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Author Topic: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps  (Read 315 times)

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Offline BinATX

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A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« on: July 09, 2021, 11:20:36 PM »
At the risk of being kicked out of this forum in my first week on it, Iíd like to make a brief argument for baking pizzas at slightly lower oven temps. Sacrilege, I know. Or at least that appears to be so after reading through posts in several sections here. Iím throwing this idea out in the Sicilian category but I believe I could also make the same case for cracker crust/Chicago thin and even Neapolitan - though Iíd probably have to go into hiding after that.

My reasoning is twofold. First, Iím not really a fan of the char flavor, especially on any kind of dough, so I look to avoid or minimize it on all styles of crust. Second, and more importantly, I like a large amount of toppings, and several I that I prefer arenít traditional so they often need a longer cook time for optimal results. For Sicilian style, after a parbake I load on the toppings and because Iím doing a convection bake at 425 for around 25-30 minutes, they all have ample time to fully roast. Below I included a photo of one of my Sicilians before baking so you can see how much the vegetables roasted down in the after pics.

The question then probably becomes if my crust suffers as a result of this lower temp, longer bake. I donít believe it really does. I guess Iím losing oven spring potential with the lower temperature and no stone/steel. But, Iím making a dough with 85% hydration and letting it ferment in the pan before a parbake (for what itís worth, those below were done with a SD starter). Thereís always a nice open crumb in the end - the one below could have been better but I had to rush the process as the pizza was a gift for friends who just had a baby. Yes, Iím making excuses.

The bottom of the pizza? I actually usually have to take it out closer to the 25 minute mark rather than the 30 so itís not too crisp for my 2.5 year-old son. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the bottom crusts on these.

Why am I starting this thread and potentially placing myself on the wrong side of science and history? In my searches through this forum, there seems to be many people lamenting the fact that their ovens wonít reach thermonuclear levels. I would never contend that my pizzas are perfect but Iíd like to make the case that enjoyable results can come at lower temps - depending on individual preferences.

Thanks for hearing me out.

B

Offline Peter B

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2021, 07:23:40 AM »
Your crust does look underdone for my taste, but you really have a seemingly very airy crumb which I would be interested in trying. I think I feel a Sicilian phase coming on here, and I would like to try different recipes to find a good balance between flavors and ease of creation.
If you would care to share your recipe and process, that would be cool.
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Offline BinATX

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2021, 08:19:50 AM »
Your crust does look underdone for my taste, but you really have a seemingly very airy crumb which I would be interested in trying. I think I feel a Sicilian phase coming on here, and I would like to try different recipes to find a good balance between flavors and ease of creation.
If you would care to share your recipe and process, that would be cool.

I figured these pictures would give the impression that the crust is underdone. And maybe it is for your taste, but as I said, I usually take it out around the 25 minute mark instead of 30 to keep it from being too crunchy for my toddler. So, I definitely believe this method could still achieve the desired crispness. Itís worth noting that when these are reheated in the oven the next day, they get more crunch. So maybe a finish of the original bake outside of the pan could also help get closer to what you prefer.

Hereís a basic rundown of what I do. I apologize if itís not specific enough or in a nonstandard format - first attempt on here.

- Flour = 100 (~90% AP - organic sometimes KA, sometimes local brand, ~7.5% semolina, ~2.5% vital wheat gluten)
- SD starter = 25
- Water 85
- Salt = 2.5
- Olive oil = generous amount for the bowl

I make a 2lb5oz dough for a 13x18 baking sheet.

Mix in a bowl until combined, donít have to knead other than a couple of turns. Generously oil bowl and dough. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

Remove bowl in morning and turn dough - can repeat. At least 3-4 hours prior to baking, spread dough into oiled baking sheet. Convection oven set to 425. Parbake dough in pan for 7 minutes.

Remove the parbaked dough by flipping out of pan. Add cornmeal to pan for texture before placing dough back. Note: from reading through this section I might change a couple of things here. First, Iíd add more oil to the pan before the cornmeal. Second, I typically prepare the parbaked dough immediately but it looks like a rest could help.

Prepare pizza. Iíve made Detroits this way but the first ones below went like this: sauce, mozz/provolone mix, vegetable mix, parmesan, more spices/salt/pepper, oil drizzle. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Thanks for reading through my post, Peter. Maybe this wonít meet your crust crispness goals in the end. Again, my intention was to argue that home ovens can still achieve decent results, even with their temp limits.

B

Online scott r

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2021, 08:48:11 AM »
One of my favorite Sicilian style pizzerias bakes for 25 minutes.  Im not sure what oven temp but I cant imagine its above 500 degrees.  Nothing wrong with going slow!

Many years ago when I was working on my recipes for a wood burning oven food truck I came to the realization that although I loved a lot of things about Neapolitan pizza, I preferred a slower bake.  A well regarded member of this forum was trying to give me good advice and thought that it was a bad idea to do this.  He thought I would be in a no mans land for pizza (not Neapolitan not NY style).   Im glad I didnt listen to him!  I now have two successful brick and mortar locations. 

I say do what speaks to you and dont worry about it!

Offline BinATX

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2021, 10:58:59 AM »
One of my favorite Sicilian style pizzerias bakes for 25 minutes.  Im not sure what oven temp but I cant imagine its above 500 degrees.  Nothing wrong with going slow!

Many years ago when I was working on my recipes for a wood burning oven food truck I came to the realization that although I loved a lot of things about Neapolitan pizza, I preferred a slower bake.  A well regarded member of this forum was trying to give me good advice and thought that it was a bad idea to do this.  He thought I would be in a no mans land for pizza (not Neapolitan not NY style).   Im glad I didnt listen to him!  I now have two successful brick and mortar locations. 

I say do what speaks to you and dont worry about it!

Thanks for the encouraging words, Scott! Hope I get to try one of your locations someday.

Yeah, I just think that higher temperatures sometimes come at a cost to a proper cook of the top. If Iím being completely honest, it pains me for instance to see a wood-fired pizza with a heavily charred cornicione but has fresh mozzarella on top that looks like it spent 6 seconds in a plastic bag in the microwave.

Hereís what Iím doing on my 3 current go-to styles. Iím sure each is an unpopular opinion to purists. Just trying to offer my (unsolicited) two cents to check how others feel on the matter.

- Sicilian: 7 minute parbake & 25-30 minute full bake both at 425 convection
- Wood-fired: 1 minute each half plus brief raise to fire ~750-800
- Thin (cracker/Chicago - not sure what to call it): 14 minutes on stone at 450 convection

Thanks again for the reply. Good to meet you.

B

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Offline andytiedye

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2021, 08:35:31 PM »
One of my favorite Sicilian style pizzerias bakes for 25 minutes.  Im not sure what oven temp but I cant imagine its above 500 degrees.  Nothing wrong with going slow!

Many years ago when I was working on my recipes for a wood burning oven food truck I came to the realization that although I loved a lot of things about Neapolitan pizza, I preferred a slower bake.  A well regarded member of this forum was trying to give me good advice and thought that it was a bad idea to do this.  He thought I would be in a no mans land for pizza (not Neapolitan not NY style).   Im glad I didnt listen to him!  I now have two successful brick and mortar locations. 

I say do what speaks to you and dont worry about it!

I'd love to do an eating tour of "pizza no-man's land".  Bring on more styles of pizza,  especially at the thick-crust end of the spectrum!

I am also something of a pizza heretic,  extra thick crust, extra sour sourdough,  lower temperatures.   Does not conform to any standard pizza category.

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2021, 11:43:45 PM »
Ideal oven temps are always relative to the oven you're baking in and the target body and flavor profile you're shooting for. Do what works for you. I have an Ooni Pro oven, and although it has the capacity to reach temps of around 900 degrees F, I'm really more pleased with the pies that come out of it when it's operating at more like 600 degrees F. Anybody who tells you "heat is heat" has never had to spend time fine tuning an oven and really figuring how to coax the best pizzas possible out of it. Just because you can bake a pizza at high temps, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should. And there is definitely an argument to be made for trusting yourself and developing your own special methods and recipes. We don't all have to make the pizza the same way. There's room enough in this world for everybody to make their own ideal pizza.
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Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2021, 12:49:43 AM »
425f convection bake isn't really that low. I bake thick crust same temperature without using the fan. Who are the people blasting them a lot hotter?

Offline BinATX

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2021, 06:48:00 AM »
425f convection bake isn't really that low. I bake thick crust same temperature without using the fan. Who are the people blasting them a lot hotter?

True, not that much different. Thatís why I used ďslightly.Ē There are posts in this section, even on the first page, where the author bemoans having an oven that maxes out at only 500 or so. Of course thatís not a universal sentiment, it just appeared to me to be a fairly common one. I could be wrong. I was just trying to offer a different perspective to those people.

Also, I use the fan because of the amount and type of toppings I add. I want them to get a thorough roast. Maybe as much as anything I was subconsciously pushing for more toppings and of a wider variety - just a personal preference.

Thanks for responding.

Offline dasabonis

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Re: A case for (slightly) lower oven temps
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2021, 07:38:14 AM »
I also donít think 375-400 is low for a Sicilian/grandma style. My Nonna bakes her pizza at 375 for 25 mins. I live in a very Italian area and I always ask my friends moms and grandmothers how they cook their pizza. The old school Italians making authentic grandma sheet pan pizza/focaccia cook in this temp range.

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