Why does the home stove have to be so cold?
August 27, 2006 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I always hear that restaurants and pizzerias use super-hot ovens to get that extra-good taste. So how come food for home (recipes, TV dinners, frozen pizzas, etc) always uses the paltry 350-425F range? Why not crank the thing up as high as it will go?
posted by zek to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
 
Could be that pizza ovens can deliver heat more indirectly whereas your home oven delivers it from the bottm. So if you heat it up too much the bottom heats up before the toppings cook. Especially a problem with frozen pizza being frozen (again, bottom will burn before top defrosts.)

Note if you have a pizza stone the recommended method is to heat it up at 500 F for a good half hour or more, then drop the temp to 475 and cook for 8-10 minutes. The stone diffuses the heat coming from the bottom-up.
posted by drmarcj at 9:39 AM on August 27, 2006


Well, at the Domino's I worked at, the conveyor oven ran at about 500 degrees (though my uncle says that back when Domino's had their 30-minute guarantee, it'd be set to six or seven hundred and go through in a third of the time), but it was a blower oven -- it basically forced the hot air onto the top of whatever was baking in it. Additionally, everything that went through it was non-frozen, and there were no pans, but rather screens with plenty of holes on the bottom for heat ventilation.

Speaking of ventilation, I get this feeling your house/apartment doesn't have a huge and powerful vent hood over the oven, which may be another part of why you should keep the temperatures a bit lower.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2006


Cook's Illustrated explained this a few months ago. Basically, you're not using the same type of dough.

If you baked a frozen or other store-bought pizza at 500 degrees, it would be hard and crumbly. But if you bake a pizzeria pizza at 400 degrees (instead of 800), it would be gooey.
posted by BradNelson at 9:55 AM on August 27, 2006


You would never want to try and flash-cook a frozen object. The outside would turn into coal long before the inside defrosted.

Your weber grill likes to cook things above 500 degrees, but certainly these are small things, and they're definitely not frozen.
posted by popechunk at 9:57 AM on August 27, 2006


In old style pizza ovens, the pizzas sit on hot bricks. Many home bakers swear by pizza stones and higher temperatures.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2006


Your weber grill likes to cook things above 500 degrees

Don't try to cook a frozen pizza on a Weber Grill. Sounds reasonable, but pizza with a flame-charred bottom and frozen top isn't very palatable. (yes, I'm speaking from experience...)
posted by chrisamiller at 11:41 AM on August 27, 2006


To cook a frozen pizza on a grill, first turn on all the burners and close the lid. Let it heat up for about ten minutes. Then turn off the burner(s) under where the pizza will be placed. Place the pizza on the grill where there's no direct burner beneath. Close the lid. Cook. I've done it without burning the pizza.

If you're using charcoal, only place the charcoal on one side of the grill and the pizza on the other.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2006


When I cook a pizza using homemade dough, I have the opposite problem; the top cooks first before the dough. I use 525 degrees.

Now, I cook the dough for 5-7 minutes, take it out and then add the sauce, cheese and other toppings to get a more evenly cooked pie.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:08 PM on August 27, 2006


DoctorFedora, your Domino's used a conveyor? Weird; the one I worked at (and all the others I've seen) had a more traditional oven, and the pizza cooks shuffled those pizzas in and out manually.

I vaguely remember that they might have been as high as 800 degrees, but I could be wrong. Also, the doors on those ovens were open a lot so it was not likely to be 800 inside the oven.

This was back when they had the 30 minute guarantee -- not the 30 minutes or free, but 30 minutes or $3 off. And they did generally get those pizzas out fast.
posted by litlnemo at 12:49 PM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


What worked for me was buying a better oven. Seriously, this was one of the best home improvement purchases I've ever made. I used to think I was a pretty average cook, but after using the Thermador to cook the exact same foods in the exact same way I'd always prepared them, I learned that I'm a pretty d@mn good cook and my cheap POS old oven had been sabotaging me all of these years. It was a revelation, let me tell you. I've been inspired to tackle some really challenging and exciting new dishes and cooking is actually something I look forward to rather than resenting.

I never could make a perfect pizza in my old oven, but in the new one it's a breeze. Using the convection setting, I cook just the dough for about 8 minutes (as JohnnyGunn recommended; temps and cooking times vary depending on your oven.), take it out, add the sauce, cheese, veggies, and the pepperoni last (so it gets slightly crispy, but this is a matter of taste). Watch out if you're using Canadian bacon -- in my experience it tends to keep the juices from the mushrooms and tomatoes smothered underneath (which leads to sogginess in the middle of your crust).

I also recommend using a pizza stone, and if you prefer not to make your own dough, use unbaked foccacia dough from your local supermarket bakery. I get mine from Safeway. Bon App├ętit!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:31 PM on August 27, 2006


DoctorFedora, your Domino's used a conveyor? Weird; the one I worked at (and all the others I've seen) had a more traditional oven, and the pizza cooks shuffled those pizzas in and out manually.

I vaguely remember that they might have been as high as 800 degrees, but I could be wrong. Also, the doors on those ovens were open a lot so it was not likely to be 800 inside the oven.


I was at a Dominoes last night (in the UK) - it used a conveyor oven and according to the read-out on the side, it was set at 237°C.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:55 PM on August 27, 2006


a little off topic, but it needs to be said... beefaroni pizza is a BAD idea. I speak from experience.
posted by trinarian at 4:07 PM on August 27, 2006


Why do most recipes, including but not limited to, frozen dinners and pizzas, recommend ~350F? It's a sort of all-purpose temperature for roasting and baking, that's all. If you're slow cooking a roast, however, you'd use more like ~225. If you're making a london broil or thin pork-chop, you can crank it up to ~450, or even use the broiler if you have a gas oven. Restaurants use ovens cranked up to 500F because they need the food to come out fast, so they set up their recipes to just need finishing off in the oven.

Speaking specifically about pizza, the way they do it, and you can do this at home with one of these, is to place the pizza on a ceramic slab that absorbs moisture from the pizza dough and gives a nice crust.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:30 AM on August 28, 2006


I think I once saw someone on the food network (Alton Brown?) advocate using a pizza stone in an oven set on the "Self-Clean" cycle, but I might be remembering that wrong. a little googling hasn't turned up much, but it seems like a worthy idea to me.
posted by rorycberger at 10:37 AM on August 28, 2006


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