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Burnt pizza crusts -- four of 'em. Any help?

mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
New BGE owner here, Large size. My wife and I tried cooking four pizzas for the first time the other night, and got burnt crusts on all four.

We had the plate setter legs down, and the three BGE feet on the plate setter. The pizza stone was then set on the three feet. It is a 16" pizza stone from Old Stone Oven, brand new.

I had the BGE at 650 for about 10-15 mins before we started cooking.

The first pizza was on for about 4 mins. The bottom of the crust was OK, but the outside edges got a bit burnt, presumably by flames coming up around the edge of the stone. But the top was NOT done. Some unmelted cheese on it.

The second pizza got a burnt bottom in 3 minutes. Mind you, it didn’t actually taste bad – the layer of char was extremely thin, and you could barely taste it. But people were put off by the appearance. The top was cooked OK.

The third pizza got a burnt bottom in 2 mins. The top was OK. Again, it didn’t taste bad, just looked bad.

The fourth pizza was burnt in 1 minute!! :S Despite the fact that I had lowered the temp of the egg to 500 by this point. The top was not fully cooked either.

Any help?

Thanks,
Mike
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Comments

  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    A couple of thoughts. If the bottom of the pizza is getting burnt and the top is not getting done possibly you didn't let all the ceramics in the egg stabilize. If you did let everything stabilize (get to and hold cooking temperature) then you have the lump too hot and need to close down the vents some.

    Pizza is being cooked from the top and bottom at the same time, thus the heat getting to the pie from the top and bottom need to be somewhat the same.

    Your pizza getting burned quicker and quicker would seem to suggest the lump bed is way too hot in comparison to the heat coming back off of the dome of the egg.

    In my case on my large I use the adjustable rig with two different setups (just depends if I an lazy or not).

    On top of the adjustable rig I put a overly thick pizza stone and a lower lump level in the fire box. Dome about 500° will give me an even to & bottom cook. If I put a lot of meat on the pie it will also cook the sausage, peperoni and beef properly.

    I will sometimes use the plate setter, legs down, spacers and the same overly thick pizza stone. It takes from 45 minutes to an hour before I begin to cook as there is a lot of ceramics in the egg.

    It seems when the stone is stable at 500° I get a great pizza cook.

    GG
  • mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
    Thanks -- how do you tell the temperature of the stone, do you use an IR thermometer? Or do you just assume that over time, the stone will have the same temp as the dome?

    I thought I saw other people cooking pizzas at 650 or higher. Is that too hot for pizza?
  • mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
    This guy is cooking at 600-650, with the same setup we had (stone on top of feet on top of plate setter):

    http://www.fredsmusicandbbq.com/category_s/663.htm

    He has no problem with burning. He says the stone is at 450, but I don't know how he knew that.
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    Mike...The Egg and ceramics were way too hot. Others may say they want 650* throwing the whole "brick oven" at 800" into the equation.... no offense, but I totally disagree. We have cooked MANY a pie on our Egg...we shoot for 500-550 tops. We set up our inner ceramics exactly as you did, and we make sure all the innards are at the same temp. (As soon as we know our fire is established, we add the plate setter, feet, and stone...and let them all come to temp together) We usually plan on one hour before we throw our first pie on with the temp stable at 500-550. Our pies take about 9-11 minutes, depending on toppings. That is another topic....do not overload!! Keep the pies pretty simple toppings wise until you get the technique down.

    As far as your pies burning after you got the egg down, I would say the ceramics inside were still way too hot. It takes a long time for the temp of the ceramic to drop.

    Don't fret...you will soon have pizza to your liking. I just believe your temp was too high. Shoot for 500-550 next time. ;) Keep on Eggin!!
  • guzzijasonguzzijason Posts: 143
    Last time I did pizza on the Egg, I had a temp in the 650-700 range. Not sure what the stone temp was, but I had a *lot* of mass between the charcoal and the pizza (plate setter, legs up, lodge cast iron wok with firebrick in it, and BGE pizza stone on that). It was too much mass, I think... I actually had a hard time getting a char on the crust, even after preheating for like an hour. Next time, I'm omitting the firebrick.

    Anyway, one other thought is that the dough (are you using dough, or ready-made crusts?) might have too much sugar in it. You can definitely do pizza in the 700-800 range, but you need to use very minimal oil/sugar in the dough.

    Also, keep in mind that burned is bad, but charred is good. Here are some pics from my last effort - I actually wish I had more char on the bottom... but this was definitely my best pizza attempt in the BGE to date.

    Here's my pizza "stack":
    IMG_1064.JPG


    IMG_1071.JPG

    IMG_1073.JPG

    __Jason
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    Yes, Infrared thermo can be used, but truly not needed. (They can be purchased at Home Depot for about $30 if you insist...but really not necessary) Put your platesetter and pizza stone in as soon as you know you have your lump going, and you will be all set. But yes, 650 is too hot for the style pizza you are making. Another post below.
  • mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
    We purposely used a dough with no sugar or oil at all.

    We did not have a great deal of toppings.

    I'm still quite confused on the optimal temperature: some people are saying 500, others saying 650 or more.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    I sometimes check it with a cheap IR thermometer.

    If you are making your own dough get your egg stable at whatever temperature you cook at, I am about 500° dome thermometer. It usually takes from 8 to 14 minutes to cook a pizza.

    I use parchment paper and leave the parchment on throughout the cook.

    There are a lot of different ways to do most of these things.

    Make some small pizza's and not too much sauce or topping and just test the cook. If the bottom burns/cooks to quick dial down the heat.

    It is going to be much easier to start at a lower temperature then work up. If you are just testing start at say 450°

    GG
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    LC is correct there is absolutely no real need to get an IR thermometer. I sure would suggest you spend you money on other accessories first.

    I just like an excuse to buy toys.

    GG
  • Rezen73Rezen73 Posts: 356
    Other's have posted good info, but it's also entirely possible that your pizza dough might be partially to blame.

    Did you hand make the pizza dough? Or did you buy some pre-made crusts made for baking in 300 degree ovens?

    Some doughs are meant for really hot temperatures, others are not as resilient.

    Additionally, how thin was the dough?

    Finally, did you use any cornmeal in between the pizza and the stone? They act as miniature ball bearings and also serve to temper the temperature shock when putting a new pizza on the stone.

    We make our own pizza dough, and always bake our pizzas around 700 degrees dome temp. Once the temp is stabilized they usually cook in about 8 minutes, depending on how thick we make the dough (usually go for thin crust personal pizza size - like 8"-10"). We've never had a burned crust (yet).
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    You are going to have to find the temperature that works for you. Some folks have cooked the pizza's at 1,100°

    I use 500° because that what most pizza houses around this area have their ovens set for and close to that temperature works for me.

    If I am cooking a deep dish or a heavy topped pizza I cook that pizza at a little lower temperature then I increase the temperature for the thinner pizza's.

    When cooking whole chicken I can cook anywhere from 250° to 500° and if I pull the chicken at 165° when cooking at any of those temperatures the chicken will be very moist and have a great taste. Don't get too worried about a 'proper' temperature.

    One thing I would suggest if you haven't done so yet, make sure you calibrate your dome thermometer. It doesn't have to be exact but you don't want it off by 50 or 70 degrees.

    This was done at 500° dome.
    pizza.jpg

    GG
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    Nice looking pizza.

    If you like sausage pizza try using some of thirdeyes farm sausage for topping. Oh man that is goooooood.

    GG
  • Rezen73Rezen73 Posts: 356
    That pizza looks absolutely amazing and scrumptious!

    Home made dough? If so, mind sharing the recipe?

    Cheers!
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    I believe that dough was a recipe that fidel posted.

    Topping was sausage with 1/2 tomato and the other half pineapple.

    I have been collecting all the pizza dough recipes posted on the forum for the last year or so. I need to pull them together and see which are close or duplicates and the make available all the different ones that have come up.

    I really like a very thin crunchy crust as wall as a puffy chewy crust. I have had some good results with the thin using a french bread recipe and only going through 1 rise then rolling.

    Thick crust, I have been looking at bread stick recipes.

    GG
  • mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
    We hand-made the dough. No sugar or oil. It was quite thin.

    We did NOT put corn meal on the stone. I wanted to do this, but my wife resisted. Guess who won that one...

    Next time we will try the corn meal.

    Is nobody using mixers? I saw another site (Jeff Varsano's NY Pizza) that recommended the mixers. But they are mighty expensive.

    BTW, we are trying to get a really bubbly outer crust. Here is Varsano's site, trying to duplicate some of the photos he has:

    http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    Great advice and probably the best place for them to start.

    Good post for all of us, thanks.

    GG
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    GG...I am getting verrry frustrated....not just this post. Getting harder and harder not to just walk away. We have newbies posting to newbies...and those of us posting for years are ignored. I am just getting frustrated. I guess I have to shed my "always nice" personna....Or we gotta be a bit more persistent. :angry:
  • mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
    Don't worry, I'm not ignoring anyone. I appreciate all the advice, folks.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    :) Yup...

    I really liked your post and it is a great place to start and folks will probably end there too.

    I think it was about a year and a half ago when the talk was the extremely high temperature pizza cooks.

    Anyway I really enjoyed this post (and your others), thanks for taking the time.

    Kent
  • Rezen73Rezen73 Posts: 356
    Wow that is an excellent website, many thanks!

    Good luck with getting the pizza crusts under control, let us know if you figure it out! :D
  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    Reisen....With your 30 posts, I know you are an expert by now. You diss the prior posters with nearly 3000 and over 12,000 posts and ignore them? Keep telling folks pizza should be cooked at 650-700...the posts for burnt crusts will never end. B)
  • mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
    Do you have a recommendation as to the best stone?
  • Get the stone Big Green Egg sells for the large egg, 14". Your 16" stone is hanging out in the hot gass stream and is getting too hot.
  • mikenmarmikenmar Posts: 32
    Thanks -- I was worried about that, actually.
  • Weekend WarriorWeekend Warrior Posts: 1,702
    Whoever you are, you hit the nail on the head. My thoughts exactly. As soon as I saw 16" stone, I knew what his problem was.

    Mark
  • guzzijasonguzzijason Posts: 143
    I don't think it takes a high post count to make good pizza. As you'll note, I've only got a measly 30-something posts (over the past few years), but a newbie, I'm not. I cook on the Egg regularly, and as far as pizza goes, I've been developing and tweaking my own dough recipe and technique for years now, finally coming close to my ideal pie.

    And yes, I prefer high temps. If I'm baking in the oven indoors, I can get it to ~550º+, and on the Egg, I shoot for 650-700º - but I alter the dough recipe slightly for the higher temp bake.

    The bottom line is, there is no single end-all beat-all recipe/tecnique to pizza. There are zillions of variants, each requiring a different process. I strive for a Neapolitan-inspired pizza - thin, crispy, but with a thicker, chewy edge crust, and "leopard spots" charred in the bottom. And crust bubbles are a must.

    A good friend of mine, who's also a pizza fanatic does his completely differently from mine - in every way. He makes a good pizza, but it looks like it was built with Teutonic precision and rolled off an assembly line. Good, but not the kind of pizza I prefer.

    I'm not claiming superiority, or that my method will work for everyone, but for *me* making pizza the way *I* like it, the method I have is the solution that I came up with after much trial and error, and I'm *very* happy with it.

    End rant.

    __Jason
  • guzzijasonguzzijason Posts: 143
    mikenmar -

    Yes, I use a KitchenAid mixer, and I work the dough with a hook for a good 10 minutes or more to work up that gluten.

    I'm also a crust bubble fan! For me, what works is leaving the dough in the refrigerator for a few days. This helps with the flavor, but also gives the yeast some time to build up gas bubbles. When the time comes to build the pizza, DO NOT USE A ROLLING PIN! This will just roll out the gas, and leave the crust flat. Hand stretch to keep the bubbles intact.

    Also, in stead of corn meal, I prefer semolina flour. I find that the corn meal creates a.... corny flavor to the crust, and the semolina is much more neutral (and usually finer grain). Use only as much as you need to slide the pizza off the peel. That's the only purpose of the semolina - if you don't use a peel (or whatever) to slide the pizza on the stone, then you don't need semolina (or cornmeal).

    Lastly, here's my dough recipe if you care to experiment with it. Keep in mind, this is a "living document" for me, and I do tweak it every so often, but I've been pretty happy with what I've got here so far:

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AQDK--V1-TU-ZDJxMnZ4Y181NGhxZnptdjh2&hl=en

    __Jason

    mikenmar wrote:
    We hand-made the dough. No sugar or oil. It was quite thin.

    We did NOT put corn meal on the stone. I wanted to do this, but my wife resisted. Guess who won that one...

    Next time we will try the corn meal.

    Is nobody using mixers? I saw another site (Jeff Varsano's NY Pizza) that recommended the mixers. But they are mighty expensive.

    BTW, we are trying to get a really bubbly outer crust. Here is Varsano's site, trying to duplicate some of the photos he has:

    http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,053
    the big stone theory mentioned is sound, it hinders the heat flow and doesnt allow the dome temps to increase as much as the bottom temps below the stone. this gets the stone itself too hot. another thing to consider is the style of pie, think lower temps if your pie is thick and higher temps for really thin pies. the big stone will work, but the setup i have is more complicated and im striveing for temps between 900 and 1200 dome and the pies are thin with minimal sauce, cheese, and toppings. too much sauce, wet style cheeses, thicker crusts, you want a slower cook like 500 and that stone isnt helping, it acts like a broiler in the lower base beneath it, some ive seen here have actually set the egg up to cook and crisp things up below the stone. heres what i had to do to use my 15.5 inch stone at high temps, its a little complicated but its all about increasing the heat flow to the top, a blue fire ball actually hovers above the stone at high temps with this setup.

    http://www.eggheadforum.com/index.php?option=com_simpleboard&Itemid=55&func=view&catid=1&id=411252
  • PhilsGrillPhilsGrill Posts: 2,256
    Too hot for pizza. Try 450-500 for about 12 mins or so.
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