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Browning the top of Pizzas?

Hey everyone, I got a craving for pizza and started reading through old threads on the forum to see if I could learn anything new before attempting one today or tomorrow. One thing I noticed is how a lot of folks around here are getting great browned toppings and crusts (I know there is some fancy italian word for the top of the crust, but I can't think of it now), while mine usually turn out barely browned or even white sometimes. I use a generic bread flour that I typically buy from Sam's Club in a 25 lb bag (got this idea from a Zippylip thread) and I set my Egg up like many do here, platesetter legs down, green feet, pizza stone. Typically, I start the Egg with the weedburner, put in the whole set up, and let it go wide open for about 20-30 minutes before putting the first pie on. The Egg usually settles in around 600-700 dome with this set up. I don't have an IR thermometer yet, but its on the wishlist.

So how are you guys doing it? Here is a few pictures that inspired me from a 2010 thread called "MidEggLantic Fest & PIZZA PIES" by @SmokinGuitarPlayer

Nice browning on top
image

While I think the looks of the above is more what I am going for, this looks like a very authentic pie with nice char on top
image

Compared to two of my recent pizza cooks...which were tasty, but not as nice looking.(sorry about the iPhone pics, this was before my camera)

White crust! AHH!
image

Slightly browned on top...
image

Tips? Comments? On one of the SmokinGuitarPlayer's threads, he mentioned "charging" the dome at high heat for a while before inserting the platesetter and stone, has anyone else tried this? I'd be kind of worried that a cold platesetter may crack from thermal shock if you dropped it into the Egg, but maybe not (seems to have worked for the SmokinGuitarPlayer). What about oil or sugar in dough? I use the Zippylip recipe, which doesn't include oil or sugar.

Thanks for reading!
- Proud owner of a Large BGE
- Norman, OK

Comments

  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    edited November 2013

    You need to get the pie higher in the dome so the convection can cook the top. Also, use a platesetter under the stone with some spacers between them. This blocks the radiant heat from the lump and keeps the stone at the egg temp so you don't cook the crust first. An adjustable rig works great for this.

    Edit: Zippy's method without the oil is something he experimented with good results but I don't think he adopted the method.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • MickeyMickey Posts: 18,644
    Plus 1 for what Little Steven  said....
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • HoovHoov Posts: 264
    Thanks @Little_Steven and @Mickey Do you have any pictures of pizzas cooked on the adjustable rig? For inspiration of course! I have no doubt that cooking high in the dome would give great results. As far as my current set up, I do use the platesetter legs down, with green feet for an air gap, and pizza stone on top. The really white crusted pizza I posted was quite charred on the bottom, so I bet the stone was quite hot, forcing me to pull it before the top was even close to browning. I think an IR thermometer might help.
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • HoovHoov Posts: 264
    Hmm, I guess the underscore doesn't work with '@' for people with two word names.
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • HoovHoov Posts: 264

    Edit: Zippy's method without the oil is something he experimented with good results but I don't think he adopted the method.

    Oh, interesting. I've tried using a little oil in the dough before. Typically get a little better browning, but still not anywhere near some of the pies I've seen on this forum.
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • MO_EgginMO_Eggin Posts: 184
    You can cheat and use torch to brown the top (not sure about a weedburner though, that might be overkill), even straight through the chimney, or throw the pie under the broiler for a minute after pulling off the egg.  

    Oil or sugar will help with browning, but if you incorporate them make sure to keep a close eye on the bottom of your pie, which will now also brown at a quicker rate.
    LBGE, St. Louis, MO
  • photo DSC_0130-1.jpg

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • HoovHoov Posts: 264
    edited November 2013
    That looks great! Oil or sugar in the dough? And did you use more than one stone with the adjustable rig? What temperature was it cooked at? Lots of questions, but I'm pumped to see great results!
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • Hoov said:
    Thanks @Little_Steven and @Mickey Do you have any pictures of pizzas cooked on the adjustable rig? For inspiration of course! I have no doubt that cooking high in the dome would give great results. As far as my current set up, I do use the platesetter legs down, with green feet for an air gap, and pizza stone on top. The really white crusted pizza I posted was quite charred on the bottom, so I bet the stone was quite hot, forcing me to pull it before the top was even close to browning. I think an IR thermometer might help.
    Your setup is good, just not high enough in the dome. If you get a three bricks or firebricks put them width wise under your platesetter legs. How hot you cookin'?

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • HoovHoov Posts: 264
    I typically cook around 600 dome temp. Firebricks under the plateswtter legs sounds like a good solution to raise the set up.
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • Good luck!

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,739
    if you have a pan that fits the stone you can fill it with sand and nestle the stone into the sand a little as well, it helps keep the stone cooler and slows the cook of the bottom crust.(you can do the same wiping a damp cool towel across the stone just before putting the pie on but the pan and sand work better) that and get the pie higher to char the crust. i believe smoking guitar player was origionally cooking at 900 but backed down to about 750 dome temps
  • HoovHoov Posts: 264
    Interesting. Is the pan with sand in addition to the platesetter, or an alternative? I've tried super high temps like 900, but it scares the heck out of me with that blue fireball, hah!
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,739

    Hoov said:
    Interesting. Is the pan with sand in addition to the platesetter, or an alternative? I've tried super high temps like 900, but it scares the heck out of me with that blue fireball, hah!
    i dont have a platesetter so i improvised with a deep tank end that looks like a wok and sits on a spider. works great for really hot cooks when filled with sand
  • I do mine at 700-900 as well. Whatever the egg gets to with it wide open.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • HoovHoov Posts: 264
    Awesome, may give that shot in the future with a wok.
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • DMWDMW Posts: 12,160
    Go to 700* and before you load the first pie wipe down the stone with a wet rag. This will lower the temp of the stone surface initially to allow the top to finish along with the bottom. I forgot this more times than not and overcook the bottom...
    My Facebook Page where I document my cooking
    Morgantown, PA

    XL BGE - S BGE - KJ Jr - HB Legacy - BS Pizza Oven - 30" Firepit - King Kooker Fryer -  PR72T - 18.5" WSM - Gasser - WSJ - BS 17" Griddle - XXL BGE - Akron Jr - BS SS36" Griddle
  • MaskedMarvelMaskedMarvel Posts: 1,907
    edited November 2013
    DMW said:
    Go to 700* and before you load the first pie wipe down the stone with a wet rag. This will lower the temp of the stone surface initially to allow the top to finish along with the bottom. I forgot this more times than not and overcook the bottom...

    This is a good tip. Also try using a sheet of parchment paper for the first few minutes or so - gives the tops time to catch up. Room temp ingredients make a more even cook. I had great success with 700* cooks, ps legs down, stainless grate next on top, and then the stone. Gives you just enough space. What size is your stone?
    Large BGE and Medium BGE
    36" Blackstone - Greensboro!


  • HoovHoov Posts: 264
    I'll try the wet cloth trick. Stone is the large bge stone, which I think is 14 inches. Thanks for all the comments!
    - Proud owner of a Large BGE
    - Norman, OK
  • SearatSearat Posts: 80
    Hoov, +1 for IR thermometer. You can map your stone to make sure it’s consistent across the surface and identify hot spots. You can also monitor the cook from above. When I’m doing pizza, I’m running BGE wide open. (For safety, look in from an angle not directly over the egg. Flash lights help you to see edges of the pie so you can control edges and top finish.)
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