Cooking Pizza In A Convection Oven

I have a situation were I will have to cook my traditional thin crust pizza in a full size electric convection oven. I’ve been told this should not be a problem. In the past I’ve used only Bakers Pride deck ovens. Are there any serious concerns I should have or major modifications I need to make, other than the obvious.

Thanks,
Nick

Hi Pizzafix:

Most all pizzas are baked with a lot more heat on the bottom than on the top. That is not possible with a convection oven.

I doubt if you will be able to bake pizzas with the type bottom you are accustomed to. But that’s not to say that the result will be unacceptable. You will have to try it.

George Mills

you can do a low-volume pizza oven with success, but…

get some food safe clay tiles or order a stone/brick & place over the entire bottom rack…

use an XL screen & jerry rig so to “scatter” the forced air-flow around screen so it doesn’t blow directly across the pizza…

keep the temp around 500 or so & you’ll get a decent pie w/further experimentation…

Hi, just switched from Bakers Pride deck oven to a Doyon Piz6 . It is basically a three deck convection oven. True, it does not cook the bottom of the crust as dark as the Bakers Pride did, however, it is golden and fully cooked. Want that dark crust? Deck the pie for last 2 minutes. Volume? How about 72- 14" pies an hour. That’s more pies than Doyon rates there FC2 conveyor at. I do not understand why this oven isn’t selling like wildfire?

Boatnut
How idiot proof is your oven? With the FC2 there is no tending one staff puts the pizza on the belt and the person on cut takes it off when it gets out of the oven. There is no need to time the pizza or watch to see if it is done. That is likely why most places are converting to conveyor type ovens.

With the low unemployment rates I am lucky to find staff that will show up for their shift and can read the bills to make the pizzas let alone make a judgement call as to when the pizza is done.

All very valid points. We also have a hell of a time getting staff. Seems mostly drivers are the hard ones to get though. Personally I wouldn’t have anybody building or cooking our product that wasn’t capable of pulling a pizza out when the timer went off or it looked done. Maybe we are lucky in having cooking staff able to do this?
I chose this oven for many reasons… lack of electrical supply available in our unit, no gas or ability to install range hoods, extremely small space (537 sg ft total) , needed high volume capacity and last ,but not least, ability to cook those cheese only and the loaded pies at the same time as the wings and all be cooked correctly for the same order when getting slammed on a Friday. Try that in a conveyor!
Man I sound like I should sell these things lol… Clive

ability to cook those cheese only and the loaded pies at the same time as the wings and all be cooked correctly for the same order when getting slammed on a Friday. Try that in a conveyor!

I do it every Friday night, cheese pizzas, combo pizzas, wings all side by side in my conveyor ovens. The big difference is each of my 3 conveyors can cook nearly 100 16" pizzas per hour.

I really can’t believe you posted that! You really haven’t looked at conveyors at all. Whilst I’m on gas I’m sure you can get electric ovens that would fit in the small space you have.

As Paul says - come to any store with a conveyor set up correctly and watch as pie after pie (fully loaded or just cheese) comes out of the oven with Chicken and other sides - all cooked perfectly. We do chicken products, belgium waffles and other desserts in then oven all at the same time and each comes out perfect.

Paul - maybe you wana go halfs on a box of timers - one for each pizza just so we can be sure they’re really ready! :lol:

Not to bring the topic back to the original question or anything :smiley: , but the suggestion for tiles or a baking stone could be a good one. If you line your shelves, then you can get a crisper/browner crust maybe. Though, less airflow under the pies could make for uneven baking. Test the oven with and without the stones/tiles. I predict good results with the stones.

What kind of volume are you having to put out?

I had to cook 30-40 pizzas a few years ago out of a blodgett convection oven. We formulated our dough as usual and cooked on screens as we normally do in our conveyors. They cooked pretty well, the crust didn’t brown as much by the time the cheese was cooked. Not a bad cook though.

Ok, maybe I do not have direct experience with a conveyor, however, I do know that a cheese only pie cooks a hell of a lot quicker than a loaded pie. Am I wrong or would both put in at the same time on a full conveyor (that you can NOT reach in and"push the loaded one back" because the belt is full) either undercook the loaded pie or overcook the cheese only? Maybe our loaded pie is different than what I see most guys produce that have a conveyor? I do not mean to insult, just that a loaded large at our place weighs approx 4lbs. Not just a larger mix of toppings. It takes substantially longer to cook.

well first step is to get a stone that will atleast help with the bottom.

Boatnut, not to be arguementative, but I’m not the only one to use conveyors and be happy with the results with all the pizzas cooked at the same time and temp. Here’s a quote from the dough doctor here on the PMQ site.

Tom Lehmann

Joined: 13 Jun 2006
Posts: 679

… We just finished baking both thin and thick crust (pan style) pizzas side by side, at the same time and temperature and finger profile in these ovens with both pizzas perfectly baked. We also got adventuresome and went from plain cheese to as many as 8 or 9 different toppings with lots of veggies included, and ran these through the ovens in a random manner as they would be in a store on a busy Friday night. All of the pizzas were again perfectly baked (mind you, thin and thick crust, pan style, baked side by side). Want to know what I thought the best part was? Not a “swamp pizza” in the bunch! Every pizza was dry on top. The pans that we have been using are the Lloyd Pans Hearth Bake Disks for the thin crusts and their black anodized deep-dish pans for the thick crusts. I can’t say that things will work out this well for everyone, but I can assure you that the potential is certainly there with these ovens.
Please excuse me if I sound like I’m singing to the choir, but these new ovens are just so much better than anything we’ve ever had before, makes me curious as to what exciting new tricks the oven manufacturers are going to come up with next.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

I’ll respond here and try to keep it on topic of the thread as well. One of the big challenges of multi-topping pies is that the vegetables water out and pool in the pizza. Modern conveyors use forced air to solve the problem and evaporate the pooling juices, thereby eliminating a heat sink, and cooking faster than one would think. Deck ovens have to boil off the juices, which is exceedingly slow, therefor cooking slower than a pie with no toppings.

The Convection oven may be a help in that situation with the moving air, but not so much as an impingement oven with the air fingers. So, in the convection, you may want to go ahead and parcook the wetter toppings before putting on the pie.

Hi guys great topic great comments.

I want to add a couple of things.

RE: Baked products being done in a convection oven. I have noted the real professional type bakers turn the product 180 degrees about 1/2 way through the baking cycle because as the hot air is being blown from the rear of the oven and product at the rear bakes faster.

Next:

The reason the air impingement conveyor ovens bake most all pies with multiple toppings at the same time is. The high velocity streams of hot air directed down on the top of the pizza penetrate in, down and around the toppings driving out the layer of cold air that forms around a product being baked .

In a deck type of oven a layer of cold air is formed around the pie, the temperature and life span of which depends on the amount of negative BTU present in the product baked which is influenced by the amount of toppings applied. More toppings more negative BTU and the larger and stronger the cold layer of air created. Ergo more time to bake.

George Mills

Well guys, I understand the technology as explained, I am in no way as experienced in this business as most of yourselves and am learning every day, however, I am making referance to cooking the whole pie, particularly the crust and toppings under the cheese. Again ,I believe that we bake a different product than most high volume stores in that our cheese portions (weighed) would probably give most owners reason for nightmares. 10" gets 200grams (7oz)of our Sapputo Mozz/N Zealand Edam house blend, up to our 14" getting 375grams (13.2). “Extra cheese” is ordered approx 22% of the time according to the POS increasing those numbers even more. Add some cheddar and or feta and we often cook a pie with over a pound of cheese on it!

Take a pie and completely cover the toppings ( with some of the wetter toppings on top) and I can not believe the loaded pie will be cooked internally the same as the cheese only.
Doyon must have checked with those pro bakers George as the airflow thru the oven stops, waits an adjustable length of time, and then reverses thus giving the same effect as the 180 deg turn!

Our food costs are running 35-37% , I do not actively “work” at the store and our sales are growing almost daily. Last month,July, we had 18% of total sales dollars left for pre tax profit. This month we will finish with a record month again (up another 15%).I am convinced it has a lot to do with the volume of toppings and cheese as this is the most common feedback I hear.

Recent inductee to the convection camp (lol…) Clive.

I think I am confused by boatnut’s argument: a convection oven will cook more efficiently . . . but an impingement oven (a hyper-efficient convection oven) cannot possibly bake more efficiently?

I am also trying to figure out the conflicting evidence being explanation of dozens of operators who support the assertion that a 6 topping and a cheese only pizza cook almost identically. Either these ovens are substantially as described, of there is a vast conspiracy of ignorance about what is coming out the ends of those ovens. I drive a deck oven, so I can neither confirm nor deny the phenomenon in question.

The good impingement ovens do cook them identically. I mean, I am sure there might be a slight difference in internal temp, but it is substantially less than what you will find with a deck oven.

Ok, to clarify…
I do not profess to have anything other than a very basic knowledge. I am definately not an expert. The only experience I have is with a Bakers pride deck oven and now the new Doyon Piz6 “kinda convection type”. My old deck oven used to bog down and take up to 20 minutes to cook our loaded pies on a busy Friday night and 15 minutes for low topping load pies. The new oven now cooks “regular” topping load pies in 9 minutes and takes 12 minutes for one of our loaded pies. Does not slow down, same time every time. Since my last post I have taken a loaded pie and a cheese only pie into another shop that cooks with a large 32" deck conveyor. His product is way closer to the big chains in that a loaded pie just gets a larger variety of toppings, not much more depth or weight, and he uses approx 50% of the cheese I do. He cooked his “cheese only” and his loaded and we cooked mine at the same settings. His were both acceptable. My cheese only was only just cooked (I think it is called the gum line? ) in that it appeared the crust was maybe not quite done internally? My loaded pie was positively uncooked and wet.
I know you could adjust his oven ( almost new blodgett ?) to help, however, I saw the same oven produce two completely different results at the same time with the only difference between the two being topping/cheese load.
I think the logic of a 2" thick steak taking longer to cook than a 3/4" steak must hold here? given enough cheese on top to present a sealed surface to the forced air?
My point is that we produce a ridiculously overcheesed, heavily loaded with toppings product that does not fit the “norm” in cooking. For us the convection type oven we got fit our needs exactly due to production capacity, relatively low electrical requirements and small footprint. In fact it was the only oven I could find that would do the job. I agree that it does take a little longer than a conveyor, requires timing the orders and in general a slightly more skilled operator but, in our case produces a better product. Can I go drinkin now?

Boatnut

You are being very simplistic thinking you can go to another store, with as you say much different pies and expect to get your pie cooked to the same standard in his oven as you do in your own!

You are missing a very important point.

With a desk/convection oven you need to figure out temp and time to get the right results. You need to have someone with experience to work your oven to figure out the time and the hot spots etc for every pie. A conveyor oven is no different but you do this up front (and you don;t get hot spots) and once you’ve figured it out then its set for every pie - every time hence no need for an experienced oven hand.

A conveyor oven is usually set up to cook a particular type of pie at a desired speed. To throw a totally different type of pie into a conveyor set up to cook something different isn’t going to cook the same. So when you go to another shop and cook your (different) pie in his oven it ain’t going to work. Imagine him coming and cooking his pie in your oven for the same length of time as you cook yours?? Or you cooking your pie in your new oven for the same time you did in your old one. EVERY OVEN IS DIFFERENT.

A conveyor oven has fingers which run above and below the conveyor. These fingers have the ‘holes’ from which the hot air/heat is forced. The layout of the fingers is highly customisable. The finger combination can be changed in many ways, number of fingers, position of fingers (some have blank plates instead of fingers to reduce the heat), type of fingers (they can have more or less holes).

What does this mean?

Well when you choose your oven you work with the oven people to get the oven set up to cook YOUR pies in the length of time you want. You test different combinations and then find the right results. Once you’ve found the correct set up you’re done - and you don’t need to change it.

If you do have a house style with more toppings then for a basic stand point yes - you’re going to need more heat/time than someone with much less loaded pies. In exactly the same way that thin crust pizza’s require less time than deep pan.

Conveyor ovens are not magic and they do require set up however as said above a) once you’ve done the set up its done for good, b) they are very efficient and c) they are able to deal with the loaded/unloaded (within reason) pie problem.

Hope this helps

Wiz