Fire Master D. Burns asked: “My customers and family can’t get enough of our pizzas. We make them about 10 inches long and get a lot of great compliments. The one thing we notice is that when we are enjoying our pizza our lips and fingers get all blackened from the pizza ash on the crust. Is there a way to eliminate this? It’s definitely not burnt.”
We all know this feeling. After enjoying your pizza you find that your fingers have a black smudge. Leaving your hands looking like you were finger printed by the local pizza police. In fact he is correct, the pizza is not burned, it’s charred or has char on it. Char, in this case is also known as “Pizza Ash” and is the process of turning dough into ash using extreme heat. Many of us ignore a bit of char some even enjoy the taste. Whatever you choose is fine because pizza ashes are sterile.
Most Pizzilos don’t like the look of a charred crust. They commonly aim to achieve a toasted, golden-brown, and butter-yellow, crust. If you have a problem with too much char or pizza ash, try one of these tips.
- Clean your pizza stone. This is very important whether you have char problems or not. Keeping your pizza stone clean is the key to maintaining the uniform taste and texture of your pizzas. How you clean your stone is just as important. During a service you want to use your bristle wire brush to remove debris, ash, or dust from the cooking area. Use a damp rag or cloth to wipe out any micro dust particles. These are what causes the char to get stuck to your dough. Try not to use too much water as it will cool down the stone. After service is the best time to clean your pizza stone. It is easier to remove burned cheeses and topping when the stone is warm to hot. Use your wire bush to remove the burnt items. To remove grease and tougher items use a baking soda and water mix. Allow it to sit a few minutes and then use a rag or your brush to scrub the spot clean. Rinse it thoroughly with water. Do NOT put soap, or chemicals on the Pizza stone. The stone is porous, soaps and chemicals can get stuck in the stone. Once heated these chemicals can be tasted in the dough. Do NOT use metal scrapers, knives or sharp objects to remove debris. These items can scrape, crack, or chip the stone. Damaged stones can result in heating problems. Again the best way to clean your stone is water and baking soda. Mix it into a paste, use a brush to spread and scrub, rinse out thoroughly with plain hot water.
- Don’t put flour, salt, sugar, or any dry season / powder on your stone. The fine particles will burn and transfer to your dough. This creates a char look and taste. The less you put on your stone the better. If you must dust due to sticky dough. Using rice flour is the best choice because it doesn’t burn as easily, and most say leave no flavor behind.
- Watch the dough’s temperature. The colder the dough, the longer it will take to cook the center. Frozen dough tends to char or burn because the bottom thaws and cooks faster then the center of the dough. Try to thaw your frozen dough to room temperature before cooking.
- Turn down the heat. In drier areas it would make sense to bake at a slightly lower temperature. Turning down the heat can help your dough retain a bit more moisture. You don’t want to cook a pizza too low either. The temperature is important to induce the chemical reactions that create gluten bonds and more.
- Cook on pans. There are a variety of pizza pans, and cooking mediums you can place in your oven. Using a pan can increase the temperature so adjustments may need to be made.
When it comes to pizza, char is a preference. Like the burnt edges of barbeque, either you love it or hate it. Personally the char is part of the authentic wood fired experience, so we like it a bit.