Welcome to baking day and this, my third post on the Blackstone backyard pizza oven. Today I’m going to be telling you all about the first few pizzas I baked on the pizza cooker, some tips and and tricks I discovered while baking, and my overall impression of the oven itself. Plus, tons of videos and photos too! I’ve spent a good amount of time with this awesome backyard pizza oven and I have a lot to share – let’s get right into it, shall we?
My First Pizza on this Backyard Pizza Oven
My gut tells me that I had a fairly typical experience my first time out with a new shiny toy that can produce insane amounts of heat. Think about it – if you are even slightly considering picking one of these backyard bad boys up, what are you thinking right this very second? You’re thinking how you are going to crank this oven up and finally be able to bake at 900 degrees like you’ve always dreamed of, right?? Me too.
I did exhibit some restraint, as you can see above, and chose to make my maiden voyage at about 800ish degrees Fahrenheit. The video below shows the entire bake time which took just about 60 seconds to bake to a point where I needed to pull it or risk really burning the heck out of it. Check out the video below:
I was blown away by the heat produced by the oven and the speed and evenness with which it cooked. As you can see in the video, I didn’t even bother to stop the rotating stone while I transferred the pizza from peel to the deck – no problem at all! What I didn’t anticipate was how much more restrained I was going to have to get about my cooking temperatures. Really, what did I expect? A 60 second cook time is a bit aggressive no matter how hydrated your dough is. This first pizza, though certainly edible, was charred on the bottom and slightly under-cooked on top. Kind of reminded me of my early experimentation with baking stones on the floor of my kitchen oven.
Again, the speed and directness of that heat was amazing though. Check out these photos and you’ll see that wonderful blistering all around the rim of the pizza – certainly a desirable trait but one that could be paired with a whole lot less charring all along the bottom of the crust. Though it looks fine in photos, the taste was mostly of ash and I didn’t finish the slice I had cut from the pie. I had some tweaking to do!
I should mention here – I absolutely did not follow the instructions. Blackstone took the time to print a perfectly reasonable cooking temperature for pizzas right there in the manual, and after reading that page I completely disregarded it. I am certain now, had I followed their lead, my first pizza would have been a success!
So why did I fail on my first time out? It was all about heat management. I was unused to working at those temperatures and in all honesty I had a semi-unrealistic idea of what cooking at 800+ would be like. I guess I thought higher heat would just mean a quicker cook time, but there is a balance to be struck between cook time, doneness, and the flavor of char you are creating. I kind of pulled a Spinal Tap, cranked the thing to 11, and called it good. Which is totally fine – like I said, I have a feeling most guys probably do just that. Everyone has to do it once in a while. What I needed was a little restraint when it came to that magic baking number. For my dough, at my hydration levels, 800+ was just too hot for me. Time to back off.
TIP: I found that I wanted finer control over the flame via the front knob of the pizza oven, so I adjusted the regulator down a bit at the propane tank until I felt like turning the front knob produced a more gradual, usable range of heat than if I had just left the regulator on full-bore. I would suggest doing this as you learn your new backyard pizza oven.
My Second, Third, & Fourth Pies
With my new found restraint in place, I next backed the temp down to 750 and made a second attempt. Below are the results.
This second pizza moved well beyond the realm of edible and really started to get back into delicious territory. The top was looking much more cooked, the bottom was way less charred. At 750, I was still getting the blistering but it was much more sporadic and not nearly as lost in a sea of black char. The crust was droopy when I picked up a slice, but it was substantial and could support the weight of the toppings with little help from my hand. I was still tasting more char than I would like but at this temperature I felt confident that most people wouldn’t object to the smokiness. This second pizza was a success for sure.
The experimentation continued into the night. Wanting to learn as much as quickly as I could about the behaviors of my new backyard pizza oven, I dropped the temperature down much lower to conventional oven ranges. The next two pies I baked at 450 and 500 respectively just to see what would happen if I slowed the bake down and let the flame do it’s thing low and slow. At a cook time of about 2:30, the results were absolutely yummy, however at these conventional temperatures I found that I got very little char or blistering which I was very interested in generating – in moderation.
The Magic Number
So what was the magic number in the end? To be honest, I haven’t found it quite yet. I believe I’m going to land right around 700 degrees and find that I’m getting just the right amount of blistering while still having fully cooked toppings on top. That’s still a hunch as I haven’t had time to return back to the oven to confirm it, but I feel confident that my restraint and attention paid to heat management will pay off right in that 700 degree range. I, of course, will report back.
This backyard pizza oven is awesome. There aren’t many other ways to say it. From the rotating stone that creates an evenly cooked pizza every time, to the robust heat generation and bake times. It heats up in 10 minutes flat and it’s got enough BTUs to let you burn your food if you so choose. If I had to offer up a criticism of the Blackstone backyard pizza oven, it would be the amount of heat that is radiating through the metal body and out the front of the oven. I have a two year old and found that I needed the keep and eagle eye on him so he wouldn’t get too close to the cooking operation. Even trying to take some of the photos of this post created some warm situations for me if I needed a hand in the shot. This feels like it will be the case for any bbq style outdoor pizza oven, but we’ll see as we move through the summer.
Another piece of advice I would heartily offer up: do not plan a pizza party for your very first firing of this pizza oven. I would recommend you purchase this oven and then perform at least two practice baking sessions (if not more) before you roll it out in front of an audience. Unless you’re already used to baking your favorite dough at high temperatures, you’re going to want to learn your new piece of gear and figure out your magic baking temperature before you have hungry mouths to feed. If you’d like to check out the Blackstone Outdoor pizza oven further, check it out on Amazon.com. There’s a lot of great reviews there and the oven ships free!
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