Author Topic: Newbie - Suggestions for utilising a "cooler" home electric oven  (Read 683 times)

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Offline Huxtable

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Hi everyone

Whilst I'm a newbie on these forums, I've been lurking a few months, learning heaps. I've been a very amateur home pizza maker for the last two or three years, improving and experimenting all the time, generally producing some yummy and popular results (with a few amusing disasters along the way!).

I love pizzas with relatively thin bases, with a preference for Neopolitan-style and I guess what Americans seem to call "New York style" pizzas. I do a lot of bread-baking, and enjoy incorporating whole wheat flour etc into my pizza bases.

In summer, I like to cook the pizzas on one of my outdoor bbqs; I have a charcoal-fuelled Weber Kettle-style bbq, and a big 6 burner gas bbq as well, which can both crank the heat and produce some nice pizzas.

However, the cold and darkness make outdoor pizzas for dinner extremely difficult in winter. We have a nice wide (& relatively fancy) freestanding oven in our kitchen - gas burners on top and an electric internal oven, with an internal bottom element and "exposed" top grill element.

Whilst this oven is great for most purposes, I've never really nailed pizza in it - and the main problem is it just doesn't seem to get hot enough. I don't yet have an IR temperature reader, but the dial - and it seems to be fairly accurate, if not a bit optimistic - goes up to 220C - only 430 Fahrenheit.

I have tried numerous things - including getting a pizza stone as hot as possible (i.e. heating for up to 90 minutes, as close to grill as possible, etc) but the bottom will never char/cook properly, and the top will not "puff" with oven spring. It doesn't seem like the pizza stone could possibly be effective at these "low" temperatures. The stone is a thin one (and actually cracked tonight when removing the pizza, annoying me further).

In fact, my best oven results have been a slightly cheaty-style - by par-baking the crust in a dry skillet which results in a nice puffy crust. Whilst my wife loves the resultant pizza, she doesn't like what it's done to her good large fry pan, haha.

My dough recipe is usually based closely on the (Forno Bravo recipe ), allowed to rise overnight in a relatively cool room, then left in the fridge for up to a week. I'm slowly getting better at working and shaping the dough.

I guess my question is:
1) For an oven with max temp 220C/430F, what is the best thing to cook the pizza on? Would a pan or screen be a better option? I've never used these before (other than a relatively thin standard baking tray).
2) Am I just wishfully dreaming if I am hoping to produce a decent quality pizza in this oven? Can someone please show that they have produced something decent in an oven like this?


Thank you very much for reading all this, and any suggestions are welcome. I did try to search the forums for answers but couldn't find any posts about similar "cold" ovens :)


Offline Huxtable

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Re: Newbie - Suggestions for utilising a "cooler" home electric oven
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2013, 06:52:50 AM »
P.S. The pizza stones that I've used have been cheap and thin ones - as per this link

My first one lasted about a year before I cracked in - but my latest one only lasted a few weeks before it somehow cracked when I was removing the cooked pizza. So I'm unsure if a better quality/thicker stone would improve things in my oven.

Offline JD

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Re: Newbie - Suggestions for utilising a "cooler" home electric oven
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2013, 07:56:07 AM »
Most people will probably disagree with me, but you shouldn't have a problem using 1/2" steel:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,23608.msg239730.html#msg239730

Josh

Offline Huxtable

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Re: Newbie - Suggestions for utilising a "cooler" home electric oven
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 03:49:15 PM »
Thanks JD - that's exactly the type of advice I was after! Those results look excellent and give me a bit of hope :)

Looks like I need to do some research about baking steel, and where to find. How heavy is a half inch steel?

Also, does anyone have specific suggestions for dough type/ingredients/other techniques which would be beneficial in a lower temp oven?

Offline JD

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Re: Newbie - Suggestions for utilising a "cooler" home electric oven
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2013, 04:11:56 PM »
Not sure what you have available in NZ, but if you find regular A36 1/2" steel, you do not need to invest in "baking steel". There are many discussions on steel plates here, for your oven I would definitely do no less than 1/2" so it retains as much heat as possible.

It all depends on how big you cut your plate. From this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=search2 it will be around the following weights:
16" x 16" x 1/2" = 36lbs
18" x 16" x 1/2" = 41lbs

Josh

Offline gnomad

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Re: Newbie - Suggestions for utilising a "cooler" home electric oven
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2013, 08:43:15 PM »
Some members have suggested asking them to cut the plate in 2 pieces for easier handling - seems a good solution.

I have been using the cast iron pan heated on a burner til smoking/place the dough in the pan/dress the pizza and then place the whole thing under the broiler method.  So far, it has been pretty good and would probably work with your setup.  I have done it without heating up the oven first and with heating the oven to 550.  preheating the oven doesn't seem to matter w/my oven as the pan is so close to the broiler element and the pan is already hot.

I would recommend buying a cast iron skillet/cast iron pizza pan for dedicated use as I have destroyed the pan seasoning over heating it.


 

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