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Old 10-31-2009, 11:27 PM   #1
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Pizza Pan Blues

Ok, I'll admit it here, but not to anyone I know. I LOVE those cheap Wal-Mart 1.19 pizzas. They're the BEST!

I like a softer crust, so I cook them on a pizza pan, rather than just putting them on the rack.

The thing is, I keep ruining pizza pans. I buy the non-stick ones (although I've tried others, too), but the pizza always leaves black residue on the pan, which is almost impossible to get off. If I use a brillo pad or any kind of abrasive scrubber, it takes the non-stick coating off. I got a plastic blade-type thing that gets most of it off, but only with a lot of work, and there's always some left behind, no matter how hard I work at it.

If i use a non-stick spray, it bakes onto the pan and I can't get it off no matter how hard I scrub.

I've tried doing away with the pan altogether and cooking the pizza on a piece of foil that's been crinkled up and spread back out, but that leaves the crust too soft. It's also wasteful, and i'm trying to be greener.

Clearly I'm missing something. There has to be a better way. Can anyone suggest anything?

Thanks

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Old 10-31-2009, 11:54 PM   #2
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Try using some kind of fat smeared on the pan and sprinkle it with cornmeal.

Or...try a pizza stone.
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Old 11-01-2009, 06:31 AM   #3
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Purchase and use a pizza stone and peel. It will give you a MUCH better crust, and just don't worry about getting it dirty with the black from cooking pizzas. (Just brush it off - no need to ever wash it - and actually, washing is not advisable.) No pizza pan, non-stick or plain, can ever give you a decent pizza crust. A pizza stone wicks away the moisture giving you a crisper, more evenly cooked crust.

And an easy way to remove a pizza from a pizza stone, is not to jamb the edge of the peel under the pizza, possibly pushing it to the back of the oven, but to use long-handled tongs holding and lifting the near edge while slipping the peel beneath it. Simple and effective.

BTW: I agree. I also like Wal-Mart pizzas even though I generally make my own. They're better than any frozen, packaged pizza ever made.
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Old 11-01-2009, 07:26 AM   #4
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A pizza stone is the last thing he should use since he said he likes a softer crust. A pizza stone will never give you a soft crust. It's whole point is to give you crisp crust.

Sean, the way you are cleaning your pan is ruining it. You should never use Brillo or abrasive scrubbers. As soon as you use one of those you have ruined the pan.

My suggestion is get a pan and use it just for your pizza. The black gunk on the pan will not hurt anything. Just wash it the best you can with non stick approved sponges (I like Dobi sponges) and don't worry if not everything comes off.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:07 AM   #5
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Actually, GB, the texture of the crust doesn't JUST come from the stone/pan. Primarily it comes from the moisture content of the dough, the thickness, and the temperature and time baked in the oven. I still stand by the pizza stone - but that's just my opinion.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:12 AM   #6
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Well I never did say that the texture just comes from the stone/pan. Go back and re-read my words.

The whole point of a pizza stone is that it wicks moisture away from the dough to give you a crisp crust. The OP likes a soft crust. How would you recommend that he gets a soft crust using a pizza stone?

I like a crisp crust so I do use a stone. I think it gives me a great crust the way I like it. The OP would not like my crust though because he likes it soft and you just can't do that with a stone.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:22 AM   #7
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For a really soft crush and no major mess clean up, use individual cake pans and make a Chicago-style from scratch - just as an alternative to store-bought, and can be a lot of fun on special occations.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:24 AM   #8
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Place parchment paper or aluminum foil in/on your pan and put the pizza on the paper.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:32 AM   #9
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One thing you can try, if you haven't already, is check the temp of your oven. It may be that it is getting hotter than the dial says. If so, you can adjust your oven temp. Set your oven to, say 400 degrees. Put an oven thermometer in the oven and when the oven turns off, look to see what the actual temperature in your oven is. All ovens are not the same. There is likely more fat in the frozen pizza crust and that is what is burning.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:39 AM   #10
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Next time you need a pan just go for the uncoated ones.
I agree with GB about leaving the "gunk" on, after a few dozen pizzas it will look like a profesional pan :)
I always sprinkle a bit of cornmeal underneath to keep it from sticking and it also sucks up the oil from the toppings and becomes its own abrasive when cleaning.
Personally, I like a crust that is crispy on the bottom but still soft enough to let you fold it in the middle.
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:05 AM   #11
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Another vote for parchment paper. Makes clean up a snap.
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:39 AM   #12
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I have an old pizza pan, kid of dented on the rim, just metal, like my dookie sheets. They get blacker with use. (like 25+ years...). I don't have to worry about ruining them.
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:53 AM   #13
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My first concern is, what is causing black gunk on your pan in the first place? I can't think of what, in pizza crust, should be leaving that kind of residue. It almost sounds like the gunk that cooking spray leaves on pans, but I'm not sure from your post.
A good way to avoid the cooking spray residue is to switch to a refillable oil mister (like Misto), which is also more environmentally friendly. But if that's not what's causing your black gunk, it won't help this particular problem, of course.
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Old 11-01-2009, 10:36 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by apple*tart View Post
My first concern is, what is causing black gunk on your pan in the first place? I can't think of what, in pizza crust, should be leaving that kind of residue...
I'd bet it was some of the liquid from the toppings that ran off the crust into the pan.
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Old 11-01-2009, 11:09 AM   #15
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Ah yes, that could be. I wonder, is the residue around the edges of the pizza, or underneath, or...?
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Old 11-02-2009, 12:27 AM   #16
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Hey y'all, thanks for the great response, and all the ideas. Surely I'll find a solution from all this info.

I'm pretty sure the black gunk is super-caramelized toppings that come off the pizza and melt around the edge of the crust.

I have an oven thermometer, and had checked the oven in my old house, but I moved in February and haven't checked the new one yet. I'll do so.

I'd researched a pizza stone, but every one I saw advertised a crisper crust, which was confirmed by by the people I'd spoken to who have them.

I have an old non-stick pizza pan with crusted black gunk on it, i like the idea of just using that and accepting the black gunk. The corn starch idea is also appealing, as it is the least wasteful. After that, i'd say the misting oil, and then the parchment would be the next I'll try. I like the idea that the parchement is bio-degradable. While foil can be recycled, you have to wash it or you run the risk of insect problems until you transport the aluminum to the recycler. I have a can crusher and crush my used aluminum cans and store them in a 30 gallon trash can. When it's full, i take it to the recycler and usually get 30 bucks or more for the aluminum. The first time I did it, though, i didn't rinse the cans out, and even though the trash can is sealed, ants got to it. Now, I rinse every can and let them dry before crushing them, and there are no bug problems.

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:28 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanCan'tCook View Post
...I'm pretty sure the black gunk is super-caramelized toppings that come off the pizza and melt around the edge of the crust...

Another sure fire way to solve the problem would be to use more care in putting your toppings on the crust so they don't run off onto the pan...
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:46 AM   #18
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The corn starch idea is also appealing, as it is the least wasteful.
Just wanted to make sure you buy the right stuff...it's corn meal you'll need, not corn starch.
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Old 11-02-2009, 03:42 PM   #19
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For a more tender crust, like you are looking for, I use a plain old aluminum pizza pan I picked up at a restaurant supply store several years ago. It works great. I have a pizza stone for when I want a nice crispy crust. And, trust me, that pizza stone does not look like it did the day it came out of the box - it's dark and has black spots baked on it - I just scrape it off and it does fine.

Never use a non-stick spray on a non-stick pan unless it specifically says you can. Usually, it just makes a sticky mess.

One other thing - the color of the metal your pan is made of. A dark color will result in a crisper crust (the dark color absorbs more heat) than a light shiny one, which reflects some of the heat.

And, unless you are using your pizza pans for decorations, don't worry about the dark crusty stuff - just scrape it off and go on. That's even greener than anything.

The corn meal is used to keep the pizza dough from sticking to the peel so that it will slide off when going into the oven - sort of like a bunch of little ball bearings. You can also sprinkle some on your pan to help keep it srom sticking to the pan IF you don't grease the pan.
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Old 11-02-2009, 04:03 PM   #20
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The corn meal is used to keep the pizza dough from sticking to the peel so that it will slide off when going into the oven
Not to mention that it adds a great element of texture.
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