Heat - and pizzas - how does the type of heat affect pizza ?

Hi Tom,

I have, what I hope to be a good question for you.

I volunteer at a local pizza parlour, and one day, for a test, I brought in a dough ball I made at home, so I could test how
it would turn out in the ovens there at the pizza place.

First off - I’ve been making pizza for a good 15 years, and so I’ve come to know very well how my dough, tastes in my home
oven. Time after time, year after year, it’s always the same.

Anyway, I made up a batch of dough, and used one of the dough balls at home, and got my usual results.

I then took the other dough ball ( from the same batch ) and took it to the pizza parlour. We proceeded to put some sauce and cheese
on it, and into the oven it went ( conveyor type oven )

Well, to my surprise - the pizza turned out totally different from my home oven. The results were MUCH better.

I was surprised, because at home, I crank my oven to the highest setting, most probably 550 degrees F or so. ( pre-heated oven for about an hour )
and the pizza was baked directly on my pizza stone. The pizza takes about 8 mins or a bit less to do at that temp.

Now, the oven at the pizzeria had a lower temp, but the pizza turned out better. The dough, even though it was MINE, did NOT even taste like
the pizza dough I have been making for many long years.

I’m stumped. I’m beginning to think that it’s not so much the temp of the oven but the TYPE of heat the oven is producing.

Tom, I wonder if you could spend a few moments on this with me, and perhaps open my eyes on what may be happening here.

What really impressed me what this - my pizza dough which turns out fine at home, doesn’t have that “restaurant” taste, however, when I made it there,
the results were stunning, so good, that I could sell the pizza to the owner’s customers, and they would think it was his dough.

Thanks very much for your time, if you have some to spare Tom.

Re: Heat - and pizzas - how does the type of heat affect piz

One thing to remember here is that you spend $1,000.00 on a nice oven for your house. A nice pizza oven is $30,000.00 plus.
And that oven is designed just for pizza.

Re: Heat - and pizzas - how does the type of heat affect piz

What was the temperature of the oven at the pizzeria? Deck oven? gas? How long did it take in the pizza oven? Pizza ovens, I think, have heat coming from both the top and bottom where as a home oven will only have heat from the bottom. Also the height of the pizza oven is much shorter than a home oven.

Re: Heat - and pizzas - how does the type of heat affect piz

I can offer two ideas for your consideration.

  1. the dough ball you took to the pizzeria was older than the one you baked at home. Time/fermentation/conditioning of the dough will generally beneficially effect the dough. Longer time to sit, means more flavor development. You don’t say if it was same day or next day that you baked #2 . . . next day would make a big flavor difference.

  2. Pizza ovens are far more massive than the one in your home. The temperature would tend to be more stable and even in the smaller bake compartment. You will have a pizza bombarded with radiant heat from every direction relatively evenly compared to a home oven. You mentioned conveyor type, which will add infrared and impiongement as cooking mechanics. The super heated air will be directed to blow across the food and keep the air immediately touching the pizza at the set temp. You will get a small layer of cooler, ever so slightly moister air around food in a static air oven. Impingement ovens will speed the cooking process and give a more even bake than you home oven, which will cycle hot and drop then hot more often than the behemoths we fire up in pizzerias.

That’s why I love pizzeria pizza over home baked. The texture and finish is so far superior. Professional Pizza oven . . . then home oven with baking stone of some sort . . . then home oven with fan blower . . . then home oven plain . … then eat a bologna sandwich.

Re: Heat - and pizzas - how does the type of heat affect piz

Most conveyors are impingment ovens. They actually blast heat through vents at the pizza. This is a very concentrated version of a heat vent in your home. It is a forced air system that even a home convection oven cannot remotely simulate. Second, at home, you’re using a direct bottom heat and ambient air temp from the sides and above. In a conveyor oven, there is no stone or anything directly attached to the pizza that’s been pre-heated.

If you were to use a deck-style pizza oven, you’d also get considerably different results than a home oven. The stone is thicker, and the baking chamber is much wider but also much lower in height.

Re: Heat - and pizzas - how does the type of heat affect piz

I agree with the previous comments.

Also, one other point. I don’t know it’s effect in your comparison, but natural gas does add moisture to the cooking environment. So that is something else to add to your list of variables.