Elevation differences and cooking times and temp.

Hey Folks,
I haven’t been around much, I just got through the Olympics here in Whistler while opening a new location in Vancouver, crazy busy. Anyhow, we have been cooking pizzas for 4 days now and training staff and the final product is coming out a little undercooked and a bit gummy. Our dough management procedures are dialed and we made adjustments to everything we can think to compensate for a more humid warmer environment. The new location is 14 feet above sea level while Whistler in 2140 feet above sea level and this tells me that we need to cook the pizzas longer perhaps? Others disagree with me, has anyone been through this and can offer me some solid advice? Or am i just a fool?

Many thanks…

This might help:
MM ps360 bouble stack Conveyor Oven, 7 min cook time at 520 degrees. Pan pizza

:? I thought it was the other way around… longer cook times when you go up in elevation. Maybe I’m wrong. You may need to send a oven temp gauge through your new ovens to make sure they’re heating properly.

Since the boiling point of water, oxygen level percentage, and barometric pressure decrease as you increase your altitude, this simple rule may be what is causing your quality issues at sea-level instead of temp. & humidity.
I would research “High Altitude Baking” in a google search" along with contacting you oven manufacturer, and your flour producers technical help department and use that as a point to work backwards from to get your high-altitude product to perform at lower altitudes.

Typically it is the other way around when people have trouble, they need to know what works at higher elevations instead of at lower one.

In increase in temp, and/or an increase in baking times for the oven, would be a starting point if I was faced with those issues.

interesting thanks…

Many years ago I worked at a brand new PJ’s where they had brand new MM360 widebodys. From opening day we needed to set the top oven 35 degrees higher and 30 seconds slower to get a comparable cook to the bottom oven. These ovens were purchase and installed together with sequential serial numbers and the variances were that much.

The first thing I would do is check the fingers on your ovens and make sure they are set the same. This can change an ovens bake dramatically. Check the placement of the thermocouple while you are at it. The new ovens may also have different blower motors than the ovens at the old place. Check the RPM’s on them and make sure they match. Make sure your oven is actually running the speed the controller is set at. These controllers are used for many applications and the person who installed it on your new ovens may not have calibrated it properly. I’m sure Middleby or even George Mills could give you the proper dipswitch placement. If all of these are consistant between the two stacks of ovens you may just have to start from scratch and through trial and error dial your time and temp to get the optimal cook at your new place. It seems to me that all things being equal the lower elevation would need a lower temperature.

“high elevation” in cooking kicks in around 5000 feet. I doubt what you are seeing is an elevation issue when you are comparing sea level to 2000 feet. More likely it is a difference in ovens and actual cook temps and times.

Even at high elevation (we are at 6,500’) we do not do anything special to our dough compared to dough I worked with in other locations.

Yes, there is a difference in boiling temp. It is about 3 degrees F per 1000 feet. The difference between sea level and 2000 feet would be about 6 degrees F. Most ovens are not capable of setting the temp that fine to begin with. I suppose a major difference in humidity could be a contributor, but I would start with the ovens in looking for a solution.

Hi Resort:

You have received many good suggestions:

As you indicate a new shop and you are using MM PS 360 I assume you purchased a used set of ovens. Check if you have 360-S or 360 Q and are they the same at both Locations. The Q models are not as efficient as the S models as they have a slower blower motor.

Also check the fingers. There are four different models of fingers that were used in the PS 360 The original style fingers were lousy and were replaced by the S model fingers. The PS 360 ovens eventually sold to dominos were called Q for quiet ovens and were equipped with a slower blower motor and fingers designated Q which were in a different configuration. There were also some PS 360 ovens produced with what were termed goose neck fingers. It was an attempt to get the air discharge holes closer to the product. Those failed to deliver sufficient air to the rear section of the oven.

Check the thermostat probes that are inserted through holes in the back of the oven. early models had only one probe located at the center of the oven. It was later found that it was necessary to have two probes one near the intake side another near the discharge side. A oven with only one probe can be converted to two.

There are lots of ovens now on the used market with mixed, miss matched, absolutely incorrect finger configurations.

There are very few competent oven reconditioners. Most used, reconditioned ovens are being sold at prices that it would cost, a top grade outfit, to rebuild one, not counting the cost to acquire the used units to work on.

Also check the time and temperature controls, Many used oven sellers and oven reconditioners are using a wide verity of imported controls from makers all over the world. Some units may not be as accurate as others.

Caveat emptor.

George Mills

Humidity has nothing to do with the way your pizza bakes in the oven. At high elevations, water boils off at a lower temperature, so it is necessary to bake your pizzas a little longer, and or, at a slightly higher temperature. Make sure your oven is dialed in correctly with regard to top and bottom finger profiles (a quick call to Middleby Marshall will confirm if you have the correct finger configuration. We have had good success with the PS-360-WB baking at 500F/5.5 to 6-minutes, using the Lloyd Pans Hearth Bake Disks. Make sure you don’t have any sugar, milk or eggs in your dough formula, or you will get excessive color development.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


At what elevation do see a difference? My own experience has been that I did not need to adapt my dough recipe at the ~6,500 feet we work at, just the oven settings. I would think that the difference between 2K feet and sea-level would be negligable. I would simply work on the oven settings.

You’re right, we normally don’t associate any changes to the dough formulation until we get to about 4,000 feet in elevation above sea level. However, to some extent, this is dependant upon the actual dough formulation. The changes we make to a pizza dough, to compensate for increased elevation, is just a reduction in yeast level. The changes we make to the oven are an increase in both baking time and temperature. In other products like breads and cakes we would also increase the absorption, but we’ve found that’s not necessary with pizza dough.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor