Author Topic: Kenji likes the baking steel  (Read 26058 times)

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scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2012, 11:41:37 AM »
Regardless, it's great that the idea is now out there and not just us pizza freaks  :-D

Steel is not a magical material that automatically bakes superior pizza.  1/2" steel, in certain settings (electric, 550 deg.) can't be beat, but 1/4" steel is only feasible for a small portion of oven owners.  1/4" steel is a bad idea. It was bad when Nathan and Chris included it in the advertising for Modernist Cuisine and it continues to be bad. When bad ideas get propagated, it's anything but great.


Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2012, 11:50:49 AM »
How about 1/4" steel on top of a baking stone? 
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2012, 11:55:10 AM »
Marc, the very first thing a Neapolitan obsessive like yourself should do when changing over to an electric oven, is to take a long hard look at the broiler specs.  Wattage, number of passes, coil thickness.  If you're one of those lucky 1 in 200 people who has a broiler strong enough to do Neapolitan, then you should be buying a stone that can do Neapolitan as well, ideally without modding.  If you fall into the group of 199, then the stone selection changes up a bit.

As you move into non Neapolitan bake times, steel has a considerable edge over SiC.  It's quite a bit heavier, but it's less expensive and has a far more proven track record.  You can find a metal distributor, and $40 or so later, you'll be baking beautiful 3-6 minute NY style pies- guaranteed. On the SiC side, you could, in theory, spend $100 on a shelf, and bring it home only to find out that the 5/8" thickness (on the 16" square shelf) doesn't have sufficient thermal mass for 3 and 4 minute bakes. Lightness is nice, but guarantees are better.

I'm not completely ruling out stacking the 5/8" SiC with something else (such as lighter weight steel), but that's uncharted territory as well.

I've contacted a few ceramic suppliers/kiln shelf manufacturers in hopes that I can find a happy medium of lightness, thermal mass and conductivity, and I'm relatively optimistic, but it's going to be a process- my guess is 6 months at least.

So, for now, for a lightly charred 3 minute bake, with enough leeway in temp to allow for some broiling during the bake, 1/2" steel is king.

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2012, 11:58:43 AM »
How about 1/4" steel on top of a baking stone?

I've been giving a tremendous amount of thought to stacking, and, while I think there are some materials that might work in this regard, whenever you stack, there's always the chance for a gap between non flat stones/plates. The moment you have air, you have the potential for uneven heating.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2012, 12:04:00 PM »
Graphite adhesive would take care of that gapping problem.  I can see 1/4" or 1/8" warping, and lamination seems to be the way to go.

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

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #30 on: August 30, 2012, 12:13:15 PM »
Sorry, Brian, I had forgotten that we've already discussed this.

While I'm sure that graphite adhesive could take the heat, I'm not sure how much conductivity it brings to the table.  I also can't find any graphite adhesive that's reasonably priced. Unless you could get it for less than $20, it would make for a very expensive setup.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #31 on: August 30, 2012, 12:27:04 PM »
Taking us back to the "L on the forehead" moment...

Seriously, if someone wanted to manufacture just such a laminated baking surface, the key elements would be cheap in quantity.

A. $21 Kiln stone, square (bleh, all I could find) http://www.axner.com/cordierite-shelf-16x16x34square.aspx
B. piece of 1/8" steel cut to same size - price will vary, get a big roll and cut it? Depends on your tooling.
C. Graphite adhesive @ $85 per quart (use about 2 oz each product) http://ceramaterials.com/graphitecement.html

Whaddaya say Scott?  Wanna get some quotes outta China?  Or get a prototype made?


Key benefits:
1. higher heat transfer rate than just a kiln stone
2. far higher heat retention than 1/8" steel
3. overall lighter weight than 1/2" steel

« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 12:38:02 PM by pizzaneer »
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline akuban

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #32 on: August 30, 2012, 12:36:35 PM »
Whaddaya say Scott?  Wanna get some quotes outta China?  Or get a prototype made?

DO IT!
¡Hasta la pizza!

enter8

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #33 on: August 30, 2012, 12:41:29 PM »
Steel is not a magical material that automatically bakes superior pizza.  1/2" steel, in certain settings (electric, 550 deg.) can't be beat, but 1/4" steel is only feasible for a small portion of oven owners.  1/4" steel is a bad idea. It was bad when Nathan and Chris included it in the advertising for Modernist Cuisine and it continues to be bad. When bad ideas get propagated, it's anything but great.

Struggling to find where I made any sort of comment on thickness. Just trying to keep it positive and appreciate how far we've already come that folks are even talking about this. I get that you're passionate about it and I get that youve put a lot into this whole steel thing - doing all the experimentation with steel etc. I was just expressing how cool it was  that a wider circle of people are talking about and working on it now.


scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2012, 12:46:45 PM »
Whaddaya say Scott?  Wanna get some quotes outta China?  Or get a prototype made?

Actually, I just shot off an email to a Chinese kiln shelf manufacturer last night.

A lot of the members in that part of the world say some pretty disparaging things about Chinese manufacturer's commitment to quality and safety. I'm going to see if they'll test their shelves for heavy metals before I commit to buying anything, but it's a long shot.

Adam, if you're worried about remnant nastiness on sanded down to the bare metal steel, you shouldn't be going anywhere near Chinese kiln shelves of unknown origin. Unless you're talking about combining two domestic materials.

This is pretty wild conjecture, but I kind of like the idea of aluminum powder mixed with tin powder.  At pizza baking temps, the tin would melt, but there would be enough aluminum to keep it from flowing- kind of like a milk and confectioner's sugar icing.  Just think pizza stone Oreo :)

I'm also not completely giving up on plain old crushed pencil lead.  That stuff is complete non toxic.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 12:48:31 PM by scott123 »

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2012, 12:55:18 PM »
Graphite adhesive would take care of that gapping problem.  I can see 1/4" or 1/8" warping, and lamination seems to be the way to go.



I don't think 1/4" would warp at 600-700.  It would need to be cut with a water jet and not a plasma torch though.  Why not use some small stainless bolts and just bolt them together?  I would think 4 would be plenty.
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #36 on: August 30, 2012, 01:00:47 PM »
I don't think 1/4" would warp at 600-700.  It would need to be cut with a water jet and not a plasma torch though.  Why not use some small stainless bolts and just bolt them together?  I would think 4 would be plenty.

How about 1/8"?  If the stone is providing the thermal sink, then why waste the metal?

Actually, I just shot off an email to a Chinese kiln shelf manufacturer last night.

A lot of the members in that part of the world say some pretty disparaging things about Chinese manufacturer's commitment to quality and safety. I'm going to see if they'll test their shelves for heavy metals before I commit to buying anything, but it's a long shot.

Adam, if you're worried about remnant nastiness on sanded down to the bare metal steel, you shouldn't be going anywhere near Chinese kiln shelves of unknown origin. Unless you're talking about combining two domestic materials.

This is pretty wild conjecture, but I kind of like the idea of aluminum powder mixed with tin powder.  At pizza baking temps, the tin would melt, but there would be enough aluminum to keep it from flowing- kind of like a milk and confectioner's sugar icing.  Just think pizza stone Oreo :)

I'm also not completely giving up on plain old crushed pencil lead.  That stuff is complete non toxic.

No, no, get the prototype made locally, out of KNOWN materials.  That way, there is a quality spec to hold the manufacturer to. 

IDK about the oreo adhesive... why not use something that has been already used for the application?  Simple is better...
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #37 on: August 30, 2012, 01:02:15 PM »
Gene, I don't think any of the materials we're looking at are at a risk of warping at the temps we're baking at.  What I'm thinking about is any potential unevenness from the factory.

It just occurred to me that the two materials could have varying rates of thermal expansion.  Bolts might not be friendly in that regard. Just to be safe, I think the thermal compound should have some flexibility.

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #38 on: August 30, 2012, 01:06:40 PM »
What happened to the guy that used to be here that made the kiln shelves?
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #39 on: August 30, 2012, 01:08:23 PM »
Gene, I don't think any of the materials we're looking at are at a risk of warping at the temps we're baking at.  What I'm thinking about is any potential unevenness from the factory.

It just occurred to me that the two materials could have varying rates of thermal expansion.  Bolts might not be friendly in that regard. Just to be safe, I think the thermal compound should have some flexibility.

Precisely, Scott.  It's not a metal warping in a vacuum, after all, but being exposed to high heat on one side and not the other during preheat, and then the opposite happens every time the oven door opens during baking.  Lots of relative thermal shock.   The graphite adhesive has flexibility to it.
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline Pappy

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2012, 01:15:25 PM »
I think this product has been mentioned before on another thread, but it is worth bringing up again:

http://www.amazon.com/Cadco-CAP-H-Half-Pizza-Plate/dp/B003TSTBA0/?tag=pizzamaking-20

Dimensions are right, tho only 1/4 inch thick.  Nonstick aluminized steel alloy, weighs only 8 1/2 pounds.  Claims a 4-5 minute bake in the Cadco convection oven, which only gets to 500 degrees according to posted stats.  Priced decent at $60.50.  I may purchase one.  If it does what it says it does, the baking steel thingamajig is already obsolete. 

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2012, 01:24:33 PM »
IDK about the oreo adhesive... why not use something that has been already used for the application?  Simple is better...

What appeals to me most about my untested food options is food safety.  I know that the thermal compound should never come in contact in with food, but I'd feel more comfortable if it was food safe.  Here's what's in graphite adhesive:

http://ceramaterials.com/images/MSDS_-Graphite_Adhesive.pdf

Btw, I crunched the numbers for 1/8" steel and 3/4" cordierite and, at 16" it's 14 lb lb. lighter than 1/2" steel (22 lb. vs. 36 lb.) but, for the light-ish weight Axner stone, it's got slightly less heat capacity (276K joules for 1/2" vs. 222K for the combo).  It won't be quite as light (31 lb. for the combo) or as inexpensive, but I think 1/4" steel is the way to go. Either that or maybe a (hopefully) denser cordierite-mullite shelf.


scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2012, 01:34:30 PM »
What happened to the guy that used to be here that made the kiln shelves?

He didn't stick around.  Here today, cone tomorrow :)

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #43 on: August 30, 2012, 01:40:37 PM »
I think this product has been mentioned before on another thread...

This is what Ron (Meatballs) is using:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12887.msg191547.html#msg191547

He only gets reasonable bake times, though, by stacking.  I think that 4-5 minute bake time claim is a bit off.  Or, at least, it hinges completely on convection.  A hearth with this little thermal mass has to rely on heat from the bake element during the bake. Without convection, the heat doesn't feed fast enough.

I still wouldn't completely trust it, though, even with convection.

Stacking, sure, but once you get into stacking, I think the price becomes less competitive.

Offline Essen1

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #44 on: August 30, 2012, 01:44:44 PM »
This an interesting thread. I'm anxious to see where it goes.

I've had good results with both, a kiln shelf and a steel plate, and combining those two may just end up in the ultimate baking surface for home ovens.

Mike

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

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #45 on: August 30, 2012, 02:05:07 PM »
The other aspect of graphite adhesive that just occurred to me is permanence. While a 1/4" steel/3/4" cordierite combo is, at 31 lb., not that much lighter than 1/2" steel, you're basically talking about 2 stones that are each half that.  If the stones aren't connected, they should be far easier to remove from the oven.

Silicon carbide has a massive edge in the stacking scenario as well.  From what I understand, it's always manufactured using a dry press process, making it exceptionally flat. Because of it's extreme conductivity, you could combine 5/8" with 1/8" steel, end up with a low-ish heat capacity payload (206K joules), but have a much more effective heat transfer, resulting in something very 1/2"ish.   It would also pre-heat in no time.  The only downside is the combined price tag of $120-ish.

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #46 on: August 30, 2012, 02:12:36 PM »

 I'm going to see if they'll test their shelves for heavy metals before I commit to buying anything, but it's a long shot.


Scott, If these shelves were not inteded for food service they may not have done any test. Any Chineese pizza stones manufacturer who sold to US they should have a certifcate indicating they comply with FDA.
Bert

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #47 on: August 30, 2012, 02:15:50 PM »
How hot the 1/2" steel plate get? and how long it takes to reach taht temp?
Bert

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #48 on: August 30, 2012, 02:17:05 PM »
Scott, I  get your point re easier to handle stacked pcs. And conduction, and food safety.

Well, that pretty much makes the commercial opportunity I had brief fantasies about fly away...

unless bolted-together but still lightweight has any merit, or even some merit
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

scott123

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Re: Kenji likes the baking steel
« Reply #49 on: August 30, 2012, 02:32:23 PM »
How hot the 1/2" steel plate get? and how long it takes to reach taht temp?

Steel plate gets no hotter than any other hearth material. It just has the ability to store more heat, because of it's mass, and transfer that heat more quickly than most materials, because of it's conductivity, producing shorter bake times.

It depends on the oven, but I'd say that most 1/2" steel plate owners preheat their plates in under 70 minutes.