Not all scientific research takes place in labs. Just ask food anthropologist Sergio Grasso and physicists Andrey Varlamov and Andreas Glatz, who had the tough job of sampling Margherita pizzas across Rome in the lead up to their paper, “The Physics of Baking Good Pizza.”
The pizzaiolos of Italy have the process down pat, relying on curved brick ovens heated to 625 degrees Fahrenheit to perfectly bake the pie of tomato, mozzarella, and basil on all sides in two minutes, the authors found.
They also learned duplicating this process in your standard electric oven would turn a pizza to “coal” since metal conducts heat much better than brick, reports Live Science.
There is a solution, however.
Per Particle, the authors developed a mathematical formula to show how a pizza could be baked to near-perfection in an electric oven.
They recommend baking a pie at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 170 seconds, or slightly longer if the chosen toppings have a high water content “as the pizza will return more heat to the oven via evaporation,” per Live Science. Broiling the top at this point would work, too, per Reader’s Digest.
While you may not get the even cook of a brick oven—if necessary, pizzaiolos lift the pizza base from the oven while allowing the toppings to continue cooking with radiant heat for about 30 seconds—the pie should be similar to Rome’s pizza, the authors say. (Just don’t substitute the mozzarella.)