Author Topic: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?  (Read 600 times)

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Offline AJ72

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On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« on: April 08, 2014, 12:23:30 PM »
Guys I've been using a Fibrament stone on the bottom rack as per it's website recommendations with the temperature set to bake at 500 degrees max for years with great results.  However, I've been getting 9 minute bake times and by the time the bottom of my crust is where I like it the top rim of my crust is also nice but the cheese has started browning more than I like.  After searching this forum I found that aluminum might be a great way to reduce bake times so I purchased one last week with the intent to use it this weekend for the first time.  Through further reading I now found out that aluminum could burn my crust and now I'm afraid to use it.  I also read that with aluminum you have to switch between bake and broil and I'm really not happy about doing that because when I make pizza it's usually for the entire family so I usually end up making 8 pies and make a pizza party out of it.  Although switching to the broiler element for one pie would be no big deal I don't want to be dialing back and forth all night between 8 pies because that would be too cumbersome and would give inconsistent temperature to the plate.  So I guess my question is should I use the aluminum plate which rack should I place it on?  I'm thinking if I place it on the bottom rack on bake I might burn the bottom of my pie before the top is done and if I place it on the top rack on broil I don't think the plate would stay hot pie after pie although I could see how that could work for making one pie only.  Would the middle rack be a compromise and how would that affect the pie?  Also, when using an aluminum plate is switching between bake and broil a requirement?  I'm kinda regretting getting this plate and thinking of sticking with my Fibrament altogether but if I could get a better crust in a shorter amount of bake time then I'm all about it as long as it doesn't incorporate added headaches to the mix.  FYI I only make NY street style pizza.  Please share your thoughts and recommendations.  Thanks in advance.....
« Last Edit: April 08, 2014, 01:15:10 PM by AJ72 »


Online scott123

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 09:04:45 PM »
AJ, there's an equalizing element to longer bakes.  The lower temp balances out top and bottom heat as well as back and front heat and usually gives you an evenly colored pie without needing to either broil or turn the pizza mid bake. It's typically not the best pizza from an oven spring perspective, but, it's evenly colored.  When you start using more conductive hearth materials and reducing your bake times, though, that all changes. No setting it and forgetting it.

In all fairness, if you walk into any NY mom & pop pizzeria, even the countless mediocre ones, the guy manning the oven isn't taking long breaks as the pizzas bake.  He's launching, turning, checking the bottom, maybe turning one more time, then retrieving.  Tending the oven is the nature of the NY style pizza beast.  When I entertain, I'm not sitting around talking much.   I might make 4 or so pies, then take a break and sit down and eat a slice or two, but, then it will be back to the oven. NY doesn't involve the amount of labor that you see in a wood fired oven Neapolitan bake, but it's still a considerable amount of time spent in front of the oven. You don't get truly great pizza and maximum time with your guests/family. You have to sacrifice for your art  ;D You're a pizza guy now  ;D

If you really want to maximize your time with your guests, try bringing your guests to your kitchen/oven area and have them sit and eat (or even participate) while you're putting on your show.

So, yes, you have to broil, and you have to turn.  You have to man the oven- for all 8 pies. You can, with some trial and error, dial in exactly when to turn the broiler on to get the perfect coloration on top when the bottom is done, but, for the first few times, it takes a lot of fidgeting.

You want the aluminum plate about 5-6" away from the broiler. This usually translates into the second shelf down. It really depends on the broiler, but if you're doing a 4 minute bake on the bottom (500-525 with 1/2" aluminum), I'd turn on the broiler after 1.5 minutes and then start checking (and turning) the top for color around 3.

Offline AJ72

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2014, 01:33:34 AM »
Thanks Scott!.  So When I place the 1/2 aluminum plate on the second rack down from the top and set to 500 degrees are you saying the oven should be set to bake at launch then switch to broil at 1.5 minutes into the bake?  Thanks.

Online scott123

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2014, 01:42:38 AM »
Yes, preheat to 500, launch, broiler on after 1.5 minutes.

As I said, this is going to be a rough ballpark of how much broiler time it's going to need. Once you hit the 3 minute mark, I'd start checking the pizza for doneness (top and bottom) every 30 seconds.

I forget, do you have an infrared thermometer? You'll definitely want one for checking the temps of the aluminum.

Edit: If you're doing 8 pies, in order to make sure the plate stays replenished for that many bakes, any time the oven isn't broiling, make sure the bake setting is on.

Offline AJ72

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2014, 08:21:11 AM »
You're the man Scott thanks!  I'm going to try this.  But wouldn't opening the oven every 30 seconds allow the heat to escape too much which would cool the stone?  I'm ordering an IR thermometer today from Amazon.  I want to make sure I do this right.  And one last question.  When doing 8 pies do I let the oven recover between pies or can I go from one pie to the next launch without a break?  Thanks.

Offline JD

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2014, 08:26:52 AM »
I'm ordering an IR thermometer today from Amazon.

Make sure you get one with adjustable emissivity, or plan on seasoning your aluminum so it's darker in color. 
Josh

Offline AJ72

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2014, 08:54:29 AM »
Make sure you get one with adjustable emissivity, or plan on seasoning your aluminum so it's darker in color.

Thanks Josh.  I was looking at the $17 ones which seem to get 4.5 star reviews on Amazon.  I really didn't want to allocate a lot of money for a thermometer but if I have to I will.  Any recommendations?

Offline Seven

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2014, 09:00:31 AM »
You're the man Scott thanks!  I'm going to try this.  But wouldn't opening the oven every 30 seconds allow the heat to escape too much which would cool the stone?  I'm ordering an IR thermometer today from Amazon.  I want to make sure I do this right.  And one last question.  When doing 8 pies do I let the oven recover between pies or can I go from one pie to the next launch without a break?  Thanks.

Heat from the air in the oven will escape but the aluminum plate won't lose much, if any, heat during that time. And actually having hot air escape should trigger the bottom element (assuming you have an electric oven) to cycle on when you switch from broil to bake. I recommend using the convection feature during the bake if you have it...it should saturdate the plate more quickly and evenly.

Offline AJ72

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2014, 09:21:46 AM »
Heat from the air in the oven will escape but the aluminum plate won't lose much, if any, heat during that time. And actually having hot air escape should trigger the bottom element (assuming you have an electric oven) to cycle on when you switch from broil to bake. I recommend using the convection feature during the bake if you have it...it should saturdate the plate more quickly and evenly.

Thanks Seven yes I do have an electric oven but I'm not sure I have a convection feature but I will check when I get home.  Thanks for the tips!

Offline JD

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2014, 11:14:54 AM »
Thanks Josh.  I was looking at the $17 ones which seem to get 4.5 star reviews on Amazon.  I really didn't want to allocate a lot of money for a thermometer but if I have to I will.  Any recommendations?

I do not have any recommendations, sorry. I have a slightly better version of the "cheap" 17 dollar one, and it didn't work on my steel until it became seasoned after many uses. I'd expect the same for bare aluminum.

The difference between my steel plate and most others is that I took a grinder to mine and completely removed the mill scale. This bare metal really messed with me for a few months, but once the plate seasoned naturally it became more IR friendly (and less conductive as well).
Josh


Online scott123

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Re: On which rack do I place my aluminum plate for NY Style?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2014, 02:52:15 AM »
AJ, a light layer of oil, as John did, will give you enough emissivity for the $17 thermometer to work.

For 8 pies, it really depends on the oven how well the plate will recover. I would guesstimate the first two pies can be done back to back, but ensuing pies might need 5 minutes in between each. As I said, make sure the oven is always on- if you're not broiling, then bake. The heat from the bottom element most likely won't have time to travel from the bottom of the plate to the top during a single bake, but it will help the next pie.


 

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