Author Topic: Season steel plate?  (Read 1841 times)

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Offline barryvabeach

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Season steel plate?
« on: May 17, 2011, 08:38:36 PM »
Based on the posts here I bought some steel plate to see how they worked out.  I bought 3/8 steel plate from a salvage yard, and got one about 15 inches square, and one that I ground off the corners to be just under 15 inch round so that it would fit in a bbg ( Big Steel Keg )  and I have also used it on a gas grill.  I seasoned the one that I used in the oven using crisco ( IIRC ) and it has worked pretty well.  Using the broiler element trick, I can get the plate close to 600, with the oven around 550 and get a little leoparding.  I am having more problems with the one for the grills.  I seasoned it with safflower oil , and heated it around 400 for an hour.  Once it was seasoned with the keg,  I got it up to 700 degrees, but I got burning and sticking - I think from the seasoning.  I use cornmeal or rice flour on the peel.   I then cleaned it off and reseasoned it and switched to the gas grill and held it to 600 degrees, and with the infra red burner I am getting a 3 to 4 minute pie, but the results are underwhelming - again some sticking to the plate, and the bottom of the crust is burnt in spots, but the rest is not crisp like when I use a stone.   I am beginning to question whether the seasoning is the problem - do I need to heat it up to 700 and burn off the seasoning and just sand it smooth?  If it makes a difference, I am using 100% wheat so I am using very wet dough - around 80% hydration.  Thanks in advance for the help.


Offline ponzu

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2011, 10:59:49 PM »
Not a seasonong issue in my opinion.  Your non crisp pie perfectly mirrors my results with a steel plate.  Floppy unpizzalike crusts.  I think steel is a bit too efficient with energy transfer.

Much happier with plain old cordierite.

Offline barryvabeach

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2011, 07:03:13 AM »
Ponzu,  thanks for the info. 

Offline Saturday Coffee

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2011, 12:58:19 AM »
http://www.webstaurantstore.com/3253/pizza-stones.html

The stones absorb a lot of the moisture in the dough and leave a nice crisp bottom.

I get different results when baking in a well greased steel pan  vs. baking on a stone dusted with cornmeal.
 



Offline scott123

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2011, 11:28:39 AM »
Barry

1. Don't season the steel.  A pizza launched from a floured peel, if baked at the right temperature, won't stick to any surface.  Also, at the temps you're working at, the seasoning will eventually bake off.

2. Sticking= burning. When the hearth is too hot, the dough will char too quickly and, at the spots where the char gets very black, it will stick. You can get leoparding on the base without torching the bottom with extreme heat and  having the dough stick on.  If the dough is sticking, you need to dial down the heat. If you're getting leoparding in the oven with a 600 deg. plate, why are you pre-heating the plate in the grill to 700?

3. Whole wheat flour is usually malted.  Water encourages enzyme activity/sugar formation. High sugar doughs almost always burn at high temps.  In a malted, elevated hydration dough baked at a high temp, the window between properly leoparded and burnt is minuscule. One second it's perfect, the next, burnt/stuck on. If you want to use malted flour and avoid burning/sticking, then you'll need to back off the water and/or the fermentation time and/or the heat.

4. Evaporation makes for crispy crusts.  The faster the bake, the less water evaporation, the softer the crust. The slower the bake, the more water evaporation, the crisper the crust.  The same dough that crisps up in 7+ minutes of baking will not crisp up in 3-4 minutes. In fact, it's very difficult, to get crispness with quick bake times. <2 min. Neapolitan pizzas are never crispy and 3-4 min. NY style pizzas are rarely crispy. Neapolitan is puffy and soft and NY is puffy chewy.  Both are floppy. Coal oven/Neo-NY pies can be a bit crispy, but the crispy areas are usually confined to the areas with big voids.

The more water in the dough, the greater the tendency for softness in the final product. If crispy is your goal, you need to dial the water back- way back.  60-65% hydration- max.

Offline scott123

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2011, 11:40:01 AM »
Not a seasonong issue in my opinion.  Your non crisp pie perfectly mirrors my results with a steel plate.  Floppy unpizzalike crusts.  I think steel is a bit too efficient with energy transfer.

As I mentioned above, the faster the bake, the less water evaporation, the softer/floppier the crust.  It's not the energy efficiency, but the bake time that dictates floppiness. Conductive materials will produce identical results at lower temps.  A 4 minute pizza baked at, say, 600 on cordierite will be perfectly identical to a 4 minute pizza baked at 500 on steel.

Offline scott123

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2011, 11:43:52 AM »
The stones absorb a lot of the moisture in the dough and leave a nice crisp bottom.

No, they don't.  The idea that baking stones absorb moisture is a myth.  Cordierite is the most commonly used pizza stone material and it absorbs almost no water.  Also, at the temps pizza is baked at, water in the dough doesn't stay in it's liquid state long enough to be absorbed by the stone.

If you're achieving a crisp bottom, it's not the material, but an extended, evaporation friendly baking time.

Offline communist

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2011, 08:46:36 PM »
Barry, baking 3 pies every week for family and friends on 1/2 inch steel at 530 with broiler on for first 40 seconds of a 4 minute bake.  Have baked about 40 pies and they are great.  Agree with everything Scott123 says.   Mark

Offline ponzu

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2011, 09:35:58 PM »
As I mentioned above, the faster the bake, the less water evaporation, the softer/floppier the crust.  It's not the energy efficiency, but the bake time that dictates floppiness. Conductive materials will produce identical results at lower temps.  A 4 minute pizza baked at, say, 600 on cordierite will be perfectly identical to a 4 minute pizza baked at 500 on steel.

Strongly disagree with this statement.  A 3-4 minute pie well baked on steel is much floppier than a 3-4 minute pie well baked on cordierite.

I did not predict this finding, I experienced it (and was suprised by it) by baking on 1/2" steel and 1/2" cordierite.  I baked at multiple surface temps and bake times.  I documented my findings in the pizza sputnik thread.

Based on my experiences I no longer bake on steel.

Scott I understand that you are a champion of baking on steel, but I have to ask;  Have you ever actually baked on it?  There is a difference between theory and practice and each have their place.  In the end I believe experience is what really matters as it is what yields an actual pie not a theoretical one. Theory pushes us forward in all sorts of directions, experience weeds out the bad ideas and elevates the breakthroughs.

Offline Essen1

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2011, 10:02:53 PM »
Scott,

I'm extremely satisfied with my Thorley Kiln shelf. That puppy is superior to any cordierite stone and can tolerate heat up to 1800F. Might be a good alternative to a steel plate.

However, a couple of pizzeria operators I know and spoke with, bake in a Rotoflex oven equipped with steel decks at 550 - 600F and make outstanding NY-style pies.
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

http://thehobbycook.blogspot.com/


Offline barryvabeach

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2011, 09:33:26 PM »
Scott, thanks for the info.  As to why I went to 700, it is a lump charcoal grill, you feed it, light it, and then use dampers to control ( like a BGE) but if you walk away for a few minutes it can get away from you and hard to bring it back down.  For that reason, I switched to the gas grill since it is easier to control the temp.   I will clean off the seasoning and try it again this weekend.  I was using an 80 hydration pie, will try 75 and 70 and see how that goes.  The flour I use is not malted, I grind the wheat berries, and right now I am using 100% red spring wheat berries.  I will say that the corderite on the grill had a crispier bottom, but it is certainly possible it was a longer bake time than the metal plate.   The photo is of a small test pie a did a few weeks ago and shows the burn spot -
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 07:28:02 AM by barryvabeach »

Offline barryvabeach

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2011, 08:39:24 PM »
Okay,  I sanded the seasoning off, then cleaned the plate with soap and water. To make sure I wouldn't get sticking, I tried to keep the plate at a lower temp.  I used it on the grill with a small pizza stone underneath.  The temp at the hood was 600, the metal plate was around 550.  I made a few pies, around 5 to 6 minutes, very crunchy bottom so I am on to something.  The pizza wasn't great, but I am still working on the whole wheat recipes. 

Offline barryvabeach

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Re: Season steel plate?
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2011, 09:21:26 PM »
I have made a few more pies on the unseasoned steel plate. It seems like there is a temp window.  With the plate around 500 to 550, I get nice crust with a little leoparding.  Unfortunately, I got it up to 600 on the grill this weekend and a 5 minute pie was stuck to the plate in numerous places, and had really ugly burn marks over most of it. Again, it appears that the heat transfer is so efficient, that getting the metal plate too hot needs to be avoided.