Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend about Nathan Myhrovld's four year 36 person team analyzing cooking methods, recipe's, etc. His research shows that a 1/4" steel sheet is best for your home oven. Has anyone tried this?
Here is the link:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704709304576124353978673570.html
I know Nathan from another site, and, he's a pretty smart guy, but his 1/4" steel sheet recommendation, at least how the article describes it, is a bit off the mark.
Preheat the oven at its highest temperature for ½ hour, then turn on the broiler and slide your pizza onto the metal plate. It should emerge perfectly cooked in 1.5 to 2 minutes.
There's a lot of variables that he's completely ignoring. Oven BTUs/wattage, distance from the top shelf to the broiler, gaps between the shelf and the oven walls/door and recipe variables such as flour, fermentation time, hydration, thickness factor and quantity of toppings.
Not to mention the fact that there's large numbers of old gas oven owners who don't have a broiler in the main oven compartment.
He's also dropped the ball in the safety warning department, since, as it stands, this isolates the thermostat. If someone were to turn on the oven and forget about it, the oven will go well above it's recommended operating temp. If that were to occur, you could just be talking melted wires, but it could be worse.
Don't get me wrong, the concept seems interesting, it's just that the instructions are way too simplified. Due to varying wattages/BTU output, they need to state a target steel temp and require the reader to purchase an IR thermometer. And that target steel temp is going to need to be pretty high for Neapolitan. The steel may be conductive, but that 1/4" thickness provides very little mass. To compensate, the temperature's going to need to go up. I'm thinking 750 at least. The steel plate also needs to be sized carefully so that it fills the entire oven- side wall to side wall, back wall to door. Gaps will let the heat flow through, which, in turn will shut off the thermostat. Not only will 1/4" steel @ 500-550 be a dismal failure with Neapolitan, it'll fail miserably with NY style as well.
But, isolating the thermostat with a stone that spans the entire shelf and then using the broiler once that stone is pre-heated- this is a very very interesting idea. This whole oven stone concept might actually work for relatively thin cordierite or possibly even quarry tiles- with a longer pre-heat time, of course- and with the same understanding that the lower part of the oven is going to need to get very hot and to not walk away and forget about it.
One would think that with a 2,400 page book, he'd have the room to fill in some of these details. Or maybe it's the Wall Street Journal's fault and they've omitted them.
I do want this set, though. For $600 bucks, though... never going to happen.