Author Topic: Screen Basics  (Read 2042 times)

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Offline Count Crustulus

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Screen Basics
« on: April 06, 2008, 03:51:36 PM »
So I just bought 2 sixteen inch pizza screens from a restaurant supply store here in Philly (3 bucks a piece - nice!). I want to try them out ASAP but need to know the basics. Some questions:

- Are screens better for some kinds of pizzas than others?
- Do I dress the pie before placing the dough on the screen or after?
- Is seasoning necessary, recommended, not necessary?
- Do you have other tips for preventing sticking to the screen?
- Where should I place the screen in the (gas) oven? Low, high, middle?
- Other screen thoughts?

Sorry if I'm asking questions already discussed on the forum. In any case, I haven't been able to find one awesome thread devoted to screens. If one already exists, could a more experienced member point the way?

All Best,

Count Crustulus


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Screen Basics
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2008, 09:51:34 PM »
Count Crustulus,

I think pizza screens are best suited for doughs that contain a lot of sugar which, if baked on a hot pizza stone, could lead to excessive or premature browning--or even burning--of the bottom crust, often before the rest of the pizza has finished baking. Pizza screens are also a good choice for summertime baking where you would prefer not to heat up the oven for an hour or more to preheat a pizza stone to 500 degrees F or more. All that is necessary is to preheat the oven to the desired temperature, which can be as little as ten to twelve minutes. You should be able to bake just about any type of pizza on a screen with the exception of a deep-dish pizza, which requires its own pan or skillet, or a Sicilian or similar style pizza that requires a pan of some sort. I often use my screens in conjunction with a pizza stone to make pizzas that are larger than my pizza stone can accommodate. For example, I have started 16" and 18" pizzas on a screen and finished them on my stone, which cannot itself accommodate a pizza larger than 14". A pizza screen can also be used to lift a pizza off of a pizza stone by the thickness of the screen if the pizza is baking too quickly on the stone. Some people prefer the crispiness that can be achieved using a pizza stone as opposed to a screen, but for others that is not a big deal. Some say that they have been able to get crispy crusts using a screen. A screen is also a good choice for pizzas that are to be topped right to the outside edge and therefore not prone to falling off as they might if the pizza is loaded into the oven using a peel. It is rare to have a mishap when putting a pizza into the oven that is on a screen.

I always dress my pizzas directly on the screen. If the dough is highly hydrated or if the dough skin is very thin, I will usually pre-spray the screen with an oil spray, such as a canola oil spray, just to be on the safe side. I will also line up all of the ingredients and toppings in advance and move quickly to dress the pizza so that it doesn't have a chance to stick to the screen. Before using the screen for the first time, I suggest that you season it. The way to do this is discussed in this post: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2894.msg24858/topicseen.html#msg24858 (Reply 4). 

I don't have a gas oven, so I cannot help you with how best to use your pizza screens with such an oven. In my electric oven, I have used screens at all levels, depending on the type of pizza I am trying to make or the oven thermodynamics I am trying to achieve.

Peter

Offline alconnell

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Re: Screen Basics
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2008, 07:40:33 AM »
Screens should be seasoned before use.  Just brush them with oil and bake them for 30-60 min. until the oil is baked on.  It does create a good bit of smoke so be prepared.  I have also seasoned screens on the grill, though a 16" won't fit on mine.  I am a fan of screens for several reasons:
1) I usually make multiple pizzas and can have them ready to go on the screens.
2) I don't have the burning of cornmeal in the oven.
3) The pizzas are easier to move around on the screens.
4) I can toss my dough, put it on the screen and give it 15-20 min. to rest before making the pizza this way. 

Also, I always "brick" my pizzas for the last 2-3 min. of cooking.  That is, I pull the screen out and finish the pizza directly on the stone. 

Offline Count Crustulus

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Re: Screen Basics
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2008, 05:58:07 PM »
Thanks for the awesome replies, guys! Alconnell, why do you toss your dough and then let it rest on the screen? Does this allow you to achieve a more perfect shape? And does your pizza ever stick to the screen after sitting for so long as Peet-zza suggests it might?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Screen Basics
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2008, 08:31:14 PM »
Count Crustulus,

With a properly seasoned screen, even if no oil spray is used, you are unlikely to get a dough skin with normal hydration to stick to the screen. It is high-hydration dough skins that are damp to the touch that are most likely to stick to the screen. But they are just as likely to stick to a wooden peel. It is possible to let a dough skin proof directly on a screen, but I wouldn't risk it for a high-hydration dough that is obviously damp to the touch.

Peter

Offline enchant

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Re: Screen Basics
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2008, 11:25:19 AM »
fwiw, Instawares has a pretty good sale price on 20" anodized screens - $4.00 each.  I'd snap up a couple, but they're too big for my oven.

http://www.instawares.com/hard-coat-anodized-pizza.amm-hc18720-clo-k.0.7.htm
--pat--

Offline Adam T

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Re: Screen Basics
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 12:59:22 PM »
I showed my my newbie kitchen skills and purchased one of these 20" screens... I'm too Dutch for my own good and the price was right.  I thought about the size but I thought my wife cooked with cookie sheets just as large. I was wrong, my oven can only accommodate a screen 17 1/2" deep.  :-[ So I took the screen to work (industrial design and metal fabrication shop) and I'm going to see if I can form two sides over on themselves to make the screen narrower. Looks like I'll be making oval pizzas if this works.

fwiw, Instawares has a pretty good sale price on 20" anodized screens - $4.00 each.  I'd snap up a couple, but they're too big for my oven.

http://www.instawares.com/hard-coat-anodized-pizza.amm-hc18720-clo-k.0.7.htm

Offline alconnell

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Re: Screen Basics
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2008, 05:20:56 PM »
Count Crustulus,
I let my thrown dough rest on the screens because it gives a bit more rise that way.  I can't say it has never stuck  :o before; but it is rare, maybe twice in 20 years of pizza making.  Screens just give me the most flexibility and I still feel I can get the crispness in the crust by removing it a few minutes before pulling the pizza.


 

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