I, too, have seen operators use lower temperatures than 500+ degrees F for the NY style (see, for example, Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,886.msg8031.html#msg8031
). From what I have read, most pizza operators with deck ovens would be content to get a fairly constant 525 degrees out of their deck ovens, but some operate at temperatures below that, as noted above. Tom Lehmann frequently admonishes pizza operators to use lower oven temperatures and longer bake times. They often resist that advice because they want to push pizzas as fast as possible through their ovens and longer bake times means lower throughput. On this point, I once posted this excerpt of a Q&A between a poster and Tom at the PMQ Think Tank:I was wondering what effect the temperature that a pizza is cooked at, has on the final product. Not just time, but flavour, colour, etc. I have heard people using all different kinds of temperatures to cook their pizzas and was wondering if it has affect on flavour, ie you can cook a pizza at a high temperature but it doesn't give enough time for some of the flavours to develop? What are the temperatures that people have found to be the best and in what type of oven.
A longer, slower bake will always beat a fast bake if you are looking for flavor and crispiness. With a longer bake you denature more protein in the flour and create better flavors. This is one of the reasons why those $5.00 a loaf gourmet breads taste so good as compared to the standard white breads that you buy in the supermarket. Even with these, the higher priced breads are almost always baked longer for better flavor development, people recognize this and are willing to pay more for it. The longer baking times also provide time for moisture to evaporate from the top of the pizza, reducing the possibility of having a "swamp" pizza. The crust bakes out with a thicker, drier crust that is more crispy, and retains it's crisp for a longer time too. Most deck ovens will bake at 475 to 525F and air impingers will bake at 435 to 450F. Baking times will vary with the type of oven and a host of other factors.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor"
gschwim, I think it is too general a statement to say that “all” NY style pizzas described on this forum can be baked at lower oven temperatures. Ovens differ and people's preferences differ. Also, the dough formulation may dictate a lower oven temperature. For example, if the dough includes sugar, a lower oven temperature may be used because sugar can promote premature or excessive crust browning when baked directly on a hearth-like surface (which is why some operators use a pizza screen to “lift” a pizza off of the hot surface). I recently used lower oven temperatures to make a Lehman NY pie, as described at Reply 424 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg27372.html#msg27372
, but I was using a pizza screen and trying to achieve a crispy crust. I used the lower temperatures (and longer bake time) for exactly the reasons mentioned in the above Lehmann quote. I was also trying to avoid long stone pre-heat times and overheating my kitchen in the midst of a heat wave in Texas. I have done the same sorts of things (lower bake temperature and longer bake time) when making Randy’s American style pizzas. To me, temperature and time are tools to be used to achieve a particular objective or result
What you noted at Singa’s is also quite common. When pizzas are baked in pans, the pans start out cold and have to get up to temperature before the pizza can start to bake. That will add several minutes more to the bake time, no matter the oven temperature. I discovered this recently when I made a Greek/bar pizza, for which I used a preheated stone and an oven temperature of 500 degrees F. You might also keep in mind that pizza operators frequently bake several pizzas at a time, which will increase the bake time of an individual pizza.
It is to your credit that you have picked up on the point of using lower oven temperatures so early in your exploration of pizza. Most people discover the concept much later, and some never do.