Author Topic: Pizza pan vs cooking stone  (Read 3044 times)

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Offline husker3in4

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Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« on: October 24, 2006, 12:50:39 AM »
Hi all, I am having a problem with my NY style dough. I am using one of Peetzza's modified Tom Lehman recipies to make 2 12" pizzas. The problem I am having, is the dough is too crunchy/crispy on the bottom and on the edges. What I am trying to duplicate is Papa Johns crust. It is somewhat like NY style, a bit floppy, but soft and chewy. I have tried several different recipies from this site, and like the recipie I mentioned from peet-zza. I have also tried a papa johns knockoff. Both are pretty good, but not quite what I am looking for. I have sat and watched the cook at papa johns make several pizzas. Everything looks the same as to what I am doing, (even the dough ball he works with) except at PJ's the pizza is cooked on a pan. Not perforated either.
I realize there are small differences in the actual dough PJ's works with, and the dough I am working with. I want the crust to be soft, airy and chewy, but not crisp on the outside.

So, my question is, if I cook my pizza in a pan instead of a stone, will I achieve the results I am looking for? Currently once I heat my stone to 500 degrees for about an hour, I only have to cook the pizza for about 5 mins and it is done. If I use a pan, how long until it is done, and would I still cook it on the bottom rack? Judging by the conveyor belt the PJ's pizzas are cooked on, Im guessing the heating element on top is pretty close to the pizza itself. 


Offline scott r

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2006, 01:40:47 AM »
there could be many things that are making your dough too crunchy/crispy on the bottom.  One thing that might not be so obvious is how well kneaded the dough is.   I recently make a comparison of an 8 minute knead and a 20 minute knead and the 10 minute dough was much crunchier and crispier than the 20 minute knead.  So I would start with a really long knead.

Are you sure all PJ's cook the pizza in a pan.  I could be crazy, but I think I have seen some cooked in a conveyor oven with a screen. I know they aren't making a typical pan pizza, which is often oiled on the bottom for added crispness.

Papa Johns definitely pulls their pizzas out early.   I know what you mean about the lack of crisp on the outside.  If I were you I would ask to buy some of their dough and make a pie in a pan, a pie on a stone,  and a pie with a pizza screen.  Pull all the pizzas out just as you see the dough start to look slightly brown.  Make sure your sauce is up to room temp before you do this or you could have a soggy layer under it.  You can then more easily assess if it is the dough or the oven technique that is holding you back from duplicating their crust.

The next thing I would try is to find out what type of flour PJ's uses.  Sometimes just asking will reveal much more than you think, especially if you ask someone who recognizes you as a regular customer.  It may just say "papa johns" on the bag, but it never hurts to ask.  You might want to say something like "I really love your pizza and I have been trying to make it myself at home, do you use All Trumps?".  Sometimes naming a brand like that makes them want to set the record straight.  Even if you just find out if it is High Gluten flour, or if it is Bread flour will help you.   

Finally, try making your dough without any sugar in it.  I don't remember tasting any at PJ's and that would cause your dough to crisp up and brown more than you may like.  The sad truth could be that they are using a bunch of additives to the dough to condition it for their particular texture profile.  Still, I know you should be able to get close to, or even surpass the quality of their dough.

Offline November

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2006, 06:45:18 AM »
Based on the nutrition data they're reporting and every calculation I made, their flour's protein falls within the 11.7 and 12.7 range.  Since PJ is going after the mass-market pseudo NY style, it doesn't surprise me that they would use a flour with lower gluten levels.  They probably are adding sugar to their dough.  They're adding about 26.337g of sugar in the form of sucrose, glucose, and fructose per 14" pizza in either their sauce or dough or both.  I can't imagine almost an ounce of sweetener added to just 6 oz of sauce, so there has to be some in the dough.  I could reverse engineer more for you, but I figured that would get you started.

- red.november

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2006, 07:41:07 AM »
husker3in4,

I have discovered that it is hard to design a specific characteristic into a pizza dough to the exclusion of others. It’s possible but it can take a fair amount of experimentation, not only with the dough formulations but also the baking method and oven thermodynamics. And your perception of what is “crispy”, “chewy” or “crunchy” may be different than mine. But I have a few ideas to offer up anyway. I suggest you take a look at the following dough formulations and photos to see if they are what you have in mind:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,660.msg26116.html#msg26116 (Reply 33);
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1707.msg20711.html#msg20711 (Reply 20);
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2175.msg19801.html#msg19801 (Reply 33), taken together with Reply 8 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2175.msg19140.html#msg19140 and the general dough preparation instructions given in the first post in the thread; and
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2175.msg20385.html#msg20385 (Reply 39).

When I made the pizzas using the above formulations, I used a pizza screen, which worked very well and produced the types of crusts I think you have in mind. With the exception of the second item in the above list, which includes honey, you can use the Lehmann dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/dough_calculator.html to get the quantities of ingredients necessary for any number and sizes of pizzas you want to make. Since the posts give the thickness factors, you don’t have to do any calculations or anything else—just plug in the data called for in the calculating tool. If you need any help with this, let me know. I can also help you with the formulation calling for honey if that formulation is of any interest. For the formulations calling for high-gluten flour, you can also substitute bread flour if you’d like. In one case, all-purpose flour is called for. Its advantage for your purpose is that all-purpose flour will normally yield a softer, more tender crust because of the lower protein content.

Peter

Offline husker3in4

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2006, 12:56:47 AM »
Wow, thats alot of info? I know I need to preheat at 550 for an hour for a stone, and it cooks in about 5 mins. For a pan or a screen, what temps and time do I use?

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2006, 08:01:28 AM »
husker3in4,

If you look at the posts where screens are used, I am certain that I gave the oven temperatures. I don't ordinarily use pans to make pizzas but where I do use them, the oven temperatures are around 475 degrees F. The advantage of using screens and pans is that you don't have to preheat the oven for long. I typically use around 15 minutes. If you use a pan, I recommend using only a dark anodized or highly seasoned pan, not a shiny aluminum pan or one with a nonstick coating.

Peter

Offline husker3in4

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2006, 06:35:45 PM »
Hi peter, thanks for the temp info. Sorry but when I start reading all those links I get sucked in to all the other info and forget what I was specifically looking for!

Do I place the pizza directly on the screen, then directly on the oven rack? I had been putting the stone on the lowest rack and cooking there. For screens and the pan, should I still put them on the lowest rack? Also, how long should I be cooking them for, on the screen and the pan?

I have 2 dough balls, one I am going to try on the screen, the other in the pan. I'm pretty hungry and dont wanna mess them up :)

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2006, 07:05:11 PM »
husker3in4,

Yes, you put the dough skin on the pizza screen, sauce, cheese and top it, and then put it into the oven, on the lowest oven rack position, for about 6-8 minutes at around 500 degrees F. The actual time may vary depending on your oven. You should watch the coloration of the bottom and top crusts to be sure that they are done at about the same time. If the bottom browns too fast, you can move the pizza up another level. It will take a few pizzas for you to get the feel for your particular oven. I sometimes even use the broiler element if the top need further browning. I turn the broiler element on about a minute before moving up the pizza.

When I use a pan, especially a dark anodized one, I usually put it in the middle oven rack position and use a somewhat lower oven temperature (around 475 degrees F). In my oven, it usually takes a bit longer for a pizza to bake when it is in the pan at the middle oven position. It is also possible to move the pan up or down in the oven to get the desired results.

One of the keys to achieving good results in a home oven is to get to know the oven. And, to use common sense and not be afraid to react if the pizza isn't baking properly. I watch my pizzas like a hawk when I am baking them.

Peter

Offline husker3in4

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2006, 07:16:25 PM »
Thanks peter, the pizza on the screen is cooking now :)

As for the pan, I have a plain aluminum (looks like it anyway) pan, doesnt look like any anti-stick coating on it. I bought it from a restaurant supply store in town.

Do I need to grease the pan somehow? light coating of butter or oil?

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2006, 07:29:26 PM »
husker3in4,

Yes, if the pan is not an anodized pan, I would put some oil or butter on the pan before putting the dough into the pan. The oil/butter will help brown the bottom through a "frying" effect, if there is enough oil/butter. If you have a bright metal pan, I would be generous with the oil/butter. You can also remove the pizza from the pan and move it to the lowest oven rack position if the bottom crust doesn't brown enough, which can happen with a bright metal pan.

Peter


Offline husker3in4

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Re: Pizza pan vs cooking stone
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2006, 08:17:57 PM »
Thanks peter, I cooked it before I saw your reply and just cooked it in there bare. The bottom didnt brown well ,but the pizza was still pretty tasty.