Author Topic: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?  (Read 287 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline canadave

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 716
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Beach Meadows, Nova Scotia, Canada, Earth
help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« on: May 09, 2015, 09:16:08 AM »
I finally bought my baking steel--3/8" thick, 17" square.  Now I'm trying to bake pizza on it, and I'm having some problems that maybe folks here can help with.

My oven goes to 500 degrees, but with its calibration setting, I can get it up to 530 degrees.  So two times now, I've baked pizza, and I'm not getting the blackened effect I was kind of hoping for:

ATTEMPT 1
I placed the steel on the very top rack (about 2-3 inches from the broiler element).  Preheated at 530 for 45 minutes, then turned the broiler on and placed the dressed pizza in the oven.  Cheese was pretty done in about 5 minutes, so removed it. The underside of the crust was mostly light-coloured, with some light brown areas.  The top crust was light-coloured.

ATTEMPT 2
Steel on rack level lower (about 5-6 inches from the broiler element).  Preheated at 530 for 40 minutes, then switched to broiler for another 10 minutes, then placed the dressed pizza in the oven.  Cheese was done again in about 5 minutes.  Same result--underside of crust light coloured, some light brown areas, light-coloured top crust.  No leoparding, no spotting, not even any real darkening.

So I guess I'm not doing this right, and I'm open for suggestions :)  I know that since my oven only gets to 530, I won't get true leoparding, but I was hoping for at least some darkening.  My pizzas looked nothing like what Kenji was getting here...I know his oven goes to 550, but I didn't think the extra 20 degrees would explain the total difference in appearance:
http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html

Sorry I don't have any pics to share.  Anyway, hopefully someone can give me some suggestions as to how to improve the final pizza product and get some darkening happening on the crust.


Online Jersey Pie Boy

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: New Jersey
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2015, 09:42:28 AM »
Canadave,

Not a steel expert here, but baked a lot of pies on both 1/4 and 1/2.    I have my steel about 7-8 inches from top of oven broiler..one rack down

Because your oven goes to 500  you might want  to give a longer preheat. ( also maybe if the cheese is cooking too fast, keep it chilled until time to dress the pie?)Try an hour to get the steel fully saturated. Then broil for 5-10 mins, then return dial to 500 and launch. After the bottom looks the way you want it (probably 5-7 minutes) you can finish with a minute or two of broil for more top color. If you prefer a softer crust with less crispiness, leave the broiler on the whole time..Your bake time will decrease by a couple of minutes. I find the steel great at giving a nice bottom crust, so it should just be an adjustment in timing for you. I find an inexpensive IR gun really helpful to know when to launch, and more important for the next pies to be sure the steel has returned to the launch temp I want .

Offline shuboyje

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1226
  • Location: Detroit
Re: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2015, 03:50:26 PM »
Could be a dough issue.  What is your recipe?
-Jeff

Offline canadave

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 716
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Beach Meadows, Nova Scotia, Canada, Earth
Re: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2015, 04:42:59 PM »
Could be a dough issue.  What is your recipe?
It's a gluten free dough (I have celiac disease).  Recipe is:

1 1/2 cups white rice flour
1 cup corn starch
3/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1 Tbsp dry milk powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp active dry yeast, dissolved in water for 6 mins first
2 tsp psyllium husk powder
1 tsp inulin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ascorbic acid

Wet ingredients:
2 cups warm water
3 Tbsp olive oil

Offline canadave

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 716
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Beach Meadows, Nova Scotia, Canada, Earth
Re: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2015, 09:34:00 PM »
Here to report the results of attempt #3....

Still not quite where I want it to be, but definite improvement this time.  This time I put the steel on the lowest possible setting--less than an inch off the bottom floor of the oven, below the actual lowest rack setting (since the oven sides meet the floor gradually in a curve, the bottom rack will sit in the curved corners of the oven).  I also preheated for a little over an hour, again at 530 degrees.  The broiler was never turned on at any point in the baking process.

I baked the pizza for almost exactly 6 minutes, just enough time for the cheese to lightly start browning, at which point I knew it was time to remove the pizza.  The result: again, quite light coloured top, but this time there were a number of dark black char marks on the underside of the pizza, which is what I was hoping for.

So the last frontier, as it were, is to try to get some browning of the top of the pizza.  I don't really know how best to try that, since when I had it almost directly under the broiler rack in my first two attempts, it never really browned that much either.

Offline R2-Bayou

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 214
  • Location: DC
Re: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2015, 08:53:54 AM »
I also do a gluten free pie using Caputo Fiore Glut on my 3/8" steel. You've got to preheat the steel at least an hour. I bake the pie on a pan on the steel the first five minutes, then separate the pie from the pan and launch directly onto the steel to finish up to another 4 minutes. As you've discovered, the cheese will brown well before the bottom is finished. So for gluten free, don't use the broiler. I might even start doing my initial pan bake with just the sauce, then add the cheese and other toppings for the final deck bake. I don't like the results of traditional parbaking, so maybe adding the sauce will avoid that type of product. Even so, I haven't seen the type of browning I get with KABF that we want for gluten free. There's a few people here that have  achieved amazing gluten free results in a WFO, but that's an entirely different animal.
"Wretched excess is just barely enough."

Offline canadave

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 716
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Beach Meadows, Nova Scotia, Canada, Earth
Re: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2015, 10:35:04 AM »
Thanks.  Where do you have your steel located in your oven?

Offline R2-Bayou

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 214
  • Location: DC
Re: help baking pizza with steel--where to put it?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2015, 10:44:31 AM »
Where do you have your steel located in your oven?

2nd rack from top, about 6" from broiler. I position the steel this way more for my KABF pies, which I bake first then bake a gluten free pie for my wife. You may get a better bake in another position, but if you're not using the broiler I can't imagine it makes a huge difference.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 10:46:30 AM by R2-Bayou »
"Wretched excess is just barely enough."