Pans and Screens for the Perfect Pizza
Good pizza comes in many forms, from thin, crispy pies to thick, doughy crusts. Different types of pizza pans and pizza screens enable pizzerias to create a variety of different crusts that appeal to customers. Whether you plan to make a Chicago deep dish or a thin New York-style pizza, one of the options below can help you create it.
Pizza screens, which are flat mesh disks, are meant for cooking pizzas with crispy crusts when pizza stones are impossible or impractical to use. These lightweight pieces are made of thin aluminum, making them easy to stack and store. Most pizza screens are round, available in diameters ranging from 6 inches to 28 inches. Rectangular pizza screens are less common, but are available in sizes as wide as 24 inches.
The mesh construction of a pizza screen makes it ideal for baking crusts to a perfect, crispy finish. Aluminum transfers heat well, and the gaps in the mesh enable airflow to reach the crust, making screens a good fit for cooking pizzas in conveyor and convection ovens. This ventilation also helps keep the crust crispy after baking, as the holes prevent condensation buildup.
Pizza pans have a few more options than pizza screens, with different features that work with your pizza dough recipe to create a wide range of crust types.
Coupe-style pizza pans, also called pizza trays, are mostly flat, with a slight lift to the edge. Some models also have a secondary ridge running along the inside of the rim, marking where the crust should be. Most of these are made of aluminum, though some are available in cast iron. Coupe-style pans are available in diameters as small as 6 inches and as large as 28 inches.The flat pizza pan is preferred by many for its versatility; you can bake, slice, and serve pizza all on one pan. Unfortunately, if aluminum pans are used for slicing, they will grow thin and bent over time, shortening their lifespan.
Deep Dish Pans
Some regional pizzas, such as those found in Detroit or Chicago1, must be baked in a pizza pan with high sides. Whether the pizza is stuffed or just has a thick, doughy crust, these pans help build a sturdy pizza. Deep dish pizza pans may have tapered or straight sides. These are usually made of a thick metal, resulting in a slow bake and a bread-like dough.
Because of the raised sides on these pans, the pizzas typically must be removed from the pan to be sliced. The lack of cutting, along with the thicker metal construction, make these pans more durable than most pizza trays. Deep dish pans are available from 4 to 21 inches in diameter.
Pan Texture Options
Smooth Pizza Pans
Smooth pizza pans without texture or holes create pizza crusts that bake the slowest, resulting in thick, bready crusts. These pans must be seasoned and oiled, and are often used with cornmeal to ensure the crust releases from the pan easily.
Perforated Pizza Pans
Perforated pizza pans have holes through the bottom of the pan, enabling air to reach parts of the bottom of the crust. While these allow less ventilation than a pizza screen, it does allow hot air to reach the crust for a faster bake and helps prevent condensation from softening a crispy crust.
Pizza Pan Finishes
While most commercial pizza pans are made of lightweight aluminum, there are several finishes available that can affect the pizza's final result.
- An uncoated pizza pan is the lightest in color and the most economical finish option. Because darker colors bake faster, this finish will bake the slowest.
- Anodized aluminum is an oxidized finish that will not flake off. These must be seasoned prior to use, but they resist corrosion and discoloration more effectively than uncoated pans.
- A silicone glaze creates a mostly non-stick surface, so pans with this finish don't require as much pizza oil and corn meal to act as release agents. Unlike anodized aluminum, a silicone glaze can be scratched or chipped; it can also wear off over time.
- A Taxonomy of Pizza Styles in America. First We Feast. Accessed June 2018.