Author Topic: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?  (Read 7087 times)

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Offline BrookBoy

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Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« on: April 16, 2012, 01:45:11 AM »
I am basically a newbie to making pizza at home, but I've been successful in my several attempts using a pizza stone.  The results have been from OK to terrific (according to my wife).

Tonight, I tried using the Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan, and the pie turned out to be soft and floppy, not at all what we usually enjoy.  It wasn't bad, but neither of us liked the softness.

I'm thinking maybe I didn't do it correctly on the pan.  Here's what I did:

First, I fired up the pizza pan on our gas stovetop until it was smoking.  While it heated, I stretched the dough as usual and put on the toppings, all on the pizza peel we use.  Then I slid the composed pizza onto the smoking hot pizza pan, and let it sit on top of the stove over a medium-high flame for maybe a minute, maybe two.

Then I put the pizza pan into the oven where I had already had set the broiler to high, some minutes before.  I left it in the oven for about three minutes, and it had a nice crusty, charred top.  I moved the entire assembly, including the pizza pan, to the stovetop and put it over a medium high flame for about a minute. 

The toppings were bubbling at this point, so I removed it and cut it and found that the bottom of the pizza was not charred.  Unfortunately, it was soft and floppy.  We both still liked the taste, but neither of us cared for the structure at all.  Sadly.

What I'd like to know is this:  was the pizza floppy because of the pan, or did I not leave the pizza on the pan long enough to firm up the bottom?  I'm thinking that I could maybe put an untopped pizza on the pan and put it under the broiler for maybe a minute or two, then take it out and flip the pizza and then add the toppings to the the flipped side.

But if it is just a matter of not having the pizza on the pan long enough initially to firm up the crust, I'd appreciate some advice.

Thanks in advance.


Offline Pizzamaster

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 02:51:38 AM »
I use the very same pan so I have actual experience with it. The problem is you broiled the piizza instead of baking it. Cast iron heats up slow than let's say aluminum but when it does it stays there and distributes the heat evenly. The benefit of cooking pizza on it is that the metal is porous and wicks away the moisture to give you that crispy bottom. But it needs time and a heat source from below to do that. Obviously you were attewmpting to mimic a stone by preheating it. I have never had a need to. I always put my pies right on the cold pan and stick it in the oven. If you are going to do it that way stick it in the oven and preheat it. Then insert the pie directly. But even then you're still going to have to go longer than two minutes.

Offline rcbaughn

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 11:39:50 PM »
Were you trying to do the technique that Seriouseats.com recommended for a Hacker-Free Neapolitan (Skillet-Broiler Method)? That is where I have seen this technique employed at and it seemed to work out quite nice for them.
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Offline BrookBoy

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2012, 02:25:21 AM »
Let me start by saying I apologize if my reply goes awry.  I'm new to the board and I'm only guessing that I am replying to the last message here.

To answer your question, rcbaughn, yes, that is exactly what I was trying to do.  I agree that it seemed to work out well for the author of the piece, but obviously I didn't do something right.

I suspect I didn't leave the stretched dough in the pizza pan on top of the stove long enough for it to crisp up. 

Now I'm thinking I might try this:  start by putting the stretched dough, no toppings, into the pizza pan under the broiler for maybe two minutes to crisp it up.  Then take out the pizza pan and flip the dough, then add the toppings and put it back under the broiler.  I'm figuring this will crisp up the underside as well as the topside.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for replying...

Offline rcbaughn

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2012, 06:13:49 PM »
It could've been that for sure, but you can't leave it on the stovetop too long or the bottom will cook too far into the crust and you won't get that nice lift from the intense heat of a broiler. I have always preheated my oven with a stone in it at 550 for about an hour, then slide my pizza on a stone, but I may give this method a shot and see how it turns out so I might can help you here. I know I've read of one other person on here using this method and it turning out okay.

The only thing that I can think if is that he assembled the pie with the dough in the hot pan, so maybe that small amount of time in there with nothing on it was just enough time to let the bottom get that small bit of crisp with nothing on it, even if it was just a few seconds in a ripping hot pan. I'd give that a go. Put the dough in the hot pan, assemble, then slide it under the broiler. It may make a difference or not, I'm not sure. Then put it back on the stovetop and see if you can crisp her up! Good luck man, I hope you can get it all worked out. Maybe someone with more pizza experience can help too.
More is better..... and too much is just right.

Offline BrookBoy

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2012, 07:27:31 PM »
That's a great idea, and I will give it a try.  I guess I was reluctant to try to top the pizza on a sizzling hot pan, but I think that's what the author did.

I'll give it a shot in the next few days and I'll post the results.

Thanks for both the reply and the encouragement.  I made my first pizza at home in March, and now it has become a hobby, if not an obsession.

One thing I really like about experimenting with pizza is that it so forgiving.  Even a pizza that doesn't turn out the way you want is still a pretty good pizza.

Offline Malanga

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 07:29:24 PM »
Hey BrookBoy,

You can definitely pull off this hacker free, skillet-to-broiler method.  For starters, I'd kick up your stove top heat a bit... if I remember correctly, the recipe on SeriousEats calls for the burner to be on full blast (lightly dusted with flour), for a good 3 minutes or so, BEFORE the dough hits the pan.  Then you start topping.  It's not hard at all, just have everything ready to go.  Then it's under the broiler for a few minutes and baddabing... your pie is done.  Just go easy on the toppings those first few runs, because it is easy to overdo it and end up with a bit of sogginess.  

I've actually been making all of my pies as of late with this method and they've been coming out to my liking.  I've been using an All Clad stainless steel aluminum core, but I really want to see how the Lodge works with this method, because I really think if done right, it will come out better with the cast iron... not to mention the potential for bigger is there too.

Anyhow, here's a link with some shots of my recent pies using this method.  Definitely post pics on your next attempt (crumb, underneath, etc).

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18589.0.html

Good luck bro. Have fun!
« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 07:32:00 PM by Malanga »

Offline BrookBoy

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2012, 01:02:23 AM »
Thanks, Malanga, for the suggestions.

Those pics look really good, just what I was trying to accomplish in my first effort, but didn't.

I'm making my next pizza tomorrow (um, actually later today, as it is after midnight now, here on the east coast).  I'm gonna take your suggestions verbatim.  I'll have the toppings ready, stretch the dough, slide it onto the heated pizza pan (already dusted with flour), and then put the whole shebang into the oven under the broiler. 

I'll let you know how it comes out.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'd like to nail down the pizza pan approach so that I don't have to have the oven on for so long during the summer.

Really appreciate the advice.

Kind regards,
George

Offline Malanga

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2012, 11:27:17 AM »
Right on!  I'm just a rookie myself, but the best advice I have to be consistently observant to find those techniques or conditions that work well vs those that don't.  Since we're all working with different variables, we'll all have something slightly different to recognize and adjust to. 

Have a great pizza making weekend George!!!  Knock em out da box!

Offline BrookBoy

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2012, 02:29:21 PM »
Hey Andrew,

I'm really happy to report success with the Lodge pizza pan.  I did as you (and others) suggested: putting the formed untopped dough onto the heated pan over the flame on the stovetop.  The only difference was that I used cornmeal instead of flour under the pizza.

I first formed the dough, then heated the pan over a medium-high flame for about 3 or 4 minutes.  I turned the broiler on at the same time.  Then I slid the dough onto the pan and applied the toppings.  I used tomato sauce, grated mozzarella, a small mix of other grated cheeses, and some sliced cured sausage that we like.  By the time I sprinkled it with grated parmigiana cheese, the bottom was just beginning to smoke.  Obviously, it had gotten the desired crust.

Then I put the pan into the oven, just under the broiler and set the timer for 3 minutes.  I decided to check the pizza after about 2 and a half minutes, and it was done.

I took the pan out of the oven and used tongs to slide the pizza onto the peel, then onto my cutting board.

It was delicious, at least as good as the ones I've done on the stone.  Really enjoyed it.

Thanks again for the advice and the encouragement.

Now for some more pizza...

George
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 02:31:29 PM by BrookBoy »


Offline Malanga

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2012, 03:58:10 PM »
Woohooo!  Super stoked George!  Enjoy!

Offline Malanga

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2012, 04:19:00 PM »
Hey George, how big are able to make your pies with the Lodge Pro.  If and when you get the chance on your next go, post pics if you can.  I'm wondering if should pick up the Lodge Pro or not for use with this method. 

Offline Pizzamaster

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2012, 06:20:55 PM »
The pans are 14 inches.

Offline BrookBoy

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Re: Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan - What Am I Doing Wrong?
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2012, 07:42:32 PM »
As previously mentioned, the Lodge pans are 14 inches, so they'll hold a good-sized pizza.  You just need to be careful sliding the pizza onto the pan, especially if it's a large pizza.  But the really good thing about the Lodge is that it has handles, so you can pick it up once the bottom is done and put in into the oven, and it's just as easy to take it out.

The Lodge is heavy cast iron, so it should be good for things like steaks and burgers, or anything that you want to sear.  It's not expensive, and, depending on your tastes, it could become one of your most-used kitchen gadgets.

Next time I do a pizza on it I'll try to remember to take some pix.

Regards,
George


 

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