People without a Pizza-Porta ask me a lot of questions. Here are a few.
Q -Why is my Pizza sticking to the stone?
A - Raw dough will stick to a pizza stone that is less than 400F. A hot stone is needed to absorb a bit of the moisture and steam/bake the bottom of the crust. Do not put cornmeal on the stone, just preheat the stone a little bit longer.
Q- Why is my raw dough sticking to the peel?
A - Raw dough has a lot of moisture in it. When this moist dough is allowed to sit on an aluminum peel (or even a wood peel), the dough clings to the material. A couple solutions: 1) Make sure your dough is dry to the touch while stretching it. 2) Use a clean, dry wooden peel. 3) Do not press down on the dough while you are assembling a pizza. 4) Spread a bit of cornmeal or semolina on the wooden peel to act as ball bearings.
Q- Why doesn’t my crust brown on top in the Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe?
A - Crust must be cooked at a high, steady temperature to brown around the edge. The dough ingredients help add to the browning. Sugar, oil, and diastatic malt all aid in the browning process. Flour selection will also impact the browning. Italian style 00 flour was created to stand up to high wood-fired temperatures (900F), so it may not be the best choice at less than 650F. Radiant heat level from the dome must be balanced with the heat of the stone to get browning on top to match the bottom.
Q - Why are my toppings undercooked? -or- Why does my pizza burn on the bottom?
A - This is the most common question of all. At high temperatures, without a Pizza-Porta, the heat of the dome in any brand kamado grill can not match the intensity of the heat below the pizza stone. Too much heat escapes straight out of the chimney, and what is left is lost when the dome is lifted. I often found the stone to be 800F, while the dome temperature recovered to only 500F after checking a pizza. This is why we invented the Pizza-Porta, to trap the heat in the dome so that the temperature is balanced and steady.
Q - The temperature recovers very quickly after I open the lid. What is all this about heat loss?
A- Yes, the dome thermometer goes back up to temperature in 30-50 seconds when you close the lid. That is the air temperature recovering. Just like the initial heat soak, the air in the grill may be 500F, but the ceramics is absorbing heat for 15-20 minutes before reaching that temperature. The temperature of the ceramic of the dome is what is critical for radiant cooking and it is impacted every time you open the lid. Our rough estimate is that each time you lift the lid you can take 50 degrees out of the ceramic of the dome. With heat escaping through the chimney (vs being trapped in the dome) It can take 10 minutes to recover that amount energy.
Q - Why does my pizza crust not form those nice big bubbles?
A- See the blog “It ain’t just the dough recipe” for the detailed story. The short version is that bubbles are formed by the yeast at a precise temperature as the dough heats up. If the temperature drops even slightly before the bubbles harden, the bubbles will collapse. At this point the yeast has already been killed by the heat so it is not able to lift the bubbles back into place again. The result is a crust that is more dense and less crispy.