Author Topic: How do I get a charred base?  (Read 1099 times)

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Offline pizzaNak

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How do I get a charred base?
« on: March 17, 2011, 12:00:39 PM »
How do I get a charred base like Jeff Varasano pizza bases without breaking or tricking my oven into a cleaning cycle?

Any help would be great.



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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 01:16:23 PM »
PizzaNak, what is your oven's peak temperature?  Is is electric or gas? 

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2011, 01:24:51 PM »
Get your pizza stone to super high temperatures. Using a cleaning cycle makes it much easier to do, so maybe sometimes youll consider that. Until then, what are you doing now to get your oven and stone as hot as possible?

Offline pizzaNak

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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2011, 01:50:46 PM »
Hi there thanks for the replies. My oven is just a standard electric oven in the UK, it goes up to 300° I think. I've tried pizza stones
and they don't work. I've tried putting my pizza stone in the oven for an hour then cooking the pizza for 8 minutes. Any longer and it comes out more like a buscuit, hard all the way through and the base just looks white.

I was thinking about trying the Heston Blumenthal method of cooking the base on a skillet then under the grill. Anyone else tried this method?

Offline GuzziJason

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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2011, 02:14:10 PM »
300ēC should be sufficient to get a decent browned crust. You might not get the extremely charred blisters that the cleaning cycle temps would provide, but it certainly shouldn't look white on the bottom after 8 min.

Few thoughts:

- make sure your stone is close to the bottom of the oven, near the heating elements - stone should get more heat this way, and get the best bottom-crust browning (the flip side to this is that you may get less heat on the top of your pizza due to being at the bottom of the oven)
- don't use too much flour when forming your pizza, or if you use flour on a peel to get your pizza in the oven. Too much flour on the surface of the dough, and it won't brown properly
- Do you use oil/sugar in your dough? Both can help with browning - oil especially when it is present on the outside surface of the dough

With that said, I'm not sure you'll ever get the sort of charring and blistering that your after unless you resort to alternative methods (but you should certainly be able to get a browned crust, I would think).


Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2011, 02:15:43 PM »
pizzanak,  is your flour malted?  doesnt sound like it -marc


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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2011, 03:35:41 PM »
PizzaNak, if your oven does, indeed, go to 300 C, you can achieve identical results to Jeff Varasano without oven tricks- if you've got the right stone. Two stone materials will give you the char you're looking for- 1.25" thick soapstone and 1/2" thick steel plate.  Steel plate is cheaper and easier to track down, so that's what I recommend. Here's a link to a pizza with excellent char that was baked for 3.5 minutes @ 276 C (530 F) on 1/2" steel plate:

Steel plate

The kind of char you're looking at for a Varasano-ish bake occurs between 2 and 3 minutes.  With 300 C and 1/2" steel plate, you should have no problems achieving this.  Make sure it's 300 C, though.  If it's 275 or less, then you'll want to proceed a bit differently.

The Heston Blumental method browns the top fairly well, but it will never give you the kind of char on the undercrust of a Varasano pizza.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 03:43:36 PM by scott123 »

Offline chickenparm

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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2011, 01:14:34 AM »
You cannot always see it in the pictures,but this was a fantastic NY style pie I made recently.I cooked this around the 550 degree F range for about 6-8 minutes,on a stone.See the link below for the pictures.

Is the crust char what you are looking for in the pics on the link below?Using a little oil and sugar helps to brown the bottom and crust better,at least for me.I cannot get my oven that HOT,as some of you can.

Also,The dough recipe was using KABF(King Arthur Bread Flour at 60% hydration,using the Lehmann's dough recipe/calculator from this forum)

16 inch,KABF,60 % hydro

Flour (100%):    342.55 g  |  12.08 oz | 0.76 lbs
Water (60%):    205.53 g  |  7.25 oz | 0.45 lbs
IDY (0.4%):    1.37 g | 0.05 oz | 0 lbs | 0.45 tsp | 0.15 tbsp
Salt (2.0%):    6.85 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.23 tsp | 0.41 tbsp
Oil (2.0%):    6.85 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.52 tsp | 0.51 tbsp
Sugar (2.0%):    6.85 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.72 tsp | 0.57 tbsp
Total (166.4%):   570.01 g | 20.11 oz | 1.26 lbs | TF = 0.1

My pizza was shaped into a 15 inch,as best as I could,keeping it under 16 inch. I know the recipe was for 16 inch,but I kept it a little shorter so it would match my 15 inch stone and not be too big and fall off the sides.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2011, 01:16:54 AM by chickenparm »

Offline ponzu

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Re: How do I get a charred base?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2011, 01:55:13 AM »
Put your stone on the highest level of the oven.  Crank the broiler at the highest temp for a good long preheat (45 minutes.)  you'll get charring.

My method is well documented in th Pizza Sputnick thread on the neapolitan board, but there are earlier and better threads on true neapolitan clones with lots of charring, like foolish poolish's nearlypolitan thread, and Jackie Tran's nearly WFO-politan thread.

I consider my current pies to be very NY elitish in that they cook for about 3 minutes and are crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  They also definately have char.

Good Luck.