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from Tom Lehmann.
Tom “The Dough Doctor” Lehmann reveals the
secrets—and the perils—of seasoning steel pans.
By Tom Lehmann
What are the keys to taking care of seasoned pans?
Pans come in two basic colors—bright
finish and dark (green, gray or black)—
and in two types of metal: steel and aluminum. Today we’ll talk about seasoning
steel pans, and we’ll consider aluminum
pans in my next column.
Bright finish. Bright-finish steel pans
must be seasoned. This can be done by
wiping oil on the interior and exterior
surfaces of the pan and placing it in an
oven at about 425°F to polymerize the
oil. Seasoning is essential before using
this particular pan, because it allows for
improved dough release from the pan
after baking, and the dark color boosts
heat absorption during baking, imparting a superior bake compared to a bright/
Made of pressed steel, these pans are
quite durable, but they’re also prone to
rusting with improper care. The applied
seasoning may also change in color, going from the initial light amber color to
dark black after extended use. During
this period of adjustment, you may see
a difference in the way a pizza bakes until the pan color settles down at a fairly
dark hue. The applied seasoning itself
can also be an issue; it’s easily damaged
by the use of a knife or spatula when
removing the baked pizza from the pan.
Also, allowing the pan to soak in hot,
soapy water can loosen the seasoning,
so take extreme care when washing these
pans. Instead of soaking, just dip the
pan in soapy water, scrub gently with a
soft plastic-bristle brush, rinse and sanitize. Finish by wiping it dry with a clean
towel and force-drying it in a warm oven
for a few minutes.
If you don’t follow these directions
for washing a seasoned pan, the seasoning could peel off like skin with a bad
sunburn, and you’ll need to strip all of
the remaining seasoning from the pan
and start over again. Worse, you may get
stuck with an assortment of pans ranging from almost bright and shiny to dark
(well-seasoned) in color—and the baking variations that accompany the differences in pan color.
Additionally, the dark color is nothing
more than carbonized oil, and carbon
has been said to be a potential carcino-
gen. So, if any seasoning goes missing
from a pan, a health inspector may as-
sume that a customer has consumed it
as part of the pizza. The inspector may
order you to remove all of the seasoning
from all of your pans before they can be
reused. Worse, the seasoning on these
pans, if not regularly used, can turn ran-
cid, affecting a pie’s flavor.
Tom Lehmann is the director of bakery
assistance for the American Institute
of Baking (AIB). Need more dough
advice? Visit the Dough Information
Center at PMQ.com/dough.