Saturday, May 7, 2011

Technique: Cooking Surfaces for Pizza (Part 7)

Here's me, still testing different ways to cook pizza. This time I decided to try a pizza screen.

If you haven't seen one, a pizza screen is just what it sounds like. Mine is exactly 14 inches in diameter, and is made from expanded aluminum.

The theory is that it allows the heat of the oven to hit the dough directly. I've made pizzas on the grill - directly on the grates - and I liked the result. I figured this would be similar.

As usual, I preheated the oven for an hour before baking, and I baked the pizza for exactly 8 minutes. When I took it out, I smelled a slight burning odor. When I peeked under the pizza, I saw a bit of char.

I sliced the pizza and didn't hear the distinct crunch that I'd grown used to with my most recent tests. The bottom of the pizza wasn't soggy, but it wasn't crisp, either. Slices were just a little limp.

When I turned over the first slice for a photo, it was evenly browned, but lighter than I expected based on my earlier peeking.

But of course, the pizza cooked unevenly because the heat was so direct from the heating element. There were some slices that were much darker on the bottom.

I've got to say that this wasn't terrible pizza. the crust wasn't crisp, but it was well cooked - not doughy. It sort of reminded me of leftover pizza where the crust had gone soft.

On the plus side, a screen makes pizza handling easy since there's no need to shuffle a pizza off of a peel.  You place the dough on the screen, top it, and slide the whole thing into the oven. The other plus is that screens are cheap.

While I used the screen as the sole cooking surface, there's no reason why you couldn't use a screen to contain and transport the pizza, but place the screen on a heated stone for cooking. Gee, I wonder what I should test next?

Similar screens sell for under $10.


Tracey @ Kitchen Playground said...

Love this "pizza surface" series! I'm currently posting a series of homemade pizzas, so I am glad to stumble upon your postings. Very interesting testing.

Anonymous said...

Yes!! All of this series is worth a very careful read. Everyone has different tastes, different hardware and certainly very different ovens. With your testing and trusly strict method, anyone can cook a decent pizza home. Yes, Anyone!! Thanks!!
P.S. That simple, basic dough that you use is pretty darn good! It does not need a week in the fridge, but benefits from a day or more. I can be used on short order, but will hold. If it gets any better or more flexible, I guess I forgot why. Your easy, basic test dough is ideal for the un-tricked home oven and eight (~~9-ish?)minutes is a very happy number. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

yuck! limp pizza!

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