The best method for baking pizza is using a real wood fire oven. But it is costly and requires a lot of space, so many people opt for home ovens.
However, home ovens are completely different from real wood fire ovens. They have racks with adjustable heights and that’s where the confusion is. You may begin to wonder if you should put the pizza directly on the oven rack or where exactly to place the rack.
The answer is, Pizza should be put directly on the oven rack only if it’s frozen, if the crust is pre-baked, or if you’re reheating already cooked pizza. But a fresh pizza dough should not be put directly on the oven rack because it will fall through the oven grates, ruin the dough, and mess up your oven.
Follow along in this article as I throw more light on the topic.
Why Shouldn’t Raw Pizza Dough go Directly on Oven Rack?
When making pizza, the dough is usually stretched and pressed into a very thin layer because it shrinks and puffs during baking. Not only that, the toppings add extra weight to the dough and this can cause it to crumble easily.
Now if you put that directly on the oven rack, inside a preheated oven, as soon as the dough heats up, it will melt and burn into the grates of the oven rack all the way down to the bottom.
In the end, it will be a waste of your precious time, effort, and dough. Not only that, cleaning up the burnt and melted dough from your oven is a frustrating experience.
How to Cook Raw Pizza Dough in the Oven?
It is true that a real wood fire oven is the best when it comes to making pizza. However, it is quite costly and uses more space than a home oven.
But you can improvise and still get an evenly cooked, crusty pizza with a home oven, using the points highlighted below:
1. Place the pizza dough at the bottom of the oven
When cooking raw pizza dough, the heat from the oven is crucial for a well-cooked and evenly baked, crispy pizza. In a real wood fire oven, the pizza dough is placed at the bottom oven’s brick or stone where the heat comes from.
In a home oven, however, it can be a little confusing as to where to place your fresh pizza dough since it has an adjustable oven rack and the heat comes from the top of the oven.
The Ideal thing to do is to place the pizza dough at the bottom of the home oven to cook thoroughly.
2. Use a pizza slate or a pizza stone
As mentioned earlier, fresh-made pizza dough shouldn’t go directly on the oven rack. Instead, get a pizza steel or pizza stone as these are designed for cooking homemade pizza thoroughly.
They are great heat conductors and cooking your pizza dough in them allows it to cook evenly from beneath, up to the toppings.
Make sure to pre-heat the pizza steel or the stone in the oven for at least one hour to prevent the dough from undercooking. To get a crispy and thoroughly cooked pizza, the dough should puff as soon as it hits the steel or stone. If the pizza steel isn’t hot enough, the dough will cool off and the bottom of the crust wouldn’t cook thoroughly.
3. Use a thick baking sheet or a ceramic tile
If you cannot find a pizza steel or pizza stone, a thick baking sheet or a clean ceramic tile can serve as an alternative. But be sure to heat up the baking sheet and ceramic tile in the oven first before putting the dough. This is because the dough doesn’t cook well on cold surfaces.
That said, you’d need to have a wooden board, pizza peel, or parchment paper handy to easily transfer the pizza dough to the oven.
SEE: Lined Baking Sheet
4. Pre-cook in a frying pan or skillet
This may sound a bit out of place, but doing this helps to cook the bottom of the dough before transferring it to the oven. Before placing the dough on the frying pan or skillet, make sure to hit them up for a few minutes. After then, place the dough on the pan. As soon as the base begins to turn brown, apply your toppings and give it a few minutes to cook.
But don’t put it directly on the oven rack immediately after frying in the pan, because the dough is still partially raw. Instead preheat your oven, then place your dough on a pizza stone or steel before putting it in the oven.
How to Cook Pre-made or Frozen Pizza in the Oven
Frozen pizza is par-baked, and this gives it enough rigidity. So, it’s safe to put it directly on the oven rack. However, frozen raw dough shouldn’t go directly on oven rack because it will thaw out and fall out when it gets warm.
Your best bet is to preheat your pizza stone in the oven before placing the raw frozen pizza. This gives the pizza a crisp texture and makes the cooking faster. But if you do not have a pizza stone, you can simply place them on a baking sheet or pizza pan before putting it in the oven.
Also keep in mind to always heat up your oven before cooking your pizza, whether it’s a raw frozen pizza or a par-baked frozen pizza.
At What Temperature Should You Cook Pizza?
Pizza cooks better at very hot temperatures. Real wood fire ovens cook at between 800-to-900-degree Fahrenheit which is not obtainable in home ovens.
So, when cooking in your home oven, set the temperature between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit which is synonymous with 250 to 260 degree Celsius. For the large thick crust, set the oven temperature close to 400-degree F or 200 degrees Celsius.
Remember to always heat up your pizza steel, stone, or baking sheet, in the oven for at least an hour before letting your pizza go in. This is so that the crust can cook thoroughly before the toppings begin to burn.
How to Remove Pizza from the Oven Rack
Because pizza needs a lot of heat to cook well, taking out the pizza from the oven can be dangerous. You want to avoid getting burnt and you also want the pizza to be kept in one piece.
The first precaution is to turn off your oven once you’re about to remove your pizza. Then, allow it to cool off for a while. Although it will still be hot.
Next, hold on to a potholder or wear oven mitts that are dry and free of holes. If it is wet or with a hole, you may suffer a steam burn.
Once the oven is open, grip the oven rack with your potholder or oven mitt and pull the rack close to yourself so as to reach the pizza easily. If you’re using a pan, simply grab the pan and take it out along with the pizza.
Additionally, you can use a pizza peel, cutting board, or baking sheet to slide your pizza out of the oven.
What is the best oven for baking pizza?
A real wood fire oven is the best for baking your pizza.
Can you put pizza on aluminum foil in the oven?
Yes, you can put pizza on aluminum foil and cook it in the oven. Aluminum foil holds it up so it doesn’t fall through the oven rack.
Should you put pizza on a baking tray?
No, a baking tray will not allow your pizza to cook evenly.
As aforementioned, frozen pizza, pre-made crust pizza, and cooked pizza that needs reheating can go on the oven rack. But raw pizza will melt into the oven crate and all you’d be left with are the burnt remains of your pizza dough.
Your best catch is to get pizza steel or stone to place your raw pizza dough for thorough cooking in the oven. Keep in mind to always heat up whatever you’d be laying your pizza on in the oven before putting the pizza on it.
You can use a pizza peel, baking sheet, or cutting board to transfer the pizza on the layer. Also, always use oven mitts or potholders that are dry and without holes to remove the pizza from the oven.
Finally, you can check this article to know what happens if you eat raw dough.
I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.