Sunday, May 15, 2011

Technique: Cooking Surfaces for Pizza (Part 8)

Last week, I tested a pizza screen. Although it made handling the pizza a lot easier, the bottom of the pizza didn't crisp very well.

Since the easier handling is such a huge plus for people who aren't adept at getting a pizza off of a peel an onto a hot stone, I decided to give the screen another chance. But this time, I also used a baking stone.

For this test, I used the King Arthur Flour baking stone I tested previously, and preheated the oven to 550 degrees for 1 hour, as usual. I assembled the pizza on the screen and slid it into the oven on top of the pizza stone. I baked it for exactly 8 minutes and it looked nicely done on top.

When I cut into the pizza, it obviously wasn't as crisp as I expected. There was no crackle before I hit the cutting board. Hmmmm....

The underside was golden rather than the brown I expected, and while the crust was fully cooked and not soggy, it was softer than I expected, as well. The interior texture was fine; the difference was just the bottom. Tapping on the bottom of the crust, there was a thin layer of crisp, but nothing like any of the pizzas baked on any of the stones.

Obviously, the direct contact with the stone was lacking, but I had expected that the close proximity to the hot stone would be enough to crisp and brown my crust in the standard eight minutes I'd set for this experiment. But no, that close proximity wasn't quite enough to do the job.

And that's the interesting thing about these experiments. More than once, I've expected one result and gotten another. I'm sure there's a way to get a crisp pizza bottom with the combination of a pizza screen and a baking stone. Moving the pizza off the screen about halfway through cooking would probably do the trick.

On the other hand, if you prefer your crust a little less crisp, this method might be just about perfect, considering the ease in handling the pizza and the fact that the crust was otherwise pretty good.