Friday, February 11, 2011

Baking stone on the top rack?

Still Burned the Bottom
The Pizza Lab looks at Cook's Illustrated's recent suggestion to use the top rack for baking your pizza:
In his recipe for thin crust pizza from Cook's Illustrated, Andrew Janjigian takes the novel approach of placing the stone on the top rack of the oven. This is totally contradictory to what most pizza authorities recommend: putting the stone on the bottom rack (or even the floor of the oven) in order to maximize the amount of heat it absorbs.

For NY-style pizzas, I've recommended using the middle rack, but I may well switch over to the top now that I've tried Andrew's method with success. This week I decided to explore a bit of the thermodynamics of pizza stone placement.
You should click through for the detailed analysis and fancy diagrams... but the punchline is that, yes, the top rack is the best position for your pizza stone when making a New York style pizza.

As someone who has a long history of burning the bottoms of his bread (see above)... and yet has doggedly stuck to what pizza and bread authorities recommend... I would go further than that and suggest that the upper third of the oven is likely optimal for all pizza stone based baking.  I don't have any SCIENCE! to support this conclusion, but hopefully I'll at least start producing some nice loaves for the anecdotal kind of evidence.