On Thursday I received the pans I ordered from Northern Pizza Equipment:
As soon as I unboxed them I was a little skeptical. They were advertised as aluminized steel with an anodized finish, but they looked an awful lot like they had a nonstick coating. They were stamped with “Winco Bakeware” in the center and after a little digging it appears as though they the Winco HRCP-1309 pan, which is indeed coated with a type of PTFE/PFOA- free, ceramic based coating. I’ve come to dislike nonstick products because of the limitations they impose on high heat and the use of metal utensils, so I was disappointed. I was also a little worried that the coating would hamper the browning of the crust and the cheese, the way that those same coatings make it difficult to create a fond when making a pan sauce.
I will say that the pans are nice and heavy (around two pounds each) and are well constructed overall. I seasoned them as directed on Northern Pizza Equipment’s website, and while I’m not sure how necessary this was, I thought I might as well take their advice. I had prepared a double batch of the master dough (without starter), which gave me more than enough for two Detroit Style pies and couple of St. Louis style thin crusts.
I’m happy to report that the pans really did perform well. The sides browned more than the rest of the bottom, but I’m pretty sure this is due to my oven being so small that the walls are too close to the sides of the pans. The crust turned out fluffy and golden on the bottom and the cheese charred nicely and was easily removed from the pan. However, the coating did scrap off in places on the bottom and scratched in on place where I used the spatula to remove the crust. Also, I found several sites selling HRCP-1309’s for around $7, so I could have gotten them a little cheaper. I think that the pans will do for now, and will be great for cakes or brownies, but I will probably end up still buying some of the newly reintroduced original steel pans in the future:
I can’t get Brick cheese or Provel locally in New Jersey, so I used some substitutes. For the Detroit style pies I used a mixture of Havarti, Provolone, low-moisture Mozzarella, and a little bit of the same white cheddar I stacked along the sides. Similarly, instead of Provel, I used a mixture of Swiss, Provolone, Mozzarella, and White American. I don’t know what either Brick or Provel are supposed to taste like, but these mixtures both proved to be pretty tasty. While I’ve made half-hearted attempts at both of these pizza varieties before this is the first time I’ve done either of them with full commitment. Consequently, it’s the first time I’ve made the true sauce for the St. Louis style. It is surprisingly, and addictively, sweet and the combination of this with the processed cheese (in my case, the White American), makes for a pizza that is kind of a guilty pleasure; you know it’s kind of trashy, but you can’t get enough. I’m definitely going to be making these two again.