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When I buy a pizza from Pizza Hut or Domino's, it has a crispy base with a soft cooked middle and a properly done top.

When I make a pizza in my own oven (electric, fan assisted, maximum 230° C), I can get it done to the same standard as a local Indian takeaway but not as good as any of the major chains. I'm wondering if my problems are due to the oven or the pizza.

Ideally I would like to buy an oven that can go up to 550° C like a brick-built oven. I'm wondering if I can get a better result with a better oven? I'd like to do it for under £100 (UK).

I think that if I can bake the pizza in 5 to 6 minutes, that may do the trick; unfortunately I don't think I can afford any of the 90-second pizza ovens or install one at home.

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There are several problems here. First, forget about 90 sec. I've been in a pro kitchen (not chain) and their pizza oven needed much longer, I think also longer than 5-6 min. Second, good crisp pizza needs a pizza stone, and this needs a long preheating - you are looking at at least half an hour before you can put the first pizza in, that's for a bad (thin) stone. Third, I don't think you can get a pro level oven for 100 pounds, I think they start at 500 pounds and higher (and need 400 volt). Still, maybe somebody knows an acceptable cheap alternative. –  rumtscho Jun 11 '11 at 20:40
    
I've tried to clean up this question. I understand that English is not everyone's first language, but in the future, please try to state your problem more clearly and note that explicit shopping recommendations ("what oven should I buy?") are off-topic here. –  Aaronut Jun 11 '11 at 21:12
    
@Aaronut FYI the language was in "contemporary English", as in "English" from England? Most confusing for other "English" speakers. "Indian takeaways" is the normal phrase. In general it refers to an owner operated fast food establishment, not a franchised store or "chain store". "Summit" is "something" –  TFD Jun 12 '11 at 4:35
    
'Summit' is 'broken English' and should have been corrected to 'something'. Looking at the original post, it was very poorly written. Well done to Aaronut for 'deciphering' and editing it - I would have deleted it :-) –  Techboy Jun 12 '11 at 13:34
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@TFD: I didn't change the word "takeaways", I know what that is. "Summit" I admit I couldn't make sense of. I was giving the OP the benefit of the doubt here; if the original post came from someone who speaks English natively then there's no excuse at all for the near-unintelligible writing. –  Aaronut Jun 12 '11 at 18:19

3 Answers 3

I too have a fan-assisted 230 degree-max oven, and I cook nice crispy-based pizza all the time, thanks to one thing - a pizza stone. Traditional pizza ovens have a stone base that absorbs the moisture from the crust, crisping it properly. A metal pan or sheet doesn't do this, so you get a soggy crust.

Pizza stones replicate the stone base of the traditional pizza oven. They are sized to fit in most conventional ovens, and you can get them from most cook shops, or Amazon, for about £10. Simply place the stone in the oven when you turn it on to preheat, let it get good and hot, then take it out and assemble your pizza right on the stone. Put it back in for 4-5 minutes et voila - a great crispy pizza every time.

You can get wood-fired, stone-based ovens (Jamie Oliver markets them these days) that you have built in your garden, but I'm pretty sure they cost a lot more than £100!

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I agree with the recommended stone but would add trying other dough recipes. –  mfg Jun 12 '11 at 6:49

I use a standard oven with a pair of pizza stones, and find it replicates the industrial kitchen equipment with a few hacks.

I used to work in a number of different pizza restaurants, and have since found a number of tricks to getting better crusts at home in a standard oven.

First off, I worked with 3 different styles of industrial ovens:

  • Standard stone + gas - The oven base and walls are stone, and the oven is fired with natural gas. Temperatures (if I recall) were ~600F, and these oven fit 10-12 pans at a time. Cooking time was in the range of 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pizza toppings.
  • Forced air, stone + gas - This is a similar style of oven, but with fans forcing airflow. These ovens roughly halved cooking times, and produced a different style of browning on the top surfaces.
  • Conveyor + gas - These ovens have a conveyor that moves slowly over flames. I've seen units that can bake a thin pizza in 5-7 minutes.

In all of the industrial units, temperature and oil was the key to getting perfect crusts.

I've been able to reproduce the basic effect with a home oven. Note that this isn't the New-York style wood oven crust (bordering on burnt), rather it's the medium-thickness crust with a good crunch to it.

My method is simple:

  • Preheat the oven to its highest temperature, including a pizza stone on both racks if can
  • Start with a sticky dough, but make sure that the bottom side of it is well oiled before placing it on the stone
  • Keep the dough thin, and prebake it for 3-4 minutes on each side (the goal is to get the crust started before adding toppings)
  • After prebaking, drop the oven temperature to ~400F, add toppings, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes
  • Before removing, turn on the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Do not walk away (it inevitably burns the moment you step away)

The key is the oiled/prebaked crust, and preheated oven. The end broil helps brown the cheese (and adding some dry cheese to the top improves this).

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check out the instructions in "Cooks Illustrated" July/August 2006 for great information regarding making pizza at home

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Could you give us some tips on those instructions. Or, is that magazine number avaiable in Internet. –  J.A.I.L. Nov 9 '12 at 13:24
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This "reference-only" answer helps nobody. Please summarize those instructions here, else we will have to delete the answer. –  rumtscho Nov 9 '12 at 13:54

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