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Is my pizza stone causing my pizzas to burn?


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I've never been good at pizza but I still try a few times a year. My issue is that the bottom burns while the top of the crust is still cooking so I end up with either a burned bottom or undercooked crust, depending on what I'm on the mood for :roll:

 

I was reading a potato recipe on Amazingribs.com this weekend and it talked about a darker pan contributing to better browning for potatoes. It left me wondering about my stone, which was maybe $15, is thinner than the stones I often see here (maybe a half inch strong), and is a kind of medium clay brown. In fact, I believe it's this one: https://www.bbqguys.com/pizzacraft/14-inch-glazed-pizza-stone-with-handles

 

Is the coloring and/or thickness possibly causing my problems?

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There are several potential causes. John Setzler posted a sticky on the topic somewhere.

 

  1. First culprit, sugar. Should be no sugar in your dough.
  2. Second culprit, your stone is too hot; hotter than you think it is. Be sure there is a physical barrier between the stone and the fire as well as an air gap between the stone and the barrier. Also ensure your grill is stabilized and heat soaked to your desired cooking temperature. Just because your thermometer says it say 500 deg F doesn't mean the entire grill is stable. Maybe the fire is still raging below and the gauge has yet to register the eventual final chamber temp.
  3. Cooking too high of temperature.  Thin crust pizzas do not need to cook much above 500 deg F and deep dish is typically around 425.
  4. Too many toppings for the chosen temperature.  Very thin and lightly topped zas can be cooked at higher temps than thick crust zas covered with lots of stuff.

Personally, I don't even use a stone, and my pizzas come out perfect every time. I have a video showing how I do that:

 

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40 minutes ago, SmallBBQr said:

What is you pizza stone setup?

 

Are you using a second stone underneath the primary cooking stone (to deflect the direct flame heat) with an air-gap between the two?  What temps?

 

I have the deflector plate on the accessory rack in the topmost position, ceramic spacers on that, and my stone on the spacers. I use parchment paper. I try to get the grill up to about 550 but I have no means of measuring the stone temperature, that's just according to the dome thermometer.

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12 minutes ago, BEER-N-BBQ by Larry said:

There are several potential causes. John Setzler posted a sticky on the topic somewhere.

 

  1. First culprit, sugar. Should be no sugar in your dough.
  2. Second culprit, your stone is too hot; hotter than you think it is. Be sure there is a physical barrier between the stone and the fire as well as an air gap between the stone and the barrier. Also ensure your grill is stabilized and heat soaked to your desired cooking temperature. Just because your thermometer says it say 500 deg F doesn't mean the entire grill is stable. Maybe the fire is still raging below and the gauge has yet to register the eventual final chamber temp.
  3. Cooking too high of temperature.  Thin crust pizzas do not need to cook much above 500 deg F and deep dish is typically around 425.
  4. Too many toppings for the chosen temperature.  Very thin and lightly topped zas can be cooked at higher temps than thick crust zas covered with lots of stuff.

 

 

 

Thank you, I'll watch the video when I'm able.

 

1. I don't think there's any sugar in the dough but I don't make it. I have a Neopolitan style pizza place by me and I buy their dough. They cook at 1000 degrees.

2. I think my stone is probably too hot but I don't have a thermometer that can measure it. See my other response about my setup.

3. Probably

4. Probably, we really pile it on.

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7 hours ago, SeaBrisket said:

I think my stone is probably too hot

If the bottom's burned before the top's browned, there are two possibilities. 

- the stone is too hot so the bottom is done first

- the dome is too far away for the top, so it lags the bottom. 

 

I put the deflector on the star rack, too, but then I put the pizza stone on an extension grate, mounted to grill grates in the top position, about 8 inches higher. Without an extension rack, you can do much the same by bringing the deflectors up to the top grate level, then using your spacers  to elevate the pizza stone from there. 

 

The idea is that you cook the top with both hot air and heat radiated from the dome. Your Neapolitan place uses a WFO, which has very hot air in the top of the dome, so it radiates very intensely. A local "arcade" put in a WFO, but they don't let the stone heat, only the air, so the top's freckled and the bottom's blond - the opposite of your problem. 

 

I suggest elevating the stone, and letting everything heat soak at your cooking temp for a half hour or more, so the ceramic dome is very hot outside, and more so inside. This gives me a balanced cook, top to bottom. Best of luck!

 

Have fun,

Frank

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1 hour ago, fbov said:

 

I put the deflector on the star rack, too, but then I put the pizza stone on an extension grate, mounted to grill grates in the top position, about 8 inches higher. Without an extension rack, you can do much the same by bringing the deflectors up to the top grate level, then using your spacers  to elevate the pizza stone from there. 

 Thank you, Frank. I do have an extender so I'll give your setup a shot.

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When  I bought the Kamado the option to do pizza was a nice to have but never thought I would go down the rabbit hole! But  I did.

 

Ultimately it is precise but not rocket science... and can be summed up:
- 900 deg - Neapolitan pizza - about 60% hydration. Short time in oven

- 550 deg - about 70 % hydration. Longer oven time. 8 - 10 minutes.

 

The dough your are buying that is meant for a WFO is most likely a very low % of hydration dough. Meant to be less time in the oven. The water evaporates and the dough start browning / burning before the topping ingredients start warming up.

 

Another thing that is very important but not pointed out as often, is the amount of toppings. The big reason the Neapolitan style pizza has just a few toppings is so that they cook/brown quickly. The more toppings you have... the longer they take to raise the temperature of the ingredients. This is as important as the hydration percentage. Topping to dough ratio.

 

Just a notch below those two items in importance is the dough amount. For most regular size Kamados, they will accomodate a 12" pizza, about the correct size for Neapolitan style. The dough balls for such a pizza should be between 180 grams to 250 grams. I am not yet skilled enough to stretch a 180 gram dough ball to 12" so I buy myself some comfort with a bit larger dough balls. Remember though, more dough.... give it a bit more cooking time. If it burns... add a bit more hydration. Practice, practice, practice.

 

My wife prefers a bit thicker crust than Neapolitan style...350 gram dough balls have worked well for me.

 

I lucked out by finding the dough recipe from Roberta's in the New York Times website. It is about 65% hydration and it's a great starting point. You can adjust accordingly. I get a great rise with nice big air bubbles in the dough (DO NOT USE A ROLLER!!!!). Let it rest for a few days and you will get great flavor also. Adjust hydration percentage and dough ball size and temperature according to your pizza type preference.

 

One last suggestion....take out all your ingredients out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before you cook the pizzas to allow the ingredients to come up to room temperature.

 

My wife recently bought me Mastering Pizza by Marc Vetri. I like that he has recipes for different styles / hydration percentages. Just starting to try out his recipes.

 

The following are 350 gram dough balls using Roberta's recipe. Overnight rise.

 

IMG_5510.thumb.jpeg.024848a75c2d261a14cccaa695855ebc.jpegIMG_5508.thumb.jpeg.1091ce3f78a233fa1e4e178f93074221.jpegIMG_5505.thumb.jpeg.86b8c588b78228ee1d985354e414f913.jpeg

 

Good Luck!!!!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll throw my 2 cents in here. Once you get a dough recipe figured out ( there is literally hundreds on Pinterest and

other places ) . I agree with fewer toppings and at room temperature , but also high moisture ingredients like mushrooms , peppers ,ect...  I normally saute before putting on pizza. Finally I think most people over sauce their pies which can add a ton of excess moisture. Watch how little sauce real good pizza restaurants use on TV , they just barely paint it on.  

Keep at it and have fun along the way  ,  Ciao 

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1 hour ago, coolpapabill said:

I'll throw my 2 cents in here. Once you get a dough recipe figured out ( there is literally hundreds on Pinterest and

other places ) . I agree with fewer toppings and at room temperature , but also high moisture ingredients like mushrooms , peppers ,ect...  I normally saute before putting on pizza. Finally I think most people over sauce their pies which can add a ton of excess moisture. Watch how little sauce real good pizza restaurants use on TV , they just barely paint it on.  

Keep at it and have fun along the way  ,  Ciao 

 

Thank you. I do saute veggies beforehand (leeks and mushrooms, usually) but then I pile them on so it sounds like I need to ease up. I usually do one pesto and two tomato based pizzas when I cook and I'm definitely too heavy handed with the pesto, which my wife makes thick and difficult to spread. The olive oil is almost certainly causing a problem.

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  • 2 years later...

I thought I'd bump this topic as I've been fighting the burnt pizza fight over the years.

 

After thinking about it for some time, and applying my Engineering background, I've STRONGLY concluded that it only stands to reason that someone that puts a crust on a hot stone in a hot kamado will burn the bottom before the top is done. Here's the science:

 

A fundamental principle of heat transfer is that different materials will conduct heat at different rates according to their "thermal conductivity". Thus, two different cooking "surfaces" I.E. a hot pizza stone and hot air, heated to identical temperatures will transfer heat at vastly different rates. 

 

Looking at the trusty wikipedia, air has a thermal conductivity of 0.026 Watts per meter•Kelvin. Stone can be roughly 50 times more. The effect is that stone can transfer heat at 50X the rate of air. We can see this effect in action when putting your hand into a hot oven. You can withstand the hot air temps because the thermal conductivity is low. Now try putting your hand in a pot of boiling water which might even be cooler than the oven. You will very quickly burn your hand because the thermal conductivity is about 25X greater than air.

 

If I had to guess, people who have success with hot stone pizzas in kamados are likely benefitting from some cooling out of the steam being trapped between the pizza and the stone. They're probably striking a lucky balance between steam cooling on the bottom and slow heat transfer through the air on the pizza top.

 

In a true neopolitan oven, I understand there is some forced convection. Again, the chef's over the years must have struck the right balance between convective hot air flow and the thermal conductivity heat transfer from the bottom stone. In a kamado, the air is still so the top should normally cook slower than the bottom.

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2 hours ago, JoeSchmoe said:

Here's the science:

I'm not an engineer, but there's one heating factor that you've not mentioned.  Radiant heating - primarily from the dome.  That's the reason folk talk about getting the pizza up into the dome - to increase that radiant heating.  Your point is still valid regarding different rates of heat transfer - and the same would be true in a conventional oven with a pizza stone, cast iron skillet or equivalent tool.

 

The second point is that you're cooking two different things - the crust with heat from the stone and the toppings with radiant / hot air.  But the toppings don't need (and won't) get to the same temperature as the crust.  It just needs to get to the temperature to brown the cheese, not cook and toast the bread.  So different heat transfer requirements. 

 

Just a couple thoughts.

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What causes your pizza to burn is that the stone is too hot.  It has nothing to do with the color of the stone.  Cooking pizzas in a kamado requires the understanding that storebought pizza doughs are designed for cooking in conventional ovens.  You MUST FOLLOW THE TEMPERTURE recommendations for that specific dough.  There is a common misunderstanding in the kamado community that you can just cook a pizza at whatever high temp you choose and it will be better because of that.  See this post:

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, John Setzler said:

What causes your pizza to burn is that the stone is too hot.  It has nothing to do with the color of the stone.  Cooking pizzas in a kamado requires the understanding that storebought pizza doughs are designed for cooking in conventional ovens.  You MUST FOLLOW THE TEMPERTURE recommendations for that specific dough.  There is a common misunderstanding in the kamado community that you can just cook a pizza at whatever high temp you choose and it will be better because of that.  See this post:

 

 

 

 

I make my own dough. The science is indisputable that a stone transfers more heat than air. Again, put your hand in a hot kamado and your hand will be fine. Put your hand on the stone for the same time and you'll be badly scolded. Same "temperatures", different HEAT... it's a weird concept for sure, but one that anyone who studies elementary thermodynamics knows well.

 

You can only get lucky enough that any trapped water vapour would cool the bottom crust enough that it won't burn until the top is done.

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3 hours ago, JoeSchmoe said:

 

I make my own dough. The science is indisputable that a stone transfers more heat than air. Again, put your hand in a hot kamado and your hand will be fine. Put your hand on the stone for the same time and you'll be badly scolded. Same "temperatures", different HEAT... it's a weird concept for sure, but one that anyone who studies elementary thermodynamics knows well.

 

You can only get lucky enough that any trapped water vapour would cool the bottom crust enough that it won't burn until the top is done.

 

I understand the dynamics of it.  I have a wood fired oven where I cook Neapolitan style pizza at 900F.  I never burn those crusts.  It's all about having the right dough for the temperature AND pizza STYLE that you want to cook.  If you are cooking a pizza with a lot of toppings on it or a pan style pizza, you need a wetter dough because the crust is gonna be in the oven longer.  If you put a 60% hydration pizza dough on a stone that is 500 degrees or hotter, it's gonna be a very crisp dough if you have a lot of toppings on it to cook.  That exact same pizza will likely be perfect in terms of texture if you do a 65% or even 70% on the same dough.  

 

The stone does cook your pizza faster, but that is the name of the game in my opinion unless you are cooking in a pan.  That rapid heat transfer leads to 'oven spring' that allows that crust to puff up and get crisp on the outside.  

 

So if you are making a dough from scratch that has no sugar in it and no excessive amount of fats, you just need to temper your toppings or cook at a lower temp.

 

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