Author Topic: Stones, Screens or Pans?  (Read 1892 times)

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Offline doughdiver

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Stones, Screens or Pans?
« on: January 04, 2007, 01:35:11 PM »
Hello,

I am a new to pizza making and have looked through the information on this forum.  I am confused regarding whether to use a stone, screen or pan for various styles of pizzas and whether or not a screen is ever used with a stone.  I am sure this has been covered in detail in the past, but I could not find an easy explanation.

Thank you for your input.

Rick
« Last Edit: January 04, 2007, 02:46:49 PM by doughdiver »
Rick


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Stones, Screens and Pans?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 02:51:49 PM »
doughdiver,

I have been waiting for some time for someone to pose the questions you posed.

Except for pans, I believe I have covered all or most of your questions here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg20965.html#msg20965 (Reply 45).

As to pans, you will see that there are many types and styles of pans available for pizza making. If you look at the marketplace for pizza pans, you will see that they can be solid, or perforated, and they can be coated or uncoated, and they can be shiny or dull, and some use the insulated-air technology. My personal advice is to avoid all but the dark, anodized pans or metal pans that have been seasoned, preferably through prolonged use. Some coated pans can emit noxious or toxic substances at high oven temperatures, so I would avoid them for that reason. Light or shiny pans can reflect too much heat rather than absorb it, and can result in a crust that is too light or underbaked. I believe the insulated-air pans are intended more for reheating pizza or for use with frozen pizzas. To get an idea of the types of pans I prefer, you may want to go to pizzatools.com and check out the many varieties, including disks, and especially those with the dark anodized coatings.

It's important to note that a pan will usually produce a crust that differs from what is produced using a pizza stone or screen. When a pizza is placed on a preheated stone, it hits an extremely hot surface and immediately starts to bake. When a pizza is placed on a screen, it gets hit with the high oven ambient heat as soon as it penetrates the openings in the screen. With a pan, it goes into the oven cold, so it will take some time for the heat of the oven to reach the bottom of the pizza. That can affect the bake time and crust characteristics. It is possible to bake a pan pizza on a pizza stone, and it is also possible to oil a pan in order to get a better bottom crust by effectively "frying" the bottom crust. As you can see, there are many possibilities. Most dough recipes usually recommend a particular way of baking the pizzas, and sometimes more than one. So-called "pan" pizzas use pans, of course.

Peter

Offline chiguy

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Re: Stones, Screens or Pans?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2007, 06:22:32 PM »
 doughdiver,
 Is there a particular style pizza you are intersted in?? This will ultimately decide the equipment you should buy. Although in my opinion nothing can match the even bake when using a pizza stone.  Chiguy   

Offline doughdiver

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Re: Stones, Screens or Pans?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2007, 09:08:12 PM »
Hi Peter and Chiguy,

The link and information provided by Peter was very helpful.

I enjoy New York Style pizza while my family likes the hand tossed crusts from Domino's/Pizza Hut.

It appears that when making a New York Style pizza that a screen is typically only used if the crust is too large for the stone.  The composition of the dough is one of the critical factors for this style of pizza.

In the pizza chain stores, I recall seeing screens which are put through a chain mesh belt oven.  I do not recall seeing any stones or anything like that.  Therefore I assume, maybe wrongly, that the American Style Pizza is prepared using a screen that may or may not be placed on a stone for even heating.  It also appears that the compostion of the dough is the most important characteristic for this style of pizza as well.  Is this correct?

Thank you for your help.

Rick
Rick

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Stones, Screens or Pans?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2007, 09:00:57 AM »
Rick,

I believe you stated the issues correctly.

A "true" or "authentic" NY style as made by professional pizza operators is usually (almost always?) baked on some kind of stone surface. Consequently, the amount of sugar in the dough is kept at fairly low levels, or omitted altogether, so as not to lead to premature browning or burning of the bottom crust. Some operators who like to include some sugar in the dough for flavor and other purposes (e.g., crust color) will sometimes put the unbaked pizza on a screen and put the screen directly on the stone surface. The screen in this case keeps the pizza a slight distance from the baking surface so that it doesn't overcook and burn. To get a better bottom crust (e.g., a crispier crust), the operator can slide the pizza off of the screen onto the stone baking surface toward the end of the bake and let it finish baking there. Commercial deck ovens have very large stone surfaces, so pizza size is usually not a limitation. They can easily handle, say, 16"-18" pizzas, and even larger, without a problem. In a typical home oven setting, size is usually an issue. The largest size pizza I can make directly on my pizza stone is 14", and just barely. For anything larger, up to 18" (the largest size my oven can accommodate and be able to close the oven door), I use a screen, as addressed in my last post.

Most chains like those you mentioned use conveyor ovens. So they will use either screens or disks (and sometimes pans). The American style pizza made by the chains usually contains a fair amount of sugar in the dough. In most cases such a dough would brown prematurely or excessively if baked directly on a hot stone surface as used in a typical commercial deck oven. Conveyors operate at lower temperatures than deck ovens and the pizzas are usually cooked by heated air so the bottoms of the pizza crusts don't burn or brown prematurely. It is possible to bake an American style pizza on a stone surface but you would want to keep the sugar levels low or else use a screen/stone combination as mentioned above. This is less a problem in a home setting but even then you may want to experiment a bit with sugar levels until you get a better feel for what results you can get using your oven.

Peter