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Aug 27, 2006 02:50 AM

Pizza Screen or Stone

Which one is better?

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  1. The stone is indispensable for a crisp crust IMO. With a screen or without, it's the heat source that cooks the bottom quickly and evenly.

    A screen only eases handling. I don't believe it improves the crust. It's main function in a pizza shop is to allow the pie to slide easily off the peel into the oven. An skilled pizzaiolo knows how to flick an (unscreened) pizza off a floured peel, whereas a chain pizza operation runs through lots of kids who are more prone to make mistakes

    Home cooks that don't own a peel will find it handy too, but it's no substitute for a stone.

    1. I agree with the stone, I leave mine in the oven to help keep the heat even. I put a sprinkle of corn meal on my peel It seems to help the dough "roll" from peel to stone.

      1. I've always used a screen for reheating precooked pies, or stopping the effect of the stone on the crust, while allowing the toppings and crust to continue browning. Its all a matter of how much char you want on your crust.

        My method: Build your pie on a semolina dusted counter top, or on top of a well dusted peel. If you build it on the counter, get ready to learn the art of gentle dexterity, because inserting the peel under a pie is difficult. Remember that the pie can be coaxed back into roundness and the toppings redistributed if you have a near disaster. Metal is easier than a fat wood peel, but both are possible given the right amount of semolina, dough consistancy, thickness of toppings, and good luck. Slide onto a well heated stone. Once the pie has fully set insert the screen to stop the crust from charring. Use the screen to reheat slices.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Karl Gerstenberger

          Better yet is to use a wooden peel for putting a pizza in the oven and a metal one for turning (if necessary) and taking it out. Wood holds the flour and/or cornmeal a bit so that the dough can be placed on it and will not stick. It's harder to spread flour and meal on a metal peel. But metal is thinner and slides easily under a cooked pie.

        2. Stone! Hell, a concrete tile would work! (Asuming it's safe to use.)

          1. Why would you want to stop the crust from charring?

            A tile works fine if it's big enough and not outgassing anything nasty.

            Come to think of it, all the pizza "stones" I've owned have been tiles. I've had several terracotta ones break. The current one seems to be made out of tougher stuff--some kind of porcelain? Looks sort of like the lining of a kiln.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Charring aka "black stuff" is sometimes unpopular with the same crowd that generally doesn't like "green stuff" (bratty kids). Bring the char on I say! Others think anything black is burned and you can go deep gold and crisp with a screen.

              Floor tiles, slabs of concrete etc. in addition to having unknown coatings etc. also don't have the ability to take high heat that a pizza stone does. Even so pizza stones will sometimes crack if they're placed in a hot oven - they need to be preheated along with the oven.