Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stoneless Pizza

Without an oven for a couple of weeks, we could not do without pizza any longer, even though my special, new Gaggenau pizza stone and element weren't scheduled to arrive for weeks after the oven did.  I thought maybe I could make do with my regular pizza stone, and just be careful about placement and temperature, but with the shallower dimension of the Gagg oven, it would just barely fit, but touched or almost touched the glass, which seemed like an unnecessarily dangerous situation.

So, instead of remembering back to when I baked pizzas in a pan (duh), I decided to try to replicate stone baking as closely as I could with what I had.  

This meant trying to use cookie sheets, doubled to add weight and thickness for heat retention, on one of the baking tray racks, heated to 500 degrees.  This resulted in a warped cookie sheet (it returned to proper shape when cool), and white-bottomed pizza.  After a couple of tries, I finally wondered WHY I'd thought using a pan on another pan was a good idea, so removed the pizza pan, and placed the pizza right on the baking sheet rack.  That worked better, giving me a little color on the crust, but something still wasn't right.

It was a television commercial for take-and-bake pizza, admonishing people to turn their ovens to 425 degrees and come pick up a pizza, that reminded me how I used to bake pizzas, pre-stone. 

So I regained some common sense, and the next time I turned the oven to 425, but wasn't sure which mode to use.  Gaggenau seems to think convection (hot air & fans only-- I have no idea where the 'hot' is coming from) should be used for almost everything.  This is also the mode for multi-rack baking, so I thought I could bake two at once.  Both pizzas browned nicely, but we had white and wimpy pizza bottoms.  Yuck.

An old, rimless cookie sheet became my 'pizza peel' for
loading these larger, rectangular pizzas into the oven
Time to try another mode, which meant cooking one pizza at a time.  Convection with bottom heat added didn't do much better, since the moving hot air still cooked the tops much faster than the crust.  

I turned the oven to bottom heat only (the closest thing to regular old 'bake'), and we had great results... Golden and crispy crust to match the bubbly, brown tops.

"Hot Air Only" - A.K.A. Convection
The hanger shape indicates the heat is rising.
The other symbol in the upper left show the lower oven is on.

"Hot Air & Bottom Heat"- Equivalent to Convection Bake, I'd guess

"Bottom Heat Only"
This would close to 'Bake,' except on some ovens,
like the Wolf, the top element is used to a small extent
even for Bake.  There was no mode with only bottom heat.

The only problem?  20 minutes per pizza!  Even though I was making cookie sheet sized pies, the lag time was big for the size crowd we have waiting.  We'll be very happy to have the pizza stone accessory, which, according to my salesman, is still expected at the end of next week. --And at a good discount, because of the denting issues we had with the oven delivery. Yay!

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