Why Pizza is Best to be Cooked in a Traditional Way

Why Pizza is Best to be Cooked in a Traditional Way

Are you a pizza connoisseur?

If yes, you know well how special and different pizza made the traditional way tastes.



What makes the pizza different from one made from a modern oven in your home?


Researches, Andrey Varlamov and Andreas Glatz, from the Northern Illinois University based in DeKalb sampled pizza cooked locally in Rome. They then conducted a study to find out the science behind the difference between pizza cooked in the modern and the traditional way.

The physicists used fundamental thermodynamic principles to explain what happens during the baking process.


How to prepare the perfect pizza

Pizza cooks evenly and simultaneously from beneath and above the dough. Thermal radiation from an oven’s air cooks the top of the dough while thermal conduction from beneath cooks the bottom side.

However, you must balance the two sources of heat for your pizza dough to cook evenly on both sides, and simultaneously. Making perfect pizza this way requires your oven temperature to be correct.

Roman or Neapolitan Italian pizza are examples made the traditional way. The pizza have a crisp crust dotted with dark marks or spots created when the oven becomes blazing hot.

The dough becomes moist, fluffy and stretchy with hot toppings. Brick or wood ovens are used to prepare perfect pizzas the traditional way, something also impossible with modern ovens.

Even with dough made the same way, a modern oven and a brick or wood-fired oven don’t cook pizza the same way. The physicists pointed the difference in pizza made the traditional way (Italian style) to distinct thermal properties of vaulted brick ovens.

When using brick ovens, pizza is cooked at temperatures as high as 700 degrees for Neapolitan pizzas and 626 degrees for Italian style pizzas. In that case, it only takes two minutes to bake the dough.

As a result, brick ovens cook well-baked yet moist pizza dough with properly-cooked toppings. Even pizza cooked in traditional steel ovens can’t match the results of wood-fired ovens.

With the latter conventional oven, the surface of your pizza begins to burn even before it hits boiling point. This results in poorly-cooked pizza.



Traditional ovens: brick vs. steel ovens

The difference, according to the physicists, lies in the fact that brick ovens transfer heat slowly to your pizza dough than a steel oven does. This is known as the brick oven’s thermal conductivity.

Heating pizza crust to about 3920 C, brick ovens get heated to 6260C. Water boils off the toppings such as tomato sauce and cheese as indirect heat reaches the top of your pizza from the oven at 2120.

Within just a couple of minutes, your pizza cooks to perfection both on the crust and top.

However, a steel oven transfers heat at 5720C due to faster transfer of heat through metals than brick. Therefore, the dough burns because the temperature heats too high.

Lowering the oven temperature to about 4500C also doesn’t work because your pizza top also needs to cook. The crust will cook at 3920C but the top won’t boil due to insufficient heat. This means that the crust will cook while the toppings would be undercooked.



Ceramic pizza stones

When preparing homemade pizza, use ceramic pizza stones in your modern ovens if they heat to 6260C. However, most electric ovens aren’t made to heat to such high temperatures.

With 5500C being the upper-temperature limit of most electric ovens, pizza takes longer to cook, hence dries out. What’s more, wood-fired or brick ovens give pizza a smoky, tasty flavor that no modern oven can emulate.

And so is the dry heat effect of a traditional brick oven.


Cook your pizzas the traditional way

According to Kenji Lopez-Alt, a food editor at SeriousEats.com and author of “The Food Lab,” homemade pizza can’t be cooked to perfection.

A home oven can never cook your pizza to perfection no matter what you do. Therefore, it only makes sense to prepare a pizza style that doesn’t require as high heat as Italian-style pizza.

For instance, New York Style pizza dough is made with additional oil to make it soft and nice even if it cooks for longer.

However, you can still prepare a Neapolitan pizza because modern ovens feature broilers despite having low temperatures. Preheat your oven floor or pan surface (made of steel) to about 4300C to ensure your pizza crust cooks fast.

The toppings receive direct heat from the broiler to cook as fast as the crust.

In about a minute, temperatures of 5000C in steel ovens burn pizza crust, hence the need to be cautious when using such ovens. Pick up your pizza if its crust is likely to burn and let it finish cooking beneath the broiler.

With that kind of environment in the oven, you’ll end up with a properly-baked crust and cooked toppings while ensuring your pizza doesn’t dry out. Although it won’t resemble a Neapolitan pizza exactly, you’ll enjoy a tasty homemade pizza.