A pizza screen serves as a lightweight, accessible and affordable alternative to pizza stones, which -- while certainly authentic -- often require a bit of an investment. Made specifically for home pizza baking, pizza screens are simply perforated metal disks on which you place your pizza crust before sticking it in the oven. If used properly, pizza screens lend your homemade pie a crisp crust and prevent your dinner from falling through the oven grates.
Things You'll Need
- Pizza screen
- Pizza ingredients
- Oven mitt
Season your pizza screen with a coating of oil on both sides. Spray on a hearty coat of cooking oil, such as olive or vegetable oil, or apply it with a brush. Allow the screen to soak in the oil for about 30 minutes, then pre-bake it without a pizza at about 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the oil turns golden brown. When cooled, the surface of the screen should not be sticky or gummy. This process helps create a nonstick surface on your pizza screen.
Preheat your oven to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit -- or higher, if your oven allows -- for an hour or so. This simulates the high heat of a traditional brick pizza oven, and plays to the strengths of the pizza screen, which creates crunchier crusts akin to classic Italian-style pizzas.
Build your pie on the pizza screen, shaping and placing the dough, then adding the sauce and an even layer of toppings. Working within the confines of the screen helps you create a perfectly round pizza, and saves you from having to transfer the dough to a pizza stone or baking sheet.
Place the pizza you've built on the screen in the oven. Go with the center rack for a crispy crust or the top rack for a slightly softer texture. Bake for about five to eight minutes, if you're making a 10-to-14-inch pie. Add or subtract time based on the size of your screen and crust. For an evenly baked crust, carefully rotate the pie when halfway through baking. When the pizza's done, it should be pleasingly aromatic with a browned upper crust and a slight char on the underside.
Tips & Warnings
- Because perforated pizza screens allow steam to escape from the dough, they tend to create crust that is a little less moist than that of a pizza baked on a stone. As such, screens are best used by those who prefer a crispier crust.
- Allow your pizza screen to collect more oil each time you bake a pizza -- this seasoning process helps the screen absorb additional heat and build a nonstick surface. If the screen begins to collect food residue, simply bake it until the residue blackens and scrape it off with a wire brush. Alternatively, you can wash aluminum pizza screens by hand with a mild dish detergent.
- Equip yourself with oven mitts when inserting and removing the pizza screen, as you're dealing with high cooking temperatures.
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