Author Topic: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate  (Read 4391 times)

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Offline bradtri

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Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« on: August 25, 2012, 08:18:20 PM »
Here's our first pizza using a Big Steel Keg after adding a 1/4" steel plate in the top to provide more radiant heat.  Started with the plate pretty high (about 6") above the pizza and it didn't seem to actually help brown the top faster, although we got much better spring from the dough.  We all thought this was our best pizza yet.  Dough was Reinhart's Neo-Neopolitan adjusted to 65%.  Next time I'll lower the top plate another 2" and I will probably switch to a regular stone instead of the cast iron stone for the pizza. 

It was a 4 minute cook, after 2 minutes, I needed to put the screen underneath to keep the bottom from getting too far along.  Stones were at about 650F for the cook.

Whaddya all think?



Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 10:19:34 AM »
Looks nice, good work with the lid mod. 

For 650 temps, you might try a NY recipe.  More salt, sugar and oil than a Neo recipe, better results at that temp.

Rock on!
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline Lance

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 01:32:30 PM »
looks good I use a steel keg also and browning has all ways been hard to get. I cook my pizza's on a stone, I have used the cast iron pizza pan before, but it seemed to cook the bottom to fast for me, now my pizza is about 3 inches or so higher than yours, when I cook it. Al thought I haven't tried the cast iron pan since I moved the pizza up higher in the BSK.
Lance

Offline bradtri

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 10:29:38 PM »
Lance,
    I tried another batch tonight.  I lowered my top steel plate about two inches (it's now about 4" above the stone) and went with a regular stone for the pizza.  The regular stone did a much nicer job without burning the crust.  I was able to do a 4 minute bake producing a nicely browned bottom and the top crust was developing brown spots.

   I'm really impressed with how nicely the crust is developed throughout the entire pizza.  Frankly, I really don't care for the soggy, thin centers that I've gotten at "authentic" Neopolitan restaurants.

   This coming weekend I'm going to do a 5 pizza bake to see how good of a workflow I can get going with me shaping the pizzas and my son doing the baking.  During cooking the stone goes from about 630 down to about 500, so I need to do some monitoring to see how soon the stone gets back up to temp.

  I've got a work reunion at my house in a few weeks and I'd need to bake 10 pizzas to feed the group.   Do you think I can run that many pizzas through the BSK and have it still keeping the temp at 650?  I'm guessing the total elapsed time for cooking would be about 90 minutes. 

brad


Offline pizza dr

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 11:29:04 PM »
  Frankly, I really don't care for the soggy, thin centers that I've gotten at "authentic" Neopolitan restaurants.


Amen... soggy thin centers aint authentic neapolitan. 

Offline Lance

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2012, 12:34:33 AM »
Lance,
    I tried another batch tonight.  I lowered my top steel plate about two inches (it's now about 4" above the stone) and went with a regular stone for the pizza.  The regular stone did a much nicer job without burning the crust.  I was able to do a 4 minute bake producing a nicely browned bottom and the top crust was developing brown spots.

   I'm really impressed with how nicely the crust is developed throughout the entire pizza.  Frankly, I really don't care for the soggy, thin centers that I've gotten at "authentic" Neopolitan restaurants.

   This coming weekend I'm going to do a 5 pizza bake to see how good of a workflow I can get going with me shaping the pizzas and my son doing the baking.  During cooking the stone goes from about 630 down to about 500, so I need to do some monitoring to see how soon the stone gets back up to temp.

  I've got a work reunion at my house in a few weeks and I'd need to bake 10 pizzas to feed the group.   Do you think I can run that many pizzas through the BSK and have it still keeping the temp at 650?  I'm guessing the total elapsed time for cooking would be about 90 minutes.  

brad




Brad
  that's kinda what I had happen to me when I tried using the the cast iron pan, the bottom would be done to soon. I too have noticed that the stone does cool down fast after you cook your first pizza, they just don't hold the heat that well. I would say that the stone temp comes back up pretty fast, I have done 4 pizza's on the same night. I think I had like 10 mins between bakes.

 I would say as long as you have enough lump in the barbecue it will stay hot, most of the time, for me it keeps getting to hot, so I have to do some minor adjustment, cause when it goes to like 750 its a little to warm, I have cooked that high but its easy to burn the bottom.

 I think 10 pizza's can be done on the BSK, it holds the heat for a long time.
Lance



« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 08:31:17 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline nzpizzaeater

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2012, 07:03:34 AM »
I am glad to see some pizzas from the BSK on here. Me and mate in NZ purchased Bubba Kegs on close out over the last month (this kind of bbq is rare in nz) and have experimenting with pizzas. This is my third attempt, been doing 6 pizzas per session..I have learnt quite a lot with each cook, I have found the first couple of pizzas haven't been that great but the the last couple of pizzas have been fantastic. In the future I am going let the pizza stone heat up for a bit longer before I start. 

As long as you have enough lump in there I can't see you having a problem knocking out 9... I have not been that organised and temp after the 6th one has still been cranking over 700.

Question, how have you attached that plate?

Offline bradtri

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2012, 07:17:36 PM »
NZ-man,
   The plate is hanging from two pieces of threaded rod which go up through the vent on top of the grill.  There are washers and nuts above and below to keep it tight.  It does not move at all when I open the lid and surprisingly the weight is not that noticeable.  The one big disadvantage of hanging the plate this way is that you cannot shut the vent at the end of cooking without dealing with some very hot wingnuts on top of the grill.  I've settled for putting a stainless steel mixing bowl inverted over the top of the vent to shut off the air flow.  The big advantage of using the threaded rod is the ability to easily adjust the height of the plate.

   On the down side, I don't feel like I'm getting as much benefit from the plate as I had hoped.  I've got it down to within 3-4 inches of the pizza stone and am still not getting the amount of top browning I would like.  However, it does seem to have reduced my cooking time by 30-45 seconds.

   I took a step backwards last night in my pizzas.  I think the problem was that I dumped the rest of a bag of charcoal in and it was mostly composed of very fine particles.  I think this severely restricted the air flow.  The temp stayed between 550 and 600 the whole time.

   The good news is that I'm starting a new bag so I've got nice chunks to put in there.

   For my upcoming party, I've decided to bake three pizzas without serving and throw them in the oven upstairs just to keep warm.  Then, when the 4th pizza is coming off the grill, I can serve all four at once which will help me stay ahead of the game.  I'm sure some here will cringe at keeping the warm in the oven, but I think it will help minimize the time people are waiting.

   I haven't been over 700 yet with my BSK, so maybe I need to add some more charcoal??

Offline bradtri

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2012, 07:28:13 PM »
Here's a couple from Saturday night:


Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2012, 08:02:56 PM »
Pizzas look good!
 
That said, I'm going to have to smack you upside the head.  What the hell are you thinking, prebaking pizzas?  Half the fun for your guests is watching you flail and struggle to make them an epicurean delight.  Don't prebake, just involve your guests in the process.  Let them pick their own toppings, DON"T let them get in the damn way, and show off your skills!

 
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.


Offline mishon

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2012, 10:44:16 AM »
Your last two, in particular, look the best.  How did they taste?
"There can't be good living where there is not good drinking." —Benjamin Franklin

Offline bradtri

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2012, 09:46:29 AM »
Of course I'm biased, but I think they're pretty darn good.  I can say with a fair amount of honesty that I've never had better.

I did a "trial run" for my upcoming party last night where we baked five pizzas.  After an hour 20 minute preheat, I was at my hottest temp for cooking ever, at just over 700F and I was using a new cordierite stone that is 15" so it's much easier to fit my 13-14" pies.  The first pizza had a bit of scorching on the bottom, primarily where I think the dough must have had a wet spot.

What I found out though, was that my coals started petering out as the bakes went on.  By the fifth pizza, the grill temp was down to 600F and the stone wouldn't come back up above 575F which took the bake to 5 minutes.  Post-bake inspection showed that the coals had burned down pretty good.

I need to do 10-12 pizzas next weekend.  Here's my plan.  After the initial one hour preheat, I'm going to (very carefully) lift out the stone and grate and dump in another 2-3 pounds of lump before starting to bake to hopefully give me enough fuel to crank out the 10-12 pizzas.  Any other ideas for the best way to get enough coal in there to last the whole bake?  I don't want to put more in at the start as I really don't want to get too hot.  I'm preferring pizzas baked in the 600-650 range.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2012, 10:44:37 AM »
If your grate doesn't have a swing-up portion for adding charcoal, you could pretty easily make a grate-lifting tool so that you can pry up one side of the grate just far enough to sling in some more coal.  Use a long-bladed spade if you want to drop coals on the other side of the charcoal grate.   

You'll need to time how long one load takes to burn 3/4 way down.  Thats when you add another 1/2 load.  Then another when that has likewise burned 3/4.
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline bradtri

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Latest modification to simplify adding charcoal
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2012, 06:43:05 PM »
Here's a pic  of my latest modification to simplify adding charcoal.  I bolted a couple "square bolts" to the grate on my grill.  With these, I can just lift everything up and to the side briefly while I have someone else pour in a container of extra charcoal.  I figure we can add the charcoal quick enough that there will be almost no cooling down of the stone and just a little on the grill.  No more than putting in or taking out a pizza.

Offline nzpizzaeater

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2012, 11:42:45 PM »
Yeah, you really have to fill it up with charcoal to keep the temperature cranking for a long period without topping up .. My last attempt I had the first two pizzas at 700 then the rest dropped down progressively even with the vents wide open.

Are you placing your pizza stone right on top of the cast iron, ""diffuser" for want of a better word?

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2012, 11:32:42 AM »
You may want to replace your top steel plate with a corderite stone, steel does not radiate heat as good as ceramic. You can drill holes using ceramic/glass drill bit. Start with a smaller bit to lager bit gradually to prevent cracking the stone.
Bert,

Offline bradtri

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2012, 03:59:35 PM »
nzpizzeater - you can't tell from the picture, but there are four iron "pipe couplers" standing on end acting as a spacers between the cast iron and the pizza stone.  I haven't tried placing it directly on, do you think that would work better?  My guess is that it would help keep the stone from cooling off so much during a pizza bake and subsequently heat back up quicker.

MPO - interesting thought about using corderiete for the top plate.  I wish I could find a local supplier, the shipping costs were a bit much for the 15" stone I just purchased.  I've got a several years old 13" pizza stone (Pampered Chef, I think) but I'm not sure of the material.  Any thoughts as to whether it would be able to stand up to drilling holes?

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2012, 04:10:30 PM »
I'm pretty sure the Pampered Chef stone is a fibrament clone.  It might be wildly overpriced, but it's not your $20 Wal-Mart stone either.  It should be able to stand up to being drilled and hung with a bolt and large washer. Just try to not put any tension on it when bolting it.

Definitely lose the spacers.  You want the iron and the stone to be total contact for best heat transfer.  In fact, I would reverse the stacking order, putting the iron on top of the stone, if it doesn't have "feet" or something on the bottom of it.  You will get faster bakes, and with a stone in your dome within 2" of the top of the pie, you will get good top/bottom balance and really fast recharge time.


I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2012, 05:23:42 PM »
MPO - interesting thought about using corderiete for the top plate.  I wish I could find a local supplier, the shipping costs were a bit much for the 15" stone I just purchased.  I've got a several years old 13" pizza stone (Pampered Chef, I think) but I'm not sure of the material.  Any thoughts as to whether it would be able to stand up to drilling holes?

You may try to order klin shelf.  In my early stages of MPO design, I did this home made prototype. Using 1 Elevator bolt 5/8", to support the stone to the center of the cover.
Bert,

Offline bradtri

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Re: Big Steel Keg pizza using top steel plate
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2012, 08:49:20 PM »
I suppose I should probably switch over to the NY Pizza forum as that's where it seems my pizzas more closely resemble.

But, I wanted to report on the success of our party this weekend.

I made two suggestions as recommended - I put the stone directly on the cast iron pan.  The result was impressive.  The stone would only drop from 650 down to 600 during a 4 minute cook.  Basically, I could just about put another pizza in within a minute or two. 

Second, I added more charcoal right at the beginning of cooking and that really kept things going.  With that method, I think I could pretty much cook non-stop for several hours, with the only restriction being how much the ash built up underneath and began to restrict airflow.

Below are a few pics to share.  You'll note the screen under the pizza.  With the stone at 650, I generally needed to put the screen under the bottom after two minutes to keep it from getting too dark while the top cooked another two minutes.  Next step is to mount a stone instead of a steel plate in the top to see if that reduces the time needed to cook the top.

All in all, I was very happy with how things turned out.  (Although, the general public can sometimes be a little uninformed about pizza as one guy was telling me how great his quick pizzas that he makes using flour tortillas are ... blech!!)