The Fresh Loaf

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Cast-iron Pizza crust doesn't brown properly in oven

theonlyotherandrew's picture

Cast-iron Pizza crust doesn't brown properly in oven

I've been trying to make pizza using a cast-iron pan, and I just can't get the crust to come out right. It has an okay flavor, but the crust doesn't brown at at all before the rest of the pizza surface is browned.

I'm using a normal oven, at ~500 degrees, I've tried the middle rack and lowest rack, but the problem still exists. Is there anything I can do to get the crust to come out like a normal pizza? Thanks!

BobBoule's picture

Try a longer preheat of the oven. I found that I can use a cold (room temperature) cast-iron pan and just putting my dough with toppings on it and just sliding that into the 500º oven works well for me. I did go to a half hour preheat of my oven to make it work correctly. I also have a pizza store in the lower rack (I never use it any more because it doesn't work for me, so I leave it in there, assuming that it adds some thermal mass to the interior).

David R's picture
David R

... ensuring that you have some very good oven mitts, and then preheating the pan (in the oven) before you use it. Iron takes considerable heating time to get up to temperature, which means you can experiment with shorter or longer preheat to try to change things. If the bottom of the crust burns when the top is still white, you know you've gone too far. ?

trailrunner's picture

i bake pizza in my iron skillets all the time. The bottom gets wonderfully brown every bake. I sometimes bake upper rack and sometimes lower so that isn’t it and I always use “00” Caputo but not 100% I use semolina for 1/2 the flour. The only thing I can think of that you didn’t mention is oil. I put a good Tbsp of olive oil in the skillet before I put in the dough. Then I put the very very high hydration dough in and gently press it around let it rise and then top and bake at 500 for about 20-25 min. This “ fries” the bottom crust . This is basically how they make Detroit pizza but they use butter with their olive oil. There shouldn’t be any reason to preheat the skillet for sure or have a stone etc. my 100 yr old skillet is really thin but I sometimes use a much thicker one and crust is still crisp. I can’t think of anything else to look at except the oil and the flour. No bottom crust pic but it’s darker than the upper part you see. Good luck 

David R's picture
David R

...of pizza just don't come out right when you use oil in this way. And if you're not using oil and not adding (much) sugar, then lots of heat becomes the only browning tool you have left.

NYMOM2000's picture

I don't have a solution for you but wanted to let you know you are not alone.  I recently started using the Lodge 15 Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Pizza Pan and I find that the bottom doesn't brown the way the top does even after heating the pan in the oven for 20 minutes at 550 before launch.

GrainBrain's picture

I have been using the Lodge 14 inch pizza pan with very good results. I use a rack barely above the center of the oven. On this rack I use a 16" X 14" cordierite pizza stone. This may be overkill, I'm simply too lazy to remove it when I bake pizza. I set the Lodge pan directly on it. I place just the thinnest possible coating of safflower oil on the pan.
I set my oven to 475 F, since it's off by 25 degrees, it's actually 500F. I preheat the pan for approximately 40 minutes, but it can go longer if the dough is not proofing to schedule.
My pizzas are heavy as I top them with everything possible, as they say you shouldn't. When I'm ready for the bake, I transfer the pizza to the Lodge pan using parchment paper, otherwise, due to its weight, it sticks to a peel.
Before you give up, try a 45 minute pre-heat. If you are unsure of the actual temp of your oven, try a Thermoworks Chef Alarm with an oven probe to accurately determine your temperature. Since the pan is black, the temp of the pan can also be read fairly accurately with an infrared thermometer, then you know for sure if it has reached temperature.
I believe you can succeed!