Have you ever been eagerly anticipating a piping hot pizza, only to be disappointed by a burnt crust? We’ve all been there, and it’s enough to make you want to throw in the kitchen towel. But before you give up on pizza making for good, let’s take a closer look at why this frustrating phenomenon occurs.
Too much heat coming from underneath the oven is the main culprit of burnt pizza bottoms. But other factors, such as inadequate preheating or using excess flour for dusting, can also lead to an undesirably crispy crust.
So, what can be done to avoid this disaster? In this blog post, I’ll dive into the various reasons for burnt pizza crust. I’ll also offer practical solutions for preventing this from happening again.
What Causes Pizza Bottom to Burn and How to Avoid It
The first step in fixing a problem is understanding what causes it. In the case of burnt pizza crust, there are several factors that contribute to this frustrating outcome. But don’t worry. With the right knowledge and techniques, it’s possible to avoid this problem.
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the reasons behind burnt crusts. Then we’ll explore effective solutions to help you achieve the perfect pizza.
Your Oven Gets Too Hot At the Bottom
Ovens that tend to get too hot at the bottom can cause burnt pizza bottoms. This can happen if the heating elements in the oven are faulty. When only one heating element is working, most dishes will only be cooked from one side. This can cause the dish to scorch on one side while the other side remains undercooked. This results in uneven heat distribution, leading to burnt pizza crusts.
Another reason why an oven may get too hot at the bottom is due to a malfunctioning thermostat. This can cause the oven to get much hotter than it should, leading to overheating at the bottom. To avoid this problem, regularly check the oven’s heating elements and temperature sensor. Replace any faulty parts immediately.
I would suggest using an external thermostat to gauge the problem. An external thermostat can be attached to the oven and provide accurate readings of the oven’s temperature. This will allow you to monitor the temperature during cooking.
Doing this can help ensure that the oven is not overheating and that your pizzas are baked to perfection.
And if the bottom heating element is acting out, there’s an even simpler solution. Always bake the pizzas on the central rack and stack two baking sheets at the bottom rack to block some of the heat.
Another factor that can contribute to burnt pizza bottoms is using a dirty metal pan or a cracked stone. A dirty metal pan can transfer harmful chemicals to the pizza during cooking, causing it to burn and taste bad.
Similarly, a cracked stone can lead to uneven heat distribution and cause the pizza to burn on the bottom.
If you are using planning on using a pizza steel, I’d recommend getting a perforated one to aid in better air circulation around the crust. More air circulation lessens the risk of burnt pizza bottom.
Also, clean the steel thoroughly after each use. And if you’re using a stone, carefully examine it to make sure it’s not cracked.
Your Oven Is Not Properly Preheated
When the oven is not preheated to the right temperature, the pizza will start cooking before it has a chance to heat up evenly. This can result in uneven cooking, with the bottom of the pizza burning before the rest of it is cooked.
To avoid this problem, it is important to preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes before putting the pizza in. This will allow the oven to reach the desired temperature and ensure that the pizza cooks evenly. Additionally, you can invest in an oven thermometer to track the temperature.
Using a Ton of Flour While Stretching the Dough
Using too much flour while stretching the pizza dough can also cause burnt spots on the crust. When you add too much flour to the dough, the flour burns while the crust is cooking. This can result in burnt spots on the crust and a terrible aftertaste that can ruin the overall flavor of the pizza.
To avoid this problem, it’s important to use a minimal amount of flour when stretching the dough. You should aim to use just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands or the counter. Also, keep tossing the pizza while stretching to shake off the flour from the surface.
Too Much Sugar or Oil in the Dough
Having too much sugar or oil in the pizza dough can be a recipe for disaster. Sugar burns and caramelizes at a lower temperature, and oil and other types of fat can speed up the baking process. This can cause the pizza crust to burn, ruining the overall taste and texture of the pizza.
Also, note that AP flour and some other types of flour have more natural sugars present in them than finely milled 00 flour.
When making pizza dough, stick to a lean, low-sugar, low-oil recipe with a hydration level of around 70%. This type of dough is best suited for ovens that can reach high temperatures.
The Dough Is Too Cold At the Time of Baking
Putting cold dough in a hot oven can cause thermal shock to the crust. Cold starch in the dough gets exposed to high heat, causing it to burn faster. This could result in extreme measles spots on the crust. This is different from the desirable leopard spotting that adds texture to the crust.
The solution to this problem is simple. Let the cold fermented pizza dough sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours before baking. This allows the dough to slowly come to room temperature, preventing thermal shock.
It’s important to remember that not all pizza dough is created equal. Different doughs have different rising times and fermentation processes. But, as a general rule, taking the time to let the dough come to room temperature before baking results in a more evenly baked crust.
How to Keep Pizza Crust From Burning? Actionable Tips
Now that you (hopefully) know what you might be doing wrong, let me list down the most foolproof ways to steer clear of burnt pizza bottom:
Closely Monitor the Oven Temperature
Keeping a close eye on the baking time and temperature while baking pizza is crucial to avoid burning it. Using an oven thermometer can be helpful to ensure that the oven is at the right temperature.
Try placing the pizza on the center rack of the oven. Put one or two baking sheets below it if the bottom of the oven exudes too much heat.
Use the Pizza Spinner or Pizza Turning Peel
Consider investing in a spinner or a pizza-turning peel to check the doneness level of the bottom.
Make Sure the Dough Is At the Right Temperature
The time between fridge to oven has a huge impact on the quality of the finishing pie. If your dough has been in the fridge for 24-48, give it enough time to come to room temperature before baking. This prevents thermal shock to both the dough and the baking stone.
Avoid Using Too Much Flour While Stretching
Go easy on the flour or cornmeal while stretching your dough. You don’t even need too much unless your dough is too sticky, which is a separate problem altogether.
Cut Down the Sugar and Oil
As mentioned previously, too much sugar or oil in the dough quickens the baking process. This can amp up the risk of burning your pizza. If your recipe calls for baking at a very high temp (above 450 degrees), reduce the amount of sugar and oil in the dough.
Pizza Cheese Burns Before Crust Is Done – Why?
In this case, the upper heating element of your oven might be malfunction. Or, you might be placing the tray too close to the broiler. Using high-moisture mozzarella cheese can be another possible reason.
Try cutting up the cheese into medium-size chunks (if using fresh moz). Strain it for a few hours to avoid this problem. Alternatively, consider baking with low-fat, dry mozzarella.
How to Stop Pizza Base Burning Ooni?
Here’s how I finally managed to stop torching my pizza in my Ooni:
- Reduce oil and sugar in the dough.
- Use a pizza spinner to monitor the doneness level of the bottom of the crust.
- Scrape off the burnt bits with the spatula after each use.
- Wiping down the stone with a damp rag, followed by a wipe with a dry cloth after each use.
Burnt pizza bottoms can be easily avoided by taking a few simple precautions. Ensure the right oven temperature and keep a close eye on the baking process. That will do the trick most of the time.
So don’t be discouraged if you’ve had a few burnt pizzas in the past. Just follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to baking perfect pizzas in no time.