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Author Topic: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)  (Read 1397 times)

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Offline Wazatron

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Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« on: January 11, 2021, 02:04:23 PM »
Hello all - I understand this has been covered quite a bit, but in replying to an older thread I got the friendly warning about bumping a 120+ day old topic so I thought I'd go ahead and create a new post.

I was researching the exact issue that RHawthorne was asking about (https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=62519.0); I, too, got a baking steel as a gift for xmas this year and was really excited to use it. It was my understanding - or thinking - that because steels give off heat faster than stone that it would result in a crisper crust and a faster cook.

After doing a lot of reading it sounds like it's actually the flip; that by giving off heat faster it ends up slowing down the cook. Am I correct in this thinking at this point?

I am cooking, I guess, a non-traditional type of pizza and with my stone I've gotten good results at ~8-9 minutes at 500 degrees. Stone preheated a couple hours.

With my 3/8 in baking steel I set the oven rack in the top-most position and pre-heated the oven for one hour.

At the 8-minute mark the top was nowhere near done, so I turned on the broiler (which I expected to do).

Quick aside/rant - I HATE broilers. At least normal residential oven broilers. They are built so manufactures don't get sued, not so they perform. It never turns on when I need it to, it never stays on as long as I need it to... it's a game of chicken. All told the pizza was probably in the oven another 6-8 minutes (14-16 total) while I watched and cursed out my oven.  ;D

To my surprise, while the top was nicely done and toppings were crisp, the bottom was very, very under-done from what I was expecting. I was pretty floored by this.

I'm cooking another pizza tonight and I'm not sure how to approach it to compensate. I guess at this point my questions for the board are, of course, if my understanding is correct and then some thoughts on process. If I just go for a longer cook perhaps I don't need the broiler. But I generally use 100% aged provolone and I find it really starts to break down if pushed too long.

I'm tempted to go back to the stone tonight just to make sure I didn't make some mistake along the way, and perhaps put the steel on a rack immediately above to try and replicate that small-oven approach.

I'd really like to hit an 8-10 minute cook, and maybe that's just not possible with the steel? Attached is a picture of the top of the last pizza (I forgot to snap a picture of the bottom). Looked great, tasted good, but had floppy underdone crust.

note - I should also add that I'm sliding a pizza disk onto the stone / steel. I might not do this long term, but it's part of the process in getting the skin together properly and it's just not easy to slide it off the disk in the end. So disk goes into the oven.

edit - Another note, my oven only goes to 500 degrees. :( It's even shorted out in the past at that heat. Turrible. I can't seem to find a standard residential electric oven that goes any hotter than 550 with a *truly functional* broiler. I'd love to get a used commercial oven somehow, but no room.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2021, 03:14:14 PM by Wazatron »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2021, 10:32:37 PM »
Steel definitely does not slow down your bake, AOTBE. I regularly bake on steel at 550F: 5-6 min.

An hour pre-heat may not be enough. Also, put the steel as high in the oven as you can and still have room to work.
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Offline scott r

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2021, 11:09:07 PM »
WANT THAT!

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2021, 07:21:28 AM »
Another thing about stone vs. steel - some people get great results on stone and prefer it. Others steel. These is no one-size-fits-all. You have to experiment and figure out what works best for you.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
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Online billg

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2021, 10:08:30 AM »
That Picture just made me drool!!!!!!  What was the recipe and fermentation time? 

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Offline tennisman03110

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2021, 11:44:35 AM »
With a finicky oven that hates broiling, would it be best just to leave the oven on highest bake temp? And keep the steel near the top?

I've got a circa 2008 recipe from Glutenboy in the fridge (with 1.5% oil) to cook Saturday. It will be a true test for my steel.


Offline Gene in Acadiana

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2021, 12:54:38 PM »
I switched to a 3/8" steel four or five years ago and last year went back to a stone. I just think it produces a better crust overall and bakes the top and bottom more evenly in my experience. Granted, my oven reaches 575 F fairly easily so I'm not struggling to get in the temperature range of most non-Neapolitan pizzas and use my PP Bollore when I need to bake at much higher temperatures. If my oven topped out at 500 F, maybe I'd feel differently.   

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2021, 11:47:03 AM »
1st 1/4" steel bake in my home oven. Normally I cook pizza at higher temps outside but it is winter so I am using my home electric oven with broiler in the main compartment.


I usually use 2 stones in the oven and this time replaced the lower stone with the steel. I like to bake pizza from the bottom up which is why I started on the steel ( middle rack position) And moved to the stone ( 2nd from top rack position) with broiler on HI. I preheated at 500F even tho my over goes to 550F. Launched pizza and cooked for 5 min on steel, Watching bottom crust color every minute after the 2 min mark. Turned broiler on at 4min and by 5min broiler was on and I finished the pie for approx 30 sec on broiler HI on stone.
Andris, from Baking Steel.com starts his pies on steel, top position with Broiler on,but I am used to cooking bottom 1st ( from my wfo days}


I like a crisper crust and the pie tuned out "perfect".


Mark
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Offline Sandhill

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2021, 05:46:21 PM »
I switched to 1/4" steel over the winter, electric oven, 515 is the best it will do.  I haven't even heated a stone since.  I have a 7/16" stone, about $14 from Walmart, and a Big Green Egg 5/8" stone, expensive as I remember.  I'll continue to use both stones together on the gas grill once it gets too hot out to want to run the oven, but in the oven going from stone to steel has been a night and day difference, I'm not looking back.
That said, I'd expect that some doughs (and even toppings) might do better with one or the other and surprise surprise YMMV...

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2021, 10:03:15 PM »
Used my stone today and am convinced. I bought a BGE but it uses so much lump to cook a pizza at high heat, I may just do my pizza on the steel in my oven and leave the BGE for meat! Best of both worlds.
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Offline megan45

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2021, 08:03:01 PM »
Steel definitely does not slow down your bake, AOTBE.
+1

Quote
An hour pre-heat may not be enough.
+1

Quote
Also, put the steel as high in the oven as you can and still have room to work.
+1

After doing a lot of reading it sounds like it's actually the flip; that by giving off heat faster it ends up slowing down the cook. Am I correct in this thinking at this point?
Only if the steel has not been adequately preheated.

Quote
Quick aside/rant - I HATE broilers. At least normal residential oven broilers. They are built so manufactures don't get sued, not so they perform. It never turns on when I need it to, it never stays on as long as I need it to... it's a game of chicken.
The broiler works as intended. When the air in the oven cavity gets up to temperature the oven thermostat, which is typically located near the top left or right rear corner of the oven cavity, shuts off the coil. That way the kitchen "geniuses" who aren't paying attention and run the broiler too long don't set the oven and its contents on fire and end up turning around and suing the mfgs for not installing a thermostat to shut off the broiler coil so it doesn't start a fire.

Full on broiler coil located 1-1.5" from the thermostat + heat trapped in oven cavity = tripped thermostat. If you want the coil to stay on longer, crack open the oven door when you run the broiler so some of the heat escapes.

Quote
To my surprise, while the top was nicely done and toppings were crisp, the bottom was very, very under-done from what I was expecting.
Because the steel wasn't pre-heated long enough.

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2021, 11:35:04 PM »
Andris Langsdin, owner of Baking Steel and pizza maker, advises to pre heat the steel at about 50 degrees F lower than max for your oven. My oven max is 550 F and if I pre heat at 500F, when I turn on the broiler to hi, it kicks in because the thermostat still has room to go up. Always works for me. There are differences in the baking process, I cook my pizza from the bottom up, some cooks cook theirs from the top down. Both work, just a difference in oven management.

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Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2021, 12:01:14 AM »
Andris Langsdin, owner of Baking Steel and pizza maker, advises to pre heat the steel at about 50 degrees F lower than max for your oven. My oven max is 550 F and if I pre heat at 500F, when I turn on the broiler to hi, it kicks in because the thermostat still has room to go up. Always works for me. There are differences in the baking process, I cook my pizza from the bottom up, some cooks cook theirs from the top down. Both work, just a difference in oven management.
It's pretty much dependent on the oven. That trick would work on my electric oven but not on my gas oven. I can also leave the door open a bit and then melt the control knobs conveniently right above the door.

Anyone with a steel or stone should own a laser thermo device so they can preheat the steel/stone to the correct temperature without having the oven on for more than needed. My steel heats to temp in about 30 minutes (3/8"), whereas my stone takes over an hour.

Offline wiz_d_kidd

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Re: Stone vs Steel - summary for general pizza application :)
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2021, 08:44:14 AM »
I use a 3/8 inch steel, top rack (2 inches below the broiler element), let it preheat under the broiler (not the oven) until the element turns off (about 20 min). An IR thermometer shows the surface temp gets to around 650-700 deg. When I launch my neapolitan-style pie, the element turns on again (because the door was opened). Then it bakes to perfection in 110-120 seconds. So the combo of steel + broiler works.

If your dough is not formulated for high-temp cooking (i.e. unmalted 00 flour), I think you can still use the steel, but move it higher in your oven (but not 2 inches away, like I do), and use the broiler to preheat and cook. As someone else said, keep the oven door ajar to keep the broiler element on. The IR radiation from the broiler is a much more effective means of preheating your steel (and cooking your pizza) than hot air is.

Keep experimenting with different set ups. You'll find a combo that works for you.

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