Author Topic: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?  (Read 9982 times)

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Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2012, 02:30:06 PM »
I have one friend in Colorado using 1/4 inch aluminum and giving good reports.  To quote Amy:

I no longer use a stone. I use a piece of 1/4" dressed aluminum, and place it on the highest rack just below my broiler, although I'm still experimenting with this given my new range. It's the technique touted in Modernist Cuisine, and I must say every time I've tried it, it's produced a superior crust.


I spoke to Nathan Myhrvold about the pizza section of his book, and, while he did his best to defend the author of that section, Chris Young, the claims Chris made about Neapolitan pizza were completely unsubstantiated. I, personally, know of at least 3 English pizzerias making breathtakingly beautiful pizzas, but when you start looking at the bulk of what the English eat as pizza, it's god awful.  This is the mentality where Blumenthal and Young (his research assistant) come from.

This is a photo of Chris Young's pizza:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php/topic/137365-can-you-make-authentic-neapolitan-pizzas-at-home/page__st__30__p__1792128#entry1792128

While their recommendation of steel and aluminum is theoretically quite sound, when they start putting these materials into practice, it's like the 3 Stooges.

I've crunched the numbers for aluminum over and over again, and, at 1/4", it does not have the necessary heat capacity to produce a bake time that's any shorter than the far cheaper 3/4" cordierite.

Tatoosh, I know you're just a messenger here, so please don't take my tirade personally. I'm happy that Amy is happy with her pizzas, but, if she's working with 1/4" aluminum, she's not making pizzamaking.com caliber pizzas.

Nathan is a brilliant fellow- for those wishing to master sous vide, Modernist Cuisine is a gold mine.  When it comes to pizza, though, MC completely misses the mark.


Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2012, 05:47:15 PM »
Aditya, the chances you'll need fibrament are incredibly slim.  Sometimes it's poor conductivity makes it useful, but usually it doesn't, and it's one of the weakest materials you can buy.

If you want a selection of stones that will give you the ability to experiment to the fullest, then I'd go with

1/2" steel
3/4" (or 1") cordierite
1/4" or 1/2" quarry tiles

and, if you have $150 burning a hole in your pocket and want to go where (almost) no man has gone before, then try 1" aluminum plate.

For what would you use each of these? I'm convinced enough for the steel, but let's say I want to experiment with other varieties. When would I break out the cordierite, quarry tiles, or aluminum?

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2012, 05:51:05 PM »
While their recommendation of steel and aluminum is theoretically quite sound, when they start putting these materials into practice, it's like the 3 Stooges.

I'm starting to get the idea that we need a book based on the distilled knowledge of this forum and its members. I'd be quite willing to drop a fair bit (but of course, a free and DRM-free ebook would be appreciated by many, including myself) for a well-organized, well-informed, experimentally-validated, modern and complete book on pizza-making techniques, from everything to dough (recipes, autolyse, cold/warm fermentation, tossing, stretch/slap, etc.) to sauce (recipes! this is one area where I'm really pathetic) to cooking techniques and materials, as we're discussing here.

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2012, 07:00:13 PM »
For what would you use each of these? I'm convinced enough for the steel, but let's say I want to experiment with other varieties. When would I break out the cordierite, quarry tiles, or aluminum?

I chose these stones because they give you the widest range of conductivity

Quarry Tiles ~.5-1 W/m-K
Cordierite ~3.0 W/m-K
Steel 54 W/m-K
Aluminum 250 W/m-K

The heat transfer for steel might be a little high for bread, so cordierite or quarry tiles might be preferable for that application.

The only times that I recommend anything other than steel are for people that are okay with just making longer baked American style and want to go to bed bath and beyond and pick up a stone (not you), for people with a bottom heat only scenario (not you), for people with 500 peak oven temps (not you) or for people attempting Neapolitan in a home using extreme mods/cleaning cycle hacks (probably not you).

For pizza, in your oven, unless you win the lottery with your broiler, all you need is steel.

Steel, as we talked about before, is pretty hefty.  While the dimensions you're looking are fine for an oven shelf, the weight could end up being a bit of a hassle if you want to remove the stone for baking other items. The only potential materials that will give you fast NY bakes (and possibly even faster Neapolitan ones) without modding, but that will still be light/portable are silicon carbide and aluminum. These materials are costly and a bit unproven, though. If you are concerned about weight and/or portability, then, as I mentioned, go with either 3/4" silicon carbide or 1" aluminum, both should be about half the weight of steel.

For that miniscule group of powerful broiler lottery winners, aluminum, if thick enough (maybe 1.5") could theoretically produce Neapolitan undercrust browning at sub 550 temps.  As I said before, we tried ramping up the mass on the steel to 3/4" and that didn't give us NY bakes at 500, so I'm a little hesitant to recommend materials based on numbers, but the extreme conductivity of aluminum should have no problem delivering it's heat capacity payload, so I'm pretty confident that aluminum can do this, but... it would require an extraordinarily powerful broiler- possibly even stronger than Marlon's, so I think the odds of aluminum plate ever being testing for 550 Neapolitan baking are slim.

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2012, 07:20:24 PM »
I'm starting to get the idea that we need a book based on the distilled knowledge of this forum and its members.

First of all, it, you'd be talking a BIG book.  Secondly, since the members here rarely agree, incorporating every viewpoint without getting confusing would be close to impossible.

Stone selection is a scientific area, so you don't find a lot of disagreement, but when you get into sauces, that's incredibly subjective. I try to approach sauce through the historical distillation of many sauces in my area, but I can't account for every sauce in NY, so you find NYers that grew up when I did with different sauce experiences.

If and when I put anything together, it will, for the most part, be giving a man a fish, rather than teaching him how. It will be directions on how to make my pizza and it will probably take me a few weeks to do.  If I tried to write a book on how pizza works- such as why, when you do one thing, does another thing happen- all the ins and outs- that would take me decades.

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2012, 07:26:47 PM »
Thanks again Scott. I'll probably pick up a cordierite kiln shelf for breads, etc. along with the steel.

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2012, 07:48:13 PM »
How much clearance do I want around the steel? 15" is as deep as I can go, but the oven is about 20" wide. Would 18" wide be too wide, leaving only 1" clearance on either side? (I'm asking because I imagine it might be useful at some point to make two smaller pizzas rather than one large one.)
« Last Edit: June 22, 2012, 07:51:48 PM by heuristicist »

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2012, 08:02:34 PM »
1" clearance on both sides is fine. That's more than enough to assure proper air flow.

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2012, 09:20:59 PM »
Any info on type/grade/etc.? Stainless/cold-rolled/hot-rolled?

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2012, 11:01:04 PM »
a36 hot rolled steel


cornicione54

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #30 on: June 22, 2012, 11:58:38 PM »
-

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #31 on: June 23, 2012, 12:14:46 AM »
 :-D

Superman's looking a little stoned. It's probably all that bromate he's been exposed to  ;D

A lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers would have more body appropriate.

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2012, 11:54:52 AM »
How much should I expect the steel plate to cost? I found one place that can do 0.25" 15x18 for just under $40 delivered, so I'm assuming that 0.5" is double that, which seems a bit steep to me...

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2012, 12:33:38 PM »
It's probably $30 for the plate and $10 for delivery (or maybe even $20 for delivery).

Steel plate is generally more expensive in urban areas than in rural ones, but it still shouldn't run you more than $60 for the size plate that you're looking for. That's comparable to fibrament.

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2012, 02:47:49 PM »
Just called someone there (Metal Supermarkets) since they only list 0.25" on their site and he said that 15"x18"x0.5" would cost about $80. Looks like I need to keep hunting...

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2012, 03:12:15 PM »
Aditya, as I said before, you want to look up metal in the yellow pages.  Steel plate is not something you buy online.

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #36 on: June 25, 2012, 03:13:07 PM »
Yep, that's what I'm doing :)

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #37 on: June 25, 2012, 03:54:21 PM »
Let your fingers do the walking  :)

NuStar Heating & Metal Supply Inc
42 Otis Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 863-7126 ‎ nustarsf.com

Bayshore Metals Inc
244 Napoleon Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 647-7981 ‎ bayshoremetals.com

Metals Enterprise Inc
244 Napoleon Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 642-2400

Circosta Iron & Metal Co. Inc.
1801 Evans Avenue, San Francisco, CA
(415) 282-8568 ‎ circostametals.com

San Francisco Scrap Metal
99 Mississippi Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 863-3508

Klockars Blacksmith & Metal
443 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 362-4653

Ace Sheet Metal
1460 Bancroft Avenue, San Francisco, CA
(415) 822-1221 ‎ acesheetmetal.net

Offline heuristicist

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #38 on: June 25, 2012, 04:38:11 PM »
Aw man, thanks a lot Scott. I had already come across a couple of these but hadn't had a chance to call them, and started with Metal Supermarkets because they had info right on their site. I'm gonna give these guys a shout.

Did you use yellowpages.com? That's where I searched before, but I was searching for ones closer to me. Driving in SF is rather hellish I hear, with parking impossible to find.

Offline scott123

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Re: Need a new stone; advice? Are two stones useful?
« Reply #39 on: June 25, 2012, 07:07:41 PM »
Aditya, I googled

metal san francisco

and then clicked on the map on the right.

If you drag the map, it will re-draw/show you locations wherever you move it to. It looks like there is a concentration of metal places surrounding the bay.


 

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