Cooking Test Pizza at Home


I am going to be doing some test pies at home. Anyone have any tips to try to duplicate the cooking of a store oven. I recently purchased a disk from Lloyds that they said would give a “hearth” like bake…I am going to be playing with sauce and crust as well different cheese and other toppings…Thank you for your thoughts…

What kind of oven are you trying to duplicate? About the only thing you could get close to would be a deck oven by using a pizza stone. A home oven is just different.

I will be using a rotating oven…Any other things to think about when doing test pies at home…

There is probably little point in testing pies at home…You could make a perfect pie at home and then get into you own shop and never in a million years duplicate it…Testing should be done with the same equipment as you will use in production…

Just cook pies at home for pleasure and testing recipes. The crust is going to have to be created with the oven you plan to use.

I am doing it for sauce, cheese and topping’s…am I wrong in thinking I should be able to nail those down at home…I knew the crust would have to be tweaked in the shop…

I kinda figured as much…I will try replicate as much as I can but I know it will change…as mentioned above …I am trying to settle on sauce, toppings, and cheese…do you think that is doable…

I’m in the same boat I think but I’ve let go of thinking I’ll “nail” my sauce and such in my home kitchen. We’re talking way different sized batches so I’m content to wait till we get ready to roll uptown before I zone in on my spice quantities. I mean, I know what I’m using and all, I just don’t know that I’ll get the same profile by simply multiplying the measurements up to a restaurant sized batch.

For me, the home testing phase is as much for fun and “getting close” but I know I’m going to have to recalculate things once we get ready to get serious in a few weeks.

I do not know if your right or if you can get the basic mix down…I am not sure…I am hoping I can settle on the brands for ingredients and other than some tweaking the seasoning for our sauce. I know the crust will have to finished in the shop with the working oven.

Before I starting out, I picked up a book called The Art of Pizza Making by Dominick A. DeAngelis ( There are some good nuggets of info in this book including the idea of mimicking a commercial oven buy creating baffles with aluminum foil in a home oven. I never actually did this, but it may work.

Have fun, enjoy eating some great pizza, and WOW your friends, but don’t expect to duplicate at home, using any type of home oven, what you will be producing at your store with a commercial pizza oven. Home ovens just don’t have the heat capacity to give you the same baking properties. Even with a pizza stone, it ain’t gonna happen.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Does that mean the choosing the manufacture of cheese, peperoni, etc is not a smart thing to do. Is getting your basic sauce mix down also not doable. I know the bake will not be same or perhaps even close. But I thought I get at least nail down my most of my suppliers.

You will have a shot as the sauce, but that’s about all. The cheese can perform way differently under different baking conditions. Maybe look at the cheese to get an idea of flavor profile, and identify several different brands to look at when you get your oven installed. Same for the pepperoni, look only at the flavor profile as the oven type can/will influence the way it looks. I always recommend that you try to have your kitchen area finished out first, before the public area. This will allow you to be doing the necessary testing and product development while the front of the store is being completed. In most stores that I have opened, we are doing this work about 2-weeks before the front is finished. Think of it like this, first you will be developing a dough formula and dough management procedure, then you will develop your pizza and select the toppings you want to use, then fine tune everything and begin sending pizzas out for sampling, local businesses, banks (if they helped you with your financing), light industry, friends, etc. Be sure to have everything in YOUR boxes so they all know where it came from. Put a sign in your window “Opening Soon”. As soon as the front is finished, do a silent opening, then, only when you feel confident enough to meet the masses head on, do a grand opening. Some stores do so well with their silent/quiet opening that they never feel the need to do a grand opening. Every store is different.
Good Luck,
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thank you I am going to give it a look…

The biggest problem is heat recovery. In a home oven, the heat recovery, from when you simply open the oven door, is very slow (more economical operation), where as the commercial oven has a lot more BTU available, (more than some home furnaces) and the design minimizes heat loss when the door is opened. Your best bet might be to line the top and bottom racks of the oven with fire bricks, the racks should be adjusted so you have about 8-inches space between them, then place a pizza stone on the rack between the fire bricks, after everything has come up to temperature, you might be able to improve the baking properties of your home oven so it comes a little closer to that of a commercial pizza oven. No promises though.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks I will give it a shot…I tried Lloyd’s for a stone and they recommend a disk they have that is supposed to give a hearth like bake. Perhaps I went to the wrong source. I tired it this weekend and was impressed as I reheated some pizza I bought and it improved the pizza as it was undercooked to start with.

The Lloyd’s Hearth Bake Disks are designed specifically for use with air impingement ovens. They will work reasonably well with the older generqation ovens, but they really shine when used in one of the new, high efficiency ovens with improved airflow characteristics. To get the best bake with these disks, you will need to delete all sugar from the dough formula, bring the baking temperature up to something in the 465 to 500F range (depending upon the exact oven you are using) and set the bake time(conveyor speed) at 4.5 to 5-minutes with one of the new ovens, or 5.25 to 5.75-minutes with one of the older ovens.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

I’ve recently been stunned by the differences between home ovens, much less home ovens vs. commercial ovens.

Years ago, we bought a top end home oven which I have been using to perfect my pizzas. The salesman thought it odd that I found the ability to go to 550 degrees an advantage. He’d never heard of cooking anything at 550 degrees.

So I eventually perfected a few styles of pizza in this new oven, and with a gathering of friends coming up, I decided it was time to take my show on the road. Our host had a less expensive oven that would only go to 500 degrees. I figured that this would be sufficient and verified this fact by doing a test pie at 500 in my oven.

Now, I was using my dough, my pans, my ingredients. Everything was the same except for the oven. I put the pan on the bottom rack as usual. A short time later I realized that the other pan I had left on the top of the stove was getting really hot and the undressed dough in it was already starting to cook. I pulled out the pizza in the oven and found that the bottom was starting to burn on the bottom. I went to battle stations, and by moving things around between racks arrived at a non-embarrassing, but sub-optimal result.

In retrospect, that bottom element in the relatively uninsulated oven had to work much harder to keep a 500 degree temp than what my well-insulated oven needed to in order to keep a 550 degree temp. Where it mattered, the 500 degree oven was hotter than my 550 degree oven.

I’ve cooked a LOT of home pizzas over the past year in preparation for my pizza place so I hope some of my experience helps you. For the past 6 months, I’ve been cooking a low hydration (37%) cracker crust using my home oven with very good results.

I have a 3 element Bosch wall oven that goes to 550. I use a cheap “pizza stone” from bed bath and beyond. It sits directly on the insulated floor of the (obviously electric) oven. I preheat the stone for at least 45 minutes on Convection Broil (all three elements and the fan). This is very important, especially if you want to cook more than one pie! I crack the oven door frequently to lower the temperature in the oven. This makes the oven cycle on raising the temperature of the stone significantly. When I’m ready to cook, I switch to regular “bake mode” - bottom element only and no fan. I continue to crack the door while it is cooking until I hear the element cycle. I use sugar in my dough as well as oil and achieve a fabulous pizzeria style cracker crust in 7-8 minutes.

I know results will differ with other crusts and other ovens, but I hope you get something useful out of it. I am far more optimistic about the ability to cook ONE pizzeria quality pizza in a home oven. Now if you have to cook multiple pizzas, each successive pizza will decline in quality unless you let the oven recover for 30 minutes or so…

On the contrary, if you want to open up shop, how do you perfect your pizza before getting into a shop that costs you $2000 a month to lease. You do not want to waste time tinkering around then.

  1. I could get a deck oven and set it up in my back yard or garage. I am not sure what the neighbors will think. Venting in the garage would be an issue (attached garage).

  2. Get a 240v commercial counter top oven. I am not convinced this will yield the same results as a gas deck oven.

  3. Rent a commercial kitchen somewhere? But they still may not have the oven I want/plan on using.

  4. Other options???