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Pizza Physics: Why Brick Ovens Bake the right Italian-Style Pie

Pizza Physics: Why Brick Ovens Bake the right Italian-Style Pie
The best pizzas, such as Neapolitan or Roman, have a slice of dry bread with a dark, left-sided character on the fireplace. The dough is spongy, moist and elastic, and the toppings are very hot. The brick oven of pizzeria uses them perfectly, but home cooks who struggle to recreate Italian-style pizza are more than convinced that facsimiles are almost impossible to produce .

"Even if you prepare [pizza] the same way, you can't get the same results with your home stove," says Andreas Glatz, a physician at the University of Northern Illinois.
The fact that you simply need a vaulted brick oven to bake Italian-style pizza is documented , but Glatz and Andrey Varlamov, also pizza eaters and experts at the Institute of Superconductors, Oxides and other new products and supplies in Rome, ask yourself why. The secret to the magic of the pizzeria, they concluded in an article published on last month, lies in some of the unique thermal properties of the brick oven.
They started interviewing pizzaiolos, or pizzaiolists, in Rome, owners of a Roman pizzeria. To do this, cook for 2 minutes at 626 degrees Fahrenheit. (Neapolitan cakes usually bake at a much higher temperature - at least 700 degrees.) This leaves the dough "a little damp but still moist and makes good toppings," says Glatz. Gas installations have very limited results. You burn the dough before the pizza even begins to boil, so it's not the kind of thing you want to eat, "he said.

Brick versus steel

With this in mind, physicists have realized that the main difference is how slow the brick transfers heat to mass compared to steel, a measure known as the thermal conductivity of the material. A brick oven heated to 626 degrees will heat the crust to about 392 degrees, while the highest of the pizza receives indirect heat from the oven and stays at 212 degrees when the water comes out of the cheese and tomato sauce. Glatz says that after about two minutes, the top of the pizza and the crust reaches perfection.
But the pizza crust in contact with a steel oven at the same temperature will reach 572 degrees because the metal transfers heat much faster than the brick. It's too high for the dough, says Glatz, "so it just burns." Unfortunately, because the top of the pizza must also cook, simply lowering the oven temperature to 450 degrees doesn't work. Even though it warms the crust to 392 degrees, the rest of the pizza will not get enough heat to boil when the crust is cooked, which will result in the baking dough but the cooked ones.

Home cooks could deploy a ceramic pizza stone in domestic ovens, which would work if domestic ovens could reach temperatures of up to 626 degrees. "But most electric ovens can't reach these temperatures," says Gatz. Even at 550 degrees, the upper limit of many domestic ovens, the longest baking time required from the lowest temperature will dry your pizza. In addition, Gatz has even cooler news for home cooks: "If you want the smoke and wood flavors and the dry heat of a brick oven, there is no good emulation for this effect. . "

Switch up your style

Making Italian-style pizza at home will never go away, says Kenji Lopez-Alt, author of The Food Lab and publisher of
"No matter what you are doing , a home-made oven isn't getting to deliver an absolutely perfect Neapolitan pizza," she says. "I would honestly choose a pizza style that does not require a really hot oven. Maybe more New York style pizza." New York-style pizzas often have a higher fat dough - an extra oil will help the dough be "nice and tender" for a longer cooking time, Lopez-Alt says.
Still, home cooks should not despair, López-Alt points out. "You can get close enough [to a Neapolitan pizza.]" Gatz and Varlamov's paper was correct in saying that a home oven doesn't reach the right temperatures, he says. "But they have broilers."
Preheating a steel surface (such as a skillet or possibly the bottom of the oven) in the oven at about 430 degrees will quickly cook the pizza crust, while the grill will expose the toppings to heat and heat. fast cooking.
"500-degree steel can burn pizza in 60 to 90 seconds, so take care that ," says Lopez-Alt. "If the bottom burns, hang it and let it end under the grill." This should create a well-cooked crust and lids finished without drying the pizza. "It won't be precisely the same" as a Neapolitan pizza.
But it will still be pretty good.

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