Author Topic: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!  (Read 4432 times)

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Offline pizzasf

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Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« on: December 31, 2007, 09:59:54 PM »
I have been experimenting with a variety of methods of making pizza both with stones and without.

Bought a 15" pizza stone, and had pretty good results with it except it cracked after a few uses.

Started using a 14" pizza pan. It was an old one that we had lying around, and was dark in color, and quite light in weight. Using a basic NY pizza dough recipe in an electric oven at 550F, made perfect crispy crusts as good or better than the pizza stone did!

Now here is a question for the forum - I wanted to make bigger pizzas, and bought an American Metalcraft 18" aluminum pizza pan. Looked nice and silver etc.. (and no perforations, just smooth metal) but no matter what I tried the pizza that I made on it was CRAP! Soggy, the dough was raw in the center, not even remotely crispy. Totally confused.

What is everyone's opinion on what has changed? Could it be the fact that the new pan is aluminum? Has anyone had good/bad experiences with aluminum? (not sure what metal the old one was but at a guess it was a thin sheet of teflon coated steel..) Is there a better metal for pans to be made from?

So the good news for the forum is that it is possible to make perfect crispy pizza without a pizza stone, but at the moment I only know how to make it in a 14" pan.

Help me please!



Offline Bryan S

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2007, 10:36:23 PM »
My guess would be that the new pan is a lot thicker and takes more time to heat up, thus the soggy crust. I no longer use a pizza stone because I get great results with a pizza screen, just a thought.  :)
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2007, 10:49:45 PM »
Hi, pizzasf...
In all my reading on this great site, I would guess (and I'm sure the experts will weigh in...) that the two words that send up a flare are "aluminum" and "silver".  Your old pan was dark... and that was the key.  The dark pan will transfer heat to the crust, browning it up and keeping it from being soggy.

I use a heavy metal pan that WAS lighter in color, but is now "seasoned" which means that it is now nice and dark.  I'm not sure if you can take any old aluminum, silver, shiny pan and season it to be nice and brown... this is where the experts (like Pete-zza and BILL/SFNM need to help you) but I'm sure that the change in pan from dark to silver is the root of your problem.

I use my dark pan for my Sicilian style pizza, but for NY or other styles, I use my stones.

Sorry to hear that your stone cracked... I have two stones in my oven that really help with my pizza making and neither have cracked in the many years I have been using them.  I have also heard of members who just shove the two cracked halves together and keep on truckin'!

~sd

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Offline pizzasf

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 05:03:05 AM »
Bryan, thanks for the advice re: the pizza screen. I did see some for sale, wasn't sure whether to get one - how would you describe the crust that you get with it? Does it become crisp on the base? How hot is your oven and which position do you put the screen in?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 06:35:03 AM »
pizzasf,

Maybe you can take a look at the American Metalcraft products identified at their website at http://www.amnow.com/pizzaTrays/index.html and tell us which pan you used. I am wondering whether what you used was actually a serving tray rather than a baking pan. If what you have is a baking pan, then the problem is most likely that it isn't conducting enough heat to the unbaked pizza. Instead, it is reflecting it. You may be able to season it over time, but it may take a lot of pizzas to reach that point in a home environment.

Peter
« Last Edit: January 01, 2008, 06:39:18 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline pizzasf

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2008, 07:35:08 AM »
Pete-zza, thanks for the insight. I had a look at the website, and you are right - the TP18 pan that I am using is classed as a serving pan.

This leaves us with an interesting question:

What is the optimum pizza pan?

I prefer not to use the non-stick teflon style pans any more because of the negative publicity about the chemicals in them (which is a shame because as I mentioned above I was getting terrific results from it), and it seems that the silver colored aluminum pans are just for serving.

One item that looked like a possibility on the http://www.amnow.com/pizzaTrays/megaScreens.html website that you referred me to is the Hard Coat Anodized MEGA Screens like the HC28717. It looks dark which should promote browning of the crust, and is perforated which I have heard may help as well?

Or is there a better option?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2008, 09:07:51 AM »
pizzasf,

I am aware of the American Metalcraft anodized screens but have not tried them, so I can’t really comment on them other than to say that I have read very little, if anything, about them on this forum or even at the PMQ Think Tank forum where professional pizza operators congregate.

However, my personal favorite pan is a dark, anodized cutter pan. I have both a perforated version and a non-perforated version, but if I had to pick just one, I think it would be the nonperforated version because I deem it to be a bit more versatile than the perforated version. For example, with the nonperforated version, I can oil the bottom without having the oil seep through the holes and onto the bottom heating element of my oven. That is of value to me when I want to get a good crispy, almost “fried”, bottom crust. With the nonperforated cutter pan I can also use cornmeal or semolina flour if I'd like.

What I also like about the cutter pans in general is that they have sides (sloping). This means I can put ingredients right out to the edge of the pizzas without worrying whether the ingredients will fall off of the edge. I can also use the cutter pans to make several different styles, including just about all of the thin styles (thin and soft, thin and crispy, and cracker-style) and pan pizzas (including the Greek style as shown at Reply 20 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,691.msg27482.html#msg27482). I also use the cutter pans for pre-baking crusts, which I did extensively for the pizzas I described at this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5762.0.html. The same cutter pan was also used to make a Donatos clone pizza at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2711.msg27952.html#msg27952 (Reply 22). A recent use of the perforated cutter pan was for a Round Table clone pizza as shown here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1911.msg51105.html#msg51105 (Reply 249).

In a pinch, cutter pans can also be used to make “shallow” deep-dish pizzas. I have some roughly 7” cutter pans that make nice personal “thin” deep-dish pizzas (for example, see the photos in Replies 6 and 7 starting at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,560.msg5138.html#msg5138).

I bought my cutter pans from pizzatools.com
(see http://www.pizzatools.com/productdisplay.aspx?catid=52&c=Cutter_Pans and http://www.pizzatools.com/productdisplay.aspx?catid=51&c=Cutter_Pans_Perforated). I believe that the CAR pans offered by American Metalcraft are intended to be equivalent to the pizzatools cutter pans although I cannot say from personal experience since I have not tried the AM cutter pans.

I might add that just as with the AM anodized screens, I have not read much about the use of cutter pans by professionals. Most professionals tend to use screens and disks, usually in association with conveyor ovens where they are a necessity. It could be that the cutter pans are too expensive for even professionals. I have several dark anodized disks but, for some reason, I have not had as good success with them as I have with my cutter pans. Over time I will do more experimenting with the disks and hopefully will have more to say on the subject after giving the disks a greater chance to show their value.

About the only negative I can think of for the cutter pans is that they are expensive. The ones from pizzatools are made in the U.S. and, hence, will reflect higher domestic labor costs. But they will last a very long time if properly maintained. They don’t require any seasoning and the finish is a baked finish that won’t chip, scratch or peel. And the heat transfer characteristics are very good. I think you will see from all of the photos I referenced how versatile the cutter pans are. For now, I will leave to others to share their experiences with you on the merit of disks and/or screens.

Peter

Offline Bryan S

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2008, 04:32:38 PM »
Bryan, thanks for the advice re: the pizza screen. I did see some for sale, wasn't sure whether to get one - how would you describe the crust that you get with it? Does it become crisp on the base? How hot is your oven and which position do you put the screen in?
pizzasf, I get a nice crisy outside with the screen. My perfect posistion in the oven is one notch above the middle posistion. I use an electric oven @ 550 degrees. If I use the middle spot the top doesn't get as brown as I like. I like the cheese to get brown in spots, like homemade mac and cheese. Here's a pepperoni overload pie.  ;D
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

Offline enchant

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2008, 07:50:34 AM »
About the only negative I can think of for the cutter pans is that they are expensive.
I don't understand why this should be.  They're a single piece of metal with a finish baked on.  I don't understand why a 12" pan isn't about $8 and a 16" pan $10.

There are local pizza joints that I go to from time to time, and they've got tall stacks of these pans.  And these are the sorts of places that I honestly can't see spending any more money than they have to.
--pat--

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2008, 08:44:27 AM »
Pat,

There are only a few other companies that I have identified that make anodized products with competitive coatings such as available from pizzatools.com. They are American Metalcraft and Chicago Metallic, and neither carries as extensive a line of pizza-related anodized products as pizzatools, and neither is cheap. You can read about the pizzatools anodizing and sealing processes at http://www.pizzatools.com/pops/poptuffkoteinfo.html, and if you call pizzatools and speak to a customer service rep, as I once did, you will get a lengthy explanation as to their anodized products and why they cost more than competitive products (including compliance with mil specs that are applied to aircraft manufacturers). All of their products are made in the U.S., including even their pizza screens. When I last researched pizza screens (a couple of years ago) I discovered that almost all pizza screens were made in India. Maybe China is now a source too. The pizzatools pizza screens are a bit more expensive than the imported ones, which I attributed, rightly or wrongly, to our higher labor costs in the U.S. Remember, also, that as individuals like ourselves who only buy an item here or there, there are no real discounts available. I am happy that they will sell to individuals at all.

I suspect that the pizza places you mentioned are not using hard, anodized, coated products like those from pizzatools but rather basic uncoated aluminum pans that were seasoned and darkened with long term use. It would take me forever to darken my pans that way based on the rate at which I make pizzas.

Peter


Offline enchant

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2008, 09:46:36 AM »
I suspect that the pizza places you mentioned are not using hard, anodized, coated products like those from pizzatools but rather basic uncoated aluminum pans that were seasoned and darkened with long term use. It would take me forever to darken my pans that way based on the rate at which I make pizzas.
This would make a lot more sense.  The places I'm referring to have been around since George Washington was ordering take-out.
--pat--

Offline bangtango

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2008, 05:40:09 PM »
When I managed a Domino's Pizza many moons ago. We had the Aluminum screens and to season or darken them we just sprayed them with Pam cooking spray threw them in the oven which was at 600* and burned  them for a few hours. Worked great.

Hope everyone had Happy Holidays!!

bangtango

Offline pizzasf

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Re: Perfect Crispy Pizza on Pizza Pans - No Stone!
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 11:40:40 PM »
Thanks all for your great feedback on this topic. I have tried a couple of types of pans since posting this and haven't achieved the same results that I achieved with the original non-stick pan. I will continue to investigate different pan options including some extra recommendations from your posts, and will update this thread if I find anything that will help the rest of the community.

This leaves me with the original non-stick (aluminum) pans (and also pizza stones) that make fantastic crisp bases.

I have a tip that may help others for cheap pizza stones, will post separately on this.


 

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