Basic Lehmann dough, Baking Steel on bottom rack

Brussels spout pizza raw

Brussels spout pizza, pre-cook.

Cook date: November 18, 2012
Dough used: basic Lehmann dough mixed lean and with low sugar and yeast (58% hydration)
Number of pies cooked: 2 (Brussels sprout, bacon, and Parmigiano; “frozen-pizza-style” pizza
Cooking surface: Quarter-inch-thick Baking Steel, bottom rack; half-inch Baking Steel and Emile Henry Flame pizza stone placed on rack above

I used my quarter-inch-thick Baking Steel for this pizza. This time I put it on the bottom rack of the oven. On the next rack up, I had my half-inch-thick steel AND my old pizza stone arranged to cover the entire rack. (Longest edges of each running front-to-back in the oven, with stone overlapping steel by a couple inches.) Essentially they created an artificial low ceiling for the oven right over the pizza. This had the effect of blocking a significant amount of heat from rising to the thermostat. That in turn meant the oven stayed on, constantly trying to hit 550°F. This would be good if I had a broiler element above the pizza to cook the top as quickly as the crust. What actually happened, though, was that the bottom steel sheet got insanely hot and almost incinerated the dough. Well, not really. But the bottom crust was done in about 1:50. The top, not so much:

Brussels sprout pizza, cooked.

The Brussels sprout pizza, cooked. It got some amazing oven spring within less than a minute. But there wasn’t enough heat above to cook the top fast enough. There was no gumline, and no raw dough, but the cornicione didn’t brown enough and the toppings weren’t done.

It’s clear I won’t be revisiting this oven set-up again—at least not in quite the same way. I may try arranging the top steel/stone combo differently to allow for air to circulate enough to trip the thermostat and keep the temperature manageable on the bottom steel. Or I might try the same set-up but on the top of the oven chamber.

Here’s what the bottom of the Brussels sprout pizza looked like:

Brussels sprout pizza, bottom.

Brussels sprout pizza, bottom.

Doesn’t look that burned here, but it was burned and tasted bitter/acrid. This was after 3 minutes in the oven. I would have taken it out sooner, but the top was nowhere near done.

After the disaster of the first pizza, I removed the Emile Henry stone to allow some air to circulate to the thermostat better. It helped, but I don’t think I let the bottom steel cool enough. Here’s the crust from the second pizza:

Crust just about perfect.

Crust just about perfect.

Just about how I like it. I pulled it before it could get any darker. But here’s the top:

Top is underdone.

Top is underdone.

Again, it had no raw spots or gumline, but it was underdone along the rim, and the cheese and ingredients didn’t cook enough.

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