Author Topic: Help for you if your bottom is burnt and your top is underdone at high heat.  (Read 1418 times)

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Offline Tannerwooden

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A lot of you will read this post and go, DUH!  However, I was having the issue I'll describe below and couldn't find a good solution by typing different search words into the search engine on our wonderful forum.

Problem:  I use a thick pizza stone and a tricked-out oven.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12774.0/topicseen.html  I have tried several different setups.  Stone at top, middle and bottom.  Foil in different places and combination use of the broiler or the baking element.  With every setup, I had the same problem.  I couldn't bake at over 650 degrees or so without getting results I didn't like. With temps over 650 and lower hydration dough, I would get big, airy, crisply perfect crumb, but burnt bottoms.  With higher hydration dough, I would get good rise but soft, almost doughy seeming crumb, and often STILL burnt bottoms.  At 650 or below, I couldn't get the rise in my crust that I wanted and it would be too chewy for my fevered pizza perfectionist brain.

My theory became that an electric oven is not dry enough to get rid of the moisture in a pie the way a WFO does.  So I posted this, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11994.0.html, titled, "How to get rid of the water."  Brian Spangler, owner of Apizza Scholls turned that thread into something far more wonderful than I had ever intended, and I tried every suggestion folks gave.  To no avail.  Some of the suggestions helped.  I even wrote about that thread solving all my problems (putting the stone on the top rack), but I still just couldn't hone in on the pizza I wanted to make.

Solution:  Pizza Screens!  (insert "DUH!" here)  Now I am baking at nearly 800 degrees.  My stone is at the very top rack of my oven.  My dough is at about 69% hydration.  The screen makes the perfect barrier between the stone and the pizza without keeping the high heat from inflating my dough.  I just made my third batch of pizza last night with the same fantastic results.  I have the super inflated look of a Neapolitan style pizza, where it actually pushes the inner edge of the crust up off the pan (if that makes any sense.)  And now I also have the nicely browned look of a New York style pie. And the bite of the crust is now that perfect combo of airy lightness with crisp shell.  Of course I didn't take pictures so you'll all have to take my word for it!   :P


Offline mkevenson

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Tanner, interesting thread. Glad that you have solved your problem. There was a recent thread in which the use of a screen was described being placed on top of a stone, and the effect on the bottom of the pie. Results described as you have.
Now I believe you, but pics would seal the deal ;)

Thanks for sharing your solutions to this most common problem.

Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Offline dellavecchia

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The burnt bottoms are likely due to over fermentation. But if the screen solves your issue, then you might not need to address it anymore.

John

Offline mkevenson

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The burnt bottoms are likely due to over fermentation. But if the screen solves your issue, then you might not need to address it anymore.

John
John, interesting observation. Don't want to hijack this thread but is there a discussion of over fermentation and burned bottoms elsewhere?

Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Offline dellavecchia

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John, interesting observation. Don't want to hijack this thread but is there a discussion of over fermentation and burned bottoms elsewhere?

Mark

A lot of discussion about burnt bottoms has gone on in the Neapolitan section. Excess sugars from fermentation and excess bench flour are usually the culprits - combined with uneven hot spots. I am guessing about the cause here since we don't have any pics. But he said there was consistent burning with higher hydrations.

John

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Excess sugars from fermentation and excess bench flour are usually the culprits

Or sugars in the dough? When I bake NYC-style in my kitchen oven, I can push the fermentation pretty far with no burning on the bottom. No sugar in my dough. @Tannerwooden: what all is in your dough?

Or the pizza was simply over-baked - too much time in the oven. Despite the tweaks, setup may not be properly balanced to cook the top fast enough. @Tannerwooden: how long do your pizzas take to bake? Photo of top and bottom of baked pie would really help.

Offline Chicago Bob

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I use a thick pizza stone
Do you know anything more about this stone....
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline dellavecchia

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Or sugars in the dough? When I bake NYC-style in my kitchen oven, I can push the fermentation pretty far with no burning on the bottom. No sugar in my dough. @Tannerwooden: what all is in your dough?

I believe he is using an oven mod to get temps in the 800s, so that is why I suggested excess fermentation. But maybe he can post pics and his formula so we can better analyze it. Although he did say using a screen mitigated the issue.

John

Offline Tannerwooden

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Wow guys.  Thanks for all the responses.  To answer some of your questions....

"The burnt bottoms are likely due to over fermentation"  I had this theory myself.  I have used a few dough recipes, including Spangler Clone.  What I use most often is Peter Reinhart's recipe from "The Breadbaker's Apprentice."  This calls for all ingredients to be prechilled and then overnight fermentation.  The formulation is below.  Please tell me what you think.

"Excess sugars from fermentation and excess bench flour are usually the culprits."  Bench flour has definitely always been an issue. I always TRY to use as little as possible, and always cake flour (I heard that protien burns easier).  That's another thing I love about screens.  The completely eliminate the potential for wet dough peel issues and irregularly shaped pies.

"A lot of discussion about burnt bottoms has gone on in the Neapolitan section."  Insert another, "DOH!" here.  I never thought to look in the Neapolitan section.  I feel stupid.

"No sugar in my dough. @Tannerwooden: what all is in your dough?"

%         Ingredient
100      General Mills Better for Bread Flour
2.2       Salt
.54       Yeast
69.1     Water

I've tried a few different flours, but really I like the chew and taste of "Better for Bread" the best. I have also tried some oil, but generally I prefer without.

"Or the pizza was simply over-baked - too much time in the oven. Despite the tweaks, setup may not be properly balanced to cook the top fast enough. @Tannerwooden: how long do your pizzas take to bake?"  With the screens, a little over 3 minutes at nearly 800 degrees.  Without the screens, also a little over 3 minutes at 650 degrees.  I've tried a lot of different setups, but I'm sure not every one.  It always seemed that even if I got the top heat hotter (broiler, foil), the bottom would still burn.  I almost think the heat goes through the pie, but I don't know...

"Do you know anything more about this stone."  A tad over 5/8", codierite (spelling?).  Brand is "Old Stone."  At least, that's what someone else on this forum thought after seeing pictures.

"But maybe he can post pics."  I know, I know.  Lame.  I'm doing a pizza party as a going away present for my sister.  I'll try then.  Until then, I'd like you all to pretend they look like your idea of the perfect pie... ;D

Offline Tannerwooden

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