If you ever wondered if advanced math could be used for something that applies to your life, wonder no longer. A physicist/food anthropologist and another physicist recently published a paper that revealed how to make the perfect pizza. Titled simply “The Physics of Baking Good Pizza,” their research revealed the key: a brick oven.
How does a brick oven work exactly when it comes to creating the perfect pie? Brick ovens have a wood fire burning in one corner, and the heat ends up filling the entire oven, which has curved walls and a stone floor. This creates a perfectly-even baking environment. Using the classic pizza Margherita (mozzarella, basil, and tomato), the researchers claim that the perfect pie bakes for just 2 minutes in a 625-degree ℉ brick oven. If there are other toppings, the bake time might be extended slightly.
Most people don’t have access to a brick oven. We just have our normal electric ovens with steel surfaces. “The Physics of Baking Good Pizza” includes a “thermodynamic equation” that explains how you can use your normal oven to bake perfect pizza. This is what the equation looks like: Basically, what the equation says is that you should bake your pizza at 450 ℉ for 170 seconds, which is 2.8333 minutes. It won’t result in pizza quite as good as what you’d get in a brick oven, but it’s pretty close.
This isn’t the first time math has been used to break down what makes pizza awesome. In 2013, Dr. Eugenia Cheng came up with a formula that shows exactly how much pizza dough is wasted on the edges of a small pizza, because the bites in the middle have too much topping compared to the bites on the outside. The UK chain PizzaExpress paid for her research and ended up changing their master dough recipe in response. Who says math can’t apply to the real world?