Pizza is a delicious meal we all love to eat, but the hustle comes with preparing one. The pizza recipe seems relatively easy until it's time to prepare the pie, only to find it has a burnt crust. This should not discourage you from perfecting your pizza-making skills, as in this article, we will discuss what causes pizza to burn at the bottom and how you can fix that.
Let's get started!
Causes of Burnt Pizza Bottoms
1. Adding Too Much Sugar to the Dough
Sugar can be helpful in some pizza dough to help you get a more golden crust, but you can use something other than what you need, especially if you're using a high-heat pizza oven. Some people like to add it because it improves browning and can help the dough rise faster, which is ideal for a basic pizza.
The issue is that it can go wrong if you add too much. Since the sugar increases the dough's browning rate and the pizza's base is on a scorching surface, it can cause it to over-brown or burn very quickly. When baking pizza, the oven's heat makes the flour's sugar caramelize. This chemical process is called caramelization, starting at 160°C (360°F). Think about how much sugar you add and if you need any.
2. Baking the Pizza Too Close to the Heat Source
The heat source of most home ovens is located at the bottom. If your baking rack is close to the floor of the oven, this will cause the pizza to cook unevenly. The bottom of the pizza will cook too rapidly and burn before the pizza toppings have had a chance to finish cooking if your baking rack is situated close to the bottom of the oven. Balancing the pizza's top and bottom baking temperatures would be beneficial.
When baking, you must keep an eye on the pizza. Since it might be challenging to determine when a pizza is done visually, it's also crucial to check the bottom of the pie for doneness. A pizza peel or, better yet, a pizza-turning peel designed expressly for that task in addition to flipping the pizza can be used.
3. Baking the Pizza at High-Temperature
Finding this equilibrium presents a variety of obstacles depending on the baking technique. For instance, individual pizzas are more likely to burn on top, while others are more likely to burn on the bottom. Therefore, it's crucial to comprehend your baking technique.
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If the oven temperature is too high, you will experience the disappointment that a burnt pizza brings. As expected, pizza bakes faster at a high temperature and slower at a low temperature. However, when the temperature is too high, the outer part of the crust can get crispy faster than its insides and eventually burn if left unattended.
4. Prolonged Baking Time
A great pizza strikes the right balance between cooking time and temperature. Ovens that use gas or wood-fired oven quickly cook the pizza. However, the pizza takes a lot longer to cook in other pizza makers because of the limited temperature range.
For instance, the 450–500 °F (230–260 °C) temperature range is about as hot as an electric pizza oven can go. Compared to a wood-fired pizza oven, this range is 50% lower.
In this situation, you use methods like preheating pizza steel or stones to assist the cooking surface in holding more heat while cooking pizza and cook it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. You usually have luck baking your pie at such a low temperature if everything goes smoothly.
5. Adding Too Much Oil in the Dough
Oil is an essential part of the dough mixture. It helps make the dough softer, improves its capacity to stretch and circulates heat. It can be advantageous in a case when you are baking a thick-crust pie at a more low temperature. But too much can speed up the burning process, especially if you use a pizza stone or steel.
6. Level of Hydration
Pizza dough hydration refers to the water-to-flour ratio. A pizza will take longer to cook the more hydrated it is. However, hydration level only somewhat impacts pizza cooking in a wood or gas oven.
The pizza shall cook in less than 60 seconds, whether 60% or 80% hydrated; therefore, you must observe it. An electric oven will require more time for low-hydration pizza dough and vice versa. Therefore, if you find that your pizzas are burning continually, it may be because the hydration level is low (50–60%) and the temperature of your pizza oven is high.
7. Pizza Crust Uniformity and Unevenness
Pizza with a crust that is too thin or thick might be the fault of your cooking method. For instance, a thin crust will cook more quickly, and the leopard spots may become burned pizza crust.
On the other hand, if you plan to make a thick-crust pizza, you may need to adjust the timing and cook it for longer so that the bottom of the pizza burns. We recommend you roll the dough to a thickness of less than 1/8 inch.
8. Overloading the Dough
Making your pizza at home is so much fun when you try various pizza toppings. Consider cooking them in advance to guarantee that some toppings are fully cooked simultaneously with the pizza.
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The more toppings you pile on your pizza, the longer it will take for the heat to rise through the dough to the top layers since pizzas cook from the bottom up. Too much cheese, sauce, or other toppings will prevent adequate heat from reaching the top of the pizza, causing the bottom crust to burn before the top begins to brown.
9. Using Thick Toppings
If the toppings are too thick and chunky, they won't cook thoroughly or evenly before the crust begins to brown, even if you don't add a lot of toppings. While thick vegetables like bell peppers should be chopped up rather than cut into large parts, meats like ham and pepperoni should be lightly sliced or diced.
10. Using Cold Dough
The cold dough is another reason you might end up with a burnt pizza. When you remove the uncooked dough from the fridge and place it in the oven, the exterior will heat up faster than its interior, especially if the dough is thick. The dough will burn without cooking properly if the temperature is not even and appropriate.
Flour is the most crucial part of the pizza dough. Sprinkle the best flour for pizza on the oven floor or rack to prevent the pizza from sticking. The sugar content of some flours, for example, is very high. It can cause your flour to burn, especially in high temperatures. Your pizza crust can burn faster by adding too much flour between the pizza base and the oven.
12. Flour On the Peel
Having extra flour is a good thing. It might aid in removing your pizza from the peel and placing it in the oven; however, if you load your peel with too much flour before placing it in the oven. It might burn more quickly because it is a dry substance.
13. Pizza Dough Recipe
Unbelievably, complicating your pizza dough might lead to a crust "prone to overcooking." Any additional ingredients, such as eggs, honey, oil, or sugar, may cause you to wonder why your pizza consistently burns. Store-bought dough balls or pizza crusts frequently suffer from this issue since they include excessive sugar and other heat-retarding ingredients.
How to Avoid Burning Your Pizza
Now that we've gone through the leading causes of a burnt pizza base, let's go into more detail about what you can do to prevent that burning next time.
1. Avoid Excess Flour
To avoid burnt pizza, use a perforated peel to eliminate excess pizza flour from your dough. It is also important to note that wheat flour burns quickly in powder form. Semolina handles heat better, so you can use this on your pizza dough instead of wheat flour or cornmeal.
2. Do Not Use Cold Dough When Making Pizza
Never use cold pizza dough while creating your pizza if you want it to cook evenly, as this is another crucial preventive strategy.
If the dough is cold and removed directly from the refrigerator, its starch will burn. In general, if you keep pizza dough in the fridge, you'll need to remove it and let it sit at room temperature for at least two to three hours before baking pizza.
3. Bake Pizza High up in the Oven
This one applies to those with a bottom heating element in their oven. Baking high up can be a big problem when baking anything for long periods or over too much heat, but there's one straightforward solution.
By moving the pizza to a higher point in your oven, you're increasing the distance that the heat needs to travel, so the base will get less direct heat and is, therefore, less likely to burn.
4. Bake with a Pizza Stone or Pizza Steel
The drawback is that a pizza stone or pan made of steel may hasten baking the pizza's bottom. Therefore, you require a heat source that will hasten the baking of the pizza's top.
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The broiler or grill setting is the most crucial choice for this. A balance between the heat of the broiler and the heat of the stone or steel would be beneficial.
If your oven heats up quickly, you should use a thicker stone or steel for baking the pizza evenly. However, thinner pizza stones or steels are a better option if your oven can't reach that high of a temperature if you don't have a broiler.
5. Pizza Sticking to the Pan
The pizza crust will burn if uncooked pizza dough adheres to the pizza stone or pan because it is sticky. Prepare the dough on a surface sprinkled with flour or cornmeal to stop it from sticking and burning, or use a baking sheet. These provide a barrier on the crust's underside that prevents it from sticking to the pan or stone and usually burns off in the oven.
However, you only need a lightly dusted work surface since too much cornmeal or flour may cause the bottom of the crust to get burned. You can also season your aluminium pizza pan to create a non-stick surface.
6. Temperature Control
You can adjust the temperature regardless of the type of oven you use. The higher the temperature, the higher the chance that your pizza will have a burnt bottom. So if you believe that high heat is why your pizza gets burnt, try reducing it, but only a little, and see if there is any difference.
7. Avoid Using Cold Pizza Dough
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If your dough is cold, the starch will burn easily. If your pizza dough is fresh from the refrigerator, leave it on a clean surface at room temperature for about 2-3 hours before preparing it.
8. Time Control
Food in the oven ends up burnt because you spend too much time in there, so one solution to prevent burning would be to take them out sooner. For example, you should take the pizza out as soon as the bottom looks ready and leave it to cool at room temperature. If you try to speed up the cooling process, there is a good chance that the dough will need more heat to cook properly on the inside.
9. Regulate Sugar
Sure, sugar can be helpful for some people, but it's okay if you want to make good pizza that doesn't burn quickly; only add plain flour, water, salt, and yeast. If your pizza isn't browning enough without sugar, you can add a small amount of sugar to the dough next time or brush the crust with oil to help promote a golden-brown crust.
10. Use Less Oil
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Unlike sugar which is not needed to make pizza dough, oil is, as it makes the dough easier to stretch and keeps it from tearing apart. For example, one tablespoon of olive oil shouldn't make a 12-inch pizza bottom get burnt, but 2 tablespoons might make it possible.
11. Dust Off Excess Flour
You can use less flour when shaping the dough and on the peel, or you can dust off any excess flour before you put it on the best metal pizza peel.You want to keep enough on the pizza to prevent it from sticking, but a light dusting/shaking of the dough should remove any excess. If you've got an excellent perforated pizza peel, it should minimize sticking even with minimal flour.
12. Rotate the Pizza Regularly
If you're using an actual pizza oven, you must turn the pizza regularly during baking. Turning it helps it to cook evenly and moves the base around so that it only stays in one hot spot for a short time. You will not require to turn when using a regular home oven, but you should rotate your pizza if it's browning too much on one side.
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