When it comes to making pizza, a pizza screen is probably the most important tool amongst professional pizza makers. From the outside, it simply looks like a thin steel mesh but one cannot underestimate its purpose and power of making some of the best-flavored pizzas. Pizza screens tend to have holes that allow moisture to escape better. Depending on the pizza surface you have, pizza screens are available in different sizes and types.
Furthermore, pizza screens allow the chefs to maintain the universal quality of their pizzas and also to bake fast during rush hours. Therefore, in this article, we are going to discuss types of pizza screens and their uses, so that the next time you give it a try, you know exactly what to do.
What Does a Pizza Screen Do?
As mentioned earlier, pizza screens allow better circulation of hot air. While it helps the moisture to escape efficiently, on the other hand, it allows the hot air to flow underneath the dough to the surface. As a result, the pizza dough or pie is cooked evenly as compared to other cooking methods.
If you intend to use a pizza screen, be informed that the pizza will be much crispier and will require a short amount of baking time as well. The reason being that since pizza screens are made of aluminum, the dough comes in contact with fewer metal surfaces. In addition to that, if you were to use metal pans, the probability of burning the crust will increase due to the pans concentrating and holding the heat in only one area. Therefore, aluminum pizza screens are a better option.
How to use a Pizza Screen and Season it Right
Before you begin your search for the right pizza screen, you must know how to use it as well. If you are not aware of seasoning, you will not be able to prepare the perfect quality pizza no matter how good the pizza screen is. Here is a fun but useful fact, believe it or not, old-school blacked out pizza screens tend to be less sticky and make great pizzas. Therefore, if you have a restaurant nearby, ask the chef to sell you a few used ones. If you can get your hands on one, then there is nothing better.
However, if not, then it will take a bit of time to get used to new steel meshes. If you wish to season them right, make sure that you wash them with water only and avoid using metal scrubbing materials to clean. If you were to using cleaning detergents, there are high chances that the pizza will start sticking to the screen and it will become a cooking nightmare.
Using a pizza screen like a professional
Begin by selecting the right pizza screen size. If you have a small cooking surface then a 12-inch pizza screen will suffice. Choose a pizza screen that is an appropriate size for your oven and is big enough to serve the guests.
Before you start baking, you need to knead enough dough and prepare neat dough balls of the required weight. Although there is no time restriction as to when you should prepare them but if you are going to leave them for more than 30 minutes, do not keep them in warm places. If the party or dinner is the next day, keep them in a plastic container. Furthermore, flour the bottom of the container to prevent the dough from drying.
You should also be careful about the flour’s hydration. If the dough is too wet, you need to add more flour. Pizza dough must be squishy enough for shaping and at the same time should not be sticking to the surfaces. When you have prepared the dough as desired and required, cut them into pieces and put them inside a container.
Make sure that the pizza balls are of the same weight so that circles of the right thickness could be made. There are no standard rules for that, you can choose the thickness depending on your personal preference.
When the guests are about to arrive, start pre-heating the oven. If your oven is not powerful enough, pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Professionals heat it up to 550 degrees as well but if you are a beginner, you might not be able to handle baking at such temperatures.
Once you start baking, make think dough circles and carefully lay them on the pizza screens. It might be that there are warped edges as well. Therefore, fix them but be careful not to rip the fresh dough.
If sticking is a problem, you can use a thin layer of olive oil with cover screens. Not only does it prevent sogginess but makes sticking impossible.
The second method is comparatively more professional and will require some practice. Throw the dough on your palm, making sure that you do not stretch it excessively, and then using a quick gentle move, flip it over. If there is excessive flour remaining, blow it off or use a brush to remove it.
If you have successfully managed to do this, then you are past the most difficult stage. Now you can add the pizza fillings and put it inside the stove. Do not leave the pizza unattended and be quick to put it inside the oven so that the dough does not sweat and stick to the metal. Once the pizza is inside the oven, monitor it constantly, and rotate it so that it is baked evenly.
Now it comes down to baking time. Baking time is dependent on the temperature you choose and the quality of hot air convection inside the oven. Furthermore, the dough thickness will matter as well. Therefore, there is no standard time for baking. Monitor the baking process and pull the pie out when it is ready.
Once the pizza has been prepared, pull it out using a peel and shift it to a hot metal plate. Moreover, do not allow the hot screen to sit inside the oven. Pull it out as well and leave it on a stone or a fireproof surface. Since there is no way of cooling the pizza screen quickly, therefore, allow it to cool. Plus, do not use water as it may disfigure the shape of the screen and make it impossible to use.
If you are looking to make a professional level pizza at home, then this aluminum screen from Winco Winware is going to do the job. Furthermore, if you have a pizza stone, this pizza screen will be the perfect match. It is also worth mentioning that the Winco pizza screen also prevents frozen pizzas from getting soggy. Therefore, your oven will look as good as new no matter how many pizzas you make using this screen.
- Durable quality
- Impressive value
- Suitable for defrosting ready-made pizzas
The New Star Seamless Aluminum Pizza Screen is made from heavy-duty aluminum and designed for commercial restaurant use. It is bound to provide impressive results due to its fine mesh and seamless rims allowing better ventilation and a more evenly baked crust. Since the heat is more readily transferred, the pizza will develop a thick and crispier crust.
- Easy to clean
- Multiple uses
- Great value for money
Yet another superb product from New Star. However, this time, the seamless aluminum pizza screen is designed for frozen and fresh pizzas. It can also be used for toasting bread and pulling cakes in and out of the even with ease. Furthermore, it is easy to clean as well. All you need to do is use a non-corrosive soap with water and wash it using your hands.
- Can be used for baking cakes
- Designed for frozen pizzas
- Commercial restaurant use
The American Metalcraft Aluminum Pizza Screen is not only easy to handle but is made from durable quality as well. Made in India, this product is easy to clean using a simple hand-wash. Designed for multiple uses, this pizza screen will not only let you make pizza but other baked items as well. Lastly, featuring an extremely affordable price, this pizza screen is perfect if you are on a budget.
- Durable built quality
- Multiple uses
Made from heavy-duty aluminum, this pizza screen is designed to last for years to come. The round design can handle and cook single pizzas and even pastries. The mesh surface of this screen evenly distributes heat during smooth baking and also features large holes that evenly bake the crusts. In addition to that, it is dishwasher safe as well, therefore, you can wash it as many times as you want without damaging it.
- Heavy-duty aluminum construction
- Durable design
- Perfect for baking and thawing
Now that you know everything about pizza screens, make sure that you use aluminum screens to prepare professional quality pizzas. Aluminum pizza screens are great for beginners and allow a much better peeling experience as well. Plus, if you were to ask us, we would recommend using the products mentioned below.
The American Metalcraft 18709 Aluminum Pizza Screen is the most suitable option if you are a beginner. Since errors will be a regular occurrence at the beginning, you can purchase multiple American Metalcraft Aluminum Pizza Screens without hurting your budget.
However, if you are somewhere in the middle or a professional, then the Winco Winware 16-Inch Seamless Aluminum Pizza Screen is going to be the perfect option. This pizza screen constructed from durable quality material will prevent sogginess and allow easy baking.