The blue arrows represent air currents in the oven, while the red arrows represent radiation. Good. The bulk of this current is blocked by the pizza stone set in the middle, so the air is forced around the edges where it flows up, hits the roof of the oven, meets again in the center, then flows down and over the surface of the pizza. Conversely, when you examine the effects of convection on the top surfaces, it's only when you place the stone on the very top shelf of the oven that you see a sudden jump in how fast the top surface cooks. Because unbaked pizza dough rests directly on it, the hot stone … Place the pizza stone in your oven on the middle or lowest rack. Keep it traditional with this sage and sausage dressing. Comments can take a minute to appear—please be patient! Although it may seem like the entire bottom surface of a pizza is in direct contact with the stone, in fact, as soon as you place it down, bubbles of steam and air rapidly form underneath the surface, elevating it. For heavier items, like a roast, move the pizza stone to the bottom rack … So when you place a steak in a pan in order to cook it, what you are really doing is transferring energy from the pan-burner system to the steak system. The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (based on his Serious Eats column of the same name) is a New York Times best-seller, recipient of a James Beard Award, and was named Cookbook of the Year in 2015 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Post whatever you want, just keep it seriously about eats, seriously. First off, a look at the bottoms of the pies: It's clear that the pizza baked on the very bottom of the oven severely overcooked within its 5 minute baking time. Hopefully there's some useful information buried in all this that can extend well-beyond the world of pizza. This is totally contradictory to what most pizza authorities recommend: putting the stone on the bottom rack (or even the floor of the oven) in order to maximize the amount of heat it absorbs. So let's say that your rack is in a fairly average position: right in the middle. Some HTML is OK: link, strong, em. *for point of reference, the calories that you count in your food are the equivalent of 1,000 real calories, which means that for every 2 calorie Tic Tac you knock back, you've just consumed enough energy to bring 20 grams of water from 0° to a boil! The most important being that the position of your oven rack can have a great bearing on the your final results. All done? This means that even though the temperature of the top surface of the stone when placed on the top rack is lower than the temperature of the top surface of the stone when placed on the middle rack, you actually end up transferring far more energy to the food being cooked via convection (remember—fast moving hot air transfers more energy than still hot air, even at the same temperature). Why is this? It doesn't require any medium to transfer it—the sun's energy reaches the earth via electromagnetic waves directly through the vacuum of space. How does food actually cook on there? In a properly pre-heated oven, the sides and roof will have absorbed enough heat that they too will be secondary sources of radiant heat. Method: 6 pizzas will be cooked successively on a pizza stone preheated for at least 45 minutes. With the stone temperature, placing it directly on the floor of the oven causes a sudden 80°F jump in its temperature, while anything above the lower rack is within a 20°F. The baking stone … different bodies take different amounts of energy to change their temperatures by the same number of degrees. Convection is the transfer of one solid body to another through the intermediary of a fluid (that is, either a liquid or a gas). Unless you want to futz around with skillets and broilers (a noble futz, to be sure, but not one you want to deal with all the time), the goal when baking a pizza is to get the top and the bottom to both cook A) fast, and B) at the same rate. On the other hand, there is a great deal of radiant energy coming from the top surface of the oven, and even more importantly, because of the small space between the pie and the roof of the oven, convection currents are moving quite fast. Each pizza will be cooked with the stone on a different rack: top, upper, middle, lower, bottom, and one with the stone directly on the oven floor. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest recipes and tips! That explains why the top surface of the pizza cooked at the very top of the oven browned so much better than the ones cooked below it. And if you disagree, well then I'm just gonna have to sit you down for a little talk. As a general rule, the faster the air is traveling over a given surface, the more energy it can transfer. Since conduction is an extremely efficient form of heat transfer, those spots of contact cook rapidly and eventually develop into the nice charred spots you get on a well-cooked pie. But at least one cooking authority recommends moving your pizza stone towards the top when baking thin-crust pizza…One of the most useful things I learned in America’s Test Kitchen’s “New York-Style Pizza at … If you want to cook pizza on a pizza stone, place the stone on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat it to 550°F. Temperature is a system of measurement which allows us to quantify how much energy is in a given body based on its thermal characteristics, most importantly, its heat capacity. How To Prevent Your Pizza Stone From Cracking In The Future. You can house your pizza stone in the oven even as you bake other items. Especially when comparing the process to baking pizza in a pizza oven. One question is whether pizza is supposed to go directly on the rack, a baking sheet, a pizza stone or pan. Preheat the stone until it reaches 550° F (Pizzacraft stones can withstand 900° F) The correct oven temp for a pizza stone should exceed 500° F if possible. J. Kenji López-Alt is a stay-at-home dad who moonlights as the Chief Culinary Consultant of Serious Eats and the Chef/Partner of Wursthall, a German-inspired California beer hall near his home in San Mateo. For as long as I can remember, I baked homemade pizza on the bottom rack of my oven. Follow The Food Lab on Facebook or Twitter. This is totally contradictory to what most pizza authorities recommend: putting the stone on the bottom rack (or even the floor of the oven) in order to maximize the amount of heat it absorbs. The oven will be set to the "broiler" setting to maximize temperature (air temperature of ~560°F is the target). Some comments may be held for manual review. It also, of course, explains why Andrew's all-the-way-on-the-top method works better than my in-the-middle method. At the very top of the oven, the base of the pizza cooks almost as quickly as it does in the middle, but the top cooks much faster, resulting in better oven-spring, hole structure, and more browning. What's interesting is that the gradation between the pizza on the very top and the pizza in the middle is not so severe—indeed, they've achieved a pretty close to identical amount of browning. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy. This week I decided to explore a bit of the thermodynamics of pizza stone placement. That's the reason why you'll get a bad burn by sticking your hand into a pot of 212°F boiling water but can stick your whole arm into a 212°F oven without a second thought. Before we get to the pretty little diagrams, let's talk briefly about heat, what it really means, and how it gets transferred from one place to another. In his recipe for thin crust pizza from Cook's Illustrated, Andrew Janjigian takes the novel approach of placing the stone on the top rack of the oven. During each test, the temperature of the stone will be taken by whipping out the exceedingly sexy instant-read infrared thermometer, pointing the laser sight at the center of the stone, and making a "piu piu piu" noise.