Detroit Style Finger Profile for Impinger

Hey all,

I am testing a Lincoln 1100 Impinger oven on Tuesday morning. I am looking to use this oven for Detroit style pizza. I will be using Lloyd 10x8 Detroit style pans. I am looking to achieve a very crispy (almost fried, if anyone recommends oil in the pan… Like cooked on a hot deck stone then super crisped out of the pan on the stone. ) bottom crust that will stay crisp for a while and hold up for delivery, and I want the top to be cooked nicely but not all of the cheese bubbling brown. I would also like quite a bit of heat initially on the bottom so I get a good spring in the crust…making it more airy and risen and less dense…almost as if I placed the pan on a hot deck oven stone. I do NOT want it to look like it came out of a conveyor… That weirdly brown pockmarked cheese on top that many people use as a tell tale sign I would like to avoid if possible. Can anyone recommend a temperature, time, and finger profile that might get me close to this? Not sure if I should bake at a Higher temp like 500 to 550 for that oven spring…but I’d be concerned it wouldn’t be crispy.

This is my first time using an impinger, so I want a good idea of what to walk into the test bake with.

In other bakes using other methods, I have had an issue with the bottom crust not getting or not staying crispy. This is the most important aspect for me so any recommendations would be sincerely appreciated!

It will depend somewhat on what finger arrangement the oven has.
Most ovens are set up with full open fingers across the bottom row to get the maximum bake on the bottom.
I would set the temperature at 500 degrees to start then adjust the tine to get the bottom bake you want. If you are lucky and the top bakes OK with out any additional adjustment that’s great. If not you will have to play with the upper fingers to increase or decrease top heat.There are fingers available with various air hole arrangements.
George Mills

I’m in total agreement with what George has said. But rather than depending upon oven spring to achieve the desired open crumb structure you should allow the dough to proof in the pan for a period of time prior to dressing and baking. I normally get the best results using a proof time of between 45 and 75-minutes. Using oil in the pas as opposed to shortening or margarine is a bit more work (press the dough into the pan, allow to rest, press again, repeat if necessary) but it pays big dividends in achieving that fried crust characteristic along with the crispiness you are looking for.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thank you so much for the input.

Tomorrow I will be testing my first Detroit style in an impingement oven. We do let the dough proof in the Lloyd Detroit pans until well risen. I was suggested to use a hot bottom heat and very little airflow on top…I think this will replicate the results I’ve achieved in home oven and deck ovens if I’m lucky. We typically bake at 550 for 10 minutes or 525 for 12 with a flash on the stone…I’m hoping we can achieve a crisp and airy crust in the impingement oven tomorrow. It would be a godsend.

Trying to manage a volume of pizzas in pans with that cheese edge in a deck is very difficult

To replicate a 550F deck bake start with 525F in the air impinge, full open fingers across the bottom, and to allow for a longer bake time your advice to look at closing off or limiting airflow to the top of the pizza I think was spot on. You want to retain some airflow to the top of the pizza to aide in drying off moisture released from the vegetable toppings but not so much so as to result in an overly short baking time (this is what the oven companies want to show you), with deep-dish pizzas go for QUALITY, if it comes with a shorter baking time consider that as “extra pepperoni” on the pizza.
Let us know how things work out.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Not a good first run. At 500 and 525 with all top closed and all bottom open cheese was burning and bottom was crisp but barely. At 450 and 6 minute bake time, top partial and bottom all open cheese was good and bottom wasn’t even cooked. That’s as far as we got with the test. Any suggestions?

Edit: 500 and 525 were at about 9 minute bakes. Also the oven was a 3 panel impinger from Lincoln, and we noticed the bottom plates (while all open,) only had a few large holes in them. We found one plate for the bottom with many smaller holes that seemed to help a little bit.

So if 500 and 525 overly brown the cheese (even with closed fingers on top) maybe we do 475 all closed on top? We got good cheese bake and caramelized cheese edge at 450 with partial top and all open bottom, but the bottom crust was not even cooked at 6 minutes.

I wonder if it’s possible to get the bake I want out of this oven.

Lincoln has about 12 different finger types with various hole arrangements. the oven you are working with may not have the best ones for your product.

George mills I don’t think it did. They will be getting different plates from the factory so we can test further.

In general, what kind of fingers should I be looking for in the bottom? A few big holes? Many small holes? What’s standard?

Edit: the panels on the top had more holes than panels on bottom. I’m thinking maybe the panels were set up in reverse? Wouldn’t more holes mean more airflow? Possibly why my bottoms weren’t cooking. Attached are the panels on top of the oven, which I felt would have been better on the bottom

Panels that were on top rather than on bottom under conveyor

If you are talking about the stainless steel panels that you can see when looking into the oven, those are not the “fingers” that are used to regulate the airflow, the thinner perforated mesh like sleeves that slide into those panels are the fingers that are changed to regulate the airflow properties.
Sounds like full or almost full open across the bottom and maybe two radiant fingers and one partial finger might be close to what you need…What say you George?
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Then what are the metal sleeves with the holes in them in different patterns?

I’ll relay this suggestion to the rep

While the outer panels do have some influence on the airflow properties it is the inner sleeve that acts as a diffuser which does all of the work to alter the airflow properties making it more forceful or more gentle.
If you go to their web site you might be able to see what the inner finger panels look like.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Ah, that makes much more sense. I wish my rep would have explained this to me. I’ve found (even if slightly outdated) some of Lincoln’s columnating plates (the inner sleeve) and they list different velocities (see here

So in addition to the full open across the bottom and two radiant/one partial across the top, I would guess it’s important to pick the sleeve with the proper velocity as well? So maybe full open, high velocity on the bottom and radiant panels and low velocity on top? Apologies for all of the questions, but there are so many factors it seems with these ovens and I don’t want to be ignorant when I try again.

Based on that manual, I can’t tell what was under the cover plates but I could swear the bottom panels were covered by those low velocity cover plates.

There is no telling how the oven was set up without removing both the top and bottom fingers. Make sure your rep shows you how to remove them (they’re not interchangeable top to bottom) and make SURE you make a finger profile map on an index card showing the part number for each finger position top and bottom so when you dismantle things for periodic cleaning you will be able to put everything back into its proper place. Make sure you know how to remove and reinstall the conveyor too as you’ll be removing it for cleaning and to access the bottom finger panels. If by chance, things don’t work out with Lincoln, P.M. me and I’ll see what I can do for you. For what it’s worth, around 2008 Dave Smith won in the Deep-Dish Pizza Competition at the PMQ Pizza Show in Orlando, Florida and his pizza was baked in an air impingement oven, I know, because I baked it for him. That was the first pizza baked in an air impingement oven to ever in win any kind of sanctioned pizza competition. Despite what people might say about them, air impingement ovens are really great ovens and they will do a great job of baking different types of pizzas, BUT they have to be set up correctly to do so. There are so many people out there who don’t know how to set those ovens up properly and try to sell you a standard finger profile when you actually need a custom profile (it doesn’t cost any more when you’re buying a new oven) and that’s how and why air impingement ovens have gotten such a bad rap over the years. Or worse yet, they buy a used oven without a clue as to what finger profile it has and then struggle to make pizzas with it only to find out that the oven was originally profiled at the factory with a proprietary finger profile designed specifically for baking seafood dishes…That is a true story too! It prompted me to write an article in PMQ on buying used and refurbished equipment.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom gives great advice.
George Mills

PM sent!

PM was not received.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

On Thursday I have the opportunity to try an edge oven, set up with all open fingers on the bottom, and 3 radiant fingers with one partially closed finger on top.

The dough we use in our deck oven for our pizzas is a very wet dough. Should I alter it for this test? In deck oven tests and even in our home ovens we get a great crumb with this dough that is crisp on the bottom but almost cloud-like in the center (great textural contrast…gooey cheese, cloudlike interior, and crisp bottom.) We want to keep this textural variety in our Detroit inspired pies.

Will my current dough work in the impinger, or does it need slight alteration for the same results we’ve been getting?

Just want to see if we can get similar results without compromising quality of our pizza!

Never adjust your dough formulation until you have exhausted all of your oven profile options. That sounds like a pretty good starting profile.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks again for the help, Tom.

I won’t be able to change the profile, but I will be able to change bake time and temp. Edge couldn’t get a test van to my neck of the woods for a while, but an Edge owner has been kind enough to offer me time with his oven.