Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So I've always thought of cooking this way:

Higher Temp & Less Cook time = crispier

vs.

Lower Temp & More Cook time = softer

Now obviously this doesn't apply to everything, but generally. Like pizza, bread, etc...

I'm confused however, because a frozen pizza I was looking at had the inverse instructions (saying if I wanted a crispier crust to increase the cook time and decrease the temp).

Have I been wrong in my thinking or are the instructions incorrect?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers

It's important to distinguish between the two different types of "crisping" that both happen in bread.

The first is the Maillard reaction which is caused by the sugars reacting with proteins; this is facilitated by high heat and low moisture, and is what actually causes the bread to turn brown (and eventually to burn).

The other is simply the evaporation of water - drying it out - which can make the bread or crust noticeably "crisper" without any browning.

The Maillard reaction happens at 154° C / 310° F, which is much higher than the boiling point of water (100° C / 212° F), so the evaporation happens first. If you put a piece of bread in the oven at a low temperature and leave it there for half an hour, it will crisp up significantly but not brown.

So essentially it depends on what kind of "crispiness" you want. High heat will cause the Maillard reaction to occur and that will crisp it up faster, but you have to shorten the cooking time, otherwise it will burn. Lower heat, on the other hand, will crisp much slower - and if the heat is too low, you won't get any browning - but you can leave it in there for much longer and the crust will keep getting drier (i.e. crispier) due to the water evaporation.

The instructions are correct. High heat causes more "crispiness" in some applications, where almost all of the crisping comes from the Maillard reaction or caramelization of some kind, but bread is an exception because of its porousness and high water content (easy for water to evaporate).

share|improve this answer
add comment

For a frozen pizza, you want to cook it longer so that more water bakes out of the crust. If you just cooked it hotter, parts would burn before the rest was completely cooked because so much of it is frozen.

Otherwise, lower temp and longer time also needs liquid in order to get softer (stewing or braising or just basting). Otherwise, like the pizza, it'll dry out.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I've found a similar contradiction with some brands of cook-from-frozen pizza. On closer reading of the instructions I noticed that the 'crispier' method required the pizza be placed directly on oven grille and the 'less crispy' in a pan.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.