Author Topic: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations  (Read 2708 times)

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Offline pizzablogger

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"All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« on: February 08, 2010, 09:39:40 AM »
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)

« Last Edit: February 08, 2010, 11:22:34 AM by pizzablogger »
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell


Infoodel

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Important Safety Considerations
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2010, 09:59:50 AM »
You know what - between this and the umpteen people who have basically implied that my method is responsible for whatever mishap they have in their oven, I've decided not to proceed with this project any further.

I think my methods have been viewed in a totally unfair light.

Does oil catch fire? Sure it does. Does it create a serious risk in the oven - NO. I've had a few flames now and then - but nothing serious. They are easily extinguished and at no point posed a serious risk to either myself, the kitchen, or the oven. - The only possible victim being the stone (which has survived uncracked during all of this).

It's not like you're running a deep fat fryer and holding a torch to it.
With the exception of a couple of stones in earlier experiments (which I have detailed previously) I have never once broken a household appliance while making pizza.

But you believe what you want to believe. Apparently folks are perfectly fine with modifying their ovens Varasano style and creating the real risk of shattering glass. THAT is apparently OK. The guy himself has mentioned several times how he's broken household appliances. People also seem to be absolutely fine with running wood fired ovens and all the potential risks that those pose.

Anyway - do what you want. Go create the 'pizzablogger' method or whatever. Hold me responsible for whatever pizza mishaps - fine (as I understand it you took the pizza much closer to the broiler element that the 2.5" I stated).

I'm outta here.

Toby
« Last Edit: February 08, 2010, 10:05:15 AM by Infoodel »

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Important Safety Considerations
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2010, 10:27:28 AM »
Toby, I am not blaming you in the least for what happened in my oven!

I have offended you, and for that I sincerely apoligize.

I was certainly NOT trying to point fingers at anyone, least of all you who as a pizzamaker and, as employing this particular way to cook a pizza at home, I find to be highly inspirational. I also think more people need to be trying to utilize this method at home to make pizza[/i].

I am obviously planning to continue to tinker with this method and use it to make pizza at home.

My sole reason for the post is that the unexpected can give a scare to people. By having information, both positive results (which I posted last night, even if I killed the pistachios) and potential troubles along the road, more people may have a better expectation of some of the things which may occur, and therefore try it themselves.

Toby, the fire in my oven last night was pretty intense, even though it lasted only 30 seconds. And a wife seeing such a thing does not make the situation any calmer!  ;) :-[ :P

With that being said, I feel PEOPLE NEED TO TRY THIS COOKING METHOD AT HOME!

The only person I hold responsible is me. Last time I checked you did not fly over and tie my arm behind my back forcing me to try this myself (although a pint of bitter may have worked). I could give a crap about the "pizzablogger" method and have made a point of referencing you as the inspiration besides. There are many ways to cook a pizza, but for using Caputo 00 doughs at home, I feel this particular method is definitely worth a try and is safer than the self-cleaning hack. --K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

Offline hotsawce

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2010, 07:28:19 PM »
Toby-

  Relax. I think only one person in another thread implied it might have caused the oven to fire up.

My issue was the old element, which was sparking and not "on fire." It just went. I didn't even get my pizza in the oven!

   I think it's fine, and I really don't think you should go. People should, however, be aware that it requires caution...just like cooking anything else.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2010, 11:56:07 AM »
Sorry to see the miscommunication.  The broiler method IS safe and has been employed by many a members without issue.   As Toby mentioned, I have had a few sparks on top of the pie but nothing to worry about.   Pizzablogger, thanks for the warning so that newbs trying it can know what to expect if getting too close to the broiler. 
  As in dealing with any high heat situations, care should be taken.   I will agree that the broiler method is a wonderful alternative to an oven hack. 

Offline josteh

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2010, 03:10:51 PM »
I have used the "all-broiler" method for I donīt know how many years - and yes the dough catches fire sometimes if the cornicione is uneven and puffs up enough to touch the elements, but itīs no problem. Of course, anyone using this method I expect to sit tight by the oven and watch it carefully throughout the entire bake, as things happens quickly. Regarding the oil and smoke point, try putting the EVO on top afterwards, IMO the taste is better

Cheers!

j.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2010, 11:20:09 PM »
I'd like to try this, but I want to see if someone can answer my questions here. First and foremost, I have an electric.

Secondly, I don't really have anything to heat the stone on the bottom and move it to the top. How do you think it would fair if I put the stone under the broiler, but heated it on 550, which heats from the bottom for about an hour, and then let the stone heat up with the broiler on for another 30 or so minutes? Do you think the stone would retain enough heat that way?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2010, 09:17:20 AM »
hotsawce,

Will your broiler stay on constantly for the 30 minutes? Mine won't and that makes it difficult to control the application of heat to the pizza.

Peter

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2010, 09:50:03 AM »
I'd like to try this, but I want to see if someone can answer my questions here. First and foremost, I have an electric.

Secondly, I don't really have anything to heat the stone on the bottom and move it to the top. How do you think it would fair if I put the stone under the broiler, but heated it on 550, which heats from the bottom for about an hour, and then let the stone heat up with the broiler on for another 30 or so minutes? Do you think the stone would retain enough heat that way?

HS, I have no idea since I don't have an electric oven, so please try it out and let us all know. 

Peter, I never did properly answer one of your questions previously from another post.  I've been experimenting a lot with the broiler technique as you may know.  My broiler does NOT stay on constantly either as previously thought.  It does cycle off and on.  It doesn't seem consistent in the amount of time it stays on or off so timing the making and loading of the pie with the broiler is a difficult one.   The work around that I have found that works ( and this may or may not help you guys with electric ovens) is I preheat the stone directly under my top broiler for 30-45min.  The stone is about 1 inch away so it gets the stone nice and hot upto 900F especially if I put a round metal pan directly under the stone.  It seems to trap the heat in the stone better that way.  Helps with spinning the pie in the oven for an even bake and helps in transport to a different rack level if need be.
  I next move the stone 2 levels away from the broiler plate and lower the dial temp to 400 (this is where that pan comes in handy, I also use a double pair of welding gloves), to allow the stone to cool down to around 700F.  You need a thermogun to check the temps.  I usually have the door of the oven open for the last 30 seconds as the stone is cooling to purposely let heat out of the oven. This step is important for me as it will insure the broiler will kick on once I load the pie.  Also the oven temp has been cooling a bit since I turned down the dial a bit earlier to 400.   If I don't cool the oven these 2 ways there is no guarantee the top burner (broiler) will kick on once I load the pie.  Once I load the pie, I will turn the dial back up to 500 or broiler to get the burner to kick back on right away.  Now i have a pie sitting on a 750F stone and heat from above for even cooking.  You can vary the distance from the burner or broiler for desired brownness of crust and total cook time.
I need 2 things to happen to cook a pie fast.  A hot stone and a heat source from the top. 

HS if you have an electrical heating element on top, try this.  Preheat oven for 45 min at 500 to get the walls nice and hot.   Put your stone on a pan and move it up as close as you can to the element and turn oven to broil.    with a thermogun check temps every 5 mins and record.  That should give you an idea of how hot your stone can get up there.   Once you know how hot the stone can get and how long it takes, load your pie on the stone and move the stone about 1-2 levels down away from the top heating element and finish the bake using "broil" on the dial. 
  For example, if in your oven it takes 15 mins for the stone temp to reach 700, then load your pie 15 min after the stone has been sitting up near the broiler pad.  Again, then move the stone either right before loading or after (doesn't matter) to a lower level and bake.  Experiment and do let us know.

Sorry for the hijack.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 09:54:59 AM by Tranman »

Offline PizzaHog

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Re: "All-Broiler Cooking" Safety Considerations
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2010, 10:47:03 AM »
I'd like to try this, but I want to see if someone can answer my questions here. First and foremost, I have an electric.

Secondly, I don't really have anything to heat the stone on the bottom and move it to the top. How do you think it would fair if I put the stone under the broiler, but heated it on 550, which heats from the bottom for about an hour, and then let the stone heat up with the broiler on for another 30 or so minutes? Do you think the stone would retain enough heat that way?

Hey HS
I know you have been interested in diff baking techniques and how to get proper heat out of your oven, and there are too many of these methods out there to even count them all.
Not sure if this has been mentioned and don't wish to overstate but you may find it way helpful to pick up an IR thermometer and experiment with some dry runs in your oven.  Air temp and surface temp thermo's can also help and tend to be fairly cheap.  This can help establish a basic method, save a pie disappointment or two, and also help later when fine tuning.
This is the cheapest IR thermo I am aware of, the one I own, and after a year's use have no complaints.
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=6a448835eb679456f71bb3691d948462&topic=10873.msg97117#msg97117   
Sorry again if this is old news it's just that this made a huge diff for me...
Hog