Author Topic: stone and pie placement  (Read 5069 times)

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Offline joshua

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stone and pie placement
« on: May 19, 2005, 12:11:25 PM »
There seems to be as many methods of cooking as there are members on this forum so I'd like to get anyone
that would be willing to detail their methods. i.e. stone placement from bottom of oven to whether or not you use the broiler and what temps work best for you. It would be great to have a "profile" if you will of what methods produce what kind of coloration, crispness, ect. all under one post for easy access. You don't have to make it a long post, just something like "i place my stone on the lowest rack and i preheat to 550 for one hour, then i turn the broiler on after i put the pie in the oven and cook for 5 minutes." Thanks people! This forum is the best!


Offline joshua

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2005, 12:16:37 PM »
one more question. I though of this a second ago. Has anyone tried covering one of their racks with foil and placing it in the middle rack above your pizza to create a radiant barrier that reflects heat back down onto the pie?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2005, 12:45:35 PM »
Joshua,

Welcome to the forum. I like your idea about collecting in one place the baking techniques used by our members.

For my NY style pizzas, I typically use a stone that has been placed on the lowest oven rack position of my oven. I preheat the stone at my oven's highest temperature--around 500-550 degrees F--for at least an hour. Sometimes I also use a second stone, which I place at the top oven rack position. This creates a somewhat better heat mass in the oven. If the pizza crust requires greater top browning, I usually move the pizza from the lower stone to the upper stone and use the broiler, which I turn on about 3 minutes into the bake process. Sometimes I dispense with the top stone and put the pizza directly on the upper oven rack and use the broiler.

When I make pizzas bigger than my stone can handle (14 inches), I use a pizza screen. For me, it is usually a 16-inch screen. Sometimes I place the pizza on the screen on the upper or middle rack position and bake it there until the crust starts to turn brown, and then move the pizza onto the pizza stone on the lowest oven rack position to get better bottom crust browning (my experience with screens is that the bottom crusts don't brown as well as on a stone--at least in my oven). I sometimes will bake the pizza on the screen right on the pizza stone and slide the pizza onto the stone (using a metal peel) as soon as I can (as soon as the pizza crust firms up) to get more of the benefits of using the stone.

I think you will discover that there is a fair amount of art involved in baking pizzas. The trick is to get everything done at the same time, from top and bottom crust browning to cooking everything on top of the pizza without burning or undercooking the toppings. The more toppings, the more difficult this is to achieve. Ovens differ widely, so you will have to learn the idiosyncrasies of yours and how to overcome them.

Peter

« Last Edit: May 19, 2005, 12:48:00 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2005, 03:17:05 PM »
Joshua, I have'nt done the foil radiate thing above the pie BUT, I have used foil to go around a round pizza stone to hold heat below the stone. In other words you place the stone on the rack then spread foil around the exposed area blocking the heat from going above. I only used to do this with a an oven where I had two...one was a large regular size below then there was a smaller oven above..I did this in the smaller oven and it got the stone a lot hotter than when the heat escaped around the sides. This was explained in a book I had purchased...the name exscapes me but his first name was "Dom DeAngelis" something like that...I think Peter would know the book I'm referring to. He goes into detail on modifying your home oven..

Online Pete-zza

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2005, 03:42:58 PM »
MTPIZZA,

You have the name right. The book is reviewed at the front page of the forum, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/pizza_books.html. Remember, buying books using the links at the book review section of this site gets a little bit of revenue for Steve to help pay the bills for running the site.

Peter

Offline LeeB

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2005, 09:30:24 AM »
Joshua,
  What I have been doing is putting the pizza stone on the bottom rack and pre-heating to 500 deg. for about 15 minutes.  I then put a second stone on the middle rack to act as a radiant barrier.   I know I should pre-heat longer but I figure once the oven says it has reached the desired temperature, I'm asssuming that the stone and everything in there should be at that temp.    I then put the pizza on the bottom stone and cook for 10 minutes.

My next go around I think I am going to heat the oven to 550 deg. and change the cooking time to 8 minutes.

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2005, 10:43:49 AM »
LeeB,

You shouldn't assume that your ambient oven temperature (what the knob setting says) is the same as the temperature at the stone level. The ambient air in the oven will heat faster and get up to temperature sooner than the stone. As an example, as a simple test this morning I put my oven thermometer (admittedly a cheap one) directly on the stone and then set the oven temperature knob to 250 degrees F and then 350 degrees F. The temperatures at the stone level as measured by my cheap oven thermometer registered 200 degrees F and 275 degrees F, respectively.

Peter

Offline pyegal

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2005, 06:33:34 PM »
Well, I just found out that I wasn't cooking my pizzas on the lowest rack in the oven!
There is another level an inch or so below where I had the rack.

I've got 4 8" tiles set on the rack and I slide the pizza onto the middle of the tiles when
I bake.

Most of the time I preheat the tiles for one hour or more at 500 degrees. When preheated
this long, my pizza cooks in approximately 6 minutes.

There is a flat area between the air vents where the heat rises (gas oven) that is big
enough for me to bake a pizza right on the oven floor. Do I dare? Has anyone done this?
Does it make a big mess? Will I ruin the oven?

pyegal

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2005, 11:09:51 AM »
I'd like to provide a contrasting view.

The key is to attain the fastest cook time. So I thought, why not place the stone at the top?

Conventional wisdom says if you put it at the top, the pizza will burn but the base will not
cook. What if I "broil" the stone too?

Tonight I pre-heated the oven for an hour with the stone at the very top.
I then turned on broil and let out hot air so the broil would remain to be on.

After 10 minutes of broiling the stone, I put in my pizza. The crust was browned in 2 minutes
and 30 seconds. I took it out at this stage. It was fully cooked, very soft and fairly chewy.
The base was light-moderatly tanned.

It was a dramatic improvement over my standard 5 minute cooking time using other placement
strategies.

Offline PizzaSuperFreak

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2005, 02:30:52 PM »
this has been an issue for me lately as well.

i just burned the bottom of another pie last night using the clean cycle and placing the stone squarely in the center of the oven. i let it preheat for about 1/2 hour. the radiant heat registered around 725 and the stone said 650. seemed good, but the bottom was scorched black after 2 minutes.

i've always struggled with science on this one. ok, heat rises, but the heating element is on the bottom of the oven. everyone says put the stone on the bottom, but does this mean that's to keep the stone cooler or hotter? if it's on the top, it should be hot cuz heat rises. but if it's on the bottom, it should be hot cuz of the heating element.

what's the verdict here people? ideas?


Offline Steve

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2005, 02:44:06 PM »
The lower the stone, the closer it is to the heat source.
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Offline PizzaSuperFreak

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2005, 02:45:42 PM »
steve,

how does this principal compare to the heat rises principle?

Offline PizzaSuperFreak

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2005, 04:30:10 PM »
cheesy, i actually bought a digital thermometer at the advice of varasano. it hasn't really helped yet. i'm not expert at deciding what temps should be where.

also, by the time i open the oven to even check the temp, i've let out a ton of radient heat. so, the method isn't that reliable.

i may just go back to the 550 thing too.

or perhaps the clean cycle, but not at such a high temp. perhaps 600 or 650.




Offline Steve

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2005, 07:36:21 PM »
steve,

how does this principal compare to the heat rises principle?

Threre are three ways in which heat is transferred.

1. Radiation.
2. Convection.
3. Conduction.

The "heat rises" principle is based on convection. Radiated heat heats the surrounding air which rises to the top of the oven. The stone being closer to the heat source is based on radiation and convection. And, lastly, the pizza sitting on the hot stone is based on conduction. If the stone is closer to the heat source, it will become hotter due to more radiated heat being absorbed.

This is easily illustrated. Stand next to an open campfire. As you get closer to the fire, the hotter the fire feels... even though the convection heat is rising straight up and away from you. The heat that you feel from the fire is radiated heat.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2005, 07:40:35 PM by Steve »
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2005, 08:08:31 PM »
PSF,

The thermodynamics of ovens can be quite complicated and I am willing to go into more detail on the subject if you'd like, but I believe that the simple answer to your question is that air is an insulator with poor heat transfer characteristics and low heat capacity (the ability to retain heat) relative to the pizza stone and the other internal components of a home oven, so even though the temperature of the air in the oven and the temperature of the preheated stone can be the same, the pizza will bake faster from the heat of the preheated stone (through heat conduction and heat radiation) than through the heated air surrounding the pizza, whether the stone is at the top oven rack position or elsewhere. Unfortunately, home ovens are designed for multi-functional applications, i.e., to bake all kinds of things and not only pizzas. Hence, they have more space between the top and bottom than commercial pizza ovens (e.g., deck ovens) where there is less air above the pizza and more heat available from radiation from the sides and top of the ovens, as well as by conduction from the hearth suface itself, which collectively allow the top of the pizza to bake in a more balanced way with the crust.

Because of the inherent shortcomings of home ovens for baking pizzas, that is why many of our members play around with stone positioning, using more than one stone (to get better heat capacity and "foreshorten" the oven), and using the broiler element. And some have convection ovens that circulate heated air (by convection) around a baking pizza to get a better balance between the baking of the bottom and top of the pizza.

Even within a pizza itself, the principles of thermodynamics are at work. When the unbaked pizza is placed on a preheated stone, the crust expands and, because it is filled with gases (air and carbon dioxide), as it expands it behaves as an insulator between itself and the pizza stone. The pizza sauce has high heat capacity and low conductivity, so it will act as a barrier between the crust and the cheese. The cheese, being a high fat product, has high heat capacity (i.e., it melts easily). Consequently, the size of the pizza and the number and types of toppings will also play a major role in getting the right balance between the top and bottom baking. Of course, it goes without saying that the dough for the pizza has to be properly made. Otherwise, the top and bottom can bake up differently and not be done at the same time.

Peter
« Last Edit: May 26, 2005, 08:15:13 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline PizzaSuperFreak

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2005, 08:31:05 PM »
thanks steve and pete for your excellent comments, as always.

i've included some pics here of my latest efforts, which was described earlier. the stone and oven heated for about 30 minutes, and the radient heat was measured at around 725 with the stone around 650.  this might have changed a bit by the time i got the pizza in the oven, but i'm pretty quick with it, so hopefully not by much.

i've included a pic of my oven with the placement of the stone. note the black charring left behind on the stone itself. this is after cooking. basically that's the dough sticking to the stone.

also, notice that the top is nicely done but the bottom is well over charred.

so, i guess the idea here is that i move the stone to the top, and perhaps turn on the broiler during the actual bake?




« Last Edit: May 26, 2005, 08:39:13 PM by PizzaSuperFreak »

Offline pyegal

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2005, 10:35:03 PM »
Got an email reply yesterday from Whirlpool concerning my questions about baking directly on the oven floor. They do not recommend baking on the oven floor or placing tiles directly on the oven floor. I think I knew that would be their answer.

I did lower the bottom rack a little when I baked the last pizza, so now I can try it at that level with another pie this weekend.

Offline PizzaSuperFreak

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2005, 09:16:31 AM »
anybody have any experience with building a little mini oven within their oven? placing a stone on bottom, top and all sides?

Offline PizzaSuperFreak

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2005, 09:20:54 AM »
scratch that. i just read steve's post in equipment and techniques.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,440.0.html

Offline Steve

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Re: stone and pie placement
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2005, 09:30:59 AM »
anybody have any experience with building a little mini oven within their oven? placing a stone on bottom, top and all sides?

Search for "Homemade Hearth Kit" on the forum.
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