Even if you dabble with your dough recipe, perfect your acrobatic stretching tosses, and import your water from NYC, getting a crackly crust at home requires more heat than standard ovens can muster. Most of them struggle to reach around 550 degrees, while commercial pizza ovens hit a screaming 800 degrees or more.
But now you too can own an oven hot enough to make Satan sweat. GE’s elite FirstBuild team just unveiled the Monogram Pizza Oven, which can not only hit the same temperatures as the scorcher your local pizzeria uses, it’s a lot smarter, too.
This isn’t another one of those backyard, wood-fired pizza ovens that have been gaining popularity over the past few years as home pizza making takes off. The Monogram Pizza Oven installs right in your kitchen and uses a standard 240-volt outlet, with no special venting required, unlike a commercial unit. But you won’t mistake it for an ordinary kitchen oven. The short height and conspicuous lack of a door are a dead giveaway you’re dealing with a culinary dragon.
The Monogram can blast to 800 degrees within a half hour of preheating, and 14 heating elements in the dome can rocket the top up to a blistering 1,200 degrees. Those conditions, it turns out, are exactly what you need to bake a perfect Neapolitan-style pizza … in two minutes flat.
GE knows because its crack team of engineers didn’t just build a really hot oven, they tried to replicate the exact conditions in the best pizzeria ovens. And to find out what those conditions are, they built a “digital pizza” packed with sensors and sent it on a pizza tour around the U.S., popping it into legendary restaurant pizza ovens to test them.
These fake pies, topped with temperature-sensing thermocouples instead of pepperoni, know everything going on inside. “We’ve got sensors in it that allow us to measure three different forms of heat: conduction, convection and radiant,” explained GE product evangelist Taylor Dawson. “We can capture what it takes to make a really high-quality pizza, and replicate it in your oven.” Flames licking their way up the side of a wood-fired oven, for instance, aren’t the same as mere hot air, and the digital pizzas know the difference.
Here’s what they discovered: A Neapolitan-style pie, which taxes the oven to its limits, needs to slide onto a fiery 800-degree surface to get its distinctive “leopard spots” on the bottom, and simultaneously singe beneath 1,200 degrees of radiated heat from above.
Won’t that make your kitchen outrageously hot? Well, yes. “It’s similar to putting an oven on self-clean,” Dawson said. The lack of exterior venting means it’s circulating hot air back into your kitchen via a 4-inch vent in the top, after filtering to remove any burnt smells. GE calls it “compact interior venting.” An “air curtain” is supposed to keep inside air from spilling out the doorless front entrance, but things are going to get toasty.
You’ll be able to set the oven temperature for the oven via an outside touchscreen, or through an upcoming smartphone app. It will connect to the oven via Bluetooth and basically serve as an auxiliary screen for remotely setting temperatures. The oven will ship with settings for five different pizza types, including Neapolitan, Chicago deep dish, and Detroit style. Yes, Detroit style. GE has already hinted that future updates will offer new pizza styles and maybe even artisanal breads. Naan, anyone?
The app isn’t the only smart touch: An array of thermocouples within the oven ensure that it hits the exact correct temperature, every single time, and maintains it. GE claims a prototype churned out 100 pizzas over the course of six hours at a festival recently, and each one looked precisely the same after two minutes inside. Try doing that with an oven that requires you to regulate its temperature by poking around burning chunks of oak.
Like all of GE’s Monogram gear, none of this comes even remotely cheap. The oven will retail for $9,900 when it debuts in the third quarter of 2016. That can buy an awful lot of take-out pizza. 1,650 Little Caesar’s Hot-n-Ready pies, to be exact. But can anything top the satisfaction of making your own pizza at home? Or more importantly, watching your personal chef make it for you?