Author Topic: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?  (Read 6982 times)

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Offline GrilledPizzaLover

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Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« on: May 19, 2008, 11:33:34 PM »
No- I'm not crazy- well, no more than usual! As I stated in an earlier post, I've had some trouble with the pizza sticking to my wooden peel. I've sanded it, used flour and cornmeal, and still have the occasional  pizza stick. Unfortunately, it's usually a Margherita pizza that sticks- the messiest of all. I have read about using stones vs screens, and while it is a matter of preference, it seems to me, anyways, that the general consensus is that stones are preferred. The stone is my preference, also. I have pre-heated the stone, and then taken it out of the oven to build the pizza directly on the stone, and then put the stone back in the oven. The trouble with this method is that once the crust hits the stone, it starts baking immediately. By the time it goes back in the oven, and the rest of the pizza is done, the crust is too tough- overdone. I'm considering getting a screen to assemble the pizza on, and then putting the screen into the oven directly on  the pre-heated stone. Do you think this will work? Would the pizza still have the advantage of being baked on a stone? I'd appreciate any thoughts/opinions, etc on this!

Thanks,

GPL   
A "bad" homemade pizza is better than any "good" chain pizza!


Offline scott r

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2008, 01:05:51 AM »
Pete-zza will attest to the fact that it will work ;) but in my opinion this is cheating, and the end product is inferior.   That initial blast of high temps that comes with direct contact to the heat and the ability of the stone to suck moisture really makes a New York or Neapolitan style pizza what it is. There is something about air being the first thing to blast the underside of the pizza just changes things, no matter how short that initial screen time is.  I suggest that you make a huge batch of dough to play with.  The idea is to take some risks and practice with pizzas that you don't care about.  Here are some tips on how to get this very important technique happening:

Don't overproof your dough.

Have a huge shallow but wide plastic bowl around to keep your bench flour in. I have one that I love with a lid that allows me to easily take it with me on the road.  

Drop your whole dough ball into the flour and fully coat all portions with it.  I like to do my initial flattening into the bowl of flour, forming the first puck of dough there.

Sprinkle a small amount of flour on your peel, just enough to spread around and create a thin but thorough coating.

Learn to move fast while dressing your pizza.  You really have to have your "Mis en place" even if you are just a home cook.  As soon as that dough hits the peel be aware that the clock is ticking. 

If for some reason you are taking longer than a few minutes to build the pizza you should do a shake and pull.  Shake the dough until you can tell that it is not stuck anywhere and pull the edges back out to their original size if the pizza shrinks during this shaking process. This should buy you another minute or two.

Here is where your large practice dough batch can really help you.  Your oven doesn't even have to be on for this.   Try using inertia to your advantage, and see how hard you can pull back on the peel and smoothly dismount the pizza.   I like to do a series of smaller shakes or small lunges with the peel, but I have seen other pizza makers that use a single larger shake. Spend some time messing up, and learning the feel of how to dismount a pizza gracefully.  Trust me, practice will make perfect!

In general the larger and heavier the pizza the more times you will have to shake before the pie is fully off the peel.  I like to keep shaking until it can slide off on it's own (about 3/4 the way through the dismount).
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 12:32:49 PM by scott r »

Offline 2stone

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2008, 08:07:02 AM »
Scott R's tips are very practical and should help you a lot.

If you use a screen on the stone you will need more heat. (a lot more)
I too prefer a direct bake on the stone. If you want to really practice,
use two peels and practice loading back and forth between the two peels.
As Scott says, the clock is ticking.......so if it's taking too long to dress the pie
move it to the freshly floured second peel.  -willard
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Offline DaveH

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2008, 08:24:47 AM »
My preference is still to use a piece of parchment paper on the peel. There is never a problem sliding the pie onto the stone and, after a few minutes, the paper can be removed and the pie finished on the stone itself.

Offline jpevear

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2008, 09:01:23 AM »
Just my two cents.

I prefer to use a preheated stone at 500 as I feel it cooks the crust better than using a screen in a preheated oven at the same temp. I use semolina flour when stretching the dough and I use it as my lubricant on my peel when transferring to the stone. 

The only problems I've ever had were because I stretched the dough to big for the stone and had to fix some overhang. To ensure that my dough fits perfectly on my stone I traced my stone with a permanent marker onto my peel.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2008, 09:39:00 AM »
Pete-zza will attest to the fact that it will work ;)

scott,

That was an excellent post. You are correct that it is possible to place the screen with the pizza on it directly on the stone. That is a method that some pizza operators use with deck ovens. But, in my opinion, that is one of the less effective methods because the metal of the screen has to get up to the right temperature before the pizza can bake. Some disks, even dark, anodized perforated ones, can have the same problem. Often the result is a pizza with a small rim. As you know, when I use the combination of screen and stone it is mainly because the pizza I want to make is larger than I can bake on my stone by itself. I start with the screen and pizza on an upper rack position (usually the topmost one) where the pizza can get a lot of heat. Once the pizza sets up (I often wait for light top crust browning), I use a metal peel to lift the pizza off of the screen and deposit the pizza onto the stone (usually at the lowest oven rack position), at which time I remove the screen from the oven since it is no longer needed. At this point, it doesn't matter if the pizza is larger than the stone because it is rigid. It just overlaps the edges of the stone. I have used this method to make pizzas from above 14" to 18" (the largest my oven can handle).

There are many other ways of baking a pizza in a standard home oven, which can be found by doing a little searching on the forum. I do not personally recommend preheating a stone and removing it from the oven to receive a dressed pizza, and I don't recommend moving a preheated stone from one oven rack position to another or removing the hot stone from the oven when the pizza is done baking to keep the pizza on the stone warm. I would be concerned about dropping the stone and causing harm to myself or others and/or to my kitchen floor. Also, opening the oven door to do these kinds of things can lead to a loss of a lot of heat that should be devoted to baking your pizza, not warming the kitchen.

Another useful tip if it can be timed right is to wait until the bottom heating element kicks back on before depositing the pizza onto the stone, whether initially or when shifting a pizza off of a screen onto the stone. This might be done by either increasing the oven temperature (via the knob) or by just opening the door for a moment so that the oven temperature drops and the bottom heating element kicks back on. Usually the loss of some oven heat is not a problem in these cases because the stone is already hot and soon to be even hotter when the lower element kicks back on.

Peter

Offline Frankie G

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2008, 11:20:28 AM »
I agree with Scott...  have your mis en place completely ready... and make the pizza fast.

In fact... if you are fortunate enough to have stone countertops... or some type of seamless cold surface, make the pizza on the counter as the do in Italy.

Make it fast.. then DRAG it to your peel... reshape to a circle... and slide onto the oven stone....

Go to YOUTUBE and search Pizza in Napoli... there are quite a few pizza making vids on there... and they are fun to watch...

Frankie G

Offline DWChun

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2008, 10:23:41 PM »
Heed the advice given in this thread and others you may read through on the forum, GPL. :)

One extra bit of advice I offer is using the "blow beneath the skin" method. Basically lift the lip of the pie, give a quick blow and you'll create a small bubble of air beneath the dough. It can help with countering the skin sticking to your peel.

Keep in mind that all the tips you'll get will work to varying degree depending on how your particular dough behaves.

I usually make a pseudo New York style dough that is 63% hydration on average. My preferred method for dough forming involves 2 to 3 light dustings of flour while I stretch and form my pizza. Due to the hydration and my preference for using a relatively small amount of flour when forming my pizza, I have found that blowing a bit of air beneath the pie ensures that I don't have any problems transferring my pizzas from the peel to the stone.

Ultimately, it takes hands on practice to find the method that works best for your type of dough. In my experience, I have had to develop a "feel" for my dough and how to best handle it for the results I want. It's an ongoing process, always changing as I tweak my recipes. It's a challenge I enjoy. :)


DW

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2008, 11:00:34 PM »
GPL's original question asks for a screen versus stone comparison. Much of the advice given thus far has been about the merits of using a stone or a combination of stone and screen, but there are certain advantages to using a screen by itself. Some of those advantages, as well as some of the disadvantages, are discussed in this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5169.msg43914.html#msg43914. Screens are cheap, so it is worth having a few on hand. It is even possible to use a single large screen, such as a 16" screen, to make smaller pizza sizes.

Peter
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 11:09:07 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline roksngr

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2008, 02:07:29 AM »
I like using pizza screens. I pre-heat to 550 and then place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven (Gas oven)
Works great, I can dress the pizza whenever I want, I don't have to worry about getting it off the peel quick and having little "mistakes"
I agree about not using the screen on the stone, I tried that once....it didn't get crispy on the bottom of the pizza.

L


Offline bigme

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2008, 06:04:53 PM »
someone's already mentioned the puff of air between the dough and the peel just before it goes in the oven. First time I saw that done I was in the kitchen of a pizzeria taking pictures for a food review, my first thought was that can't be hygienic, but boy does it work! Your pizza becomes a hovercraft so be careful or you could loose the whole pie!
Abel

Offline Davydd

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2008, 08:28:36 PM »
Directly on the stone is the way to go. Taking the stone out of the oven would defeat the advantage. I found practice and finally figuring out the technique of prepping on a wood peel is the answer. Once you figure it out for yourself you will no longer have a problem and the suggestions that have been made here is a good start. Just remember, it can be done.

I stretch my dough on the counter using bench flour to keep it from sticking. I coat the wood peel with semolina flour. If I can lift the dough off the counter without it sticking or pulling I know I will probably have success after putting it on the peel. I'll shuffle it to make sure it is not sticking. Then I work fast dressing the pizza. I don't overload it like I used to when baking on a pizza pan.

But if you want a short cut method, there is a solution. It is called the SuperPeel. I don't have one and have never tried it but several people have sworn to me that it works.

http://www.superpeel.com/
Davydd

Offline Rxman

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2008, 10:11:07 PM »
this may be sacrelidge,  but i have read where a slight dusting of corn meal....not enough to change any flavor but to help it to roll right off the peel....just my 2 cents   ive never tried it.  any feedback on this?

scott n

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2008, 10:25:17 PM »
scott n,

Cornmeal is just one of many possible release agents, as this post indicates: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg20656/topicseen.html#msg20656 (Reply 43).

Peter

Offline Imaginate

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2008, 12:00:33 AM »
I bake directly on a stone.  And umm...  actually instead of a real pizza peel, I just use a large, square piece of cardboard that came in the box with my stone, dusted with cornmeal...  It works awesome.

Offline jasonr

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2008, 08:21:17 PM »
Getting the pizza from the peel to the stone is a perennial problem, apparently.

It took me about 20 pizzas to figure out how to do it perfectly. You stretch your dough on the counter, not on the peel. When the dough is ready, you transfer it to a peel dusted lightly with semolina. Then you gently round out the edges on the peel so that it's a perfect circle. You don't want to shape the dough directly on the peel for two reasons:

1. The advantage of the semolina or corn meal in allowing the pizza to slide easily on the peel works against you in the shaping process, because the dough will more easily pull back, especially if it is elastic.

2. In the stretching process, you will be pressing the dough into the peel, jamming the semolina or corn meal grains into the dough, reducing their effectiveness.

Once the dough is transferred to the peel and is the right size and shape, you put on the toppings.

The final (and key) step is to take an icing spatula (like an offset spatula you'd used to frost a cake) and push it under the pizza, between the dough and the peel, so that the spatula runs the entire radius of the dough circle, being careful not to distort the dough. Then you rotate the peel in a 360 degree circle, until the spatula has run under the entire bottom surface of the pizza.

At this point, the pizza will easily, and without fail, slide right onto the stone. It should be transferred to the stone immediately.

This method is foolproof, and can't fail. There is no reason to ever do it any other way.

Offline Art

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2008, 08:56:54 AM »
Getting the pizza from the peel to the stone is a perennial problem, apparently.

It took me about 20 pizzas to figure out how to do it perfectly. You stretch your dough on the counter, not on the peel. When the dough is ready, you transfer it to a peel dusted lightly with semolina. Then you gently round out the edges on the peel so that it's a perfect circle. You don't want to shape the dough directly on the peel for two reasons:

1. The advantage of the semolina or corn meal in allowing the pizza to slide easily on the peel works against you in the shaping process, because the dough will more easily pull back, especially if it is elastic.

2. In the stretching process, you will be pressing the dough into the peel, jamming the semolina or corn meal grains into the dough, reducing their effectiveness.

Once the dough is transferred to the peel and is the right size and shape, you put on the toppings.

The final (and key) step is to take an icing spatula (like an offset spatula you'd used to frost a cake) and push it under the pizza, between the dough and the peel, so that the spatula runs the entire radius of the dough circle, being careful not to distort the dough. Then you rotate the peel in a 360 degree circle, until the spatula has run under the entire bottom surface of the pizza.

At this point, the pizza will easily, and without fail, slide right onto the stone. It should be transferred to the stone immediately.

This method is foolproof, and can't fail. There is no reason to ever do it any other way.

Unless you do want to form it on the peel, don't want to use any corn meal or semolina, and don't want to mess with a spatula. Then you might want to try the SuperPeel.   Also, it won't take you 20 tries to get the hang of it.   art
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Offline BTB

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2008, 11:02:40 AM »
My preference is still to use a piece of parchment paper on the peel. There is never a problem sliding the pie onto the stone and, after a few minutes, the paper can be removed and the pie finished on the stone itself.

Boy, I'm with you, DaveH, I've found that parchment paper works incredibly well in making (as well as warming up) pizza.  Your idea is one of the best in my estimation for home pizza baking for what's mentioned here.  I suggest to all to just try it.  It works well.

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2008, 01:40:26 PM »
BTB,

I agree with you and with Dave H that there is much to like about using parchment paper. However, I also believe that there are some drawbacks to using parchment paper under certain conditions, as follows:

1) Most rolls of parchment paper that I have used and researched cannot handle pizza sizes above about 15". To make a pizza above 15", it will usually be necessary to "join" two sheets of parchment paper to handle the larger size. This will usually require some trimming of the joined sheets to the desired size. Most individual sheets of parchment paper (as opposed to rolls) that I have seen advertised at King Arthur and elsewhere are also usually too small or of the wrong dimensions to use to bake pizzas above 15".

2) Many--maybe even most--parchment papers are oven safe to around 400 degrees F. That may limit their application to oven temperatures below 450-500 degrees F. Also, if one is not careful, it is possible for parchment paper to catch on fire. That once happened to me when a sheet of parchment paper accidentally fell through an oven rack as I was removing a pizza from the oven. The parchment paper hit the lower heating coil and burst into flames, setting off my smoke detector. The risk of a sheet of parchment paper catching fire, or burning or blackening at the edges, can be reduced by trimming the parchment paper to a bit larger than the pizza to be baked on it.

3) Parchment paper is expensive on a per-use basis compared with using a peel with a release agent. I have read that some people have found ways to reuse parchment paper, so to the extent that that can be done, the per-use cost will of course go down. But, even then, it will still be a fairly expensive use. Large width parchment paper, to the extent found, is also likely to be more expensive than smaller width parchment paper.

My use of parchment paper is pretty much limited to modest pizza sizes (14" and below) and very high hydration doughs (usually above 65-70%) that I fear will stick to my peel no matter what release agent I use or how careful I might be. This problem will usually be aggravated if there are a lot of toppings to be put on the pizza. Usually, I put some semolina flour on my peel (for its ball bearing effect), put the sheet of parchment paper on the peel, dress the skin on the parchment paper (which I can do pretty much at my leisure and without rushing), trim the sheet of parchment paper to a size a bit larger than the pizza, and slide the pizza on the parchment paper into the oven.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 04:32:02 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline jasonr

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Re: Stone vs. Screen- Is One Better- What About Using Both?
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2008, 06:46:54 PM »
Quote
Boy, I'm with you, DaveH, I've found that parchment paper works incredibly well in making (as well as warming up) pizza.  Your idea is one of the best in my estimation for home pizza baking for what's mentioned here.  I suggest to all to just try it.  It works well.

Parchment works, but as others have noted, it has drawbacks. Firstly, it's just not designed to be used at the high temperatures (500+) you get in a pizza oven, let alone direct contact with the stone. If you're not careful, it will just burn to a crisp, and when you try to remove it, it'll crumble into a million pieces, making a mess.

Quote
Unless you do want to form it on the peel, don't want to use any corn meal or semolina, and don't want to mess with a spatula. Then you might want to try the SuperPeel.   Also, it won't take you 20 tries to get the hang of it.   art

When I said it took me 20 tries, I meant it took me 20 tries, not having any idea how to get the pizza off the peel without it sticking, to improvise the method I described. If you know what to do from the start, then it takes 0 tries, because you don't have to learn how to do it.

I'll admit, I've never used a superpeel, by based on what google tells me, it sounds alot more complicated and difficult than just running a cake spatula under the pizza dusted with semolina, and certainly it doesn't sound like a time saver.

But my bias is to be traditional about things, and I think the less specialized gadgets you need to use, the better. To each his own.