Pizza Pans, Stones, and Cutters

Pizza pans can be made out of a wide variety of materials, mainly metals, with steel and aluminum being the most prominent. Nevertheless, they may also be made from cast iron or even be ceramic. Even a cookie sheet can be used as a pizza pan. Most pizza pans are round, generally 14 to 16-inches in diameter. They may also be square.

Different types of metal will react differently to the even heat of an oven. So choosing a pizza pan can make a difference in pizza texture and taste when it comes out of the oven. Thin steel can work well especially on pre-made crusts. Aluminum pans like Calphalon will make a crispier crust and is good for thinner crusts. Many of these come with non-stick coatings which can work well for many types of pizzas, but thicker metals or pizza stones will be necessary to make pizzeria style pizza at home.

Cast iron pizza pans are an excellent way to cook pizza. The pans are also versatile and can be used for other purposes. Cast iron tends to cook more evenly than other metals because of its porous nature. However, this also means that it should be seasoned before use, which can be done by oiling in with olive oil before first use and baking in oven until the oil is absorbed. (Details on seasoning a cast iron cooking implement.)

Pizza stones are often made from firebrick material. This allows the home baker to mimic the effects of a stone kiln pizza oven found in the best pizzerias. (Caution: Do not leave a stone on top of a stove with a burner on. Because of the uneven heating, it can crack and even shatter.) To clean pizza stones, do not use soapy water, but wash (after it has cooled) in warm water. Like cast iron, stones should be seasoned to make them non-stick. This can be done simply through use over time (and not vigorously scrubbing between uses). It can also be seasoned before first use.

To season a new pizza stone, first wash in warm water. Always handle a stone carefully because despite its size and weight, dropping it can cause it to break or crack. Spread a coat of olive oil on the cooking surface of the stone and place in a 450° Fahrenheit (232° Celsius) oven until the oil is absorbed (perhaps 10 minutes). Remove the stone from the oven and allow to cool. Repeat the process.

When using a pizza stone, lightly oil with olive oil before spreading on dough. This helps maintain the seasoning of the stone and also adds to the flavor of the pizza. Some people simply leave their pizza stone on the bottom rack of their oven for all baking in order to diffuse the heat.

Another type of pizza pan is more of a pizza screen. Usually made of non-stick materials, it is made with a pattern of holes. The dough must be rolled out or hand tossed before being placed on the screen. This delivers a crispy crust and is excellent for re-heating pizza as well.

A pizza peel is a large, usually wooden paddle that is used to slide a pizza onto or off from a pizza pan. It is not a strictly necessary item unless pans need to be immediately reused.

Most pizza cutters are round blades that roll over the pizza. They are essential for cutting the pizza into pieces because they prevent the cheese and toppings from being pushed and bunched. On a stone or cast iron pizza pan a metal pizza cutter will work fine. However, on non-stick surfaces a non-metallic blade is best to preserve the surface. Another way to cut pizza is with a rocker knife. This is a long curved blade that has a handle on the back side. Pressure is placed on the handle as it is rocked across the top of the pizza for an even cut that does not disturb the pizza toppings.

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