I think if this site gave out awards for best skin stretching, you'd be the winner. Well, maybe you and Terry Deane could share the award
Beautiful form (as always).
The safety of bromate has been discussed (sometimes quite passionately) in this forum on quite a few occasions. If you do a search, a large number of threads come up. My current belief is that bromate, as long as it's used conscientiously (i.e., doughs are fully baked), is safe. The status of bromate has less to do with safety and more with bureaucracy. For decades, it's been well known that bromate is a carcinogen. Many years ago, regulators basically said, "okay, bromate is a carcinogen, but we can't detect it in baked bread. As long as it isn't detected, it's fine to use." Years later, detection abilities improved dramatically and residue was found. Instead of looking at the actual amount of bromate left in bread and deciding whether or not it posed a threat, they looked back at the ancient law that said "as long it's not detected it's okay," and made the illogical jump to "if it's in there, it must be harmful."
Bromate is added to flour in parts per million and is detected in parts per billion. There's absolutely no credible research proving that bromate, in such an infinitesimally small amount poses a threat to health. A walk outside- sunlight, will expose you to about a thousand times the carcinogenic threat that a slice of pizza will. They've been working on bromate replacers for at least 50 years and nothing comes close to mimicking it's effects. Just about every single non chain pizzeria outside of California uses bromated flour. In the NY area it's almost impossible to buy commercial unbromated flour. It's the best tool for the job, and, imo, it's perfectly safe.
As far as the baking properties of bromated flour, Scott R sums up the differences brilliantly in this post here:http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9814.msg91030.html#msg91030
I feel exactly the same way- that, you can match the results of a bromated flour with an unbromated one, but it takes a lot of effort and is far more difficult. Bromate gives you certain tolerances- mixing times, hydration, fermentation, bake time, that unbromated flour lacks.
There's no free lunch here. There's no single brand of unbromated flour that you're going to be able to utilize in your current recipe that will match the oven spring and texture of bromated AT. It's never going to happen. From my experience with unbromated commercial flour, Bouncer (Bay State Milling) seems to be showing a little promise, but it's not a miracle worker. The chemistry just isn't there. KASL, imo, will not only be more costly, but it will most likely give you LESS oven spring than you're getting now, not more. I sincerely believe that if you want that additional spring and texture that you were getting from bromated flour, the answer isn't finding a better unbromated flour, but finding a better stone. Take that 25 bucks or so that you were going to shell out on KASL and invest it something that will guarantee you results.
Which brings us to soapstone. The last time we talked about soapstone (6 months ago), you said you were going to look around for a supplier. Any luck? I know that one of our newer members, Straybullet, found a distributor in the Tampa area that seems to be willing to sell him a 17 x 17 x 1.25 slab for $75:http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11394.0.html
I don't know how far Tampa is for you, but if you could get a comparable price on a 19" or 20" square slab, that would put you in the realm of a 4-5 minute pie (close to the kinds of pies you were getting with your old modded oven).
With your skin forming skills and years of experience, you should be able to take the superior conductivity of soapstone and make something that not only looks like a work of art, but tastes like a work of art as well.