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We cooked some pizza last night and had a good time. However, the crust was limp. I was expecting to tap the bottom and hear the tap tap tap sound but it was too soft.

We have an Alphaforni 5 Minuti Wood fire oven running at 500°F. The temperature was measured using the built in thermometer. I had preheated the oven for over an hour.

The dough was sitting out of the fridge for about 2.5 hrs before we got it into the oven.

How can I get the bottom crispier?

What would cause such a soft bottom?

  • 3
    Depending on your oven design, one hour may not be long enough to fully preheat. – Sneftel Jun 23 at 6:34
  • 500F is low, and was that the air temperature or the oven base temperature? How did you measure it? – GdD Jun 23 at 7:43
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500F is not really that hot, in terms of Neapolitan pizza. Traditionally, they are baked for 2 minutes or less, at 700F - 900F (371 - 482C). So, this could be a temperature, and/or a cooking surface issue. What type of oven are you using? On what type of surface is your pizza cooking?

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    The "official" recipe for Neapolitan pizza calls for 900F. – Sneftel Jun 23 at 6:32
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    and no more than 90 seconds. – bracco23 Jun 23 at 9:02
  • we have an Alphaforni 5 Minuti. I thought the temp may be low – Brig Jun 25 at 17:35
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I've heard that Neapolitan pizza is traditionally served with a soggy base in the middle. I've never been to Naples so I can't confirm that this is true, but you might just be cooking a "classic" Neopolitan pizza :)

That said, I prefer a crispy base like you! I can think of a few possible explanations for a crispy crust and a soggy base/bottom:

  1. Trapped steam. Try resting your pizza for a minute on a wire rack to let steam escape from the base before serving.
  2. The pizza was taken out prematurely, which prevented the pizza from developing a hearty base/crust. If you have a thick pizza, you can even end up with pizza that's doughy in the middle.
  3. Wet ingredients can cause the crust to absorb all the moisture from the sauce and ingredients (use low-moisture mozzarella!)
  4. Cooking on a non-conductive surface. Unlike most indoor ovens, most of the heat in an outdoor oven doesn't come from below the pizza -- it usually comes from the wood, which is lit and placed next to the cooking area. If the cooking surface isn't conductive for some reason, you might end up with a soggy bottom. Preheating a pizza stone or cooking your pizza in a cast iron pan could help transfer the heat from your oven to the base of your pizza.
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  • I have been to Naples, and they don't serve with a soggy bottom. The base of any thin crust pizza gets soggy if you leave it enough. – GdD Jun 23 at 7:42
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    Anecdotally - I used to have a friend [British/Italian] whose job it was to go round pizza restaurants teaching them how to get the base right, from dough method to cook. His bases would be just slightly too soft to lift a whole slice easily, the end [last inch in the middle] would just turn down; but they were to die for. Perfect crust, perfect char. [I never did learn the secret, otherwise I'd be typing an answer instead of this comment ;) – Tetsujin Jun 23 at 10:41
  • @Tetsujin: Could you convince your friend to join :) ? – Matthieu M. Jun 23 at 13:57
  • I wish - I haven't seen him in 30 years, since I moved to the other end of the country. – Tetsujin Jun 23 at 13:58
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    The crust Tetsujin perfectly describes the pizza I had (and loved!) in Naples! Not soggy, but definitively soft in the middle. You definitely couldn't tap on it and get any sound off it - more chewy than crispy! – mfox Jun 23 at 14:09
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An authentic Neapolitan Pizza usually has a rim that is fluffy and soft in the inside and comes with a delicate eggshell crust (cornicione) and when cutting a slice of it, it is expected to bend at the tip. So if you are aiming for a crunchy crust you probably don´t want a Neapolitana. To reach this goal you can tweak some parameters:

  • Lower the hydration to less than 50%*, official Neapolitana calls for 55-62% and hydrations of 70% and above are common. The reason for this is that the water 'explodes' to steam faster at the 900°F than the dough cooks creating the big, fluffy alveoli in the rim.
  • According to this lower temperatures will also help create a crunchier crust because the water evaporates slower leading to a more compact and thus stiffer result. Your 500°F should already be a good choice and I would not recommend to go even lower.
  • Add 4-8% oil to your dough, this will give the texture more crunchiness as 'fries' the dough a bit. Neapolitan doug does not contain oil at all.
  • Increasing the amount of salt (e.g. by 0.5%) also might help a little as it strengthens the gluten network. (For this reason doughs used for pizza acrobatics contain much more salt than doughs for baking.)

* All percentages are bakers percents.

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  • How do you measure hydration? – Brig Jul 1 at 18:56
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    Its also measured in bakers percentages. The reference is always the amount of flour used. So when using 1Kg of flour 50% hydration mean 500g of water, 60% 600g. The advantage of using bakers percents is not only better scalabilty but also that it requires to measure all ingredients by weight what is usually more precise than to measure by volume. – J. Mueller Jul 2 at 12:09

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