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Neapolitan-style pizza — with its blistered, puffy brim and flimsy inside — is baked in wood-fired ovens that approach 900˚F .
New Haven pizza, with their thin, charred crust and crisp-tender texture, are forged in coal-fired ovens exceeding 1,000˚F.
tied New York pies — well-browned but not charred on the outside, and chewy-crisp within — are baked in electric or boast ovens that normally run between 700˚F and 800˚F .
meanwhile, the average base oven tops out at 500˚F or, if you ’ rhenium lucky, 550˚F. Which means that it ’ s impossible to make restaurant-caliber pizza at home, right ? actually, no : good, nay, evening great pizza can be made at home, but to do thus, you need to set up your oven to mimic a high-temperature one .
Who better to ask for advice on how to recreate restaurant pizza at home than person who ’ randomness had a life of practice doing so ? I ‘ve been making pizza at home myself for years, and am pretty confident in my technique, but I ’ thousand hardly a pro. Which is why I reached out to Dan Richer, the chef-owner of Razza Pizza Artigianale in Jersey City, NJ, and the writer of the approaching book, The Joy of Pizza. ( Heads up : We merely recommend the cookbooks that we, as bakers, sincerely love. When you buy through external links on our web site, we may earn an affiliate commission. )
not only has Dan been making acclaim pies in Razza’s two wood-fired ovens since the restaurant opened in 2012, but he ‘s been thinking about how to get the same bore of pizza out of his home oven for at least as farseeing. The Joy of Pizza is the climax of years of pizza cognition, and a must-have for serious pizza makers. I asked him to parcel the secrets it contains on how home pizza chefs can make the most of their ovens .
Andris LagsdinBaking pizza requires thinking about more than just temperature. You need to consider the baking surface, oven placement, and more.
First, a physics lesson
The first thing Dan wanted to emphasize is that while criterion dwelling ovens can never get arsenic hot as master pizza ovens, there are strategies a baker can employ to maximize the heat you pull out of them .
“ Pizza fudge from many different directions : the top, the sides, the bottom, ” he explains. “ We bake pizza using two main sources of heat transfer — conduction and radiation. ”
radiation is the bowel movement of energy by electromagnetic waves, which can move through publicize or a vacuum ( just like solar radiotherapy can give you a cruddy tan if you don ’ thyroxine apply sunscreen at the beach ). conduction is the direct transportation of energy from one object to another ( like when you burn your bare feet on the backbone at that beach ). The top and sides of the pizza cook via radiation ; the bottom cook by conduction. beaming heating system is supplied by the oven ‘s heating system chemical element and sometimes the broiler ( more on using the broiler for pizza in a moment ) ; conduction is supplied by whatever surface you bake the pizza on .
The magic trick to great pizza is getting those two sources of hotness to work in bicycle-built-for-two. “ Pizza is such a unique food because we ’ re cook, but we ’ re besides baking, ” Dan points out. “ Pizza is a flatbread with condiments baked onto it, so we have to get our bread baked and we have to get [ our toppings ] to cook at a exchangeable rate. ” And because the crust of the pizza has to keep up with the cooking rate of the toppings, this balance wheel by and large comes down to conduction .
Conduction: Surface science
“ For conduction to truly do its thing, you need thermal mass, ” says Dan. Thermal mass refers to the heat-storing ( and delivering ) capacity of a material ; the greater the thermal bulk, the longer it can supply hotness to whatever it ‘s in contact with. ( It ’ mho more or less equivalent to a battery, like the one in your smartphone — the larger the battery, the longer you can run that call before it ’ south in need of a recharge. )
Kristin TeigOne go-to surface is the baking stone, for its excellent thermal mass. It ’ s normally the bake surface that ’ s the limit gene for pizza : It takes a bunch of heat to get the bottom of the proto-indo european to cook at the same rate as the lead and sides, so the more thermal mass, the more likely it will be able to keep up. thermal mass is immediately related to the density and burden of the surface corporeal in interview — dense and heavy is better, provided it has been preheated ( or, to continue with the battery metaphor, “ charged up ” ) sufficiently long.
Read more: How long is pizza good for in the fridge?
The simplest and most accessible bake surface you can use for cooking pizza in a home oven is a preheated half sheet pan. While that can work in a pinch, a one-half sheet pan is thus lightweight that it cursorily cools down after you place the crude pie on it. It just doesn ’ t have the heat-holding capacitance pizza demands. Which means that tied once the cheese is browned and bubbling and the rim is golden and crisp, the bottom is probable to remain pale and easy .
Switching to a baking stone is a major upgrade in terms of thermal mass. ( There ’ s a cause those things are so freak out heavy. ) thus long as it ’ randomness been sufficiently preheated — Dan suggests heating it for at least an hour at the oven ‘s utmost temperature — it will do wonders to help the bottom keep pace with the top and sides .
Kristin TeigAnother fantastic option? A baking steel. Better so far, there ’ s the baking steel, which is Dan ‘s prefer pizza-baking surface at home. These 1/4 ” -thick slab of raw steel have a thermal mass comparable to baking stones, along with another whoremaster up their sleeves : higher thermal conduction. Being a metallic element, steel is far more conductive than ceramic, which means that not entirely do baking steels hold estrus well, but they besides transfer it to the pizza more promptly than stones. And faster heat remove means faster cook .
Dan admits that baking steels, while big, are expensive at about $ 100 each. Which is why he besides mentions a budget alternative : firebricks. Firebricks are big, heat-resistant bricks made for fireplaces and ovens, and they cost a mere couple of dollars each. “ [ They are ] the least expensive way to go, and ironically, credibly have the most thermal aggregate, because they ’ re the compact, ” he tells me. And what they lack in conduction relative to a baking sword, they make up for in sheer mass. But, as he notes, they ’ rhenium not without their drawbacks : They ‘re sol massive that you can ’ t in truth leave them in the oven all the time ( as Dan does with his baking sword ), and they take clock to arrange on your oven rack ahead of each bake .
Rick HolbrookYou can place a steel over firebricks to get the best out of both materials. last, you can combine two of these surfaces for even more sex appeal. “ You can do firebricks in the oven beginning and [ put ] the pizza stone or steel on top of them, ” he says. “ And that ’ s like supreme thermal mass. ” I actually use this layer approach myself all the time. I happen to own both a baking stone and a steel, and I tend to use them both for pizza : The stone ( for added thermal mass ) below the sword ( for its superior conduction ). It ‘s the best of both worlds — a heat-pumping broil sword attached to a heat-storing stone .
Radiation: Location, location, location
Of course, radiation sickness has a role to play here, besides, so Dan besides has advice on where in the oven to place your baking surface. “ I put the stone anywhere between 6” and 8” from the top of the oven, ” he says. “ All ovens are slenderly unlike, but for the ovens I ’ ve tested, that ’ s a good spot. ” Heat rises, so placing the coat close to but not quite at the very top of the oven maximizes the measure of heat the top and sides of the pie are exposed to, while still leaving ample room to get the pie in and out of the oven without disaster .
Andrew JanjigianPlacing your pizza high in the oven maximizes the amount of heat it gets and enables you to use your broiler for an extra boost. furthermore, as Dan points out, it allows the baker to take advantage of the broiler for extra heat both before and during the broil : “ I typically flip on the broiler about 10 minutes before I start to bake for that truly intense heat to get the stone or steel ampere hot as possible. And then I flip the broiler on or off as I ’ megabyte baking, based on how the exceed of the pizza is going in relation to the bottom. ” With experience, Dan knows about how long it ’ ll take to get the bottom of his pies to crisp up nicely, so if it seems like the lead of the pizza international relations and security network ’ metric ton keeping pace, he ’ ll turn on the broiler to give it a little promote .
Using your broiler to superheat your baking surface and to goose the crown of the pie while it cooks is decidedly an “ advanced ” technique, requiring practice and a good sense of how hot and how evenly your particular broiler element runs ; it ’ mho easy to overdo it and end up with a pizza that ’ mho more scorch than charred. But, like Dan, I agree it ’ s decidedly deserving exploring once you ’ ve maximized the heat output you can get from your baking airfoil and the penetrate element alone.
In the end, though, the best way to keep path of how your pies are cooking is to get angstrom close as possible to the natural process. As Dan explains, “ When I make pizza, I ’ thousand sitting on the floor of my kitchen — there ’ randomness no early manner to do it. ”
Learn more pizza tips in our four-point plan for designing your best pizza night : Pizza Night, Perfected .
Cover photo by Rick Holbrook.