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jeads 02-23-2010 05:01 PM

Pizza bottoms burnt
I saw another post with some good information for fixing burnt pizza bottoms, but am trying to get to the bottom of my problems and the post kind of ended with no real help in my situation.

here is some information:
I am a self taught pizza man and have just started wood fired pizzas commercially.
my recipe is this
AP unbleached flour 65%
WW Flour 35%
Water (ICE) 75%
Olive oil 3%
Salt 3%
ADY .7%

I use ice water in the dough and ball after kneading. Then into the fridge for 24-48 hours. The dough " works" perfectly. Great bubbles, extendability, color,etc. But from time to time i have crazy problems with burning on bottom.

My oven has a 54" wide deck and 8" thick walls. I fire for 2 hours prior to production. The ceiling and walls are between 900 and 1100 F.
The floor usually sits in the 700 to 825 range.
The burning has to be from the dough because i know others fire much hotter. But i am not sure where to start with tweaking the dough.
Is it ingredients or fermentation or both.
The reason that i do not bulk ferment is so that the dough lasts longer in the fridge over a few days if i need it to. I make 10-12" pies with 1/2 lb dough balls and they are "good" for a few days in the fridge, although not as good on the fourth day as on the second.

thanks for reading this far. I have really enjoyed the reading on the forum the last few days and feel great to be in such great company.

Jed 02-24-2010 10:18 AM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
Hi John,

Welcome to the forum.

The only detail that catches my inexperienced eye, is the oil.

I have been using the formula that is posted on this Forno Bravo site to build my pizza, and have been happy with the results. This formula does not use oil. The oil will burn more easily than the other ingredients in the mix, and isn't necessary.

Where are you in the State? I'm in Bend, and we have a pretty neat community of wood oven users developing here. I know of at least three ovens that are taking shape in the area...

Maybe some of the more experienced folks can weigh in with addition comments on your mix, but I'd start by leaving the oil for the toppings..

If you can, post a couple of pictures of your oven, pictures are always good!


jeads 02-24-2010 10:34 AM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
1 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the reply
I live in Portland. I am a new import from the midwest and would love to get involved with some other Wood oven folks.
I am going to test the dough without oil this week and see if that makes a difference. The only thing that makes me think that might not be all the problem is that i make 400 pizzas a week and i only have problems 10% of the time. I have used the same exact recipe for 4 months in the oven and only see problems once in a while.
Also, sometimes the problems occur when the oven floor is 650 deg f and sometimes they only happen when over 800 deg f, so i do not think it is a temp problem per se

Wiley 02-24-2010 11:35 AM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt

Rather than remove the oil completely I think I would suggest that you just reduce the oil content . Instead of 3% try it with half that amount or even just 2 %. The percentage of problem pizzas would seem to indicate that perhaps your percentage of oil is close to a tipping point where problems begin to appear rather than something that needs to be removed completely.

The oil does help with the texture, extensibility etc. and so leaving it completely out would most likely incur other problems.
Trying to help,

jeads 02-24-2010 12:28 PM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
how much can over-fermentation in the fridge play into bottoms being burnt.
I assume the conversion of starches to sugars could cause problems, but not exactly sure how much.

jeads 02-24-2010 12:38 PM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
3 Attachment(s)
here are some more photos of the oven. it is inside of a food cart

Wiley 02-24-2010 11:07 PM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
Good photos John!

I might be wrong but it is my understanding that the changing of starch to sugar is an enzymatic conversion and it is the yeast that feeds on this sugar and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as by products. The alcohol is vaporized and burned off during baking and it is the carbon dioxide that produces the vesicles (holes). When something is over proofed the available starch has all been converted to sugar and consumed by the yeast and the yeast has then basically starved. Over proofing theoretically should not cause more burning, at least not due to more sugar being present.

Hope this helps, and if I've got something wrong in this explanation I hope someone will correct me.


jeads 02-24-2010 11:17 PM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
Tonight we removed all the oil from the crust in order to test the theory to the extreme and it made a noticeable difference.
Not only did we have very little browning on the bottom, but the crust was much more chewy. The oven floor was only registering about 650f, so the proof will be when the floor gets much hotter.
hope this works.
If this works, i will add back some of the oil to tenderize and find a good balance.

texassourdough 03-01-2010 06:22 AM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
Hi John!

Sorry I am late but.....

Oil allows better heat transfer on contact so sort of fries the dough and can lead to burning. Your pie picture shows a lot of oven spring on the cornicione which suggests you may have big bubbles which also tends to encourage leoparding or spot burning. You also may find that the age of the dough influences bottom burning for the sugar content varies quite a bit over the life of the dough and sugar encourages browning (and burning).

Sounds like getting the oil out helped a lot. I would suggest avoiding temps over about 775 if possible or below about 700 on the hearth. Sounds like you are making progress!

Hang in there!

Spunkoid 03-24-2010 06:16 PM

Re: Pizza bottoms burnt
How soon do you put the pizza in after moving your fire over to the side? Just an observation I made during a dark and cold winter night.
I lit a hot fire, let it burn down, moved it to the side of the oven and noticed the oven floor where the fire was, glowing a deep red. The floor was red hot under the fire and it needs a little time to cool.
Now I let the floor cool, but keep the fire on the side fed well. Sometimes I have even had flames licking across the roof of the dome and down the other side. The pizzas cook fast but only burn if I don't take them out quickly. Fastest pizza cook times have been less than one minute, no burning.

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