Odd question about electrical ovens.
June 5, 2010 5:40 PM   Subscribe

So, I have an electric oven, and I sometimes make pizza by simply putting it directly on the grate inside. That means, of course, some cheese falls on the bottom of the oven, which I then have to clean. I was thinking about putting in a baking sheet to catch that stuff, but I was wondering if it will affect cooking time? Or increase power usage or something? The coil is at the bottom of the stove.
posted by wild like kudzu to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I do exactly this all the time and it doesn't seem to affect the cooking time for me. Just check it and leave it in a few minutes longer if it doesn't look quite done in the middle yet.
posted by kthxbi at 5:41 PM on June 5, 2010

I put foil under the heating element and replace that from time to time. I don't think it has much effect on temp.
posted by amanda at 5:44 PM on June 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

I've never put my pizza directly on the grate. A baking sheet generally adds 1-2 minutes to the cooking time, and depending on the pizza's formulation, it may reduce some of the crispiness.
posted by WCityMike at 5:48 PM on June 5, 2010

Tin foil is awesome for this. Put it in the bottom of the oven under the heating element, shiny side down. Weighs approximately nothing, so doesn't affect cooking time. Just replace it if it gets too gunked up.
posted by dodecapus at 5:55 PM on June 5, 2010

Could you maybe just add some aluminum foil to the lower rack? It seems like that would catch drips but not be "substantial" enough to affect cooking time.
Disclaimer: I made a C- in college physics
posted by pointystick at 5:56 PM on June 5, 2010

all good ideas. another question, i don't really know much about tin foil, but if it is actually aluminum could heating it be bad for your health?
posted by wild like kudzu at 5:58 PM on June 5, 2010

Heat the oven up first. Foil above elements, below pizza, have a second rack? Foil under element has led to small fires for me, but I was cooking those things like three times a day for a while.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:00 PM on June 5, 2010

Leaving a sheet of foil at the bottom of the oven can trap heat and prematurely damage oven components.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:02 PM on June 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Bake it on a cookie sheet, just put the cookie sheet in when you're heating up the oven, then slide the pizza in on top of it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:09 PM on June 5, 2010

wild like kudzu: all good ideas. another question, i don't really know much about tin foil, but if it is actually aluminum could heating it be bad for your health?

Boy Scouts, including me, commonly wrapped raw hamburger meat and raw vegetables in aluminum fire and proceed to heat it via campfire. That's far more direct exposure to heated aluminum foil than it gets in an oven. No ill effects.
posted by WCityMike at 6:15 PM on June 5, 2010

that's what an oven liner is for!!
posted by changeling at 6:23 PM on June 5, 2010

if it is actually aluminum could heating it be bad for your health?

Aluminum melts at 1200F and vaporizes at 4600F. Your oven can't even come close to getting that hot.

Maybe you're getting confused by the fact that you're advised not to overheat aluminum non-stick cookware. But the reasoning there is that excessive heat causes the non-stick coating to separate and flake off, it has nothing to do with the aluminum itself.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:29 PM on June 5, 2010

About foil on the bottom of the oven: we did this and melted the element. Yes, the element actually got melt-y and misshapen. When we went to get a new one, we were told to not use foil in this way. SO, you this may not be a good idea.
posted by fifilaru at 6:42 PM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, this sounds like a great application for a baking stone (or even an oven-safe unglazed floor tile) -- crispier crusts, more stable oven temperatures and catching spills all in one. I do pizzas on mine all the time; you can use a piece of parchment to set them in easily and keep them from sticking to the stone.
posted by nonliteral at 7:04 PM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pizza stones yield a nice crispy crust. Be aware that you have to put the stone in the oven before heating, else it will shatter.
posted by neuron at 7:27 PM on June 5, 2010

You most likely have two or more oven racks. Bake the pizza on one rack, and put a baking sheet on the other rack under the one holding the pizza. Have the baking sheet in the oven while it's being preheated. Your pizza baking experience should be exactly the same as it is now, except for not having cheese on the oven floor.

This also works when roasting peppers under the broiler.
posted by zinfandel at 8:07 PM on June 5, 2010

I'm 2nding (thirding?) just putting the cookie sheet in at the beginning when you heat up the oven. The cooking time will still be the same, but you may not like that the crispiness of the crust is a little bit less crispy.
posted by Unred at 8:55 PM on June 5, 2010

Don't use aluminum foil; it seems to shorten element life and it can sometimes stick to the porcelain liner of the oven. But you can slide a plain cookie sheet under the element no problem. Some higher end ovens used to come with stainless or porcelain sheets on five sides to make cleaning easier.
posted by Mitheral at 8:57 PM on June 5, 2010

Huh. I've never had a problem with foil in the bottom of the oven. I've done it for years in multiple ovens and never had an element burn out or anything. I put it under the element, not touching it. Weird. Maybe I'll get an oven liner.

Also, I've had baking times alter when I throw in an extra thing to cook like around thanksgiving or trying to cook two pizzas at once. I would think an extra pan on a shelf *might* alter cooking times and maybe the crispiness of your pizza. But you can just experiment.
posted by amanda at 9:29 AM on June 6, 2010

Whatever you decide, you should definitely put something under the pizza to catch the drips. I almost set fire to my kitchen a couple years ago by putting a (very thin crust) pizza directly on the rack. The side slipped through, cheese dripped into the fire (gas oven), and then the edge of the pizza caught on fire. And aside from the almost dying thing, there was a huge mess to clean up after. Don't be me.
posted by phunniemee at 10:02 AM on June 6, 2010

I'd like to say that my feeling that aluminum foil can cause burner burnout was the result of rigorous scientific studies but alas it is just the result of years of observation and we all know how fraught with selection bias, confirmation bias and probably a couple other gotchas personal experience can be which is why I qualified my statement.

Never the less a disproportionate number of burner out elements in my experience occurred in conjunction with the use of aluminum foil as a pan/oven liner. My dad had the theory that the wavy nature of the aluminum foil can cause concentrative reflective hot spots.

It is without a doubt true that aluminum foil + spill (which is the reason for the foil in the first place) + heat can create a composite that is extremely difficult to remove from porcelain surfaces. I've spent many an hour at that task.
posted by Mitheral at 12:20 PM on June 6, 2010

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