Author Topic: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?  (Read 2925 times)

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Offline PizzaEater

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Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« on: November 19, 2013, 06:15:12 PM »
I'm going to be ordering a baking steel or at least have one made. I'm trying to decide on 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2". Given the added cost and weight of steel my question is this.

For home use how much better if any does a 1/2" preform over a 1/4", I'm guessing in a real word home kitchen that it's only marginally better at best. If there is anyone out there that has worked with both please post your findings.


Offline mbrulato

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2013, 07:21:28 PM »
PizzaEater,

I can only comment on 1/2" steel because that is what I have.  See this thread http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,27552.0.html. I thought about ordering from Stoughton but the salesman tried to talk me into ordering the wrong size for my oven.  It is a bit more cost effective to source it from a local steel fabricator and have the plate cut in two pieces.  This makes it easier to put it into the oven.

One thing to be sure is to measure the heck out of your oven and make a cardboard template of what you think you should order.  Then place into your oven to be sure the dimensions have been measured correctly and that the oven door closes properly.

I think the thickness you order really depends on how many pizzas you plan on making back to back.  The 1/2" will retain more heat than the 3/8" or 1/4" thicknesses.  I'm sure scott123 will chime in here to better explain the difference in thicknesses and which would be the best to suit your pizza making needs.  Good luck.

Mary Ann
Mary Ann

Offline PizzaEater

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2013, 07:50:45 PM »
I'm still debating on if I want to source locally. It in some parts of the country it's only a $20 savings. In others it can be as much as $80. Regardless I understand the idea of more mass equals more heat retention. It does not mean more heat.

The question is does that extra mass truly make that much difference? At some point there you reach a point of diminishing returns.

Offline communist

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 08:03:31 PM »
I vote 1/2 inch, buy local.   

Offline mbrulato

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2013, 08:34:29 PM »
I'm still debating on if I want to source locally. It in some parts of the country it's only a $20 savings. In others it can be as much as $80. Regardless I understand the idea of more mass equals more heat retention. It does not mean more heat.

The question is does that extra mass truly make that much difference? At some point there you reach a point of diminishing returns.

How many pies do you normally make?
Mary Ann

Offline Sartanely

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2013, 02:03:55 PM »
I have 16x1/2 baking steel and I think you need that if you are baking more than 3 pizzas or you have to Waite between bakes till the 1/4 steel reheats. It is little bit havy but is not that hard to move in and out for me.

Offline mbrulato

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2013, 03:11:58 PM »
I vote 1/2 inch, buy local.

 ^^^

My plates and steel bars cost $64 with tax.  The larger the better.  I went from having only a 14" depth in my oven due to lips on the racks to now being able to technically make a 17" pie.  That's a huge difference.
Mary Ann

scott123

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2013, 05:33:33 PM »
I'm still debating on if I want to source locally. It in some parts of the country it's only a $20 savings. In others it can be as much as $80. Regardless I understand the idea of more mass equals more heat retention. It does not mean more heat.

The question is does that extra mass truly make that much difference? At some point there you reach a point of diminishing returns.

The vast majority of people purchasing steel do so for faster bakes. Faster bake = more oven spring = puffier crust = better pizza (for some).  Within this paradigm, the mass of the steel makes a big difference.  Very roughly speaking, for a typical NY style dough (not that high oil/not that high sugar):

1/2" plate @ 550 = 3 minutes
3/8" plate @ 550 = 5 minutes
1/4" plate @ 550 = 7 minutes

Since one can get a cordierite kiln shelf that can do 7 minute bakes for around $40, that pretty much rules out the value of 1/4" plate.

As far as 3/8" or 1/2" goes, it all depends on how hot your oven gets.  If you're confident that, when pre-heated to 550, your oven will run a bit hot and actually end up closer to 575, then 3/8" should be fine.  Generally speaking, though, I recommend 1/2" because it's a good insurance policy. If the 1/2" is giving you too fast of a bake at 550, you can always turn the oven down to 525.  On the other hand, if the 3/8" isn't quite cutting it at 550, you're up the creek.

Now, this all being said, I took a look at some of your old posts and found a reference to a four minute bake time:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,8166.msg70316.html#msg70316

If you're already hitting 4 minutes, I'm not sure you need steel. This post goes back to 2009, so I'm not sure if you're using the same oven, but if it is, then you might want to pre-heat the oven to the max and see how hot it gets before you invest in steel.  If, say, your oven can hit 600, steel is unnecessary, imo.

There are diminishing returns with steel, btw, but they seem to occur above 1/2". 3/4", for instance, doesn't seem to show any advantage over 1/2".

Re; pricing.  To prevent boilover, the rim pretty much has to stay the same size, regardless of the size of the pizza.  This makes smaller pizzas pretty much all rim.  Non obsessives seem to be perfectly fine with rimmy pizzas, but if you're here and looking into steel, I highly recommend planning for a time where you're going to want to make authentically sized NY style pies- 16" and, if your oven can handle it, 18". 

I bring up sizing in the pricing discussion, because you really want to compare properly sized plates, as opposed to a measly stock 14 x 16 plate from Baking Steel vs. a 14 x 16 plate locally.  As Mary Ann pointed out, you want to sit down down at your oven and measure the living daylights out of it.  Once you have that exact dimension, then start comparing prices.  For Baking Steel, a custom cut 17ish x 17ish x 1/2" plate, with the additional cut down the middle (which you'll want for easier lifting) is around $140. As you can see from Mary Ann's price tag of ~$60, that's a pretty big savings.

When you start sizing the plate in a more realistic manner for authentic NY style pies, the savings increase dramatically.

Offline imstump

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2013, 07:21:52 PM »
Hello...  I've been lurking around here for years and just decided to try a steel plate and saw this post.

I hope I'm not too late for the OP!  Try Craigslist.  I immediately got a few responses and firmed up a 15x18x1/2 piece of A36 hot rolled plate that the guy will cut in half, clean all edges and then remove the scale for only 30 bucks.  He says at that size it's scrap and his boss doesn't mind him making a little money on the side if it takes a little time.  Picking it up in the morning.  Looking forward to digging into all of the info in this forum around this technique.

Good luck!


Offline ged92781

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2013, 02:10:38 AM »
I have a standard 1/4" Baking Steel for my home oven. Works great for what I do with it. I also run a pizza fundraiser for my parish church and ordered 6 custom Baking Steels sized at 16 1/2" x 16 1/2" x 1/4" to be able to make a larger pizza. They work well. I do wonder if getting a thicker one would have helped with either baking time or consistency due to heat loss. Still, they work well I think.


Offline PizzaEater

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2014, 11:59:25 PM »
I chose a 17"x16"x3/8" steel cut locally. $35 for the plate and $10 for sand blasting. Made 5 pies so far, the best preheated 1 hour under broiler and baked at 4 min. Perfect!

New house, new ovens, baked at 7200'.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 12:02:06 AM by PizzaEater »

Offline szmaine

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2014, 06:29:38 PM »
My 2 cents worth...if you have an oven that runs hot a 1/4 will do for the average home cook. My oven that came with the house, 80's vintage Magic Chef, run 50 degrees too hot....an oven thermometer and my IR thermometer agree on about 625 after 1 Hour, oven set to bake and temp set to broil. I can turn out an excellent pizza (to us) in 5 min but the second will be slower without at least a 5 minute reheat. If you have a similar stove...1/4 in is easier by far to lift, and if you are lucky enough to have a local steel supplier, very economical...mine was about $13 for a 22x18 scrap (would have had a 7.50 cut charge except the fellow that trimmed it didn't charge me for that).
I leave mine on the bottom rack when not in use and have observed that every bird I have cooked since has been exceptionally better, fall off the bone perfection, several roasters and 2 turkey's later... I have no idea why, but it's true.

Offline quixoteQ

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2014, 02:09:24 PM »
My steel, relatively new, is 3/8", and I'm using a standard gas oven with a whimpy 500 degree max/top element broiler.  I made my first batch of pizzas in this setup last night, and I preheated the steel for a full 90 minutes at 500.  Ten minutes before putting the pizzas in, I turned on the broiler.

It didn't work very well.  I'm not sure I know what the problem was, but the results consisted of an excellently cooked top with reasonable blistering (no leoparding, though) and a chalky bottom.  Also, toward the center of the pie the dough came out gummy in places.

Somehow I need to get the steel hotter.  If I preheat the steel with the broiler for significantly longer, how much hotter can i get that thing?
Josh

Offline mbrulato

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2014, 02:12:20 PM »
How long do you let the dough sit at room temperature before you bake?  If the dough is cold fermented and it doesn't have sufficient time to come up to RT, it can have a gum line.
Mary Ann

Offline quixoteQ

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2014, 03:04:52 PM »
How long do you let the dough sit at room temperature before you bake?  If the dough is cold fermented and it doesn't have sufficient time to come up to RT, it can have a gum line.

This batch sat in the fridge for about 54 hours, then I brought it to RT for just under three hours before baking. 

ETA: I also let the dough sit at RT for about 12 hours before the cold ferment . . . I'm not sure whether that's helpful or not. 
« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 03:10:44 PM by quixoteQ »
Josh

Offline ptix

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2014, 07:00:53 PM »
Would there be any differences in baking quality between using two 1/4 inch steel plates stacked vs one 1/2 inch plate  ?

Offline Kale dog

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2014, 11:49:01 PM »
Would there be any differences in baking quality between using two 1/4 inch steel plates stacked vs one 1/2 inch plate  ?

Nope it'l just be way easier and less chiropractor bills ahead of you :)
*Sigh*

Offline caymus

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Re: Pizza Steel - 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2"?
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2014, 05:16:48 AM »
Would there be any differences in baking quality between using two 1/4 inch steel plates stacked vs one 1/2 inch plate  ?

In theory no, but they would need to be PERFECTLY flat.  Any air gaps between the plates would act as  extremely good insulators and defeat the purpose of thicker plates. 


 

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