Author Topic: How black should a pizza crust be?  (Read 3108 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Tom Grim

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 32
  • I Love Pizza!
How black should a pizza crust be?
« on: September 02, 2005, 12:52:23 PM »
     Yesterday, we visited the now famous Una Pizza Napoletana in NY.  We went last year before he received all the attention and  we walked right in.  Now there is a line.
     The first time we went, we loved the pizza.  This time around, I am not so sure.  The pizzas all came out too charred on the bottom.  The top side of the pizza looked fine, with minimal charring, but the bottom was probably 50% black.  I tend to like a burned crust but others at our table found it very objectionable.  I will admit that the bitter burned flavor overwhelmed  the otherwise delicate and delicious flavors of the pizza. 
     Any guesses as to why the bottom burned while the top looked fine.  Maybe the oven floor was too hot?  Or, could it be the amount of moisture in the dough?  Pizza maker having a bad day?
     How much charring is appropriate? 


Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4202
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: How black should a pizza crust be?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2005, 02:19:24 PM »
IMHO, crust should not be burnt on the bottom nor should it taste bitter. I get black spots with an 800F+ deck, but nothing like you describe. Although some charring is common on the pizzas I enjoyed in Naples, none were burned like the one describe.

As I've mentioned before, there is a fine line between "done to perfection" and overcooking. Only speculating here, but perhaps the oven was very hot on the deck, but there was too little heat being radiated onto the top of the pie. So the pizza was left in the oven long enough for the top to "look" done, but by then, the bottom was burned. Been there, done that. I keep saying the same thing about wood burning ovens: fire management is critical.

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

Offline pizzanapoletana

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 964
  • Location: London -UK
  • Pizza Napoletana as it was made in 1730!
    • Forno Napoletano - Pizza Ovens
Re: How black should a pizza crust be?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2005, 02:27:38 PM »
Una Pizza doesn't have the proper oven to cook Neapolitan pizza as it has a too high ceiling. If Anthony has to make one or two pizza, then he has the time to lift the pizza up in the higher dome, but when it is busy, and simply pump up the flame, then the pizza doesn't receive the necessary heat from the top as in a Neapolitan oven with its low dome, and burn underneath...

Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3093
  • Age: 44
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: How black should a pizza crust be?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2005, 02:50:51 PM »
I just read a post the other day about Una Pizza having raw uncooked dough, now this one about black char.  I was lucky when I went there to have received perfect pies. 
This is the price you pay for cooking at such high temps,  20 seconds in either direction can totally ruin a pizza.  My first visit to Patsy's was a huge dissipointment because my pie was black on the bottom, then my next visit it was perfect.  I guess we have to learn to expect this when eating coal/wood fired pies.

Offline pizzanapoletana

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 964
  • Location: London -UK
  • Pizza Napoletana as it was made in 1730!
    • Forno Napoletano - Pizza Ovens
Re: How black should a pizza crust be?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2005, 04:21:00 PM »

No, this is not the case. But that is the reason you guys needs to understand why I always talk about experience...

Here on this forum it is easy to get excited and start talking about great dough... But what about cooking it? Having a great oven is an help, but if you need to cook 7 pizza at the same time, you need to manage the oven as well.

In Naples the "Fornaio" is a profession by itself. Fornaio is the guy that manage the oven, feed it with wood and cook the pizza. Il Pizzaiuolo work behind the bench, flattening the dough balls, putting the topping. When you start working in a pizzeria in Naples, after have learned how to prepare the topping, the first step is to learn how to manage the oven (how to start it, how to build up the temperature, what pieces of wood go first, etc..). Once you master that, you start cooking the pizza. few make the leap behind the bench, and very few make it to be the dough maker (1 or 2 in each pizzeria). At Da Michele, one Saturday night service, 650 pizzas went into the oven, none was burnt and none undercooked, only one was ripped.... Check again the other post where they also show the bottom of Da Michele pizza.

Offline Caz at Margheritas

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 13
Re: How black should a pizza crust be?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2005, 11:40:54 AM »
I totally agree with pizzanapoletana and Bill; oven management is critical.

When we are busy we have one guy on oven only and one on stretching and topping.

In my experience it is most likely the bottom will burn when the oven has been "resting" a while with no pizzas drawing heat from the floor for an extended period. It is very important to remember to check the bottom of the pizza if there has been none cooked in the oven for several minutes. Each pizza placed on the floor draws heat from it and when you are busy this regulates the floor temperature. But if you are not careful to remember that the oven foor has built up heat again you will get burned bottoms. This could also happen if the cook has favourite spots in the oven that get used over and over and then tries to slip in an extra one on a spot that has not been used for a while and forgets to check the bottom soon enough.

When the floor is hot during a quiet period and we only have single orders we place the pizza on just one spot in the oven and leave it on the floor for a shorter time then lift it with the paddle to finish the top in the hotter upper part of the dome, it is quite an art to manage this and turn the pizza close to the flame for even browning of the crust edge.

I was also sometimes fooled when I returned from the afternoon break and thought the oven's fire has cooled but forget that the floor retains a lot more heat. The pizzas look great on top after a slightly longer cooking time but are blacker on the bottom  ::) After having to remake a few orders I learned to remember to check  :'(

Given the above I'd say that a less experienced person cooked your pizza that day or they were just distracted at the critical point. The dough is probably not the culprit and probably very consistent at these establishments but there is a lot more to take care of after the dough is mixed  :-\