Pizza Making Forum

General Topics => Pizza Making Equipment => Stones/tiles/steel, Pans & Accessories => Topic started by: Born2Bake on May 07, 2012, 07:47:01 PM

Title: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Born2Bake on May 07, 2012, 07:47:01 PM
Hello all,
I am going to take the dive into 1/2" steel plate. My question is what type of steel plate is safest? I know 316L is the safest stainless steel plate, but I cannot afford that much for just a plate. I am still saving for my brick oven. So FOR NOW, I want to get a steel plate. So which grade is safest and also which one cooks the best? I found 1045, A36 and 50 are what I have seen so far. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time and patience. Take care.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: buceriasdon on May 07, 2012, 08:28:20 PM
A36 is fine for pizza baking. Cast iron has been cooked on for quite awhile and I've never read of ill effects from it's use.
Don
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Born2Bake on May 07, 2012, 09:44:00 PM
Don,
Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it. I am off to look for local suppliers. Thanks again.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on December 28, 2012, 11:16:16 PM
A36 is fine for pizza baking. Cast iron has been cooked on for quite awhile and I've never read of ill effects from it's use.
Don
Would the A36 need to be prepped in any way before used to bake? Im going to go out and grab a steel plate tomarrow, and am now trying to figure out what to buy from the fabricator. and would anyone be able to explain how to season it, what the process is?
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Jet_deck on December 28, 2012, 11:55:51 PM
Make sure all the edges are smooth before you leave.  Take a cotton ball and wipe the edges, if the ball sticks or leaves strings, ask for it to be redone.  Especially if they sheared it, water jet is better but not perfect

Wipe the plate with any alcohol that you have  (denatured, rubbing, vodka, whatever...)  This will remove the 'mill scale'

Spray/rub the plate with any oil that you have (Pam, olive, vegetable, Crisco) and wipe it off.  Fire the oven to 400 or so, recoat the plate with oil and bake it for an hour, turn the oven off and let it cool down on its own.  Put a cookie sheet under it in the oven in case it drips.  Repeat the oil/ heat cycle until it is clean or your just tired of doing it.

Never wash the plate with water, and never scratch it.  Use a plastic scrubby to clean it.  The oil can be sticky on the plate after it is fired so use a plastic bag or wax paper to store it in.  The oil will protect the steel from rusting.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: dineomite on December 29, 2012, 09:15:49 AM
If I don't feel like firing up the oven and I want to play around with some flavor combinations I use the pizza plate that Lodge makes. It'll run you $40 at your local Walmart and it has handles on it. If you're hellbent on the whole steel plate thing I'd get the pizza steel. Here's a link to a very well written and researched article. I've had friends that have had mixed results with buying a steel plates from fabricators. Had I not already purchased the previously mentioned Lodge plate, I most likely would have purchased this one.

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html (http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html)
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on December 29, 2012, 09:58:03 AM
If I don't feel like firing up the oven and I want to play around with some flavor combinations I use the pizza plate that Lodge makes. It'll run you $40 at your local Walmart and it has handles on it.

For quite a few people, $40 will get them 1/2" steel. 1/2" steel will make better/faster pizza than 1/8" iron. Why settle for 1/8" iron quality pizza when $40 will get you 1/2" steel quality pies?

I've had friends that have had mixed results with buying a steel plates from fabricators.

Every member on this forum who has purchased steel from fabricators has had stellar results, with the exception of one member with back issues who had an issue with the weight.

Had I not already purchased the previously mentioned Lodge plate, I most likely would have purchased this one.

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html (http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html)

The baking steel is not a reputable company.  They jack up the price on steel 2-3 times and make specious claims on their site.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on December 29, 2012, 10:09:09 AM
Would the A36 need to be prepped in any way before used to bake? Im going to go out and grab a steel plate tomarrow, and am now trying to figure out what to buy from the fabricator. and would anyone be able to explain how to season it, what the process is?

Unless you live in a salty environment, steel should never be seasoned.  At 550ish oven temps, most seasoning won't last long anyway. Just like baked pizza doesn't stick to unseasoned stone decks, it doesn't stick to steel either.

Prepping depends on how weathered the steel is.  If it's not that weathered, you should be able to wash it with soap and water.  If it's greasy, I'd generously cover it in vegetable oil for a bit, so the oil will break down any oil based components, then wash the oil off with soap and water.  The dark coating/mill scale is iron oxide/perfectly safe for eating off of, but if the mill scale is heavy, you might want to soak the plate overnight in vinegar and then give it a good scrub and/or sanding. If you have a piece that's been outside for a while and is heavily weathered/rusted/pitted, I'd invest in a $3 container of Naval Jelly rust remover, making sure to use it outdoors and to follow all the necessary safety precautions. Naval Jelly will take any steel down to the bare metal.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on December 29, 2012, 10:44:25 AM
If I don't feel like firing up the oven and I want to play around with some flavor combinations I use the pizza plate that Lodge makes. It'll run you $40 at your local Walmart and it has handles on it. If you're hellbent on the whole steel plate thing I'd get the pizza steel. Here's a link to a very well written and researched article. I've had friends that have had mixed results with buying a steel plates from fabricators. Had I not already purchased the previously mentioned Lodge plate, I most likely would have purchased this one.

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html (http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html)

thanks. do you have a link for the lodge plate so i know what im looking for? And as far as the link you posted, I could never talk myself into spending 70+ dollars on a piece of steel. I'm too much of a DIY cheapo, crafty, sort of guy.

Also, if i did get steel plate, i would probably get it from a fabricator.  Thickness doesnt matter, as long as it produces good results. I'm not picky
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on December 29, 2012, 11:11:01 AM
Thickness doesnt matter, as long as it produces good results.

Thickness relates directly to bake time, which, for quite a few members here, is the secret to great NY style pizza.  Thickness and results are intertwined.  Thicker stones, to a point, make better NY style pizza.

1/8" iron (Lodge)- good
1/4" steel - better
1/2" steel - best
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on December 29, 2012, 11:12:44 AM
Would anyone have a link to the lodge pan?
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: TXCraig1 on December 29, 2012, 11:23:42 AM
Would anyone have a link to the lodge pan?

This is the pan you are referring to: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lodge-Pro-Logic-Cast-Iron-Pizza-Pan-With-Recipe-Card/12554410

You can probaby find one locally without much trouble.

What sort of pizza do you want to bake? This pan might not be the best solution.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on December 29, 2012, 11:32:15 AM
This is the pan you are referring to: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lodge-Pro-Logic-Cast-Iron-Pizza-Pan-With-Recipe-Card/12554410

You can probaby find one locally without much trouble.

What sort of pizza do you want to bake? This pan might not be the best solution.

I grew up  in Houston. The willowbrook area. I live near Phoenix now. Do you think I can find a 16inch locally? New York style is my favorite, but I dont like my crust too crispy. I like my pizza to droop just a little, and i dont like super dark or black spot on my crust, i like a smooth golden brown, but still a little firm.

A guy on here was disappointed with his NY attempt, but the color of the crust is perfect for me. Here is a pic.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=13700.0;attach=35562;image
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: dineomite on December 29, 2012, 12:03:18 PM
Quote
For quite a few people, $40 will get them 1/2" steel. 1/2" steel will make better/faster pizza than 1/8" iron. Why settle for 1/8" iron quality pizza when $40 will get you 1/2" steel quality pies?

Scott, can you post some pictures of the results you've had with what you have? A friend of mine let me used his 1/2" plate and the only difference I noticed was the shorter rebound in heat saturation. If I'm cooking 5 pies, then great, 1/2" it is; but it's a waste of gas or electricity to heat one of those things for a couple of pies. The results I've had between the two on just a couple of pies is negligible.

If you could post some pictures showing your results that'd be awesome! I'll start by showing my results with the POS Lodge plate (dough from Mozza cookbook). It's good for about 3 pies and then loses it's oomph.

Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on December 29, 2012, 12:07:12 PM
would anyone have an opinion on this cast iron? i really could use 16 inches though.

http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Cast-Pizza-Black/dp/B0000E2V3X/?tag=pizzamaking-20 (http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Cast-Pizza-Black/dp/B0000E2V3X/?tag=pizzamaking-20)
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Jet_deck on December 29, 2012, 12:15:06 PM
...  If you have a piece that's been outside for a while and is heavily weathered/rusted/pitted,...

That is exactly why it should be oiled when finished, to protect it.  YMMV, MDN.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on December 29, 2012, 12:29:17 PM
Scott, can you post some pictures of the results you've had with what you have? A friend of mine let me used his 1/2" plate and the only difference I noticed was the shorter rebound in heat saturation. If I'm cooking 5 pies, then great, 1/2" it is; but it's a waste of gas or electricity to heat one of those things for a couple of pies. The results I've had between the two on just a couple of pies is negligible.

Cal, it's physically impossible to match the bake time of 1/2" steel with 1/8" iron in a typical 550ish oven with a broiler.  If you prefer longer bakes, that's good for you, but if someone is shopping for a new hearth for NY style, they should be looking for a material that gives them the largest spectrum of bake times. Maybe, after trying a 4 minute bake and a 7, they might end up preferring 7, but everyone should have the opportunity to taste a home made 4 minute pie at least once in their lives- and the lodge pan cannot achieve this in a typical oven without mods.

The lodge pan is perfectly fine for people interested in focusing primarily on longer baked pizzas, such as American style and American NY hybrids (and is quite possibly the best choice for this purpose), but to have the most flexibility when it comes to NY, nothing beats 1/2" steel.

Here are just a handful of this forum's experiences with steel:

1/2" steel 530 3.5 minutes
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12887.msg127366.html#msg127366

1/2" steel 590 3-4 minutes
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,17147.0.html

1/2" steel 565 4 minutes
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16519.msg164032.html#msg164032

1/2" steel 565 4.5 minutes
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16519.msg167610.html#msg167610

1/2" steel 530 6 minutes (3rd picture down)
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=16144.0

1/2" steel 605 3 minutes
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16428.0.html

1/2" steel 600 3 minutes 4.5 minutes
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16428.msg160484.html#msg160484

1/2" steel 605 3.5 minutes
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16428.msg166027.html#msg166027
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on December 29, 2012, 12:35:09 PM
That is exactly why it should be oiled when finished, to protect it.  YMMV, MDN.

Gene, respectfully, if you look at the smoke points for oils:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point

nothing goes above 520. At 550, any oil that's on the steel will start smoking and smelling up your house. It's not necessary.  If you were going to store the steel for a long time, years, then I'd oil it (and wash off the oil prior to baking), but seasoning is an exercise in futility.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: TXCraig1 on December 29, 2012, 12:40:41 PM
would anyone have an opinion on this cast iron? i really could use 16 inches though.

http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Cast-Pizza-Black/dp/B0000E2V3X/?tag=pizzamaking-20 (http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Cast-Pizza-Black/dp/B0000E2V3X/?tag=pizzamaking-20)

14" is the only size they make. For 16", I guess you could bake on the back of a 17" skillet, but buying a steel plate would probably be less expensive.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: dineomite on December 29, 2012, 12:41:50 PM
Scott, thanks for posting the experiences of everyone else; I didn't ask for that though. I've got Modernist Cuisine;Nathan goes into pretty good detail on the subject. What I asked for from you was photos of the results you've have. Clearly you've had personal experience with all three versions, even if you haven't just show me a picture of what you've done with the one you use. I look forward to seeing your photo(s)! [Please don't post photos of other people's stuff, I can look that up on my own.]

Mistachy, if you've got your heart set on 16" then the Lodge thing isn't for you. I'd spend the money on what you truly want. Whether the plate you end up getting is 1/8", 1/4" 1/2", keep in mind what you intend to use it for. If doing a bunch of pies then 1/2" is probably the route you want to go. If you're only doing a couple then I wouldn't want to heat up the 1/2" for just that.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on December 29, 2012, 01:35:51 PM
Scott, thanks for posting the experiences of everyone else; I didn't ask for that though.

You asked to see what 1/2" steel can do. I showed you. Just because it's other people's results doesn't make it any less important.  Other's people's 'stuff' matters. These other members have put in a LOT of hours working with steel so that we can benefit from their experiences. Do NOT belittle their labors.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: dineomite on December 29, 2012, 06:15:02 PM
Quote
You asked to see what 1/2" steel can do.

Scott, I didn't ask what other people did on a 1/2" steel did. I asked what YOU did on a 1/2" steel. I'm always interested in seeing pictures of other people's setup and what their resulting product is. Pictures of your own personal experience lends credence to what it is you're saying. If you haven't done it, that's cool, just say so. If you have, then show me what I'm missing out on. I know that when I tried my friend's 1/2" plate I ended up with a higher gas bill and not much difference in the final product. Hundreds of other people have put themselves out there by posting pictures, I mean hell, someone even has a review on Chuck E Cheese pizza, on here. I'm not belittling anyone on here, that's for darn sure.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Bill/SFNM on December 29, 2012, 06:44:48 PM
This thread is crossing over the line. Please dial back on the personal stuff. Thank you.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: shuboyje on December 29, 2012, 07:14:26 PM
What bake time are you achieving with the lodge and what did you achieve with the 1/2" steel plate?

For most of us here that's what it's all about.  The only reason to go to steel is to try and bake faster baked styles with a standard home oven.  I personally never used the lodge pizza pan, but have cooked on the backside of lodge pans and found they did not have the thermal mass needed to produce a faster baked pie then a stone at oven temps.  Even the 1/4" pizza steel seems lacking.  One very positive very high profile review never cracks 6 minutes using one.  That might impress a lot of people in a lot of places, but around here it isn't good enough to get such rave reviews.  1/2" Steel plate has broken 4 minutes in 3 very different ovens I have tried it in, and that is basically the upper limit of the faster baked styles most going to steel are after. 


Scott, I didn't ask what other people did on a 1/2" steel did. I asked what YOU did on a 1/2" steel. I'm always interested in seeing pictures of other people's setup and what their resulting product is. Pictures of your own personal experience lends credence to what it is you're saying. If you haven't done it, that's cool, just say so. If you have, then show me what I'm missing out on. I know that when I tried my friend's 1/2" plate I ended up with a higher gas bill and not much difference in the final product. Hundreds of other people have put themselves out there by posting pictures, I mean hell, someone even has a review on Chuck E Cheese pizza, on here. I'm not belittling anyone on here, that's for darn sure.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: communist on December 29, 2012, 08:54:51 PM
I know that when I tried my friend's 1/2" plate I ended up with a higher gas bill and not much difference in the final product.
     Cal,   I was surprised to hear of a higher gas bill because of an evening of pizza baking in a home oven. 
Natural gas prices have been falling for some time and is very affordable right now.  I have used gas ovens in the past and never noted any difference in my fuel bill based on when I baked.         Mark

Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: dineomite on December 29, 2012, 09:28:34 PM
shuboyje, somewhere along the line this became about shorter cook times. If that's what the original post was about then it was lost on me. Nowhere did I imply the Lodge or even the 1/4" steel lead to sub-six minute cooks.

I'm pretty certain the title of the post is not "What type of Steel Plate is Fastest?"

I don't have a dog in the fight. I don't own stock in Lodge, Walmart or even own a piece of the action for Baking Steel.

Communist, you'll be happy to know that I didn't have to file for bankruptcy due to the higher gas bill. I look forward to your demonstration on how to use less gas, heating twice as much metal.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: widespreadpizza on December 29, 2012, 09:53:53 PM
Dineomite,  I'll be the one to ask.  Whats up with the attitude?  It does not fit around here,  seriously.  

There is a lot to learn here,  starting with such things as,  if someone mentions steel plate around here,  they are interested in achieving the fastest bake possible with the equipment they have.

You should consider changing your tone.  -Marc

Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: shuboyje on December 29, 2012, 10:03:55 PM
With steel it's always about shorter cook times, that is the purpose and reason for steel.  If the concern was food safety WITHOUT the benefits of steel this thread wouldn't exist, you can buy a pizza pan in every store with an NSF sticker on it.  

You entered the conversation and began suggesting alternatives that simply cannot produce the same results as 1/2" steel.  In my opinion that does not make them suitable alternatives.  When this was brought up you seem to have gotten defensive.  That turned it into a conversation about bake time to try and explain why they were not suitable.  

I entered the conversation with the questions I did trying to broach the subject in a civil manor while still getting the proper information on the matter out.  That being the items you suggest are not suitable alternatives to 1/2" steel.  Unfortunately you might not have a dog in this fight,  but you do seem to have some sort of issue with the use of 1/2" steel and any claim that it is superior to alternatives.  This site is all about information, and like most topics there is a ton of bad information on the web about pizza.  Some of us are very serious about making sure the correct information is out there so nobody makes a purchase that leaves them frustrated and disappointed.  Sometimes you ruffle some feather doing that.  


shuboyje, somewhere along the line this became about shorter cook times. If that's what the original post was about then it was lost on me. Nowhere did I imply the Lodge or even the 1/4" steel lead to sub-six minute cooks.

I'm pretty certain the title of the post is not "What type of Steel Plate is Fastest?"

I don't have a dog in the fight. I don't own stock in Lodge, Walmart or even own a piece of the action for Baking Steel.

Communist, you'll be happy to know that I didn't have to file for bankruptcy due to the higher gas bill. I look forward to your demonstration on how to use less gas, heating twice as much metal.

Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on December 30, 2012, 08:51:39 AM
Cal, I have a detractor who likes to stir up the pot by bringing my credentials into question due to the fact that I don't post photos. He joined the forum under multiple aliases in an effort to make it seem like criticism directed towards me was coming from more than one member, but it was only him. Recently, one of his aliases was banned for multiple accounts and, since you joined right after, and seemed to be edging towards pushing the 'photos or shut up' button, I thought you might have been him and acted accordingly.  I just went and took a look at your blog, and, since you are obviously an adult with a rich life and not a teenager with no life whatsoever, you are not this person.  I apologize for reacting to your request for photos in the manner that I did and moving this thread towards a less friendlier tone.

For the casual hobbyist, bake time tends not be very important, but for the obsessive, bake time is a critical ingredient in pizza. The bake time dictates the transfer of heat and the transfer of heat defines the oven spring.  Faster bake times product better oven spring.  For Neapolitan style pizza, it's almost all about bake time.  Up to 90 seconds, it's Neapolitan pizza, with all of the characteristics faster heat transfer provides (massive oven spring, intense char/leoparding).  Beyond 2 minutes, it ceases to have these characteristics and no longer falls within the style. For NY, the bake time spectrum is much larger and has a far greater subjective component, but, again, for most obsessives, faster is generally better.

If you're dealing with obsessives, and there are a lot of us here, it's impossible to have a discussion about baking materials without discussing bake times.  It's also part of the equation that the zealots are going to nudge non obsessives towards obsessive quality materials, especially when those materials are comparable in price ($40ish for 1/2" steel vs. $30ish for 1/8" cast iron).

Nobody here is saying that anyone has to only strive towards making 4 minute NY style pizzas, but we are encouraging people shopping for new stones to not limit themselves by purchasing products that can't deliver these kinds of times.

I read through a good portion of your blog (which I enjoyed quite a lot), and, I gotta tell you, you seem to be getting pretty obsessive about pizza :)  I would think that with your favorite pizzerias and your newly built WFO, you should be starting to understand what faster bake times bring to the table.  9 years ago, when Reinhart wrote American Pie, he was pretty bake time oblivious.  I chatted with him earlier this year, pointing out that all of his favorite places were fast bakes, and I think he's finally starting to get it.  He recently purchased baking steel in an effort to break the 7 minute barrier, and, while I don't think he'll do it with 1/4", for him to even be thinking about getting faster bakes in his home oven is a huge sign of how far he's traveled since American Pie.

If you can, try to borrow the 1/2" steel plate one more time.  Crank the heat to 550, put the plate close to the broiler and use the broiler during the bake.  You also might want to rework your recipe, since lower temp recipes usually need a little tweaking to work well with faster bakes. You may not achieve the perfect 4 minute pie immediately, but, I promise you, the potential will be there in that plate and you may be pleasantly surprised when you reach the 4 minute NY mark.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on January 03, 2013, 12:12:08 PM
Make sure all the edges are smooth before you leave.  Take a cotton ball and wipe the edges, if the ball sticks or leaves strings, ask for it to be redone.  Especially if they sheared it, water jet is better but not perfect

Wipe the plate with any alcohol that you have  (denatured, rubbing, vodka, whatever...)  This will remove the 'mill scale'

Spray/rub the plate with any oil that you have (Pam, olive, vegetable, Crisco) and wipe it off.  Fire the oven to 400 or so, recoat the plate with oil and bake it for an hour, turn the oven off and let it cool down on its own.  Put a cookie sheet under it in the oven in case it drips.  Repeat the oil/ heat cycle until it is clean or your just tired of doing it.

Never wash the plate with water, and never scratch it.  Use a plastic scrubby to clean it.  The oil can be sticky on the plate after it is fired so use a plastic bag or wax paper to store it in.  The oil will protect the steel from rusting.

My edges are sharp. The company i went too wouldnt smooth them. Their price was good for the steel compared to else ive been so i went ahead and bought it. should i use a grinder to smooth them? or do i have to have it done professionally?
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on January 03, 2013, 12:17:39 PM
Sandpaper will take down the sharp edges. They don't need to be rounded, just dulled a bit so they aren't a danger.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: shuboyje on January 03, 2013, 12:23:40 PM
If you have a grinder and know how to use it for a nice smooth result that would be great.  Sand paper will work, just a bit more time consuming.  The ideal solution would probably me a mix of the two.  Grind it into rough shape, then finish it smooth with sand paper.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mttfrog13 on April 26, 2013, 05:07:20 PM
I just picked up an a36 steel plate from a local steel supplier. They cut it to my preferences which was 3/8" x 16" x 15". I figured that 3/8" would be a good balance between 1/4" which some people on the forum are saying isn't much better than a stone, and 1/2" which seems extremely heavy and would take forever to heat. They also rounded the 4 corners for me and ground down the edges. All this for just $25.

The only thing I'm not liking is that it's covered in mill. Enough that it will probably darken the crust and make it look unappetizing. So is the recommendation to soak the plate in vinegar overnight to remove the mill? In the meantime I'll probably use parchment.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Chicago Bob on April 26, 2013, 05:13:06 PM
I just picked up an a36 steel plate from a local steel supplier. They cut it to my preferences which was 3/8" x 16" x 15". I figured that 3/8" would be a good balance between 1/4" which some people on the forum are saying isn't much better than a stone, and 1/2" which seems extremely heavy and would take forever to heat. They also rounded the 4 corners for me and ground down the edges. All this for just $25.

The only thing I'm not liking is that it's covered in mill. Enough that it will probably darken the crust and make it look unappetizing. So is the recommendation to soak the plate in vinegar overnight to remove the mill? In the meantime I'll probably use parchment.
I suggest a Scotch Bright pad scuff with some vinegar, rinse, rub a 'lil oil on there with a paper towel an then put that dude to work.  :chef:
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on April 26, 2013, 09:20:13 PM
I just picked up an a36 steel plate from a local steel supplier. They cut it to my preferences which was 3/8" x 16" x 15". I figured that 3/8" would be a good balance between 1/4" which some people on the forum are saying isn't much better than a stone, and 1/2" which seems extremely heavy and would take forever to heat. They also rounded the 4 corners for me and ground down the edges. All this for just $25.

The only thing I'm not liking is that it's covered in mill. Enough that it will probably darken the crust and make it look unappetizing. So is the recommendation to soak the plate in vinegar overnight to remove the mill? In the meantime I'll probably use parchment.

buy a couple galons of vinegar and soak it for 24 to 48 hrs, all of that shtuff will come off
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mttfrog13 on April 28, 2013, 11:21:49 PM
buy a couple galons of vinegar and soak it for 24 to 48 hrs, all of that shtuff will come off
I took a look at your thread about your steel plate. The type of mill scale on your plate looks just like mine. It isn't really "scaly" and as I scrub it, it comes off as a dust. It's as if there were small metal particles/dust infused into the steel rather than there being some type of melted metal layer on top of the steel. The mill scale is coming off as a metal dust, rather than metal flakes. Anyway, I'll be soaking it in vinegar tomorrow night and hopefully I can have all of this mill scale off.

I used parchment to make pizza on tonight and it worked perfectly. The steel plate helped my pizza better than I expected. The cornicione grew very large and fluffy with large holes, and the bottom crust was pale and spotted with dark brown/char spots. I finished the pizza in 4.5 minutes which was really an incredible thing to witness. It was a bit hectic, as it was my first time using a pizza peel, parchment, and any type of pizza steel/stone. On top of that I made 3 pizzas for myself and my three hungry housemates.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: mistachy on April 28, 2013, 11:26:20 PM
I took a look at your thread about your steel plate. The type of mill scale on your plate looks just like mine. It isn't really "scaly" and as I scrub it, it comes off as a dust. It's as if there were small metal particles/dust infused into the steel rather than there being some type of melted metal layer on top of the steel. The mill scale is coming off as a metal dust, rather than metal flakes. Anyway, I'll be soaking it in vinegar tomorrow night and hopefully I can have all of this mill scale off.

I used parchment to make pizza on tonight and it worked perfectly. The steel plate helped my pizza better than I expected. The cornicione grew very large and fluffy with large holes, and the bottom crust was pale and spotted with dark brown/char spots. I finished the pizza in 4.5 minutes which was really an incredible thing to witness. It was a bit hectic, as it was my first time using a pizza peel, parchment, and any type of pizza steel/stone. On top of that I made 3 pizzas for myself and my three hungry housemates.
Make sure its completely submerged, and dont take it out early or you will be doing a lot of unnecessary sanding. I dont ever take mines out of the oven. I even reheat day old papajohns and pizza hut pizzas on it.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: dough-re-mi on May 19, 2013, 03:05:39 PM
Does anybody know if 2 quarter-inch plates laid on top of each other would have noticeably different baking performance than a single 1/2 inch plate?

It seem like there shouldn't be much thermodynamic difference, but the two lighter plates would be easier to move when necessary than one heavy one. thanks

ps - my camera's battery was dead today, or I would have finally posted pictures; my first try at a Chicago 9 inch Malnati's-style deep dish turned out flawless about an hour ago, no difficulties whatsoever, because of the incredible help here. I don't know any other place on the internet remotely like this place.

I have been lurking on and off for years, soaking up knowledge, and I really want to thank everybody.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Chicago Bob on May 19, 2013, 05:53:51 PM
Get a 1/2in. plate cut in half.  :)
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: caymus on May 19, 2013, 07:12:11 PM
Does anybody know if 2 quarter-inch plates laid on top of each other would have noticeably different baking performance than a single 1/2 inch plate?

Any air between the plates will act as an insulator. I am not sure if the thinner plates can warp.  I keep my 1/2 plate in the oven most of the time(but I don't have a wife nagging me)
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: PapaJon on June 28, 2013, 06:17:11 PM
Does anybody know if 2 quarter-inch plates laid on top of each other would have noticeably different baking performance than a single 1/2 inch plate?

It seem like there shouldn't be much thermodynamic difference, but the two lighter plates would be easier to move when necessary than one heavy one. thanks
Thermal dynamically speaking any interface (break/gap) between materials will create thermal impedance or in simpler terms, will transfer heat slower.  Likely stacking two 1/4" on top of each other will cook better than just a single layer, but it won't be the same as 1/2".  How big a difference it would be I do not know.

Get a 1/2in. plate cut in half.  :)
This is the perfect solution to anyone having issues with carrying or moving a 1/2" plate.  Ingeniously simple!  Of course if your issue is oven related (i.e. rack bending, insufficient support) then that probably won't solve it.


Now while my day job is dealing with specialty materials used as heatsinks or heatspreaders in the semiconductor industry, I have absolutely no experience with baking on steel.  That however I am looking to change.  I've had a fairly long hiatus from baking pizza's but now I'm catching the bug again, and made 3 pies earlier this week and have 12 assorted dough balls fermenting in the fridge in preparation for this weekends pizza party.  I have my eye's on a Industrial Materials house that will be open tomorrow morning and which I plan to visit, but I'm not sure of the quality (i.e. cleanliness) of products they may have and so whatever I get may not be good enough for me to use that evening.  We will see though.   >:D

I was initially chickening out and considering only going with 1/4", but now I'm leaning more toward 3/8" and possibly the whole enchilada (1/2").  My concern isn't so much being able to manage moving it about, but as I noted above, the strain it may put on the oven.  This is particularly a concern for me as I will often (will plan to more often at least) throw pizza parties at friends houses and would prefer not to damage their oven.

So the question is... how much weight can a typical oven rack safely hold?  I think one site I Googled claimed that said the industry standard was only 25lbs.   ???  :-\

What is the typical size (X" x Y" x Z") steel sheet that people are using? 

Some numbers (or calc your own HERE (http://www.onlinemetals.com/calculator.cfm)):
16" x 16" x 3/8" = 27lbs
20" x 16" x 3/8" = 34lbs
16" x 16" x 1/2" = 36lbs
18" x 16" x 1/2" = 41lbs

Cheers!

-Jon
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: dmcavanagh on June 28, 2013, 06:27:11 PM
Jon, I recently bought the "Modernist Cuisine" steel plate, 16"x14"x3/4" and it weights 22 lb. My oven is a very new model and the rack that holds the steel does bow slightly from the weight. Now enough to cause damage, but I myself would hesitate to go much heavier without some how reinforcing the rack. As for the benefits of the steel itself, I make thin NY-ish style pizzas and I still much prefer my old stone!
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on June 28, 2013, 07:22:36 PM
Jon, you would have a lot of home oven owners screaming murder if 30#ish Thanksgiving Turkeys caused their oven shelves to fail.

A good number of forum members have purchased very heavy steel plates, and, so far, the only sign of shelf impact has been a bow- and, when it's occurred, the bow hasn't been permanent.

If you are worried about the shelf, as you fully know, there's always steel bar/square steel tubing.  You're one of the only forum members who's gone this route.  There's no way that steel of up to 60 lb. would bend square tubing.  If this isn't for your own oven, bring a long piece of tubing and cut it at your friend's house with a hacksaw after you've taking the measurement.

Are you still working with the same gas oven?  Steel is not recommended unless you have a broiler in the main compartment.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: PapaJon on July 02, 2013, 01:38:18 PM
Jon, I recently bought the "Modernist Cuisine" steel plate, 16"x14"x3/4" and it weights 22 lb.
Thanks for the response, but I'm Curious what kind of "steel" that is.  A36 alloy steel in those dimensions would come in at 47.5lbs

Jon, you would have a lot of home oven owners screaming murder if 30#ish Thanksgiving Turkeys caused their oven shelves to fail.

A good number of forum members have purchased very heavy steel plates, and, so far, the only sign of shelf impact has been a bow- and, when it's occurred, the bow hasn't been permanent.

If you are worried about the shelf, as you fully know, there's always steel bar/square steel tubing.  You're one of the only forum members who's gone this route.  There's no way that steel of up to 60 lb. would bend square tubing.  If this isn't for your own oven, bring a long piece of tubing and cut it at your friend's house with a hacksaw after you've taking the measurement.

Are you still working with the same gas oven?  Steel is not recommended unless you have a broiler in the main compartment.
Hi Scott.  Great point regarding turkeys, thanksgiving hadn't even crossed my mind, but that is so true.  America would be up in arms.
Additionally, good memory and great point regarding the broiler.  My home oven is still an old gas unit which has a separate broiler compartment/drawer at the bottom of the oven.  I've found out that it is pretty much useless for baking cakes as it just tends to heat up and keep heating up until it maxes out around 700.  Great for high temps but a bit of a pain in the butt if you are trying to regulate or tweak your temps.

I ended up going to the scrap yard on Saturday morning and had them cut a 18" x 16" x 1/2" steel plate for me.  Although they had to make two cuts, they only charged me for 1 and I neglected to complain.   :-[  I also couldn't pass up a perfectly sized piece of scrap that was 20" x 16" x 1/4".   All said and done I think I paid $49 for both.  The 1/2" one needs a little more work cleaning it but I was able to clean up the 1/4" in time for the pizza party I threw at my friends house (500F electric with broiler in main compartment)

I prepared some DKM cracker crust as well as some NY Style dough.  I unfortunately only got a picture of one of the pizza's which I think was the first NY one and as you can see it's alright, but it could have used a tad more char.  I had positioned the 1/4" steel on the second rack slot down from the top (roughly 7") and was trying to switch on the broiler prior to launching the pie.  I think I was only able to get about 80% of the potential from the setup, but with a bit more practice and possibly moving it up to the top I might get some better results.

Unrelated to steel plates, but of the 15 dough balls I had I only made 9 pies I think.   The next day though I tossed my stone in the oven and decided to see if I could make some bread from the left over NY dough balls.  This was inspired by Chau's "Lazy Man's Bread (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13613.0.html)" and all I did was flour the dough ball, roughly shape it into a bowl, threw it on the stone at 500F, covered with a metal mixing bowl for 20min, remove mixing bowl for 20min at 450f and wow!  NY pizza bead!  I got fancy and stuffed cheese in one and chocolate in another and they were a big hit. 

-Jonathan

P.S.  Scott, I'll be on the East coast the week after the 4th and will likely hit up Pizza Town USA on the 10th :)  Can't wait.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on July 02, 2013, 02:48:56 PM
So, Jon, I tell you not to buy steel, and, what you do? Buy two pieces.  I'm glad we're both on the same page here  :-D

I can see that you bought this for a friend's oven that does have a broiler, so it's not a total waste, but, as far as your home oven is concerned, as far as what we've seen people do with steel in a broilerless setup, you just bought a paperweight.

Now, the operative words in this statement are 'what we've seen.'  Claims have been made that quality pies can be achieved.  While I trust the people making these claims implicitly, I don't think we can declare broilerless steel viable for safely (without having to handle a 550+ degree plate) baking pizzatown quality pies.  At least not yet.

On the other hand, my broilerless setup (vs. 3.0  ;D ) is showing tremendous promise:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,15856.msg262732.html#msg262732 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,15856.msg262732.html#msg262732)

He's dealing with Mexican flour and an altitude of 8,000 ft (the highest of anyone in the forum), but within a month, he'll be making better than pizzatown quality pies.

I know you just bought the steel and most likely want to play with it, but, if you really want the most of your oven, my setup will get you there far faster.

Btw, many 500 deg. ovens exceed 500, but, for those that can only reach 500, steel won't brown the bottom fast enough.  For this crowd, the only option is 3/8"-1/2" aluminum.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: PapaJon on July 02, 2013, 04:11:20 PM
Hah, you know what, you could be right.  I didn't reread my old thread but although I don't recall you telling me not to get steel you very well could have. 

I may see if I can fit either of the plates into the bottom broiler drawer.  I do need to clean up the 1/2" plate first though.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on July 02, 2013, 04:37:01 PM
Are you still working with the same gas oven?  Steel is not recommended unless you have a broiler in the main compartment.

Translation: Don't buy steel!  :-D

If there's a chance that steel will get you quick balanced bakes, it's going to be in the drawer, not the main oven, so definitely check the drawer. Broiler drawers tend to be a bit smaller, so your plate might not fit, but see if it does.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: PapaJon on July 02, 2013, 04:39:40 PM
Oops, that does in fact translate very well.  Actually I failed to subscribe to the post and didn't see your response before I went buying on Saturday.

Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on July 02, 2013, 04:59:23 PM
No worries, Jon.  You'll get plenty of use out of your plate at other people's houses, and, who knows, maybe you're the guy to crack the broilerless steel code. If anyone can do it, my money would be on you.

If you do take this path, you might want to PM Ben Lee

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3554 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3554)

to get his thoughts on broiler drawer baking. He's taken it the furthest

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/10/the-pizza-lab-baking-steel-lodge-cast-iron-pizza.html#946490 (http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/10/the-pizza-lab-baking-steel-lodge-cast-iron-pizza.html#946490) (his comment is on the bottom of the page)
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: PapaJon on July 02, 2013, 06:15:34 PM
Yeah, as I do more than half my baking at friends places with there more modern ovens I'm sure I'll put the steel to good use.  I'll also measure out my broiler drawer tonight and see how the plates fit.  I may not get any baking done for a couple of weeks though as I'm out of dough and I've plans for the 4th and a business trip to the east coast directly after that.

I checked out BenLee's posts here on pizzamaking and didn't see any real mention of his setup or pictures.  He does go into a bit more detail on the seriouseats forum you linked though.  It appears he is only using stone and isn't really sold on steel, at least at higher temps.  I think for his purpose since he is pulling out a tray with the stone on it and resetting it lower after it has been heated, doing that with heavy steel would be much more dangerous if not impossible.  We'll post up if/when I make any experiments.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: scott123 on July 02, 2013, 09:34:37 PM
Jon, the principles governing a broiler drawer stone approach are no different than those governing a broiler drawer plate approach.  There may be a distance that will allow the broiler to sufficiently pre-heat the stone, while not burning the top of the pizza. On the plus side it sounds like your broiler stays on for quite some time if your oven is making it to the 700s.

But, yes, moving a hot plate isn't an option.  That's why I talked about the safety aspect earlier.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: PapaJon on July 03, 2013, 12:33:02 PM
Checked out the broiler drawer last night and the 1/4" plate I got fits in one way and could probably be hacked off with a grinder the other way.  That said I think it's just a tad small width and depth wise.  A 14" pie would be rubbing edges... I think I may pass on trying to utilize it but may change my mind.  Meanwhile I'll just keep the plates for use at friends places.  :)

EDIT:  The 1/4" thick plate in below pic is 15.5" wide.
Title: Re: What type of Steel Plate is Safest?
Post by: Chicago Bob on July 03, 2013, 01:24:12 PM
Checked out the broiler drawer last night and the 1/4" plate I got fits in one way and could probably be hacked off with a grinder the other way.  That said I think it's just a tad small width and depth wise.  A 14" pie would be rubbing edges... I think I may pass on trying to utilize it but may change my mind.  Meanwhile I'll just keep the plates for use at friends places.  :)

EDIT:  The 1/4" thick plate in below pic is 15.5" wide.
I have same type of oven Jon. That broiler drawer is waay down there and you would probably have to stay kneeled down there the entire cook time. My broiler is a single straight tube and would probably require one to almost constantly be turning the pizza for an even top bake.
Use a diamond tip cut-off wheel if you decide to give it a go.  :chef: