bottom and top pizza dough done-ness" if you will take the stone completely off the bottom of the oven; try the stone at the lowest rack, and then if that doesn't work, then the next to lowest.

                                        However, I never have the trouble you are experiencing with a 550 oven with the stone on the lowest rack and heating for one hour.

                                        IMO, I don't believe it's pizza unless it's baked at the highest possible temperature in a home oven.

                                        Good luck. You have a lot of concerned and good advice here.

                                    2. re: TVC15
                                      e
                                      ESNY RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 06:53 PM

                                      Absolutely hated working with that dough. So hard to handle.

                                      1. re: ESNY
                                        t
                                        TVC15 RE: ESNY Apr 18, 2011 07:26 PM

                                        Yes it is tough, but I work with his bread dough so I've developed a light touch. I've tried other recipes but this one, for me, works the best

                                  3. a
                                    AdamD RE: TVC15 Apr 18, 2011 01:23 PM

                                    +1 on moving the stone up.
                                    I actually have to use the second highest spot when I cook pizza or bake.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: AdamD
                                      Zeldog RE: AdamD Apr 18, 2011 06:44 PM

                                      Yes, move the stone up to the middle rack or higher. As for adding a second stone, that's exactly what I do. Actually I put 3 or 4 refractory "split bricks" (which are 9" by 4 1/2" by 1 1/4" thick and cost much less than a baking stone) on the highest level. The bricks do make a difference, but putting the baking stone higher is the main thing. I've measured the stone and brick temperature using an infrared thermometer, and it takes a full hour for them to pass 500F (the max oven setting is 500F but the actual temp reaches 520F or so). Your oven and stone may be different, but be generous with the preheat time.

                                    2. Bryan Pepperseed RE: TVC15 Apr 19, 2011 06:14 AM

                                      The above suggestions regarding stone placement and quantity are probably what I would try first, but I would also consider moving the pie under a broiler towards the tail end of cooking.

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