I'm not sure if this has been mentioned here, but I wanted to mention several items after the scare I had last night.
Inspired by Toby's beautifully leoparded crusts in his Nearlypolitan thread (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10024.0.html
, I have revisited attempting to make pizzas in my oven using doughs comprised of only Italian "00" flour, namely the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour. Previous attempts with the Caputo 00 were decent, but left me wanting for much more. With Mrs. Blogger adamantly opposed to clipping locks for the Self-Cleaning Cycle hack, I resigned myself to using a mix of 50-50 Caputo and another flour, mainly KABF. However, Toby got me tinkering with cooking using only the broiler during cooking of a pizza.
I plan on posting a more detailed thread on set-up considerations you may want to consider, but using the broiler will most likely necessitate cooking your pizzas in closer proximity to the broiler. This leads to some safety issues which need to be addressed after a somewhat scary moment I had last night.
To begin, most Neapolitan pizzas, whether traditional or neo-influenced pizzas, are dressed with some type of oil (usually EVOO or some type of seed oil) before firing the pizzas. While wood and coal fired pizza ovens reach very high temperatures, they do not require having most, if not all, of the surface area of the pizza placed in very close proximity to the flame/heat source. For this reason, it is critical to realize issues like the smoke, flash and fire points of oils.
A smoke point
of an oil is the temp at which the oil begins smoke and to break down into glycerol and free fatty acids. Interestingly enough, Cooking For Engineers notes putting an oil past its smoke point releases free-radicals which contribute to risk of cancer. And the traditional extra-virgin olive oil has a relatively low smoke point of about 405°F. You can see a chart here (http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/50/Smoke-Points-of-Various-Fats
The flash point
is the lowest temperature at which an oil (or fat) can vaporize and form an ignitable mixture in air
. For instance, canola oil has a flash point of 620°F
The fire point
is apparently the temperature at which an oil will continue to burn after ignition for at least 5 seconds.
Depending on your oven, broiler and set-up, you may very likely be exposing the oil on the pizza to temperatures which are at or past the fire point of the oil.
It appears salt and potentially the dough (batter is mentioned as affecting oil flash and fire points) impact these points.
Still, I know for a fact both Toby and I have had our pizzas themselves and/or our stones catch on fire. Last night, tooling around with leaving the broiler on for a lengthy period of time before firing the pizzas, a simple marinara (with EVOO added just prior to placing the pizza on the stone) caught on fire. Looking closely through the oven door window, I clearly saw EVOO spray upward and outward, land on the stone and immediately
catch on fire before igniting in the air as well. In previous instances these flames would extinguish quickly. Last night, most of my entire upper oven rack was on fire for approximately 30 seconds, which caused significant smoking and fear of damage.
This would be especially critical to be aware of in advance for any ingredients (such as fresh kale) that require some period of soaking/marinating/brining in olive oil before topping and firing the pizza in order to mitigate burning of the topping ingredient in question (particularly in this broiler set-up with the flame so close to the pizza).
So, it is important to consider just how close you want to put the pizza to the broiler and it would behoove people trying this method to have a fire extinguisher on hand. On a positive note, the fire indicates that my pizza stone and the upper section of my oven are most likely at least 700°F, if not hotter, while cooking this way.
I am concerned with the potential health issues of smoking points, but after the fire I re-tooled and adjusted my set-up and apparently have now "cracked", at least initially so, a way to properly cook a pizza in my oven using nothing but the broiler and without having it quite so close to the flame. More later, but try to anticipate these issues in advance when tinkering with using your broiler to cook pizzas and be safe!
Some additional information:
All About Cooking Oils (http://missvickie.com/howto/spices/oils.html
Another smoke point chart on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point