Author Topic: Introduction  (Read 461 times)

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Offline luanna

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Introduction
« on: February 19, 2014, 12:12:05 AM »
Hi Luanna here, I'm a new member from Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada, I joined this forum because I'm absolutely crazy about pizza. I have been making my own pizza's for years on the lowly perforated pizza pans and thought these were the best I could produce. Then I found the pizza stone. My first stone was a pampered chef stone and I was not that crazy about the pizza it produced. The crust was crispy, but the inside was not "right". So I went back to my metal pans. Then I found out that pizza stones needed to be heated to temperature of 450 to 500 degrees gradually for 30 min to 1 hour and I used a different stone that I bought at Sears, since my pc stone broke at that temp., and what a difference. I had also used a different dough recipe for Neapolitan crust using fresh yeast and bread flour. This pizza was to die for. Then my girlfriend and I found a site that said the Caputo 00 flour was the best to use, so we ordered some flour at an outrageous price just to see if this made a difference. My friend said that she really could see a difference, however I preferred the bread flour. Anyway after only 4 uses my stone broke and now I'm on a quest for a "decent pizza stone that will not break in the first Year of use". I have come across several stones that I am considering  and they are as follows, Old Stone Oven Pizza Stone, King Arthur Pizza Stone, California Pizza Stone, Fibrament D Pizza Stone, The original Soapstone Pizza Stone, and steel stone. I am looking for a stone that I can cook multiple pizza's in a row without losing thermal heat, a stone that will not break or has some kind of great warranty, I am not interested in quarry stones, pieces of granite or the like. Now my quest has turned to you the pizza community. Can you help me, pleeeease. I look forward to your input.  Luanna


Offline Tampa

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2014, 09:02:43 AM »
Welcome Luanna.  I think you found the right forum here as we fret over the same issues with the same passion as you.

I can attest to the durability of the "Old Stone Oven Pizza Stone".  I've been using the same stone for a few years and have not been able to break it.  Short of throwing cold water on a hot stone, it has been amazingly durable in my experience using direct flame from a cold start and dropping a cold pie.  At one point I knew it would break so I bought a spare.  I still have that spare.  I'm not saying the other stones are not great choices, I'm just saying that the one I have direct experience with has been good to me.

Maintaining thermal heat is a more-complicated matter, IMO.  My old stone will handle a 3-5 minute pie w/o any additional underside heat, but that is one pie.  Successive pies will take more heat.

I am looking for a stone that I can cook multiple pizza's in a row without losing thermal heat
I don't think what you are asking for is possible.  The trade-off here is that you can create a very thick stone but it will take several hours to warm up.  Each pie will take a little heat, but for a handful of pies, you might get some success.

My advice - use a thinner stone and add heat along the way.

Dave

Offline luanna

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2014, 11:29:26 AM »
Thanks for your input Dave.

scott123

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2014, 02:13:20 PM »
Luanna, in terms of durability and thermal recovery, nothing beats steel.  Cordierite (King Arthur, California and Old Stone) is very durable, but you do hear infrequent stories about cordierite stones breaking.  Steel, on the other hand, is pretty much immortal.  Most of the people who go with steel do so because it provides greater thermal conductivity than stone, which allows for faster bakes and better oven spring (bigger puff), but you do find some that go the steel route just because they're sick of stones cracking.

Thermal recovery (the ability to bake multiple pizzas in a row without the temperature of the hearth noticeably dropping), is a factor of thermal mass.  Ounce for ounce, ceramics have more heat capacity than steel, but steel is considerably more dense, so inch for inch, steel will be able to bake many more pizzas in one sitting than the same thickness of cordierite.   To see the benefits of this thermal mass, though, you have to go thick enough- generally speaking, the thicker the better.  It depends on the style of pizza, the strength of the oven and the time between pizzas, but 1/2" steel should have no problem making 4 thin crust NY style pizzas in one setting, and most likely can swing 6 without an issue.

The one thing I would recommend is avoiding Baking Steel- unless money is no object.  For a properly sized (at least 17" square cut into two pieces for easier handling) plate from Baking Steel, you're talking about $150.  If you purchase your steel locally, though, you should be able to do it for around $50.

Offline Mmmph

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2014, 03:13:44 PM »
I have an Old Stone Pizza stone, but I switched to an Axner 18x18x1 kiln shelf. Thick, and holds heat quite well.
Mine lives on the bottom rack of my oven...Measure before you buy....I don't know your oven.

http://www.axner.com/cordierite-kiln-shelves.aspx?page=2
Sono venuto, ho visto, ho mangiato

Offline Tampa

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2014, 04:45:46 PM »
Thanks for adding your perspectives, Scott & Mmmph.
Dave

Offline luanna

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2014, 06:52:06 PM »
My oven is electric and top temperature on the dial is 500 degrees but is a little hotter than that. The oven measures at 16 X 22 inches. From the reviews I've read about steel is that it produces a crispy crust but does not cook the top of the pie as well. I'm interested if anybody has experience with the California stone which is thicker than the other stones in its category and the soapstone. Right now I'm leaning towards the old stone oven stone based on price and reviews. Please help.
'

scott123

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2014, 07:34:37 PM »
Luanna, 'thin crust' can be a bit of a vague descriptor when it comes to pizza, because both NYers and Midwesterners have appropriated it for two entirely different styles. Hailing from Ontario, though, I am 100% certain that the 'thin crust' pizza you list as your favorite type is thin crust NY style pizza. When it comes to NY style pizza in home ovens, especially weaker 500ish home ovens, nothing can touch 1/2" steel.

Bake time is the most important ingredient in pizzamaking. No amount of recipe adjustment can make up for an improper oven setup. The application of heat is what dictates crust texture- more heat, faster bakes, puffier crust, good. Less heat, slower bakes, denser crusts, bad.  For the best possible thin crust pizza, you should be shooting for as close as you can get to a 4 minute bake time. That gives you the best possible oven spring- the best possible crust texture for this style.

Cordierite doesn't have the necessary conductivity/heat transfer for 4 minute bakes in a 500-550 deg. oven.  The best you'll do with the California stone or the Old Stone at your temp is about 8 minute bakes.  If you can reliably hit 525, then soapstone can probably break 5 minutes, but 1/2" steel will trim a bit more time from the clock and will also be considerably cheaper and last considerably longer.

I started with a 1/4" ceramic $15 Walmart stone (that broke almost immediately), played around with firebrick and quarry tiles, moved up to cordierite, then graduated to soapstone, and finally hit the big leagues with steel. You have mine (and many others) experiences to save you years of floundering with less than ideal hearth materials.

All commercial electric ovens have broiling elements that cycle on and off during the bake.  If you don't turn the broiler on, sure, steel will bake the bottom of the pizza too fast and the top of the pie will be pale. But you have to use the broiler to get the most out of steel. The only people in the forum to criticize steel have been members who have ovens that don't have broilers or members who've been unwilling to use their broiler.  Use the steel with the broiler.

This is a no brainer.  California pizza stones (cordierite) and Old Stones (cordierite)  and soapstone will always have the potential to crack, they won't give you the best possible range of bake times and they won't let you make as many pizzas in a night that steel will.  Steel wins in every criteria that you're looking at.

Offline Tampa

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2014, 08:17:19 AM »
+1 What Scott wrote.
Dave

Offline luanna

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2014, 12:40:55 PM »
Thanks Scott for the great review on baking steel. One question, if I were to purchase a steel locally, where would I find one and what would I ask for? I guess that was 2 questions. (lol)


Offline Tampa

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2014, 03:31:06 PM »
I don't know your location, but try the search below and read how others have done it.  That will give you some ideas.
Dave

scott123

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2014, 04:08:33 PM »
Luanna, I was researching sources for steel plate in your area and I noticed that you're quite a bit further West than I expected.  My knowledge of Canadian geography is not what I thought it was.  Is this the Don's Pizza you mention in your profile?

https://www.facebook.com/62666407798/photos/a.82552352798.86238.62666407798/82553457798/?type=1

If it is, then perhaps your goal isn't NY style after all, as this could easily be either Midwestern thin crust or possibly even cracker style.

This all being said, steel can still do midwestern pizza just as well as cordierite and will last longer, so even if NY style isn't the direction you're heading, I still think it's a good idea to purchase the material that provides the greatest possible range of styles for your oven- steel.

If Don's pizza is your bliss and you're confident that's the only style of pizza you're ever going to make, then I'd suggest Axner (cordierite, cheaper than California stones for the same material).

Otherwise, if you still want to pursue steel, the first step you want to do is measure your oven- carefully.  You want the largest square plate you can possibly fit- touching the back wall (or back lip of the shelf) and almost touching the door.  Don't just measure the shelf, as there's usually a gap between the shelf and door- and any extra space is critical.

I'm guessing you can probably squeeze a 16.5 or possibly even a 17" plate on the back wall to door dimension.  Side to side, 18" would probably be good.  Whatever front to back dimension you get, split it in half to get two pieces.  For instance, if your back wall to door dimension is 17, you want to ask for two 8.5" x 18" x .5" plates. Cutting the plate in half makes it a lot easier to take it in and out of the oven.

Once you have the exact dimensions, here's what you want to ask:

"Hi, do you sell a36 steel plate to the public?" If the answer is yes, then
"Is it salvaged and/or heavily rusted?" If no, then
"I'd like a quote on two ___" x 18" x .5" plates"

Here's the list of places to call in your area (taken from a google map searches for 'steel near sault ste marie, ontario' and 'metal near sault ste marie, ontario' ):

Traders Steel Warehouse
215 Drive in Rd, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6B 5X5, Canada ‎
+1 705-256-7957 ‎ traderssteelwarehouse.ca

Bunker Manufacturing Inc
1501 W 12th St, Sault Ste. Marie, MI ‎
(906) 632-3829 ‎ bunkermfg.com

Sault Machine Works
1435 W Easterday Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI ‎
(906) 379-9123 ‎

Soo Welding Co
934 E Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI ‎
(906) 632-8241 ‎ soowelding.com

Essar Steel Algoma Inc
Queen W, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 5P2, Canada ‎
+1 705-945-4800 ‎ algoma.com

China Steel Inc
164 Industrial Park Crescent, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6B 5P2, Canada ‎
+1 705-942-3200 ‎ china-steel.com
waterjet cutting conventional machining fabrication cnc machining robotic

Ro-Von Steel Inc
465 Second Line E, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6B 4K2, Canada ‎
+1 705-759-2011 ‎ rovonsteelinc.com

CDI
920 McNabb, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6B 6J1, Canada ‎
+1 705-254-4414

TESC Contracting Company Ltd
565 Dundas, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 1A6, Canada ‎
+1 705-254-5100 ‎

Custom Sheet Metal
6505 S Nicolet Rd, Sault Ste. Marie, MI ‎
(906) 632-1614

Maygar & Sons Sheet Metal
744 4Line E, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 6J8, Canada ‎
+1 705-943-3264

Bob's Sheet Metal
2 St Michaels Sq, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6C 2V7, Canada ‎
+1 705-949-9797


I haven't check every website, so some of these companies are probably wholesale and some might not even have steel plate.  For the places that do carry it, expect to see a pretty big range of quotes, but one should fall in the $35 to $65 realm. Bear in mind, for a lot of these places, the pieces you're looking will most likely be scrap that's left over from another job and that will take them very little time to cut (in other words, no skin off their back). If you're dealing with a corporate structure, that tends to drive the price up, but if it's just one person or a small company you're dealing with, when they quote you a price they're usually not thinking "okay, what's the steel and my time worth?" but, rather, "what can I get out of this person?" Because of this, I probably wouldn't mention pizza and it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to have a male voice asking the questions as I'm sure there's fabricators out there who might charge more for a woman based on the (false and chauvinist) assumption that women might know less about these kinds of things. It's sad, but these people do exist.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 04:10:23 PM by scott123 »

Offline Donjo911

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2014, 06:55:20 PM »
Based on some early reading on this and other sites I bought a single 4 cm soapstone slab 20 x 18".  It was $50.00 + a 2 hour drive in each direction to pick it up. It weights close to 40 lbs.  it works for an 18" pie with what most would probably consider "Canadian volume toppings" aka heavy handed.  I love it because It does have great thermal mass and as a result I can almost not have lag time between pizzas.  I do keep 2 Corderite pizza stones above it on the top rack so I can broil when needed. My bake times for an 18" 235 g dough weight pizza are about 6 minutes on the soapstone and 1-2 on the pizza stones under the broiler.

Knowing from what I've read on this forum - hands down, I'd buy a36 1/2 steel.  It's already been said by many more experience than I that steel is great.  Just hoping I can help you not go down  the same thermal mass evolution that I did. On top of the expense... It's that you have to (get to?) relearn your timing and dough management (anecdotally) with each change. 

With all that Scott123 provided you should find it easy to purchase. 

And yes, I have located a local steel yard as the idea of being able to broil my way past 500 In an electric oven just seems like a better solution to me.  Hindsight 20/20  :)
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Offline luanna

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Re: Introduction
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2014, 10:58:27 PM »
This forum is so great , I don't know why I've waited so long to join. First of all Scott, Don, s pizza was from a childhood time when I used to live in Sudbury, On. It was so flavorful, I've not been able to find anything like it. In so saying the best pizza I've had in the last few years was my own, using a Neapolitan dough recipe with fresh yeast and bread flour using an inexpensive pizza stone. I made my own pizza sauce using strained tomstoes with "fresh dried oregano" only. It had a crisp Crust with chew. But then the stone broke after only two uses.


e in Sudbury, Ont.


 

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