Jump to content

John Setzler

This is why your pizza bombed

Recommended Posts




Most failed pizza cooks are for the same reason when it comes to kamados and blackstone ovens.


There is a relationship between cooking temperatures and your dough recipes that must be understood.  


Rule #1 - stay away from store-bought pizza dough.  Those doughs are designed for cooking in your kitchen oven at lower temperatures.  They have sugars and oils that will scorch easily at the temperatures you are going to see on your Kamado and the Blackstone oven.


Rule #2 - Great pizza takes some patience to make.  Make your dough from scratch and the only ingredients that should go in it until you have your process down pat are flour, water, salt, and yeast.


Rule #3 - Higher cooking temperature (700+)  = lower hydration dough - Lower cooking temperatures (500-600) = higher hydration doughs  (see recipes below)


You need to understand baker's percentages for this process.  Most pizza doughs are between 60 and 70 percent hydration.  This means that for every kilogram of flour in the recipe, there will be 600 to 700 grams of water, depending on your recipe.


If you are cooking on a blackstone oven at 800 degrees or higher, you should have a dough that is about 60% hydration.  These pizzas are going to cook very quickly.  They should not have an overabundance of toppings in order to have the toppings AND the crust properly cooked.  


If you are cooking on a Kamado at 500-600 degrees, you should have a dough that is about 70% hydration.  The higher hydration allows you to cook longer without scorching the crust.  You can also cook on the Blackstone at these temperatures using 70% hydration doughs as well.


Now I will probably get chastised for saying this but it needs to be said....


The Kamado ain't the greatest tool in the shed for baking pizzas.


The kamado can work very well for pizza, but there are some issues that make it difficult to tame sometimes.  The problem in the kamado environment is that the pizza stone can get too hot for the temperature in the dome.  If stone is 700+ degrees and the temp in the dome is 500 or less, it can create some issues with burning crusts before the toppings are done.  The kamado loses a LOT of dome heat when you open the lid to put the pizza on.  By nature, the ceramic kamado grills recover that lost heat quickly but in the case of a super hot pizza cook they may not recover it quickly enough.  We are looking at pizza cook times here that are just a few minutes long.  Third party products like the Pizza Porta can help with this.  There are other add-ons that allow you to have a pizza stone under and over the pizza that help as well.  At any rate, if you plan to master pizza on the kamado, my recommendation is to do it at lower temps where the stone and the dome temps are in the 550 degree range and use 70% hydration ( or possibly higher in some cases) dough recipes.  


Setting up the kamado for proper pizza cooking is important also.  You need your heat deflector at the top level... it can be sitting on your cooking grate.  The pizza stone should be on top of the heat deflector with a gap between them that can be created with anything fire proof that will give you at least a half inch gap between the heat deflector and the pizza stone.  This process will help you keep the pizza stone from overheating.  The fire in your firebox is raging hot if your dome temperature is 500+ degrees.  This gap helps keep the temp of the pizza stone under control.  Learning to get the pizza on the stone quickly and without fully opening the dome lid is also a beneficial trick to learn.  





When learning to make great pizza at home, start out cooking them in your home oven rather than a kamado or other pizza oven.  This will give you the opportunity to learn the pizza making process with one less variable in the loop.  Your home oven may not be your favorite choice of tools for cooking a pizza, but I can tell you that it will cook at a consistent and easily reproduced temperature setting.  When you master a particular pizza recipe in your home oven give it a try in the kamado!  


As I have recommended to many before... go buy this book:


The Elements of Pizza


This book teaches you a LOT about the art of making great pizza.  I also recently picked up this book:


The Pizza Bible


The philosophies in these two books are a little different but the are both beneficial books if you wanna make great pizza at home.  


Some dough recipes to get you started:


60% and 70% Hydration Simple Pizza Dough (with multiple techniques for flavor enhancement) :


This is enough dough for three 11-12" pizzas...


500 grams Flour (all purpose flour or 00 italian style flour) = 100%

350 grams water @ 90-95 degrees = 70% (300 grams if making 60% dough)

13 grams fine sea salt = 2.6%

Instant dried yeast (see below for quantities based on your technique)




In a large mixing bowl, dissolve 2 teaspoons of yeast in the warm water.  Add the flour and salt and mix by hand until the flour is completely incorporated and no dry flour remains.  Cover the bowl and let rest for 20 minutes.


Remove the dough to a floured surface and divide into three equal parts.


Shape each part into a dough ball with a tight skin across the top.  Place the dough balls on plates and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until at least doubled in size.  


After the dough has risen, shape the dough balls into a pizza crust and top with whatever you like, remembering that less is more on a pizza like this :)


Cook this on a preheated pizza stone in your grill or oven at 500-550 degrees until done.  




Change the yeast quantity to 1.5 grams (3/4 of 1/2 teaspoon)


This process works the EXACT same was as above with a minor change.  When you form your dough balls and put them on plates with plastic wrap covering them, place them in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.  After you remove them from the fridge, let them sit out at room temperature for four hours before shaping into pizza crusts.  This slower cold ferment process will improve the flavor of your pizza crust.  


If you don't use all of your dough balls, you can vacuum seal them and put them in the freezer after the ferment process.   When you are ready to use them remove from the freezer and let them come to room temperature on the counter for 5-6 hours before forming your pizza crust.  



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post - I agree with you 100%.


Not every dough works for every temperature. Find a recipe to try and cook at the recommended temperature at least until you have a firm grasp on pizza doughs and how they react to different temperatures. 


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Pizza ovens - wood fired or otherwise - are typically very short and so there's a LOT of heat sitting in the top of the oven which cooks the top almost as fast as the crust.  That's one of the reasons why Antico's (and similar) can zip their pizzas to your table so quickly.  




I can see where more hydration would be useful for pizzas cooked on Kamados.  


On a related topic a deep dish pizza is a slow-baking cook; the high heat used in cooking thin pizzas will destroy a deep dish pie. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post, the moisture content can catch me out sometimes, normally from myself being too enthusiastic with the toppings!

Making your own dough always better than store bought for me (also no easy to find in NZ).

I think of something that has ticked me off whilst kneading the dough mix, result a great dough, upper body workout  and a free therapy session!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for this fantastic post (and others!), John. I fortunately found and read it before trying my first kamado pizzafest. I also took your advice and ordered a copy of The Elements of Pizza, which helped me understand the essential basics of great dough. My first attempt was yesterday, and I made the same day dough on p.110 of the Forkish book. Was a bit doubtful with the stickiness of my dough, but the end result was absolutely brilliant. My setup was not quite what you described -- I put the deflectors on the bottom of the bottom of my Big Joe's divide and conquer system, my regular grate at the top and I pre-heated my soapstone disk on top of the grates as a pizza stone. The main thing is, I created that critical gap between the deflectors and the cooking surface, and I'm glad I did. Heated the BJ to 550F for the first two pizzas, and they were good, but I inadvertently let it cool down to 500F on the third, and it turned out the best by far. Guess my next pizza cook with be at 500F!


Can't thank you and the other kamado gurus with so much more experience for sharing your cooking wisdom with newbies like me. I very much appreciate not having to learn from easily avoidable mistakes and get to the good results much more quickly!


Cheers, and happy cooking to all!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

By elevating my stone way up into the dome so the pie sits within a couple inches of the top, I find that the air temp over the pizza recovers almost instantly and I get an even cook of dough and toppings.  You get the heat radiating off the ceramic, plus there is nowhere else for the exhaust air to flow.  


With the stone elevated I also find I get better results without a deflector.  In my pit boss, the stone is about 6.5" above the firebowl and 8+ inches over the coals.  The distance seems to be enough to allow the stone to heat evenly and not overheat even though it is exposed to the infrared from the coals.  I have run with this setup between 550 and 850 so far without any hint of crust burning issues.  My preferred temp for a pseudo NY pie is in the 600-650 range and I think my last dough was either 66 or 67% hydration.  I have only tried to go over 800 a couple times, and I am not satisfied with a recipe yet, but I will say that I think I will stick to just 00 flour for those cooks as well as appropriate hydration level.   


It takes a surprisingly long time (and a lot of fuel) to get the stone up to 600+ but once there the recovery is pretty fast.  850-900 is another big step up and possibly not worth it in a kamdo.  Get a pizza oven if you are a Neapolitan lover, although I do want to find a recipe and system that works for the occasional pie.     



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I use about a 65-70% hydration dough, Kamado at 500 degrees and pizza as close to the dome as possible sitting on a 1" thick pizza stone and the peel covered in a thick layer of semolina flour so it slides right off like it's on ball bearings and gives a nice crunch to the crust.

Pizza has come out perfect every single time for about 4 years now and I pretty much load up my pizzas with toppings.



Pizza rack.jpg

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/23/2017 at 10:10 AM, John Setzler said:






John, is there a way to bookmark certain posts, like this one? I'd like to create a "library" if you will, of posts that I find particularly illuminating or insightful and for reference.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Slowdown said:

John, is there a way to bookmark certain posts, like this one? I'd like to create a "library" if you will, of posts that I find particularly illuminating or insightful and for reference.




You can 'follow' the thread.....




There is a follow button at the top right on the thread page....  Then you can access the stuff you are following from the link below...




Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Slowdown said:

Yeah, I'm already following the thread, I was hoping to bookmark the post, but thanks!


It's basically the same thing as a bookmark.  You can pull the list of things you follow form the "Content I follow" list just like a bookmark.  ou could also bookmark the thread in your web browers


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Content

    • By Bryant Kamado
      300℃ and 10 minutes, the skills is how to put the pizza upper on the paddle :)) 

    • By KJTerp
      Sound off everyone! What's the plan for this weekend?
      I'm thinking pizza one night, and trying a smoked chuck roast/poor mans burnt ends for the other.
      Both of these will be firsts for me. I think I have a pretty good idea on how to do the pizza based one what ive read here, and my experience with the devil hotbox inside the house, but any advice/input on the chuck roast would be appreciated. I've braised plenty, but this will be the first smoked one. I was planning on treating it exactly like brisket, with just a shorter overall cook time.
    • By pesto3
      Hi everyone, I’m a bit obsessed with pizza’s so I’ve been knocking a few pizza dough recipes out. There are so many great doughs that I just want to share them. If you like pizza’s, it’s worth a watch. Cheers.
    • By Lydia
      One of my favourite pizza combos.  
      I used the John Lanzafame base recipe, which for one pizza is listed below but please note, I usually multiply by 4 to make two pizzas today and freeze the other two for another time:
      1 teaspoon dried active yeast
      1 teaspoon salt
      1 teaspoon sugar
      100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) warm water
      2 teaspoons oil, plus extra for greasing
      160g (5 1/2oz) all purpose flour (I used pizza flour)
      1. Place first four ingredients in a bowl and whisk until just combined.
      2. Slowly whisk in olive oil
      3. Leave in a warm spot for ten minutes until it's all thick and bubbly
      4. Add the flour and knead for 15 mins.  (with my usual MO of making 4 at a time, I start the kneading on the kitchenmaid on speed 2 until just combined and then continue on speed 1 for 15 mins).
      5. Rub the inside of a large pot or bowl with a bit of oil, place the dough inside and cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs or until doubled in size.
      6. Give it a good punch to expel the trapped air.
      7. At this stage, it can be wrapped and refrigerated or frozen.  (I usually put in an additional freezer bag because it really likes to expand and will pop a whole and blow out of regular plastic wrap).  If making from frozen, bring to room temp and place nice and cosy inside a clean tea towel until risen by half again.
      8.  If going from
      I used :
      - one can of whole Italian tomatoes, blended and cooked down with a little water, salt and Italian herbs.  (this does me for 4 pizzas - I usually put half in - a small sealy bag so it's ready to defrost next time I pull out the two frozen doughs)
      - fresh mozzarella which you get in the tub of whey and which you tear apart
      - 12 lovely Aussie prawns (shrimp) which are peeled but not cooked prior to placing not the pizza
      - relatively thinly sliced zucchini
      - cherry tomatoes halved
      - some little chunks of home made pesto which I shaved off from a block I keep in the freezer
      - rind of one lemon microplaned
      - a couple of tablespoons of panko crumbs
      - a good dash of olive oil to get the panko and lemon combined and so it isn't dry. 
      I cranked the kamado up to 550F

      When assembling, i put a little bit of semolina on some greaseproof paper before rolling out the dough onto it.    
      I am in the  camp of sauce first, followed by cheese and then the toppings, pretty much in the order they're listed above.

      To cook it, I had the steel grates in position and then the deflectors on top and then used some terracotta pot plant feet as a spacer between the deflectors and the pizza stone. (a great tip from Kismet Kamado)

      It was pretty much done after 10 mins with a nice crispy bottom ... no soggy bottoms at Chez Lydia! :-)
    • By St1brew
      Ingredients for dough are 1.5 cup self rising flour and 1 plain Greek yogurt. Apparently I picked up regular plain yogurt. It tastes better with Greek though....
      After a bit of kneading it looks like this.

      Here are some of the toppings we used.

      Mozzarella, blue cheese, fresh tomatoes, capicola, and pizza sauce. Not pictured are honey and fresh chives form the yard. First up was the cheese pizza as requested by the 4 year old. Ingredients: pizza sauce and mozzarella. Here's a pic of it hitting the grill! Sort of..... More like half done. Grill at 500 degrees F for about 7 to 8 minutes per pizza.

      Here is the finished product.

       Next up was our dinner. Ingredients: Blue cheese, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, capicola, honey, and chives. Before grilling pic.
      Finished it looked like this.

      Crust pics! 1st one is cheese, second is meat.

      Crispy and delicious!  These are the closest to slice photos I got. Again 1st cheese second is meat. 

       The cheese came out better, maybe due to fact that it was a bit thinner and perhaps cooked more evenly. Super easy dough to make and much better with the greek yogurt as it almost mimics a sourdough more. Enjoy!