Author Topic: Best pizza stone?  (Read 5091 times)

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Offline Montreal_Pizza

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Best pizza stone?
« on: November 02, 2011, 11:00:42 AM »
Hi fellow pizza lovers!

I have been using a regular inexpensive pizza stone in an electric home oven for my neapolitan-style pizzas. The first pizza I cook always has great spring and char and cooks in under 4 minutes. The second has less spring and char because the stone loses heat after the first pizza is cooked.

I have read lots about stones (corderite, kiln shelving, steal plates...)

I'm trying to figure out which type of stone and thickness will give me the most spring and char and retain the most heat when making multiple pizzas in an electric home oven.

This is the million dollar question..

txs!
Danny


Offline scott123

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2011, 05:57:12 PM »
Danny, the bake time defines the style.  A 3-4 minute pizza, regardless of the flour you use, or the recipe, is NY style, not Neapolitan.  If you're making NY style pizzas and are happy with them, and just want to get better recovery on later pies, then you'll want 1/2" steel plate.  If, on the other hand, you like Neapolitan pizza and are striving towards the best Neapolitan pizza possible, then you need to take a different direction- a direction, that right now, hasn't been traveled all that much.

Offline Montreal_Pizza

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2011, 07:41:40 AM »
Thanks Scott, I guess I am making NY style pizza and I'm just in denial!

Two more things, is the charing using a steel plate the same as a stone?
How long does the plate have to be pre-heated for?

txs
Danny

Offline scott123

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2011, 10:21:35 AM »
Danny, NY style pizza, if done well, can be a blissful experience :) As long as you're not working with 00 flour, 4 minutes can produce a phenomenal pie.

I haven't tested steel side by side with ceramic, but I'm certain that steel will produce the same charring as ceramic will during the same bake time. Steel's conductivity might cause it to deliver a little more heat towards the beginning of the bake and that initial surge might produce a tiny bit more charring, but I highly doubt the difference would be discernible.

Steel, because of it's conductivity, has the lowest pre-heat time of any hearth material.  It all depends on the oven, but 1/2" steel should have no problems pre-heating in 45 minutes.

I just noticed that you're doing 4 minute bakes with an 'inexpensive stone.'  This is with some sort of oven trick, correct?  What temperature are you pre-heating the stone to?

Offline Montreal_Pizza

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2011, 12:44:15 PM »
Hey Scott, I'm using regular bread flour. I agree the result is great!

I place my stone on the bottom rack of my oven and crank it to 550 deg for about 45 minutes.
I place 2 large metal pans on the rack right over the pizza stone to prevent heat from rising and reaching the thermostat. Basically I'm creating a little oven at the bottom of my oven. I,m assuming the heat reflects off the pans and cooks the top of the pizza.

I don't have an infrared thermometer so don't know how hot the stone gets but now you're making me curious..

Offline scott123

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2011, 02:13:03 PM »
Danny, the oven within an oven mod tends to work well for gas oven owners with no broiler in the main oven compartment, but, for electric oven owners who can hit 550, it's not ideal, as any kind of faux ceiling will have issues browning the top of the pizza during short bakes. Are you getting good color on top of the pizza in that 4 minutes?

An IR thermometer is a great addition to one's pizzamaking arsenal. Here's one that I recommend:

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/digital-infrared-thermometer-with-laser-sight-32-c-380-c-26-f-716-f-29079

Before you get the thermometer, though, I'd get some steel.  You'll be able to use the plate without temperature readings, because the oven's thermostat will be in play.  You can place it on an upper shelf, set the oven to 525, pre-heat the plate for 45 minutes, and, during the bake, use the broiler to brown the top a bit.  You'll also, because of the mass of the plate, be able to bake multiple pies without pulling too much heat from it, and, should you be baking a lot of pizzas, it will replenish quickly if you turn the bottom element on again.


Offline Montreal_Pizza

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2011, 12:14:29 PM »
Thanks Scott. I appreciate the advice.
I am getting good color.
I will take pics next time I make pizza which will be sometime soon.

Offline Montreal_Pizza

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2011, 08:14:03 AM »
Scott, I'm thinking of purchasing a steel plate. Does it require any maintenance?
txs

buceriasdon

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2011, 08:20:38 AM »
I never do much more than clean the excess flour off with a dry rag when the plate has cooled off. I seasoned my plate on both sides before use and have never had a rust problem and I live a block from the ocean in a very humid climate.
Don


Scott, I'm thinking of purchasing a steel plate. Does it require any maintenance?
txs

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2011, 10:10:17 AM »
Scott - Do you have a good internet source for steel plate, and is there a specific kind of steel that is necessary? Also, is there significant compromise with going 3/8in?

John


Offline scott123

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2011, 10:53:10 AM »
John, I always direct people towards local sources for plate, as the shipping can get expensive.  If you don't mind paying for shipping and want to save yourself the trouble of tracking down plate locally, then this place here seems to be pretty competitively priced:

http://www.onlinemetalstore.com/items/A36_Hot_Rolled_Steel_Plate.cfm

You're looking for hot rolled steel, also called 'mild steel.'

Since quite a few home ovens have a peak temp of 550, I strongly urge people to get 1/2" steel, since 550 + 1/2" steel will give you any bake time from 2.5 minutes up. Once you start trimming away the thermal mass, you're tossing the dice on bake times.  3/8" might give you a respectable 4 minute bake at 550, or it might not.  1/4" at 550 has failed to rise to the challenge, but the jury's still out on 3/8".   Scholarly speaking, it would be nice if someone did bite the bullet and test 3/8" but I don't think anyone wants to be the guy/girl that finds out it doesn't quite make the grade.

As much as I extol the virtues of steel every chance I get, I think it's important to be aware that it's not a one size fits all solution.  It is, based upon the number of people that like NY style pizza and who own electric ovens that will hit 550, a one size fits many, but not all. Theoretically, a thick enough piece should be able to do Neapolitan bakes (with close proximity to an electric broiler), but right now the only tried and true application where steel plate is thoroughly tested is for NY style in electric ovens that can reliably hit 525-550.

I should also mention that I'm working under the assumption that the plate purchaser wants a plate that can do relatively quick bakes without mods/tricks.  If you're open to tinkering and pushing your oven to, say, 625, then 1/4" plate should suffice for NY style. I've been brainstorming easier oven tricks lately, and I think I've come up with a way to get a half decent bake out of 1/4" plate, but, so far it's very preliminary and theoretical.

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2011, 12:24:57 PM »
Thanks so much for the information Scott. I can get a pizza stone up to 600 in my oven, which is gas, but have never really gotten a 3-4 minutes bake for NY out if it. I am thinking 3/8in steel might be what I am looking for. I want to do NY style, not NP, so this might be my best bet.

John

Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2011, 12:26:52 PM »
Scott - What is the difference in Shear, Laser or Plasma cut in that link?

John

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2011, 01:05:27 PM »
It is asking what method you want them to use to cut your material.  Shearing could leave a sharp edge you would cut your hand on.  Plasma and Laser would be a smooth edge.
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

buceriasdon

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2011, 05:34:44 PM »
In my Hamilton Beach countertop electric oven the plate after a half an hour preheat reads 544, it's maximum temp obtainable. I shaved two minutes off by switching to 3/8" plate from 3/16" plate. The plate is 2.5" below the two broiler heating elements.
Don

Offline Montreal_Pizza

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2011, 09:27:23 AM »
When you say seasoned the steel plate, you mean with veg oil like a cast iron pan?
txs!

Offline scott123

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2011, 12:40:46 PM »
Don, what bake times are you seeing with 544 and 3/8"? There's an element underneath the plate as well, correct? Are you using the bottom element for the preheat or a combination of bottom and top elements?

Danny, if you want to season the pan with veg oil, it's not going to hurt it, but, assuming you don't live near the ocean/near salty corrosive air, you shouldn't need to go through the trouble.

Offline Montreal_Pizza

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2011, 01:09:38 PM »
Thanks again Scott!

buceriasdon

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2011, 01:43:44 PM »
Danny, Scott is right on about you not needing to season the plate but don't wash it after the first cleaning with soap or dry it well if you do.
Don

When you say seasoned the steel plate, you mean with veg oil like a cast iron pan?
txs!

buceriasdon

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Re: Best pizza stone?
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2011, 02:07:33 PM »
Scott, I am now at just a tad over four minutes with a 65% hydration Mexican AP 10% protein flour dough. I have to rotate once during the bake. I get double the oven spring over the 3/16" plate also. I contribute this to the better heat retention when the dough hits the plate. I may at some time have the two plates welded together as I haven't found 1/2" around here locally. First I'm going to try some .070 copper sheet I have and see what it does.
Don