Author Topic: "Must haves" concerning equipment  (Read 2757 times)

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Offline doughboy55

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"Must haves" concerning equipment
« on: January 26, 2011, 09:50:20 AM »
First time poster on this forum so i guess i should introduce myself my name is Matt 19 i live in the New England area and i am currently going to culinary school. I love pizza but never attempted to make it, i come from an Italian family and my grandmother makes it all the time. She makes a damn good Sicilian style pizza but im looking how to make NY style pizza.

Well as for my question what would you say are "must haves" for making pizza for equipment?

-Thanks
Matt


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 11:05:51 AM »
Matt,

Several years ago, at Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5326.msg45110/topicseen.html#msg45110, I posted what I thought at the time was a good collection of pizza gear for the average home pizza maker to have. Of course, what one has as a budget to devote to such gear will vary from one person to another. Also, some items may not be necessary if the person plans to make, say, only one or a couple styles of pizza.

Since that post, what I might add is that many of the members now favor the Bosch stand mixer. However, that is a fairly expensive mixer and it does best with larger amounts of dough. For a single dough ball, especially a small one, it becomes a toss-up from what I can tell from the posts of members who have and use the Bosch.

In the abovereferenced post, I did not specify the type of pizza stone I use. I have both a Cordierite and a FibraMent stone and while they both work fine, I tend to use the Cordierite stone most often because I conduct experiments and do not want to add another variable to those experiments. Also, there had been considerable discussion on the use of soapstone as a pizza stone. However, there are a lot of related factors, such as type of oven and oven operating temperatures, that come into play when considering soapstone. You might want to do a forum search on soapstone under the name scott123, who is a forum member who has the most experience and knowledge on soapstone.

Also, since the abovereferenced post, apparently the SuperPeel people (http://www.superpeel.com/) have come up with a larger model, or so I have been told. Some members have also gone to using infrared thermometers to monitor temperatures, especially members who have high-temperature ovens or where they have found it necessary or useful to have an infrared thermometer.

I'm sure that other members will have their own best set of pizza gear to recommend to you.

Peter

Offline doughboy55

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 01:59:02 PM »
Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, I didn't realize until now how much information there actually is on creating a pie. Now it seems i have a bunch of things on my shopping list and a lot of reading material.

Matt

Offline scott123

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 04:25:30 PM »
Peter, thanks for the mention.  While I am still a big fan of soapstone, these days, I've started to make the shift into recommending steel plate.  Soapstone is wonderful if your oven gets hot enough (525-550), but steel plate is conductive enough to do well at lower temps (as low as 475).  The other advantage of steel plate is that it's readily available online.


Matt, how hot does your oven go?

In order to do justice to NY style, you really have to cut the baking time to less than 5 minutes.  With your average oven, that translates into either a thick conductive stone or some type of oven trick.  If you go the trick route, that's where an infrared thermometer is invaluable.

As far as the mixer goes... I would say that if you're planning on doing more than four 16" crusts at a time, get the Bosch, otherwise, knead the dough by hand. I have a Kitchenaid that I've tried every trick in the book with and now it just collects dust. I also have a huge Cuisinart that, by the time I put it together, it's taken me more time than the time I spend kneading. If you do a long ferment (a day or more), you really don't have knead that much.

Peter mentioned dough pans, but I think, for the beginner, it helps to have a dough pan that's clear on the bottom, so you can watch the bubbles form in the dough and gauge the level of fermentation better.  It also helps to get something as wide as possible to minimize contact with the sides.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 05:46:18 PM »
All you really need are a measuring cup and spoons, a bowl, and some kind of pan to cook it on.  That said, I have a boatload of crap that I use every time, but I don't really NEED it.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 06:13:56 PM »
I can make just about any type of dough by hand, even low hydration cracker style doughs, but for me a good digital scale is indispensable. The other item that I consider indispensable for what I want to do is the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html. With that tool, I can come up with dough formulations anywhere in the world as long as I have an Internet connection. I usually tailor the dough formulation to the flour and other ingredients that are handed to me. With the expanded dough calculating tool, I have over 40 ingredients to work with. If there is no scale available, I will use the Mass-Volume Conversion Calculator at http://foodsim.unclesalmon.com/ to come up with the closest mass-to-volume conversions and use the one of the flour Measurement Methods to help get the right amounts of flour. I have even used the Mixed Mass Percentage Calculator when vital wheat gluten was available. 

Of course, what I do is not for everyone. It took me years to be able to do most of these things.

Peter

Offline Mick.Chicago

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 09:30:00 PM »
This is just me but I can get by with/

An oven that maxes out around 500f
A good stone
A bowl
A Knife and Fork mixer. (Requires two hands) Fork for mixing, knife for scraping.
A teaspoon
And a sheet of clean cardboard for launching.


Offline doughboy55

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2011, 10:20:44 PM »
Thanks for all the replies, I decided to purchase a kitchen aid professional because i pushed off far to long because I do a lot of baking as well and it comes in handy. I have another question regarding the difference between the use of a pizza stone vs a pizza screen/pan. Is the pizza screen strictly for convenience of not having to heat up the stone or  are their other advantages to using one. Also what is the main purpose of a pizza pan sorry for the dumb question just a lot of information for my brain to absorb.

Offline Pedro72

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2011, 10:21:04 PM »
For me, in order of use, I couldn't do without my Kitchen-Aid mixer (325 W), my cheap digital scale from Target, my peel and stone that I got as presents years ago. Also, all of the great advice that I've picked up over years of checking on this site :)
Chewed to death on the Left by a pack of rabid wolves with silver eyes....or ending up with the Brooks Brothers Right scrabbling in the dirt.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2011, 10:51:40 PM »
If you are going to cook more than 1 pizza, a stone may pay off.  For one or 2 pizzas, the screen works just fine.


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2011, 11:03:16 PM »
Must haves for me...

-digital scale
-measuring spoons and cups
-a wooden and metal peel
-a pizza stone
-a laser thermogun
-a calculator for figuring percentages
-notepad and pen to keep notes

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2011, 11:09:04 PM »
Geez we are all such nerds.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2011, 11:11:16 PM »
Geez we are all such nerds.

Those are the absolute minimum tools.  Luxury items include...

-caputo cap or apron, but apron is preferable.
-bottle of NY city water.   :chef:

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2011, 11:18:54 PM »
Dude, I have so much crap (and I use it), and I don't let the wife use any of my "pizza stuff".  I do have an apron, but always forget to put it on until I am already covered in flour.

Offline scott123

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2011, 06:56:59 AM »
I have another question regarding the difference between the use of a pizza stone vs a pizza screen/pan. Is the pizza screen strictly for convenience of not having to heat up the stone or  are their other advantages to using one. Also what is the main purpose of a pizza pan sorry for the dumb question just a lot of information for my brain to absorb.

When a thick stone is pre-heated, it absorbs/stores all the necessary heat to bake a pizza. Instead of the oven element becoming the heat source, the stone becomes the source. The heat travels directly from the stone to the pie- no middleman. You could turn the oven off and the stone would still cook the bottom of the pie perfectly.  With a screen or a pan, the heat is coming from the oven element. There's no pre-heat involved, so the bake is entirely dependent on whatever heat the bottom element can muster. Within this scenario, air is the middleman. Whenever distance/air is involved, heat transfer suffers. Think about it.  You can put your hand about an inch from a red hot stove and not be burned, but if you touch it, forget about it. As long as there's some air between you and the element, you're fine.  The transfer of energy between an oven element separated by air/distance and a pan/screen is far weaker than the direct conduction of heat from the stone to the pizza.  A pan/screen will always extend the baking time of pizza, and, for great pizza, an extended baking time is the kiss of death.

Neither a screen nor a pan have any place in quality NY style pizzamaking.  Sure, you can walk into a few NY pizzerias and find them using screens, but these are pizza charlatans who have no respect for the craft and put out a product that may sell a slice or two, but that nobody with any taste would ever purchase. They're also using commercial ovens cranked to far higher temps than your average home oven in order to compensate for thermally inferior screens.  Even with this compensation, though, the pizza is still garbage.  99 cent pizza is a good example of this.  Cheap but crappy.

Screens and pans have, unfortunately, made headway with home pizza makers.  There's a few reasons for this, but I think the biggest is ease of use.  Working with a peel and a stone is incredibly daunting for the beginning baker. Developing the necessary motor skills to comfortably launch a pizza onto a pre-heated stone takes a lot of practice and invariably produces more than a few failures. If you want a great, authentic NY style slice, though, you have no other choice. What you may gain in ease from a screen, you lose in quality.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2011, 08:36:23 AM »
I use one because I can turn the oven on and 15 minutes later be eating pizza.  I don't think the craft suffers terribly...



Offline Pete-zza

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2011, 09:01:17 AM »
I have another question regarding the difference between the use of a pizza stone vs a pizza screen/pan. Is the pizza screen strictly for convenience of not having to heat up the stone or  are their other advantages to using one. Also what is the main purpose of a pizza pan sorry for the dumb question just a lot of information for my brain to absorb.


Matt,

There are functional and preferential differences between screens and stones, and the selection of one over the other may be dictated by the dough formulation and pizza style. We have several members who use screens to make even NY styles and are quite happy with the results. To others, that is heresy, and using a conveyor oven is even more heretical.

You can read about many of the facets of the use of screens versus stones, including combinational uses of screens and stones, in both commercial and home settings, in the following posts: Reply 4 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11109.msg99996/topicseen.html#msg99996, Reply 4 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4421.msg37053/topicseen.html#msg37053, Reply 3 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5169.msg43926/topicseen.html#msg43926, Reply 2 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9317.msg80628/topicseen.html#msg80628, Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2012.msg17725/topicseen.html#msg17725, Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6518.msg55890/topicseen.html#msg55890, Reply 3 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3125.msg26486/topicseen.html#msg26486, and Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5374.msg45427/topicseen.html#msg45427. There is a lot of overlap of subject matter in the above posts but also differences. From those posts, I think you will find the answer to just about any question about screens that you may have.

Peter


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2011, 09:35:08 AM »
Also what is the main purpose of a pizza pan sorry for the dumb question just a lot of information for my brain to absorb.


Matt,

There are some pizzas, like Chicago deep-dish, New England "Greek" style, Detroit-style deep-dish, Sicilian, thick crust (e.g., Godfather's), and pan pizzas (like Pizza Hut), that require a pan of some sort to bake the pizzas. The pizzas in these pans might be baked directly on a preheated stone or just on an oven rack without a stone (or in conveyor ovens in a commercial setting). There are also cutter pans, both perforated and nonperforated, that can be used to make cracker style pizzas. Then there are disks, both perforated and nonperforated, that can be used in lieu of pizza screens to bake pizzas and, in fact, are now required of pizza operators by some jurisdictions for perceived hygiene/health reasons. There are even some disks, called hearth or "cloud" disks, that are designed to allow pizza operators to bake pizzas with NY style characteristics but using conveyor ovens instead of deck ovens. Each type of pan or disk is "matched" to a particular style and, typically, crust thickness. You can get an idea of some of the possibilities by examining the pans and disks offered by PizzaTools at http://www.pizzatools.com/.

As I have noted before, if push came to shove, I could live with just a 14" or 16" cutter pan. A 16" cutter pan, for example, would allow one to make pizzas in sizes up to 16". I wouldn't need a stone, screen, disks or anything else other than the oven and, in my case, a good digital scale. I also wouldn't need a mixer or other machine to make the dough since I have learned how to make any dough that interests me by hand. The main disadvantage of a cutter pan is that its depth is limited, so any deep-dish product, especially the Chicago deep-dish, would be thinner than usual. But the quality would still be there. Also, a cutter pan does not do the best job with the NY style, especially in developing a crispy bottom crust, although I think that with some experimentation I would be able to mitigate that problem to a certain extent. Pans and disks also eliminate the need for peels of any type, and assembling and dressing pizzas directly on the pans or disks is very easy and almost foolproof (pizzas can be dressed right to the edges with as many toppings as desired without fear of sliding off when putting into the oven). Of course, in my case, I have many options but, as I noted above, I could live with only a cutter pan if I had to.

Peter

Offline Vindii

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2011, 02:53:08 PM »
I have read all the comments above and I understand the theory behind the stone but can someone tell me what difference you might notice eating a pizza cooked on a screen compared to one cooked on a stone?

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: "Must haves" concerning equipment
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2011, 03:47:22 PM »
A tad more crisp.  Not crackery-Crisp.


 

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