Author Topic: Permanent amature needs advice  (Read 1640 times)

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Offline ArmoredDragon

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Permanent amature needs advice
« on: July 02, 2013, 10:52:57 PM »
I want to make new york style pizza using an ordinary maytag electric oven. I'm not doing anything professional by any stretch, but I'd like to do things at least somewhat right. Trying to buy something on the cheap, ideally on Amazon because I have gift credit there.

Could I go wrong with this one?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000E2V3X/?tag=pizzamaking-20

I'm going to be using low sodium doughs if that makes a difference.


Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2013, 11:21:42 PM »
I think you're going to get pretty strong opinions that cast iron is not the way to go. I have a pizza stone and a steel plate. Both of those are better options.

And for what it's worth. I got my steel plate for cheaper than that.

Offline scott123

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2013, 11:29:17 PM »
AD, it all boils down to what kind of NY style pizza you're striving for.  If you want something golden brown and a bit crispy (similar to Little Ceasars but thinner) then this will work fine. If, on the other hand, you want a wider range of NY style bake times, then 1/2" steel plate is a better bet.

Steel and iron are not that dissimilar, the only real difference between the products we're recommending is thickness.  This pan, at only about 1/8", stores less heat and bakes the pizza slower than 1/2" steel plate will.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2013, 11:31:13 PM by scott123 »

Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2013, 02:00:06 AM »
I think you're going to get pretty strong opinions that cast iron is not the way to go. I have a pizza stone and a steel plate. Both of those are better options.

And for what it's worth. I got my steel plate for cheaper than that.

Hmm...how would one go about getting that?

FWIW I'm not much of a hands on kind of guy in the past - I'm an IT nerd who is just really into science, and ended up in an unfortunate medical situation that requires me to now cook all of my own food - which I'm starting to enjoy a bit.

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2013, 02:12:07 AM »
Hmm...how would one go about getting that?

FWIW I'm not much of a hands on kind of guy in the past - I'm an IT nerd who is just really into science, and ended up in an unfortunate medical situation that requires me to now cook all of my own food - which I'm starting to enjoy a bit.

Well you know, I guess it depends on where you live. But if you live in any type of somewhat main city you should be fine. The way I did was I just went into google maps and typed in steel and a bunch of metal working/steel places came up. I called one and gave dimensions and they quoted me $25. So I bought it. What you want is something about the same size as your oven rack and 1/2 inch thick. a36 hot rolled steel.

FYI this is all scott123's info I'm just sharing.

Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2013, 02:13:19 AM »
AD, it all boils down to what kind of NY style pizza you're striving for.  If you want something golden brown and a bit crispy (similar to Little Ceasars but thinner) then this will work fine. If, on the other hand, you want a wider range of NY style bake times, then 1/2" steel plate is a better bet.

Steel and iron are not that dissimilar, the only real difference between the products we're recommending is thickness.  This pan, at only about 1/8", stores less heat and bakes the pizza slower than 1/2" steel plate will.

I like doughy more than crispy, yet still have a slight crunch just on the outside (I think those are the right terms? I've found it hard to describe.) Little caesars is what I am aiming for, though not all little caesars seem to cook theirs exactly the same - some too soft, some too brown. There's this one by my house that does it perfect though - pizza exactly how I like it. What would be good enough for I guess what the ideal Caesars restaurant does? I'll take whatever that is.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 02:16:37 AM by ArmoredDragon »

Offline scott123

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2013, 02:53:09 AM »
FYI this is all scott123's info I'm just sharing.


 ;D It's all good, Jeff.  My ideas are open source licensed, so feel free to share at will  :-D

AD, 'hands on' can mean a few different things.  Is it hands on to make around 20 phone calls looking for the best price on steel and then taking a drive to pick it up? Is it hands on to sand down any sharp edges with sand paper? Is it hands on to soak the plate overnight in vinegar and give it a good scrubbing to remove the mill scale?

I'm not being facetious here.  There are folks on this forum who didn't want to go through that much work, and were willing to pay a premium not to.  If this sounds a little too diy for you, bakingsteel.com will do all the work for 4-5 times the price.  Personally, I think it's highway robbery for a minimal amount of labor, but, they sell a lot of plate. If you do go this route, I highly recommend a custom size to give you the largest square plate your oven can accommodate- and, for ease of handling, to cut it half (with the seam running parallel to the wall and front door).

I'm not completely crystal clear on your target crust description, but, having a pretty good idea of the gamut that LC can run, I think you'd be fairly safe with the cast iron. I noticed an article where they switched to faster baking conveyor ovens:

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/51505168/Little-Caesars-Approves-Middleby-Marshall-WOW!-Oven-%C2%AE-Technology

which could mean that they are baking pizza faster than what you can achieve on cast iron- but I sort of doubt it.  I really think you can hit your target pizza with the pan you linked to.

We have lots of members who join with very specific goals, reach those goals, and go no further, while we also have lots of members that get the bug and want to make every possible permutation of pizza.  If you end up being the latter, the cast iron will limit you.  If you're the former, though, the cast iron will give you a lifetime of LCish pies.

Edit: If you do have a Little Caesars that bakes the pizza just right, a little reconnaissance to ascertain their bake time wouldn't hurt. If you could find that out, I would be able to tell you with far greater certainty if cast iron can match it.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 02:59:07 AM by scott123 »

Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2013, 02:59:58 AM »
If it helps, and anybody knows the area, I'm in Mesa Arizona, part of the greater Phoenix area. I'll drive wherever I need to within the valley. I have some power tools I use for various things - mainly running wires for networks. A full dremel tool kit, for one.

I've taken college chemistry and physics, and part of that involves heat transfer and whatnot, so I think I see why you say steel is better. I think 1/2" might be overkill for my purposes (especially given the sheer weight of the thing) but 1/4" would probably do everything I need to do. Question is how cheap and how practical can I get it for.

Also given that I live in Arizona, having too much heat in the house poses a problem when you're trying to keep the electricity bill down, so it is a consideration to be able to keep the oven on for as short of a time period as possible. Heating up a 1/2" steel plate takes a lot more energy than a 1/4" plate. 1/8" would certainly require the least amount of energy, but I do like the thought of steel over cast iron nonetheless now that I think of the physics behind it. Of course, the science alone doesn't tell you everything though. In your mind, for real world purposes, would steel work noticeably better than cast iron even at 1/8"?

EDIT: Thought occurred - 3/16th (exactly halfway between 1/8" and 1/4") 18x18 steel plate can be had for $22 from a local shop I found online. I'm uncertain if the tools I have can be used to smooth the edges so that they aren't all sharp.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 03:37:24 AM by ArmoredDragon »

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2013, 03:38:06 AM »
One of my concerns about the cast iron would be the fact that you are going to have the load the pizza onto it cold. I don't think you will get the bottom texture to turn out very good doing it this way. I guess if you made 11-12" pizzas you could load them on with a peel after preheating, but any bigger than that and it seems like it would be a pain to get the pizza to fit perfectly, especially if you don't form perfectly round skins. Getting a plate would give you a ton of extra room to load nice sized pizzas, plus a better bottom to the pizza. However, if you have the money just purchase the cast iron pan and see what you think. $30 aint the end of the world.

Offline bradtri

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2013, 04:27:48 AM »
I have the lodge  cast iron that I used to use for oven pizzas and I thought it worked quite well.  It wasn't that hard to land a 13-14" pizza on it with a peel after it was preheated.  Since I've moved from my oven to my grill, the lodge now serves as a heat diffuser for my corderite stone.


Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2013, 01:32:07 PM »
Just FYI, I'm not aiming for fast cook time, but low power consumption is a goal. My monthly electricity bill is $300, and I'm trying to reduce that since I can't work right now. Having the oven on for shorter periods reduces not only the power needed for cooking, but the need for air conditioning to keep the house cool.

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2013, 03:42:02 PM »
Just FYI, I'm not aiming for fast cook time, but low power consumption is a goal. My monthly electricity bill is $300, and I'm trying to reduce that since I can't work right now. Having the oven on for shorter periods reduces not only the power needed for cooking, but the need for air conditioning to keep the house cool.

Steel will take a long to heat up. It also seems you aren't shooting for anything really difficult. So I would just get the cast iron and call it good. Heck just bake on cheap screen.

Offline scott123

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2013, 03:47:45 PM »
AD, do you have any kind of deck or back yard where you could put a propane grill?  The style of pizza you're shooting for should be pretty easy on an inexpensive grill and you wouldn't heat the house at all.

Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2013, 04:00:19 PM »
AD, do you have any kind of deck or back yard where you could put a propane grill?  The style of pizza you're shooting for should be pretty easy on an inexpensive grill and you wouldn't heat the house at all.

Yep, in fact I have a propane grill that I mostly use for steaks. Would that be better than my oven? I thought it was optimal if you have the pizza located close to an above heating element (i.e. top rack of an oven) but with a grill the heat is all on the bottom.

It can certainly get hotter. I actually found I have an easy means of obtaining a 16x16x3/16 steel plate as well.

Offline scott123

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2013, 04:34:12 PM »
Well, the typical problem of a grill for a home pizza baker is that, when you crank up the heat for fast bakes, the stone tends to get hot and burns the bottom of the pizza before the top is done.  When you turn the heat down a bit, though, as you're planning on doing, the heat balance issue tends to be resolved.

What you don't want in a grill/bottom heat setting, though, is steel.  Steel speeds up the rate at which the undercrust bakes, and, without a broiler, you're exacerbating your heat balance issue. The stone you purchase for an oven with a broiler won't be the ideal stone for a grill. When you get into grills, there's less of a one size fits all solution.

What kind of grill do you have and how hot does it get?

Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2013, 06:48:02 PM »
It's a char griller smoker propane grill. I think I've gotten it to somewhere between 600 and 650.

Offline scott123

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2013, 08:39:04 PM »
Alright, as with the indoor oven, getting a stone involves the easy, expensive route, or the more complicated cheaper way.

Costly/Easy

http://bakingstone.com/shop/barbecue_grill/

The 16" round version (if your grill can accommodate it) should have no problem giving you LC pies at 600-650.

Complicated/cheaper

Unglazed quarry tiles, if you can find them (sometimes Home Depot has them) should either match the fibrament results above or possibly improve on them.  Depending on how sturdy they are, though, they might need a lightweight pan underneath them (or maybe suspended under the shelf) to prevent direct contact from the heat.

This is something that's come to my attention only recently, but you can create a better atmosphere for baking pizza in a gas grill by lowering the ceiling with heavy duty foil. In the past I've steered clear of foil because of it's propensity for melting, but any sub 60K btu gas grill should be perfectly happy with it.

Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2013, 01:33:51 AM »
That sounds good. Would I need to season it? And how should I cook with that? Do I need to pre-cook the crust at all, or just heat the plate and then throw the whole pizza on with raw dough, sauce, cheese, toppings?

Offline scott123

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #18 on: July 04, 2013, 11:29:44 AM »
AD, which option are you referring to?

You don't need to season quarry tiles or a fibrament stone.  We've had one or two members who like to pre-cook the crust, but the vast majority top the raw dough and launch it off a peel onto the hot stone.

Dust a wooden peel with dusting powder (flour and/or semolina and/or corn meal)
'Open' the dough ball by pressing your fingers in it to form a disc
Edge stretch
Knuckle stretch
When the stretched 'skin' is the diameter you want, you place it on the peel.
Top with toppings (jiggling the peel occasionally to make sure the dough doesn't stick)
Launch
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 12:15:36 PM by scott123 »

Offline ArmoredDragon

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Re: Permanent amature needs advice
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2013, 09:31:29 PM »
I went to lowes to find the quarry tiles and didn't find anything. However they did point me to this guy, which I promptly bought:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_269578-47981-42283_0__?productId=4667409

Any thoughts before I start using it? I didn't already have a peel so it seems like a good deal for $20, I could return it if you guys think it would be no good. Not sure if some stones are better than others.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2013, 09:49:39 PM by ArmoredDragon »


 

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