A Guide to Pizza Stones and Pizza Pans
Pizza is fun and easy to make but it can be confusing to see all these new products around, such as pizza pans in different materials and pizza stones. Gone are the days when we put a pizza on a plain tray in the oven and removed it when it was done. Now we have a choice of pizza pans and pizza stones but how exactly do these make our pizzas better?
How to Choose a Pizza Pan
Different kinds of pizza are suited to different kinds of pizza pans so there is no best pan for making homemade pizza because it depends on the pizza. If you usually make thin and crispy pizzas, for example, a perforated pizza pan might be best because the holes in the base of the pan allow the air to penetrate, which crisps the crust for you. On the other hand, if you like deep-dish pizzas, deep dish pizza pans are great. A square pan is for making Sicilian style pizza.
Look at the material the pan is made from. If you decide to get a perforated pan, choose a non-stick metal coating. For Sicilian or Chicago style pizzas, which have thick crusts, aluminized steel is a good option.
How many people do you plan to feed? You might want to buy a sixteen-inch pan if you have a big family. A twelve-inch pizza pan is good for a couple or you might want to get two pans if you cook for different amounts of people. Remember that pizza keeps in the refrigerator and is nice eaten cold so it is better to make too much pizza than too little.
Kitchen supply stores are a better outlet for pots and pans than department stores. A department store might be cheaper but you will have plenty more to choose from in a kitchen supply store including cast iron pizza pans or a glass pizza pan. In addition, the staff there should be knowledgeable about the products and will be able to help you choose the best pizza pans.
Why Use a Pizza Stone
If you have never seen or used a pizza stone, the concept of people putting a lump of rock in their oven might be confusing! A pizza stone distributes the heat across the pizza base evenly. It also extracts the moisture to keep your base crispy. Heat is very important for cooking pizza and all breads need a high temperature to cook well.
Pizza stones are made from terracotta and you do not have to pay a lot of money for a good one. Pizza stone is porous because it is made from natural clay. If you have an unglazed terracotta tile, you could even use that. Do not use a glazed tile because it will contain lead, which is toxic!
If the pizza sticks to the stone, you can rub cornmeal on the stone to stop it from sticking. Never wash a pizza stone with detergent because it absorbs oil and soap. Cool water is fine.
You should preheat most pizza stone before using it so it absorbs heat evenly. If you place a cold pizza stone in a hot oven, it will probably shatter because of the thermal shock. Also, never put a hot pizza stone in cold water for the same reason. Let it cool down naturally before rinsing it.
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