Author Topic: Do steel plates really work better than stones?  (Read 2683 times)

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Offline dbarneschi

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Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« on: May 08, 2012, 03:08:26 PM »
I've been hearing more and more about using steel plates in home ovens and decided to give my local metal smith shop a call for a quote on a 1/2" X 14" X 16" hot rolled, mild steel, A-36 plate. Living in Boston, it seems that Metalsmiths, Inc. in Dorchester is my only option (from what I gathered by doing a Google search and making a number of calls - not many places seem to cut over 1/4"). The quote I got from Metalsmiths was $80 plus tax. A. Is this a fair price and B. Do steel plates really hold heat that much better than stones? FYI, I use the "broiler method" to cook my pies and underskirt charring has been an issue for me.


buceriasdon

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2012, 05:09:12 PM »
Please clarify. When you say you have issues with underskirt charring do you mean the bottom is burning before the top is done baking or the other way around, the bottom isn't done?
Don

Offline Ev

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2012, 08:14:07 PM »
You might do better at a scrap recycler, though it might not be as pretty. They could maybe cut you piece with a torch.
As for how well it works, I can't say. I will say that unless I can get a steel plate pretty much for free, my cordierite stone will do just fine. ;)

Offline communist

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2012, 09:09:03 PM »
I love 1/2 inch steel.  I got a 17 by 17 for $40 from a metal supply company.  I think the steel plate turns my electric oven with max temp of 530 into an stone oven that can hit 650.  I am very happy with my NY pies.  I do use electric broiler assist for 45 seconds during my approximately 4 minute bake.   Mark

Offline dbarneschi

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2012, 09:37:28 PM »
Please clarify. When you say you have issues with underskirt charring do you mean the bottom is burning before the top is done baking or the other way around, the bottom isn't done?
Don

Sorry, that wasn't very clear. The top of my pies finishes in under two minutes but the underskirt remains fairly pale. I would like to get more charring. Perhaps a steel plate can help me achieve this.

Offline Born2Bake

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2012, 11:03:48 PM »
As far as pricing goes. I have found that in Los Angeles, Ca it is generally ~$50/tax included for an A36 Hot Rolled Steel Plate 1/2"x18x18. Multiple estimates have returned this ballpark figure. So I would not pay more than that.

Oh and I would not get a used junk piece of steel. UNLESS you know what chemicals and use it has been through. Many people get toxins from chemicals from their steel drum barrels. They would just use them for BBQs and did not care what was in them before. That junk piece of steel may seem cheap, but medical bills are not. Your health is something you CANNOT repurchase. Good Luck!

Offline toddster63

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2012, 11:41:21 PM »
If you already have issues with the bottom of your pies scorching, or charring too much, steel probably won't make that issue any better, and in fact could make it worse. Steel holds heat better and faster than stone, and is ideal for those that want faster and hotter bakes in home ovens, as in under 550F. If you are already burning the bottom of your pies, you need to look somewhere else for solutions, IMHO. Maybe if you went with 1/4" steel, heck even 1/8", you might have better results, but...

I think maybe your issues might be better solved with lower preheat times and or dough formulations...? Maybe you can tell us more about your workflow and dough?

Offline dbarneschi

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 11:58:02 PM »
If you already have issues with the bottom of your pies scorching, or charring too much, steel probably won't make that issue any better, and in fact could make it worse. Steel holds heat better and faster than stone, and is ideal for those that want faster and hotter bakes in home ovens, as in under 550F. If you are already burning the bottom of your pies, you need to look somewhere else for solutions, IMHO. Maybe if you went with 1/4" steel, heck even 1/8", you might have better results, but...

I think maybe your issues might be better solved with lower preheat times and or dough formulations...? Maybe you can tell us more about your workflow and dough?

Actually, I would like to get more charring, and thus a steel plate may be a good thing for me to use.

Offline toddster63

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2012, 12:21:47 AM »
Actually, I would like to get more charring, and thus a steel plate may be a good thing for me to use.

Aaah, yes, I see... Yes, buy all means, steel would be ideal then. I really like some of the underskirt shots I have seen of pies on steel at under 550F. If someone isn't finding local steel, I found these rounds precut and ready to go on Ebay, if you can deal with 1/4" (though most will do better with 1/2"...) They also do custom work:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/320522082859?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#ht_1029wt_1165


scott123

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2012, 08:53:14 AM »
I've been hearing more and more about using steel plates in home ovens and decided to give my local metal smith shop a call for a quote on a 1/2" X 14" X 16" hot rolled, mild steel, A-36 plate.

My apologies if this has been previously discussed, but if there's any chance your oven can fit a larger plate, get a larger plate.


scott123

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2012, 08:55:43 AM »
I found these rounds precut and ready to go on Ebay, if you can deal with 1/4" (though most will do better with 1/2"...)

1/4" steel doesn't have the thermal mass to be viable in most home settings.  3/8" is even pushing it. These thickness only work in non standard 600+ oven temps.

scott123

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2012, 09:27:40 AM »
As for how well it works, I can't say. I will say that unless I can get a steel plate pretty much for free, my cordierite stone will do just fine. ;)

Steve, I know you're still feeling out what your new oven can do, but there's a chance the cordierite stone will top out at 5 minutes.  1/2" steel will get you a <3 minute bake, and, along with it, Neo-NY charring. Is a 3 minute bake time worth 30-70 bucks?  I don't know. Maybe not for most people, but for you, with your love of Neapolitan charring, it might be  ;D

Offline communist

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2012, 09:38:18 AM »
get a larger plate.
  Definitely.  My plate is 17 by 17.  18 by 18 is even better.  Just make sure it will fit your oven by cutting out a cardboard template, and trying that to make sure your oven door closes.  Mark

Offline Ev

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2012, 11:18:05 AM »
Steve, I know you're still feeling out what your new oven can do, but there's a chance the cordierite stone will top out at 5 minutes.  1/2" steel will get you a <3 minute bake, and, along with it, Neo-NY charring. Is a 3 minute bake time worth 30-70 bucks?  I don't know. Maybe not for most people, but for you, with your love of Neapolitan charring, it might be  ;D

 Scott, I'm really not trying to put down the steel plate thing. I just don't like fussing with the oven setup, shifting pies from shelf to shelf, turning the broiler on and off and all that stuff. I'm a "keep it simple" kind of guy. I love the way my stone bakes and I don't mind waiting 5 or 6 minutes for a pizza. If I want a 3 minute bake with char, I'll use my wfo. I guess that makes it easy for me. I wish everyone had that luxury. But, like I said, if I ran across an appropriate piece of steel for free or darn near free, I'd give it a shot.
I probably should stay out of this topic if I'm not going to try the steel plate. I don't mean to discourage anyone from trying new ideas.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 11:28:38 AM by Ev »

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2012, 02:47:54 PM »

I probably should stay out of this topic if I'm not going to try the steel plate. I don't mean to discourage anyone from trying new ideas.
   Sorry Steve.....I couldn't resist trying out my new idea !   :-D
....carry on.....

Bob
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Offline dbarneschi

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2012, 03:00:37 PM »
My apologies if this has been previously discussed, but if there's any chance your oven can fit a larger plate, get a larger plate.

I hear from folks that even 1/2" steel plates can be quite heavy (someone estimated my 14" X 16" plate to be ~40 lbs.). Won't a significantly larger plate pose a threat of breaking my oven rack?

Offline dbarneschi

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2012, 03:14:07 PM »
So I called around and it seems that A. Few places are able to (want to) cut 1/2" steel and B. Places here in New England charge significantly more for steel plates than elsewhere in the country. For a 16" X 14" X 1/2" hot rolled, A-36, mild steel plate, my estimates are as follows: $80, $60, $60, $55. With that said, I still have a few concerns. Is this size plate going to, for $55, make that much of a difference in underskirt charring? Using the "broiler method," where I place my stone ~2" from the broiler element and pre-heat for ~2 hours, I can get Nearly-ploitans out of my oven in under 2 minutes, but my pies do lack the necessary underskirt char. Also, regarding scott123's advice, how much of a difference will a larger plate make in performance? The plate would be quite expensive already, and I would have to see an 80 lb. plate break my oven rack. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions...

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2012, 03:36:13 PM »
Someone recently show a clever way to brace the rack, sorry I can't find the link right now. Also, Scott has documented how well the largest piece of steel works when there is only a small air space on the side of the plate for the heat to travel around...creating upper convection?...
Where is that link to" seriouseats" that diagrammed how the heat process works in a home oven using plates/stones?

Bob
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scott123

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Re: Do steel plates really work better than stones?
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2012, 06:33:47 AM »
Damian, an 18" x 18" x 1/2" steel plate weighs 45 pounds. As previously mentioned, think Thanksgiving turkey.  Oven shelves are generally made to be able to handle a 32 lb. bird + stuffing + veggies + pan.  All combined, that's not far from 45 pounds.

As far as bigger being better... if your aspirations are/will always be Neapolitan/Nearlypolitan, then 14 x 16 might be alright (I'd go 15 x 15 to give yourself a bigger target), but if you think there's a chance you might start making NY pies, you want the largest steel plate you can fit, because NY pizzas don't really start becoming NY pizzas unless they're 16" or larger.