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Nov 4, 2012 01:23 PM

Jury-rigging a bottom-element-only oven

Hello all

I just moved into a new apartment and the oven heats only from the bottom, with no top coil and no broiler. This makes it hard and annoying to get a good brown on top of pizzas, casseroles and roasts. I'm experimenting with lining the top with aluminum foil but results are inconclusive at this time. Does anyone have any tricks for getting top browning with this kind of oven?


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  1. I bet I haven't used the broiler on an oven more than five times in the past ten years. I suppose I really should figure out how to make use of it.

    My only suggestion is to raise the oven rack higher and turn the heat up.

    1. My suggestions are for pizza, but some - like cooking under a preheated baking stone for extra top-down radiated heat - can translate to things like casseroles as well, as long as they only need a few minutes worth of top-down heat and that heat can be applied at the beginning of cooking.

      The first thing that comes to mind is using two large baking stones (thick steel or cast iron sheets work just as well or better, btw). The idea is you preheat both in the oven, and then cook the pizza on the bottom stone with the second stone a few inches above it - the heat stored in the top stone will radiate down toward the pizza, decrease cooking time, and improve your results. You may find the best results by preheating the top stone on the bottom in order to get it extra hot and then switching em right before cooking (be very careful). But then again, it seems any pizzamaking you do in a home oven will require a good bit of tweaking and trial and error to get the most out of your specific oven - so try out a few different configurations.

      Also of note, I've heard of people getting better preheats on metal 'stones' using the stovetop in some cases.

      All that said, will probably have the best suggestions for you, since there are many people there really trying to stretch the capabilities of limited home ovens.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        If all else fails..use a blow torch it finish it off...... :)

        1. re: cowboyardee

          Man, that pizzamaking forum looks like an incredible black hole, into which thousands of productive hours can be poured and wasted hahaha. Thanks for the link, it looks really good.