Author Topic: Pizza screen question  (Read 5147 times)

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Offline sanchez

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Pizza screen question
« on: May 28, 2007, 08:41:27 AM »
The other day I was at PennMac and picked up a 15" pizza screen.  I've never used one but since they are cheap and I was there I picked one up. 

Can someone breakdown the reasons for using one over a stone?  Can you sit the screens directly on a hot pizza stone or should they sit on an oven rack?

Do they add a certain texture to the crust?  Are they designed for NY style doughs?



Offline Christopher

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2007, 11:36:56 AM »
Hello, Sanchez,
I use a screen sometimes for my 16" pizzas since my stone is too small. i use the screen until the crust firms up, about 4 minutes, then slide onto stone or directly on rack. if i use a stone i place my stone and rack in the lowest position of the oven, if screen to rack, then rack in middle. either way works and i have not noticed that much difference in texture to a screen bake versus stone. mine get identical browning. the only downside to some is the textured pattern on the bottom created by the screen pattern. not a deal breaker for me, but some have mentioned this.
Just make sure you season it properly, until mine was used for a while the pizza stuck badly to it a few times. i did not oil it then bake a few times first like i should have. now it a year and a half old and performs perfectly.
hope this helps,
Christopher
 

Offline Flagpull

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2007, 12:29:28 PM »
I've got some screens of various sizes and truthfully i've never cooked a pizza that was worth anything on them. I just (finally) got quarry tiles and that solved my size problem with the stone.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2007, 12:31:46 PM »
sanchez,

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using pizza screens.

A key advantage to using pizza screens is that you donít have to heat the oven as long, only to an ambient temperature of around 425+, which will usually only take about 12-15 minutes in a standard home oven. This can be a real advantage in the summer when it is hot and the last thing you want to do is crank up the oven for an hour or more to preheat the stone and endure the residual heat of the stone for several hours more as it cools down. It is also easier to load a pizza into the oven when the pizza is on a screen versus using a peel/stone combination. Some pizza operators who have deck ovens will still use screens simply because it is easier to use screens to dress pizzas than to have to train workers, especially new hires, to hand stretch skins and use peels to load the dressed pizzas into the oven. So, the oven load error rate goes to about 0, except for the occasional case where a pizza sticks to the screen, especially when high hydration doughs are used or where workers let a dough sit too long on a screen before saucing and dressing. Even in a home setting, you canít dilly dally when dressing a pizza on a screen.

Since a screen will produce a different bottom crust characteristic than will a deck surface, some operators who use screens will ďdeckĒ the pizzas off of the screens onto the deck surface toward the end of the bake to get a bottom crust more similar to one baked entirely on the deck surface. In reality, many pizza operators who use screens in conjunction with deck surfaces do so because their deck ovens are malfunctioning, or they are using the wrong ovens, and incapable of achieving the desired balance between the bake of the tops and bottoms of the pizzas (usually the bottoms are burned). The screens lift the pizzas off of the surface by a fraction of an inch, which helps achieve a better top and bottom balance by allowing the pizzas to bake longer before the bottoms can overbrown.

An additional advantage of using a screen is that you can use sugar in the dough formulation and reduce the likelihood of the bottom of the crust browning too quickly or burning because of caramelization of the sugar when the dough comes in direct physical contact with the hot stone surface. This usually becomes a problem in a home setting when you are using better than about 3% sugar (as a percent of formula flour).

A point to keep in mind is that screens were developed mainly for conveyor oven use, for essentially most standard pizza styles (but not deep-dish). As such, screens will not produce the same bottom crust characteristics as a crust baked on a deck surface. As you may have noted, the NY style pizza is traditionally one baked directly on a hot deck surface, which is what we try to simulate when we use preheated stones in a home oven. You will almost never see a NY pizza joint in New York City use a conveyor oven. Using screens in a conveyor oven to make a NY style will get one about 80-85% of the way home in terms of equality of bake. Oven designers have been working for years to close that roughly 15-20% gap. Recently, pizzatools.com, through its Lloydís division, has designed a special perforated anodized disk that is said to produce results in a conveyor oven that cannot be distinguished from the results using a deck oven. I donít believe it is available yet at the retail level, but rather is being trialed on a limited basis by operators. Tom Lehmann helped design the disk. Disks, in general, are increasingly replacing screens, even though disks are orders of magnitude more expensive than screens. Screens need to be seasoned and sometimes cleaned and reseasoned, and they are prone to falling out of round over time, having staples come out, and having fragments of the screen finding their way into pizzas. Health departments much favor disks over screens. Of course, in a home setting, these are not problems you are likely to encounter with low volume usage.

As I was composing this message and ready to post, I see that Christopher offered his thoughts on this matter. He makes a good comment on another benefit of using a screen in conjunction with a stone. I frequently use the same combination, for the same reasons as given by Christopher.

Peter

Offline Christopher

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2007, 03:53:35 PM »
Hi, Guys,
I also wanted to mention that my reasoning for screen use was not just my stone size, but my oven size is quite small as well (wall oven). about 17.5 inches across and about as deep. i love my quarry tiles, but i felt at 16" they were restricting the airflow and the bake was affected. i ended up buying a new 14" by 16" stone which works well, but i still have some issues with the heating, so i have switched to the screen to rack method lately to avoid long heat ups until we get a bigger oven.
correct me if i'm wrong, but to get peak performance from your oven you need a couple of inches all the way around the stone to allow heat move properly?
Christopher

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2007, 04:05:30 PM »
correct me if i'm wrong, but to get peak performance from your oven you need a couple of inches all the way around the stone to allow heat move properly?


Christopher,

That is a typical recommendation, as you will note in Question 2 at the FAQ section at the Fibrament website, at http://www.bakingstone.com/faq.php. Fibrament recommends one inch.

Peter

Offline Randy

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2007, 08:31:28 PM »
I have had quite a bit of success getting a screened pizza to be very close to a pizza cooked on a stone.  I put my oven rack as low as it will go in the oven then preheat the oven to 500F.  I prep my pizza then wait until the light indicates the bottom element is coming on then put the pizza in the oven.  The radiant heat from the bottom element will crisp the pizza up nicely without the long preheat time with a stone.
I use a stone during the few cold winter days we have and screens all the rest of the year.

As a side note, the 12" screens sitting on a dinner plate make a great drain for frenh fries and donuts make from left over pizza dough.

Offline Jack

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2007, 03:44:20 PM »
As a die-hard stone guy, Iíll jump in here.  For me, itís the warm up time and the crust.  I have a 19 inch stone and an 18 inch screen.  Iíve always endured the warm up time on a stone, because I like the crust finish much better.  I made two dough balls a week ago.  One was cooked up on Sunday on the stone; the other was cooked last night on the screen. 

Iíll disagree with Peter on the 80/20 call, Iíd call it more like 90/10.  Since I didnít know any better, I pre-heated the oven to the same 550įF I use with a stone.  With the screen placed on rack 2 of 4 from the bottom, the cheese was bubbling, just as the bottom was browning up perfectly.  The crust folded, with a drooping tip.  It was a nearly perfect crust.  I did spin the screen around 180 degrees after about 3-4 minutes, because my oven has slightly uneven heating front to back.

My opinion of a screen has changed.  Screens can make really good pizza, without heating up the kitchen nearly as much as a stone.  My weapon of choice is still the stone, but I've added the screen as a full member of my arsenal.

Jack

Offline pizzoid

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2007, 08:55:03 AM »
correct me if i'm wrong, but to get peak performance from your oven you need a couple of inches all the way around the stone to allow heat move properly?
Christopher


Christopher,

That is a typical recommendation, as you will note in Question 2 at the FAQ section at the Fibrament website, at http://www.bakingstone.com/faq.php. Fibrament recommends one inch.

Peter


I'd have to say that this all depends on the oven, and the cooking characteristics you're trying to get out of it. I have a Kitchenaid Superba convection oven, with a max. temp setting of 500F. I manage to get my 13" round Fibrament stone to 570F because I'm not using convection, just keeping the stone on the lowest rack setting and using the standard bake mode. In this oven and stone configuration, the heating from the bottom gets the stone to a higher temperature than the rest of the oven (basically, a lot of the energy has to go through the stone to get to the rest of the oven and heat it). I'm considering a larger Fibrament to block off more, and try to get the stone temp up higher for the crust characteristics I'm seeking! Right now there are huge gaps on the sides - round stone in a rectangular oven. This suggests to me it's mostly radiant heating instead of convective doing the stone heating.

I just ordered a few Lloyd Pans' Quik Screens, and will report in a few months after experimentation.

- Al

Offline Jack

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2007, 09:48:38 AM »
correct me if i'm wrong, but to get peak performance from your oven you need a couple of inches all the way around the stone to allow heat move properly?
Christopher

I have less than 1/4 inch at the front and back, using a round Fibrament, but the opening gets much larger fast, as you move to the side of the round stone.  The folks at Fibrament were ok with this.  The bottom line is that you have enough space around the stone to allow for air flow.  You don't need a few inches all the way around, at least for a round stone.  A square or rectangular stone would likely be different, as you are closing off a much longer section to air flow. 

Jack


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2007, 09:54:39 AM »
Iíll disagree with Peter on the 80/20 call, Iíd call it more like 90/10. 


Jack,

You could very well be right, and getting 90% of the way home would be a notable achievement. I was speaking with respect to the results that commercial operators have achieved using impingement conveyor ovens and screens to make a New York style pizza that compares favorably with one baked in a deck oven. I was being conservative in my estimate of 80-85% because many operators do not optimize their conveyor ovens by fine tuning their finger settings to get a better NY style. Also, some operators have used equipment and just use the same finger settings the prior owners used, possibly for other kinds of pizzas. From what I have read, many operators donít even know how to change the finger settings.

If I understand what Tom Lehmann has written on this subject correctly, the closest that one is likely to come to achieving a deck-baked NY style pizza in an impingement conveyor oven is a combination of the new Lincoln Fast Bake conveyor oven (see http://www.enodis.com/news/corporatenews/?id=53862) and the new anodized disks that he and pizzatools.com have been working on specifically for the NY style. He mentioned this combination recently at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=8933#8933. Itís possible that Tom has some vested interest in promoting the new disks, and even the new Lincoln oven, but if he is anywhere near correct, then it is unlikely that we will be able to completely replicate a NY style crust in a standard home oven using pizza screens. Whether one of the new ďNYĒ disks from pizzatools.com (Lloyd) will work any better in our home ovens is an open question at this point. If they become available at the retail level, then we may get a better answer.

Peter

Offline Jack

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2007, 01:10:17 AM »
Peter,

Sorry I didn't catch the commercial slant.

I'm still amazed.  The taste and texture were incredibly close to my stone pies.  The most noticeable difference was the lack of blistering on the bottom of the screen prepared crust and the presence of the screen imprinting.  The crust didn't have quite as thick of a chewy layer under the sauce/cheese, but it was close. Also, the oven spring was slightly less under the sauce and cheese, but not at the edge. 

On the other hand, I may have managed to align the sun, the moon and the stars for that one pie.

Jack

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2007, 11:42:31 AM »
For those who are interested, I checked the Lloyd Industries website and see that one is now able to order online the new hearth bake disks that I mentioned in an earlier post. The disks are shown, and can be ordered at, http://www.lloydpans.com/productdisplay.aspx?catid=369&c=Hearth_Bake_Disks#187. I checked pizzatools, which is a Lloyd's related company, and did not see the new disks offered at the pizzatools.com website.

I ordered a couple of the disks (dark, anodized PSTK) from the Lloyd Industries website to play around with. Hopefully, as summer approaches, I will be able to get good results without having to heat up my pizza stone to 500į F or more to make a good NY style.

Peter

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: Pizza screen question
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2007, 12:26:43 PM »
Bump.

I bought some of the PTSK coated perforated disks from pizzatools a few months back and I have to say after about 1/2 dozen pies on the disks, I'll stick with my pizza stones.  Yes, it was *incredibly* easy to get the pizza into the oven and I even "decked" the pizza on a stone for the last 1/2 of the bake time but the crust characteristic (color, crumb and crispness primarily) did not match the result I get with my stones.  I did side by side comparison, one pizza after another - one with a disk and the other without (and on different occasions I reversed which pizza, disk or stone alone, gets the oven first).  The only advantage of the disk was the ease of pie insertion into the oven and now that I can somewhat reliably use my peel, I don't see the need.  And the few and far between times I can't get the pizza off my peel easily just adds some "character" to my pies.   ;)

Just my $0.02.
PizzaJoe


 

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