Battle Of The Pans
Here’s the scenario: I bake pan-fried pizzas at home. I started baking pan-fried pizza using a single cold-rolled steel pan (12” x 17” x2”) which I seasoned (seasoning a pan is a topic for another day); the pizzas always turned out good so I bought more steel pans. I seasoned the new steel pans, but they didn’t turn out the same way as the original did; there were issues with the seasoning, and the pizzas would stick to the two pans every time and would become mutilated when trying to dislodge them.
Someone suggested trying a pan from Lloyd Pans (13” x 18” x 1”), so I did. The Lloyd pan turned out to be the exact opposite from the steel pan I was using as it didn’t require seasoning and nothing would stick to this pan even if you wanted it to. I was impressed with how hi-tech the Lloyd pan was, in fact, the following is a snippet from their website: “Lloyd Pans employs a hard coat anodizing process to fuse a ceramic-like hard shell directly into our bake ware, producing a surface that meets NASA specifications for heat shield components on the space shuttle.” Holy schnikes, right?! However, while the pan was easy to use and maintain it didn’t produce the same quality of pizza as the steel pan did.
I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of pizzas with one being baked in the cold-rolled steel pan and another in the Lloyd pan to see what wins out, the superior pizza from the high maintenance steel pan or the pizza lacking a little bit from the super easy, maintenance free Lloyd pan. My comparisons are as follows:
Lloyd pan PROS:
- Has the most nonstick surface I’ve ever seen on bake ware
- Conducts heat evenly & efficiently
- Very consistent; pizzas baked in this pan are the exact same every time
- 1” depth makes it easy to check the bottom of crust while baking
- This pan is scratch resistant and can be washed with hot soapy water
- This is a standard sized pan (13” x 18”); lids can be easily found and used, no more saran wrap!
Lloyd pan CONS:
- I could not get the bottom crust to fry; there was no crisp and it was somewhat chewy
- The outer edge of the pizza was not as golden brown as desired
- A 1” depth limits the dough thickness which possibly includes other restrictions
Seasoned steel pan PROS:
- Fries the bottom crust for texture and great taste
- 2” deep pan good for thicker crusts, especially when applying toppings
- Left the edge around the pizza golden brown
- Body was more airy than that of the Lloyd pan pizza
Seasoned steel pan CONS:
- Seasoning process is long and could result in a smoky kitchen
- The pan is nonstick only if the seasoning process is done correctly
- Even if seasoned correctly it’s still possible for inconsistencies between pans
- Once seasoned these pans can’t be washed (possible issue w/ restaurant use)
- Pan needs to be maintained between bakes by keeping light film of oil in pan
- 2” depth makes it harder to check the bottom of the pizza while its baking
- Nontraditional pan size (12” x 17”) makes finding lids hard (thus far impossible for me)
As you can see, the number of bullets under the ‘seasoned steel pan CONS’ list is only rivaled by the number under the ‘Lloyd pan PROS’ list, which speaks volumes about the Lloyd pan. There is no doubt about it, the Lloyd pan reigns supreme in being user-friendly, but when it comes to the most important measurement for me, that being the crust of the pizza, the steel pan proved to be the MVP. The extra effort required in using steel pans was negated by the great crust those pans produced. The ease of use of the Lloyd pan was not strong enough to overcome the pizza crust lacking texture and the flavor of having been fried.
A few notes:
- I’ve tried adjusting ingredients & processes in hopes that the Lloyd pan would fry the crust, but my efforts were for not
- While Lloyd pans may not be good for ‘pan-fried pizza’, the pans are of extremely high quality and would surely outperform in situations not involving fried pizza dough
- If you have any suggestions for me to try with the Lloyd pan, or if you would like me to write more about seasoning steel pans please contact me through the blog, Twitter, or my Facebook.
Pictures from the steel pan
Pictures from the Lloyd Pan