The Essential Modernist Pizza Gear Guide - Modernist Cuisine

The Essential Modernist Pizza Gear Guide

MPFebruary 9, 2022

Whether you’re gearing up to make pizza or have someone special in your life that is, we’re here to help. We’ve put together this handy guide to essential pizza-making tools and equipment to help you stock up. This list features some of our favorite basic items that you’ll find in any well-stocked pizzeria as well as gear that you’ll want to build out your home setup. Many of these tools are inexpensive, but there are also a few splurges on the list, which we think are wise investments.

Digital Scale

We recommend this emphatically: use a scale not measuring spoons. Measuring ingredients by weight, rather than volume, will make a huge difference in your results. For general use, the scale should measure single-gram increments. Additionally, it’s useful to have a precision scale for weighing small quantities, such as the 0.06 g of yeast called for in one of our preferments. You’ll find plenty of low-cost choices on the market that meet these requirements.

Start your search with:

Baker’s Kitchen Scale (8,000 g capacity) by My Weigh

Digital Gram Pocket Scale by Weigh Gram

 

Thermometer

A digital probe version is best. Home pizza makers will also want an oven thermometer. You can also get a combination timer / probe thermometer and take care of two helpful tools in one.

Start your search with:

Thermapen One by Thermoworks

 

Timers

In addition to telling you when to remove your pizza from the oven, digital timers will help you keep track of dough as it ferments and proofs, especially when you’re managing several doughs and kitchen tasks at a time. Timers should be easy to use, with loud alarms that can be heard across a noisy kitchen or from another room. Have several basic timers on hand for juggling tasks.

Start your search with:

Extra Big and Loud Timer by ThermoWorks

 

Plastic Tubs

Storage is an important consideration, and clear plastic tubs are the storage bins of choice. Up for almost any stowage task, these bins come in a range of sizes; they make it easy to keep an eye on the contents inside; and they stack much like nesting dolls when they aren’t being used. Long rectangular storage boxes can be used to hold fermenting dough, while preferments, ingredients, and old dough are often stored in square versions. Tall tubs make great vessels when weighing large quantities of water—some can even transform into water bath containers when cooking sous vide. Make sure the bins have airtight lids. We use the Cambro brand, which is so prevalent in professional kitchens that “Cambro” has become almost a generic term for tubs.

Start your search with:

Camwear Polycarbonate Food Storage Box (17.98 L / 4.75 gal) by Cambro

Camwear Polycarbonate Food Storage Box (33.12 L / 8.75 gal) by Cambro

Camwear Polycarbonate Square Plastic Food Container (in assorted sizes) by Cambro

 

Electric Mixer

We use an electric mixer for all of the pizza doughs in Modernist Pizza. You can certainly mix by hand, but this requires more time and physical effort. We highly recommend electric mixers since most of the doughs require mixing to full gluten development. . A stand mixer can be a big investment, so look for models that have a strong motor, which is important for making drier doughs, and a broad range of speed settings, from very slow to very fast.

Start your search with:

The Bakery Chef by Breville

 

Bench Knife

Use a sharp metal version for cleanly cutting dough, lifting sticky dough, and scraping dough residue off the worktable. Plastic ones are acceptable but are generally thicker, which can sometimes be a drawback. There’s a narrow bench knife we like specifically for pizza because it’s also perfect for when we need to lift a ball of dough after fermenting. This bench knife does a much better job than the wider ones. This tool is so practical that some pizzerias use it to cut garlic.

Start your search with:

Metal Dough Scraper by San Francisco Baking Institute

Round Plastic Bowl Scraper by San Francisco Baking Institute

Square Plastic Bowl Scraper by San Francisco Baking Institute

 

Pizza Peels

Metal peels are more suitable than wooden ones for flatbreads and pizzas because they’re thinner and can easily slide under the crusts. Perforated metal peels have the advantage that any excess flour used for dusting the dough will fall through. (Baking excess flour onto a pizza dough is undesirable because it can burn.)

Start your search with:

Perforated Pizza Peel by Homefavor

Aluminum Pizza Peel by American Metalcraft

 

Pizza Screens

Although not as commonly used as peels in pizzerias, pizza screens consist of a fine wire mesh surrounded by a metal ring. They come in a number of different diameters, from 20 cm / 8 in to 60 cm / 24 in. Depending on your perspective, using a screen is either a godsend or it’s cheating. Screens are useful if you don’t have experience making pizza, because you can consistently shape a round pizza that is the exact size that you need. We find screens useful for certain styles of pizza and types of ovens, including impinger and home ovens.

We always spray the screens with oil just before placing the dough on top, then apply the sauce, cheese, and toppings as needed. The screen makes it easy to move the pizza from worktable to oven. For home pizza makers, it also helps to assemble the pizza on the screen and then place it on a baking steel or stone so that you don’t have to worry about the pizza sticking to a peel when you are loading it into the oven.

Start your search with:

Aluminum Pizza Screen by GI Metal

 

Sheet Pans and Specialized Pizza Pans

For some styles, making something that looks and tastes like the real deal can hinge on the pan. While you could technically bake all the pizzas in this book on an aluminum sheet pan, specialized pans produce markedly better results. Some have reinforced frames that keep them from warping in the oven or cured surfaces to prevent the pizza from sticking. Others are made of thicker, denser metal that produces a crispier base.

Start your search with:

Assorted Pizza Pans by Lloyd Pans

Detroit-Style Pans by Detroit-Style Pizza Company

Al Taglio Pizza Pan by Artisan Pizza Solutions

 

Sauce Spoon / Spoodle

This is used to spoon sauce onto pizza dough and to spread it evenly. Many pizzerias know how many “spoonfuls” is the right amount for each pizza. We like a spoon with a flat base for spreading.

Start your search with:

Tomato Dosing Spoon by GI Metal

 

Food Mill

Making your own basic pizza sauces can be incredibly easy. While you can make them by hand-crushing tomatoes, we also like using a food mill. Tomatoes are passed through the mill to make sauce (try using one with a 8–10 mm / 0.31–0.39 in holes). We recommend one that is not so big that you end up with large tomato chunks in the sauce or so small that the seeds are left behind. Some models have interchangeable grates with different-sized holes that allow for different-textured sauces.

Start your search with:

Food Mill by OXO

 

Pizza Scissors

Some pizzerias use scissors instead of wheel cutters or mezzalunas. Scissors give pizza a clean cut and don’t squash the rim crust that you just worked so hard on. You can buy scissors specially made for cutting pizza, but any pair of heavy-duty, long, sharp scissors will do. Make sure they’re the kind that can be sharpened. Don’t use the hefty kitchen shears that are meant for cutting through chicken joints. For al taglio pizza, there are special scissors in which the bottom blade rests on a plastic base that keeps the scissors flat on the counter while cutting.

Start your search with:

Pizza Scissors by Artisan Pizza Solutions

 

Baking Steel or Baking Stone

A steel or stone will help properly bake pizza in a home oven, combi oven, or convection oven. Baking steels work even better than stones for baking pizza. Thick baking steels hold their preheated temperature better than thin ones, but they also take longer to preheat and to recover from a drop in temperature. Our bottom-line conclusion: a dark (not shiny) steel plate 12 mm / ½ in thick produces the best crust, although it is staggeringly heavy. A steel plate 10 mm / 0.4 in thick also works very well, is a lot more manageable, and preheats faster. For more even heat radiation, you can stack two together, but this is optional.

Start your search with:

Modernist Cuisine Special Edition Baking Steel by Baking Steel

 

Dough Docking Tool

Docking evenly distributes a pattern of small holes across a dough’s surface and keeps it from puffing up significantly. We use a rolling docker, which is more of a speciality tool, but a fork or the tip of a skewer or knife is a handy alternative.

Start your search with:

Dough Docking Tool by Winco

 

Oven Brush

Use this to sweep debris, such as semolina, out of the oven. Sometimes a pizza bottom will rip, leaving a cheesy, saucy mess on your oven floor. When this happens, you’ll need a metal bristle brush.

Start your search with:

Rotating Head Oven Brush by GI Metal

 

Countertop Pizza Oven

There is a category of ovens that has less to do with specific temperature ranges—specialty ovens. These include countertop ovens that can be used to make pizzas at relatively high temperatures without having to invest in a gas-fired pizza oven or a pizza deck oven. If you are a pizza enthusiast and are looking for value in a home pizza oven, the Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker will produce great pizzas for the price. If you are really serious about making pizza at home, we definitely recommend the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo.

Start your search with:

Crispy Crust Pizza Maker by Breville

Smart Oven Pizzaiolo by Breville

 

Portable Outdoor Pizza Oven

These ovens, which include the Gozney Roccbox and Ooni Koda and Karu pizza ovens, are the definition of portable. The Roccbox and certain Ooni ovens like the Karu 16 allow you to burn wood chips or use a propane tank for fuel. We prefer using propane because it produces a more consistent heat and gets hotter quicker than using wood chips.

The disadvantage of using gas rather than wood is that you have to cart around a propane tank if you are using the oven away from your home. Even so, it is one way to get a very good Neapolitan-style pizza at home. The fact that it can only be used outdoors may or may not bother you. These ovens are great for any sort of small-scale outdoor pizza baking, whether on the balcony of your apartment or camping in the wilderness. While you can bake only one pizza at a time, each one takes a mere 60–90 seconds to bake.

Start your search with:

Karu 16 by Ooni

Roccbox by Gozney


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