The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pizza baked home at 650 degrees

Nickisafoodie's picture

Pizza baked home at 650 degrees


Pizza baked home at 650 degrees

Ever since reading about Jeff Varasano and his obsession for the perfect pizza I find myself regularly revisiting his sight and learning more every time:  The sight is highly educational and a fun read and recommended by many other Fresh Loaf posts.  There is lots to learn from this sight including dough hydration (very wet), hot oven (how to modify yours at your own risk!), flour types, use of a starter and several days of cold fermentation, dough technique, aspects of creating a superior sauce, homemade mozzarella, toppings, and pizzeria ratings and technique, technique and more technique.

His holy grail is a 2-3 minute pie at 850-950 degrees - obtained in his home oven by rigging the cleaning cycle to stay on such ovens being designed to reach up to 1000 degrees to burn off any spills.  I have made very good pizzas at 550 degrees in my oven baking at 7 minutes or so.  I easily rigged my oven as Jeff did.  As others on this site have said proceed at your own risk and every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher near.  I am very happy with a 4 minute pie at 650-700 degrees rather than seeking 850-900 degrees (someday).  Preheating to 650-700 can take 80-90 minutes and longer to get to 800 plus temp.  Use of an inferred thermometer nails the temp.  After all is said and done I find the higher temp pie to be far superior to pies coming out of a standard 550 degree max oven, even though I have made some very good pies in a standard oven with stone.

If you get past the angst of the oven, then the trick is to use dough that is very wet as it can stand up to the heat and still be crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.  My experience has been that an 80-85% hydration works well.  And following Jeff’s method of storing in portion sized plastic containers in the refrigerator from 3-5 days to give the dough superior flavor.  After trying his technique for dough mixing many times I was not getting the proper dough development.  I found this YouTube video “That's Alotta Ciabatta! Start to Finish” which shows how to make 90-95% hydration Ciabatta using the flat beater for most of the mixing and eventually to the dough hook.  Having used this technique several times, I can say it is the way to go on high hydration dough and achieving the window pane effect.
My recipe is simple: Build Starter: 120 grams total consisting of 60 grams of rye and 60 grams of water (note: you can use 100% white flour.  I prefer having up to 20% divided evenly among whole wheat and rye which adds a subtle flavor profile.  And my starter is 100% rye).  After five hours to build to peak activity add the following: 60 grams (10%) whole wheat 472 grams (80%) bread flour 410 grams water 15 grams of salt (2.5%, higher than the typical 1.75% for bread) 3 grams of yeast (.5% given the use of starter) Total 1,080 grams, enough for three 12”-14” pizza rounds at 360 grams each See links above for mixing technique (YouTube) and storage on Jeff’s site.  The sights are worth a look for any baker using high hydration dough, and pizza lovers.  Jeff has opened his own pizza place in Atlanta, Ga which seems to be getting great reviews.  His story of a passion that turned into his business calling is very interesting.  I found it inspiring to read and learn as we all do when sharing our experiences…




Noor13's picture



That seriously looks delicious. I am making my Pizzas for 7 min at 550 but I never tried it with higher temps. I might give your recipe and technique of the higher temps a go. I might have to try that soon, cause it really looks so yummi lol. Thanks for the link as well-will check it out.

serenityhill's picture

Just as a reinforcement of the warning: modify at your own risk.

Domestic ovens with a self-clean cycle are made to automatically lock @ 550F because the flash point of grease is 600F. The self-sustaining flame point is 700F.  If you choose to make this modification and use the oven for regular domestic purposes, BE SURE that there is nothing but the racks in the oven when you start to heat for pizza.

As an example, if you forget and leave the freench-fry skillet in the oven with 1/2 inch of oil in it, it will burst into flame while you are preheating to 750F and ruin your oven.  Not thinking it through, you yank the door open to throw in baking soda, and the flame follows the oxygen introduced straight to your body.  Can't happen?  Look up fire department statistics on the frequency of oven fires caused by greasy pans left in the oven when the self-clean cycle is started. 

The lock is intended to prevent you from trying to open the door above 550F for your safety.  The fire department won't even open that door with a fire in it.  Standard procedure is to leave the door closed and let the fire burn itself out.  The only thing your fire extinguisher will be good for is preventing the fire from spreading to the rest of your home.  Even with the fire contained to the oven interior, it will be ruined and you'll have to replace it.

Consider the possibility of putting aside enough money to replace your domestic oven, and use that as a down payment on a pizza oven or WFO.  Beats actually having to use that money to replace your oven, and that won't even cover the cost of repairing the smoke damage to your home.

I value everyone that posts on TFL.  I felt I had to post this "caveat emptor" so that the risks are abundantly clear and no one gets hurt or loses their home.

PS  A real pizza oven will be MUCH less expensive to operate than a bypassed domestic oven, even without an oven fire.  More than enough to pay for a trip to the local WFO trattoria, maybe enough for monthly payments on the WFO or pizza oven.

Please be careful, and enjoy your baking.

Nickisafoodie's picture

I chose this method because I don't have room for a wood fired oven inside or out.  And in my case  there is never anything in my oven that is greasy so essentially is spotless.  Your scenario would surely result in a fire, but I can't imagine people would actually leave greasy stuff in an oven or not clean same.  If they do then I doubt that they are passionate about pizza!  But if so, then yes there could be a grease fire. 

Standard household self cleaning ovens are designed for 1000 degree cleaning cycle that runs three hours, which burns off spills by turning it into black carbon powder.  So my 700-800 degree temp is totally workable  Commercial pizza ovens still only run about 550 degrees and take 10 min to cook.  So my choice if wanting a 4 minute pie that emulates a WFO is doing as I do or building a WFO, the latter not being an option due to lack of room in or out.   And there is no fun going out to buy at some place if the quest is to make it.

So I agree, let the user beware and this techinque is not for everyone!  But I have had incredible success and am very aware of potential pitfalls.  And others should have their eyes open if they journey down this path...