Author Topic: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all  (Read 7663 times)

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Offline getchai

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bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« on: May 13, 2012, 01:44:28 AM »
I am having trouble getting my pizza to brown as I want.

The oven I am using is a Cusinart TOB-195. The only oven I could find that goes up to 500*F. http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-TOB-195-Toaster-Broiler-Stainless/dp/B000PYF768/?tag=pizzamaking-20

The pizza stone I am using is an Emile Henry Pizza Stone. I had a Williams-Sonoma giftcard... I have the 10inch model. http://www.emilehenryusa.com/Pizza-Stone-Figue-plu377514.html

Here is the problem. My crust never reaches a nice browning and the bottom barely does. Before it browns the cheese is bubbling way too much and I take it out because I don't want to burn the cheese. When cooking I have experimented with the rack placement.

1. Rack and stone were on bottom shelf. Stone preheated to ~610*F. After cooking the bottom of the pizza had a burnt ring around it and a few random nicely browned spots around it. The rest was cooked but not browned. The crust had a few small tiny brown spots. (This time I did not oil the crust prior to cooking)

2. Rack and stone were in middle shelf. Stone preheated to ~550*F. I turned on the broiler after putting in the pizza and this ended up with a not so browned bottom and not so browned

The bottom of my pizzas never have a uniform brown. It is always as though my dough is slightly uneven on the bottom and only a few parts actually touch the stone turning brown.

I was thinking about buying a pizza pan and cooking in that. A great pizza place back home uses pans and they always have a very nicely browned crust and bottom. I am thinking maybe the fast paced cooking that comes from stones is not the type of style I want.

The question here is that would cooking in a pan for a much longer time, still the 500*F temperature, be likely to produce a uniformed brown crust and bottom? Also what temperature should wait for the stone to heat up for before placing the pizza in? Usually I've been waiting about 45 mins which has the temp in the upper 500s.


buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2012, 09:17:00 AM »
I have a couple of questions. Does your recipe have sugar in it? It could be upping the sugar will help with browning. What style of pizza are you seeking to bake? I have a Hamilton Beach and have found a thin and crispy pie works the best in it with about a ten minute bake time on a 1/4" thick steel plate.
Don

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2012, 12:10:56 PM »
I have a couple of questions. Does your recipe have sugar in it? It could be upping the sugar will help with browning. What style of pizza are you seeking to bake? I have a Hamilton Beach and have found a thin and crispy pie works the best in it with about a ten minute bake time on a 1/4" thick steel plate.
Don

Yea my dough always has sugar in it. It has varied between 0.5% and 3%. Most of the pizzas I have done are NY style (thickness 0.1). What temperature are you cooking at with the Hamilton Beach? It's funny, I have a Hamilton Beach 31197R next to me but I bought the Cuisinart mainly because it reaches 500.

buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2012, 01:24:23 PM »
I have measured 450 with my IR gun on my copper plate/sheet but that's it, it's maxed out. It may be you need a more conductive stone than what you have now such as a steel plate low in the oven then transfer the pizza to under the broiler to finish. It's that or be content with an extended bake, over twelve minutes to get sufficent browning but at the cost of drying the rim out.
Don

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2012, 10:12:09 PM »
Thank you buceriasdon. I've been looking for for a while now at cast iron/steel plates and are having trouble finding one that would fit my 12x12 oven. Do you have any recommendations? Also you preheat your plate, correct? I've been reading that people just get their plates from a metal supplier but I'd prefer to find something online.

edit: I've found this but I think it's definitely too thin (1.5mm) and would only work if the pizza could be cooked without a preheat. I wonder since it will be cooking for around 10 minutes. http://bit.ly/JV9N0P
« Last Edit: May 14, 2012, 01:13:02 AM by getchai »

buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2012, 08:58:32 AM »
I would look in the yellow pages for a metal supply and ask them to cut you a piece of 3/8" hot rolled steel to the size needed. this saves on shipping costs. Yes, I preheat my plates.
Don


Thank you buceriasdon. I've been looking for for a while now at cast iron/steel plates and are having trouble finding one that would fit my 12x12 oven. Do you have any recommendations? Also you preheat your plate, correct? I've been reading that people just get their plates from a metal supplier but I'd prefer to find something online.

edit: I've found this but I think it's definitely too thin (1.5mm) and would only work if the pizza could be cooked without a preheat. I wonder since it will be cooking for around 10 minutes. http://bit.ly/JV9N0P

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2012, 12:59:52 AM »
Thank you.

When cooking for ~10 minutes how do you not burn the cheese? Is it that much different at 450*F? I tried today cooking at 500*F on a screen but the cheese was starting to burn after a few minutes. I'm using part skim which I know contributes to the problem. Do you also have some type of stone or steel on a rack above the pizza?

I would look in the yellow pages for a metal supply and ask them to cut you a piece of 3/8" hot rolled steel to the size needed. this saves on shipping costs. Yes, I preheat my plates.
Don



buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2012, 08:31:25 AM »
Ok, Have you tried prebaking the skin and then topping? Given what you have told me that may be the next thing to try.

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2012, 02:23:18 PM »
Thanks buceriason. I just made a pizza trying the prebake with just the skin and tomato sauce. I was too caught up with trying to do it as most people I never thought of how I could get it done. It worked really well getting the bottom crispy. I did not time it right, so I ended up with an almost too crispy bottom and fairly uncooked top. But it was better than the usual. The crust still didn't brown but atleast the bottom did!


buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2012, 03:41:22 PM »
So now perhaps you could move the pizza under the top elements to finish the top bake? I think we are getting closer, the underskirt looks great. Have you tried spraying the edge with Pam?
Don

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2012, 04:55:38 PM »
I haven't tried spraying with Pam. I would move the pizza but I only have one rack in the oven, I'm going to look online for another one. I'm about to make a few test doughs and will test out the Pam.

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 12:23:30 AM »
Alright so I'm not sure this will work as well as I thought. I just experimented with two dough balls.

The first one was just a skin with no tomato sauce. I took it out after it began to warp to one side a lot. It was on it's way to being a calzone.  

The second one I threw the skin in with tomato sauce and Pam. I was pleasantly surprised to see a good amount of crust browning. This time when I put the cheese on I kept the oven on bake. I took it out once the cheese on the edges began to burn. Again the inside of the pizza looks uncooked. I think I put in a little too much cheese but I don't think it was the only problem.

When I cook without tomato sauce the dough warps (that has happened before today). When I cook with, I feel like the tomato sauce and cheese is not becoming as "one" as it would be if they were both cooking initially.

I'm still looking around locally for a place to buy the steel plate. Do you think that may solve both problems? So close...

buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2012, 06:14:17 AM »
Another trick to try is to find a lid or plate or even cut a cardboard circle to create a form to make a aluminum foil basket to hold beans in as a baking weight the size required. Lay the form in the center of the foil and fold up the edges to create a wall to hold the beans in. Form your pizza skin, set the foil in the center and add the beans, parbake then lift the foil and beans off, sauce, cheese, top and bake as usual. Pie makers use this trick. A more permanent baking weight can be formed from those throw away aluminum baking molds although foil conforms a bit better.
Don

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2012, 10:43:26 PM »
I've made a few more pizzas since my last post. I forgot to take pictures. Anyways the bottoms have been great. I have been trying to get the crust to brown without cooking the skin first. I've experimented with 2% sugar, oil on crust and PAM on crust. None of them really work. I have a steel plate that is 3/8" I am just waiting to sand it and clean it.

I am curious, why is this happening in the first place? Is it because the oven is so small, the heat from the top coils is cooking the cheese too fast? Maybe the way small ovens distribute heat? I feel like I have read that other people cook at 500*F in larger ovens and are able to get few minute pies with crust browning. I know a place with great pizza that cooks at 500*F, they use a conveyor oven on aluminum pans. Maybe they achieve it with a high bottom heat and low top heat?

buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2012, 07:22:56 AM »
Have you considered changing your brand of cheese?

Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2012, 10:11:54 PM »
Yea I have used a few different types. My options are limited since I keep kosher. The ones I generally use are Miller's or HaOlam. I've also tried Natural & Kosher and Cappiello. All except Cappiello are skim milk. I've thought about making my own cheese. Ingredients wise the difference between Kosher cheese and not Kosher cheese is the rennet used. I've heard it's not worth the effort so I am still on the fence about it. Since my selection is limited are there characteristics of the cheese I should look for that are best for pizza?

buceriasdon

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2012, 09:04:38 AM »
Although it will change the flavor profile, for the sake of experimenting, try sauce last.


Offline getchai

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2012, 04:53:02 PM »
I'm back! I have tried many things since I last posted and I found something that works well: PAM. Everywhere.

After dressing a pizza, cheese and all, I spray the cheese and crust with spray oil. The one I use is canola oil based. The cheese takes a very long time to burn... long enough that the crust begins to burn first.

A disadvantage is I don't get ANY burn spots. A few small ones would be nice for the texture/taste. Regardless it is incomparable to the pizzas of before. An interesting note is that the pizza has that texture too it. I do not if there is a name for it, but it looks like a bunch of small holes throughout the cheese.

A few pictures are below. The first one is a cracker crust and the second is a first try at a Greek style.

Offline slybarman

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2012, 12:09:29 PM »
Thank for the thread. I have been battling this same issue and have tried some of the same things as you.

Offline petef

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2012, 09:25:41 PM »
Ditto.. Thanks for the thread! I am having a similar problem and I'm going to try 3 basic changes;

1.) More salt to reduce the yeast from consuming all the sugar during my 24 hour cold ferment.

2.) More sugar to aid in the browning.

3.) More olive oil to aid in the browning and give a more tender bottom crust.


Try what I did. Buy some store bought frozen dough (or from local pizza shop) which has the right ingredients that brown properly. Use it to test your oven & stone setup. See pic below. I bought Landolfis frozen pizza dough which has excellent bottom crust browning properties. It proves my oven and stone are capable of browning properly. Pic shows how my dough compares. Then work from there to improve your own dough.



Offline slybarman

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2012, 09:29:56 PM »
Interesting photo. Is the Landolfis dough made with bromated flour?

Offline petef

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2012, 09:44:59 PM »
Interesting photo. Is the Landolfis dough made with bromated flour?

I have no idea of the way Landolfis dough is made. I can tell you, it's a very heavy and dense dough. Once initially thawed it has the feel of modeling clay. It's much heavier and dense than my homemade dough. It does not rise much when left at room temp for 4 to 6 hours but it does become quite soft and extensible. My guess is that it has a lot of oil. To my surprise, once baked, it does rise a bit and makes for decent pizza.

---pete---

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2012, 09:49:42 PM »
This is how I do it in the kitchen oven, it is a bit more work, but I do not like pale undercooked crust.  Use a high heat oil like sesame on the pan, liberally. Brush the crust (outer edge not covered by sauce and cheese) with a low heat oil like EVOO or even butter in extreme cases (if I had to use butter, I would use garlic butter).  Start with almost frozen cheese, refrigerated sauce and ingredients, on a pan, lowest rack at the highest temp your oven will go.  I do not preheat more than a couple of minutes because I want the element red hot.  Cook it for 3-4 minutes then move it to the top shelf and crank the broiler element to high for another 1-3 minutes without the pan.

Offline JimmyG

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2012, 10:21:54 PM »
Getchai,
I guess a couple thoughts come to mind that you could try next time. 1.) you could try reduce the amount of sauce you are applying to your dough. If your dough is too thin and your sauce is too heavy, most of the heat in your stone will diffuse through the crust and cook the sauce rather than the crust. 2.) you could try a slightly thicker dough to compensate for the sauce, 3.) you could try freezing your cheese, giving the sauce and crust a little more time to cook before the cheese fully melts and begins to brown. 
Jim
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: bottom not fully browning, crust not at all
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2012, 09:32:09 AM »
Maybe its time to begin looking at the dough itself? The way the dough is made can/will have an influence on the way it bakes and more specifically, browns. Remember, acid (low pH) inhibits the browning reaction. Fermentation produces acids as a byproduct, so as the dough ferments, it becomes more acid. Have you ever noticed how white a sourdough bread or roll is? Acidity. Is there a possibility that you have over fermented your dough? A good way to find out is to look at your dough management procedure (everything that happens to the dough between mixing and baking) but will also include the use of a sponge, poolish, starter or sour). High dough temperature will also greatly increase the rate of fermentation (80F is a good starting point for dough temperature). If you want to measure the pH of your dough as it is ready for the oven, go to the drug store and buy some litmus paper for use in the 4 to 5 pH range. Then take a couple ounces of your dough and put it into a blender with a cup, or s, of distilled water. Puree well, pour off into a clean glass and allow to stand for 3 to 5-minutes, decant off some of the cloudy water from beneath the sludge floating on top into a shot glass, dip the litmus paper into the liquid in the shot glass and compare the color to the color guide provided with the litmus paper and this will provide you with the pH of your dough. You should be looking for something not any lower than 4.2. If the pH is lower than 4.2 you are in the realm of a sourdough and will need much higher temperatures to bake the dough to the color you want. A good pH to shoot for is around 4.5 to 5.0 for your application.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


 

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