Author Topic: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????  (Read 4451 times)

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Offline nirc

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Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????
« on: July 08, 2007, 12:30:03 PM »
hello everyone,

i recently decided that i will learn how to make pizza. what i thought was simple, turned out to be a little harder then i imagined. and then i find this site. WOW! so much info. 

so to start with, i am looking to buy a stone, screen, disk, and/or pan with which to bake my pizzas at home. as i plan on making mostly American & New York style pizzas, i was wondering what is the best combination to buy. i read thru a number of posts but i am still confused as to what to buy? is the stone enough, or do i need the stone + ........................

on the same note when is a disk, pan, & screen most appropriate?

i already have a DLX mixer, digital scale, peel, pizza cutter

any help is greatly appreciated. :D

Thank You,
Eli
« Last Edit: July 09, 2007, 11:35:56 AM by nirc »


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie needs equipment advice
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2007, 02:15:45 PM »
Eli,

Those are very good questions. Based on what I now know, if I were starting all over again, this is the collection of pizza equipment and accessories I would purchase for my particular pizza making needs:

Stand Mixer I would select a KitchenAid “Professional” (or equivalent) series stand mixer with a spiral hook (not a C-hook). My selection is predicated on the volume of dough I typically make, which is enough for one or two pizzas at a time. There are other mixers that may be better for much larger volumes of dough, such as the DLX or Santos, so you might investigate these models if you plan to make large amounts of dough. If you do a forum search on those mixers, you will find a lot of information on them. There are cheaper models of mixers than those mentioned above, but I would rather make the up-front investment in a good mixer rather than trying to save a dollar or two with a cheaper, less effective model. If I did not select a stand mixer, I would perhaps select a good 14-cup food processor. A bread machine can also be used, but it would not be at the top of my list. There are pluses and minuses with each type of machine.

Pizza stone. I would select the largest stone that my oven can handle with the door shut, while allowing a little space around the stone for air/heat circulation. Some members prefer using tiles, which are much cheaper than stones and can be used in many different configurations. I have used both and personally prefer a pizza stone, but if I were to recommend that to you over tiles, I am sure we will hear testimonials from the users of tiles. You might do your own review of the forum posts on this topic, and make up your own mind. Tiles are cheap enough that you can have both tiles and a stone at your disposal, as I have done, sometimes even in combination.

Peels. I personally recommend two peels, one wood and the other metal, with the wood peel being used mainly for loading pizzas into the oven and the metal peel being used to manipulate the pizzas while in the oven and to remove baked pizzas from the oven (the thin metal blade is easier to get under the pizzas). Some people use only one peel, wood or metal, for both purposes. That is far too challenging for me. I am willing to pay for an extra peel and reduce the risk of mishaps when handling the pizzas. Of course, the size of the peel used to load pizzas into the oven should be commensurate with the sizes of pizzas you intend to make. If you plan on making small Neapolitan style pizzas, you perhaps can get away with using only a small wood or metal peel. There is also a specially designed peel (called a SuperPeel) that can be used to load pizzas into the oven. For some, that may be a good choice, especially for those who have had difficulty in mastering the use of standard peels. However, I don’t believe the SuperPeel can be used to make large pizzas, such as 16” and greater.

Pizza Screens. Screens are very inexpensive and have a great deal of versatility and utility, especially in the summertime where there is little desire to crank up the oven to preheat a pizza stone (or tiles) for an hour or more. Screens also come in several different sizes. I have several screens of different sizes, although if I had to settle for just a single screen, I think it would be a 16” screen. With that screen, you can make pizzas of sizes up to 16”, which will work (i.e., fit) in most home ovens and is typical of the size of a NY style pizza. Screens also work well with the American style pizza. They are less often used for other pizza styles. Screens also avoid the necessity to use a peel since a pizza can be dressed directly on the screen and then placed in the oven. It’s so easy, even a caveman can do it.

Pans and disks. I like the idea of having a couple of pans on hand for certain style pizzas. My preference is for dark, anodized cutter pans, one unperforated and one perforated. If I could not afford a pizza stone, or simply didn’t want to use one, or to use screens, I would perhaps select a dark, anodized, unperforated cutter pan. With that one pan, I can make several different kinds of pizzas (e.g., flat pizzas, pan pizzas, Greek style pizzas, and even thin versions of deep-dish pizzas). Again, if I had to select only one size, it would perhaps be a 16” pan. My second choice would be 14”. Disks are also useful but, given a choice between a cutter pan and a disk, I would personally pick the cutter pan. Disks are primarily designed for impingement conveyor ovens, which have thermal and other characteristics that differ quite significantly from our standard home ovens. That said, I will soon be testing a special hearth-type perforated disk (16”) that was designed to be used (in commercial conveyor ovens) to simulate a NY style pizza that is most commonly baked in a deck oven. I will be using the disk in my home oven.

Digital scale. For me, a good digital scale is at the top of my list of equipment to be used in the course of my pizza making. I tend to be numbers oriented, and I find that using a digital scale gives me consistency, uniformity and reproducibility in my pizzas. I also do a lot of experimenting with dough formulations, where a good scale is a necessity for me. However, I am also mindful that others prefer to use volume measurements and “touch and feel” in making their pizza doughs. Most members tend to align themselves on one side or the other on this issue, and you will occasionally see spirited debates on the forum on this subject. I don’t have a quarrel with either position. We are all different.

Other/Miscellaneous items. I would also recommend that beginning pizza makers have a collection of other pizza-related items such as a sturdy pizza cutter, a good set of measuring cups and spoons for measuring dry ingredients, Pyrex-type cups for measuring liquids, a good set of mixing bowls, dough storage containers, an instant read thermometer, a bench knife, and a few pot holders. I would also have a few spatulas, including a thin, long-bladed flexible plastic spatula that comes in handy when using a stand mixer to combine and mix ingredients. You will perhaps also want to have a wire rack or two on which to place your finished pizzas, and a flat pan or two on which to cut and serve your pizzas. If you were interested at some point in making deep-dish pizzas, I would recommend a dark-anodized or seasoned deep-dish pan, and a pan-gripper. If you elect to make cracker-style or thin and crispy pizzas, I would recommend a dough docker.

No doubt I have missed an item here or there but the above reflects my preferences off the top of my head. Others are bound to have their own recommendations, which you of course should consider before rounding up your own personal collection of equipment and accessories. Of course, there are likely to be budgetary considerations that you will have to take into account in making your selections.

Peter
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 09:16:21 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline Jack

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Re: Newbie needs equipment advice
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2007, 02:25:03 PM »
Gear:

I've bought stuff as I went along, upgrading a Magic Chef stone we already had to a Fibrament after a year or so and I picked up peels when I found them locally at a great price.  You can cook on a $6 screen, unglazed tiles ($10-12) or a $50 stone.  They are different, but all are fine.  I use a stone 10 months of the year, but use a screen during the hot summer months.  I served on cutting boards for quite some time and used a thin cuting board as a peel to load my pies in the oven for a while too.  It all works.

Since you did not specify a budget, I'll follow a middle of the road, to lower cost approach.  If I were starting over again, a good mixer, a scale and a big peel would be high up on my list.  The mixer will be expensive and could happen later, if required.  I would start on a screen (for NY Style) and I would not scrimp on ingredients.  Later, I'd buy the biggest stone that would fit in my oven.

Pizza tools are like any other kind of tools.  More is better and good quality is better than poor quality.  Finding the middle ground of budget versus quailty and quantity is the tough part.

Jack

Edit - Peter snuck his post in while I was writing and provided more detail info, buy the one we both missed was that many stones can be modified to fit.  I wanted a big stone, so I could make 17-18 inch pies, like real NY pies.  I bought a 19 inch Fibrament and ground (10 inch bench grinder) flats on opposite edges so it would fit in my oven.  There is a tight fit right at this point, but plenty of room for air flow around the other sides of the stone.  Just more food for thought.

Read the older posts for a week or more before you buy anything.

FYI - I like the Kitchen Aid units with the spiral hook too.  It'll grunt a little mixing up two 17 inch NY dough balls at once, but it gets the job done. Be sure to get one that comes with a spiral hook, as the units supplied with a C-hook are lacking an essential thrust washer and are not designed to work with the spiral hook.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 02:32:15 PM by Jack »

Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, and/or pans
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2007, 03:46:31 AM »
Eli.....Seems like you have most of what you need to make pizza. Your needs really depend on on how you are wired, your budget constraints and what your significant other will let you get away with. Some folks feel the need for every gadget and appliance availiable and there are those that take the minimalist approach and everyone in between.

I personnaly have found that a good quality stone made the biggest difference in my pizza followed closely by a digital scale. I use a piece of cardboard dusted with flour as my peel and scoop the pizza from the oven with a perforated pizza pan. My pizzas are usually less than 12" so this works well. The scale really helps with accuracy and consistency.

Another item you may want to consider is a digital IR thermometer. You can pick one up starting at around $30. If you're just starting out this helps with setting up your oven environment. What type oven do you have?

A digital camera is nice to document your progress.

Here's list of items I use for making pizza:
KA mixer (5 quart, C hook)
Digital scale
Old Stone Oven pizza stone
Raytec IR thermometer

    Villa Roma
« Last Edit: July 09, 2007, 03:59:11 AM by Villa Roma »

Offline MWTC

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Re: Newbie needs equipment advice
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2007, 04:35:29 PM »
I will soon be testing a special hearth-type perforated disk (16”) that was designed to be used (in commercial conveyor ovens) to simulate a NY style pizza that is most commonly baked in a deck oven. I will be using the disk in my home oven.

I have been experimenting with the new hearth-type perforated disk (12"). Love it. It really needs the 550 degree preheating of the stone. I first tried it out at 475 degree with a one  hour preheat, with the stone in the middle rack of the oven and it wasn't hot enough.  The bottom was to lite, after baking. So I raised the temp. to 550 degrees with a one hour preheat. Upon placing the pizza in I reduced the temp. to 475 and the bake was perfect. I am achieving much improved browning of the outer rim. The disk can take alot of heat, and needs more to achieve the proper bake, to my taste.

Again, love the new disk.

MWTC  :chef:

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2007, 05:21:26 PM »
MWTC,

Have you tried the new hearth-style disk without the stone and, if so, what was the bake protocol? As you may know, the new disk was designed for use in conveyor ovens in order to simulate a pizza (e.g. NY style) baked on a deck surface. It's been cooler than normal here in Texas, so I can use the stone for a while longer before the real heat returns, but my interest in the new hearth disk is to use it without a stone so that I don't have to crank up my oven to heat the stone.

Peter


Offline MWTC

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Re: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2007, 10:59:01 AM »
Peter,

No, I have not used the new disk without the stone.

My goal was to produce a texture on the bottom of the pizza that wasn't tough but golden brown and still tender. The style that I get when I use a 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch pan. At the same time increase the browning through direct heat contact around the rim. The  pan was to high when I baked with it, the rim wasn't browning as I desired. I just don't like the texture/result that I achieve when I use a regular screen. When I baked direct on the stone the bottom wasn't the texture that I was looking for also. So, when I heard, thru You, that a new disk was available I couldn't get it fast enough. Bam, problem solved.

I made another Pizza last night on it, again I got the result that I was trying to achieve.  ;D

I look forward to your results baking on the new disk without the stone.

When I baked at a lower temp. (475 degrees) the results were nowhere as good as at 550 degrees. The disk needs higher temperature to work effectively. IMO

MWTC  :chef: 
« Last Edit: July 11, 2007, 11:07:51 AM by MWTC »

Offline MWTC

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Re: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2007, 10:35:27 AM »
Peter,

Last night I baked a pizza on the new Hearth Disk (12 inch) without a baking stone.

I happy to report that it worked great. I baked at 550 degrees and was surprised to see some black spots on the rim, charring of sorts! The bottom was dark but not tough. The bake was very fast, it surprised me a the speed of the bake.

I will continue to experiment with the new disk, to see what it will produce at lower temperatures, 475 degrees, works best for me. I really like golden brown crust.

MWTC  :chef:

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2007, 11:56:58 AM »
MWTC,

I take it that you used the new hearth-style disk with something other than a NY style, for which the disk was primarily designed.

I tried the new disk (14") recently with a very basic Lehmann NY style dough and was not satisfied with the results. The bake time, at 500-550°F on the bottom rack, was longer than usual and there wasn't much oven spring. Otherwise I would have posted my results and a favorable assessment of the new disk.

I was planning next time to try preheating the disk in the oven and then depositing the pizza onto the preheated disk, but before I could try that I read a Tom Lehmann post on the PMQ Think Tank that he was using 12.25 ounces of dough for his 14" NY style pizza (I was using around 17 ounces). That will be the amount of dough I will try next time. The temperature he recommended, for a conveyor oven, was around 500° F. From what I have been able to piece together from several Lehmann posts, it looks like he has been using the new NAPICS 2007 dough formulation with the new hearth-style disks and the Lincoln FastBake conveyor oven. I believe that is the combination he will be using at the next industry get-together (I believe in Orlando). One recent PMQTT poster said that he was not getting good results using the new hearth-style disks in his particular conveyor oven, which is not one of the FastBake ovens.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 18, 2007, 12:07:22 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline MWTC

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Re: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2007, 12:41:31 PM »
I used an updated Poolish based recipe. The best recipe so far. I am very pleased with it. Using that recipe, with the new disk worked great for me. On the stone and without. It is my new "weapon" of choice.  :-D

MWTC  :chef:


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie needs advice - stone, screen, disks, pans ?????
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2007, 12:46:30 PM »
MWTC,

If you don't mind sharing, perhaps you can post your new dough formualation in a new thread devoted to that formulation.

Peter


 

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