01 April 2016
The perfect pizza
For many people, baking the perfect pizza is a good reason to buy a Big Green Egg. A Big Green Egg doesn’t just allow you to grill, stew, stir-fry, smoke and braise at low temperatures, it also, in combination with the convEGGtor, allows you to bake. Pizza as well. It gives the same delicious result as baking in an authentic stone oven.
I still, however, regularly get questions related to burnt bottoms. These need not happen as long as you keep certain guidelines in mind.
First of all, it is a myth that a pizza must be baked at as high a temperature as possible. As rule of thumb you can say that the thinner the dough of the base, the higher the temperature of the Big Green Egg.
In Naples, where the pizza bases are very thin, most pizzas are baked at an average temperature of 300 °C and not 400 °C, which is what is often thought.
For a nice thin dough base of at most 1 millimetre thickness a temperature of 300 °C is ideal. But for a base of 2 millimetres or more the pizza must be baked at a lower temperature, otherwise the base burns before the dough is done.
Use a temperature of 250 to 275 °C for a base of 2 millimetres or more, so the base cooks more slowly and evenly without burning.
Apart from that it is very important to preheat the Big Green Egg as follows:
Preparation for use
Fill the Big Green Egg with sufficient charcoal, to just above the edge of the firebox. Make sure the pieces of charcoal are not too big. The sizing and flavour of the original Big Green Egg Premium Organic Lump Charcoal is very suitable for this.
Light the charcoal with the use of three charcoal starters. After lighting, leave the draft door at the bottom of the ceramic base and the lid of the Big Green Egg fully opened for about 20 minutes, until all the charcoal is glowing.
Then close the lid, place the dual function metal top and bring the EGG to a temperature of 300 °C using the draft door and dual function metal top. This allows the ceramic base to warm up properly.
After approximately 5 minutes, install the convEGGtor and place the Baking Stone on it. Close the lid and let the Baking Stone warm up for about 15-20 minutes. After placing the convEGGtor and the Baking Stone you can slightly open the draft door and dual functional metal top to create more draft and heat as placing the cold objects causes the temperature to drop sharply. Do not let the temperature rise above what is desired (so depending on the thickness of the dough base; at most 300 °C).
Placing convEGGtor and Baking Stone
‘How do we place the convEGGtor and the Baking Stone?’, I can hear you think. This can be done in two ways. Again, this is related to the temperature, the thickness of the pizza base and the number of pizzas you want to bake.
The ‘safest’ way is to place the convEGGtor (in the usual way) with the feet up. Then place the Stainless Steel Grid on top of it followed by the Baking Stone. In this way you can, in principle, bake pizzas all afternoon, because the pizza stone will never become extremely hot. The reason being that the Baking Stone is only heated by indirect hot air. This method of baking takes a bit longer and the crust will not develop those lovely little air bubbles.
The second way is to place the convEGGtor with the feet down and the Baking Stone directly on it. This results in a better draft and contact heat, making the stone hotter allowing you to bake at a higher temperature with a shorter baking time. Ideal for those wonderfully thin Neapolitan pizzas!
Finally, my golden tip: Just before you slide the pizza onto the Baking Stone, sprinkle some flour or cornflour on the stone.
This stops the dough from sticking and you can gauge how hot the Baking Stone is. If the flour does not change colour, it is not yet hot enough. It has to brown slowly and develop a delicious smell. If it immediately burns the stone is too hot. In that case, rub the Baking Stone three times with a slightly damp kitchen towel in a circular motion. This will reduce the surface temperature of the stone by 20-25 °C. If necessary, repeat and sprinkle each time with flour or cornflour. We can now start baking our pizzas, but first need to make the bases and the basic sauce.
How about baking the perfect pizza on the Big Green Egg? Give these 4 recipes a try!