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  1. scott123

    Seasoning Carbon Steel

    Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa with linseed/flax oil based paint. He didn't bake it for even a second Given sufficient time, oil will polymerize at room temp. Heat accelerates the reaction, but, the higher you go, the more likely the oil will spatter, and the more acrid smoke you'll create. Cast iron, from the research that I've done, is not pure iron, but contains some carbon and is very close molecularly to steel. Other than the smoothness of the steel (which I addressed), steel should season exactly like cast iron. It might impact the final aesthetic a tiny bit, but, you don't need to start with a perfectly clean pan. Give it a light sanding, wash it (preferably with a fragrance free soap) and get to seasoning.
  2. scott123

    Seasoning Carbon Steel

    First, you're polymerizing oil. Oil polymerizes with heat, air, and time. You're not burning the oil, so anything above the oil's smoke point is completely counter productive. You're also seasoning the whole pan, not just the part above the flame, so stick to the oven- but keep it to below 400. Second, when heated, oil will liquify and have a tendency to run and spatter. The thicker the layer, the greater the propensity for spattering. Depending on how saturated the paper towel is, wiping out the pan can still leave too thick of a layer of oil. Seasoning woes are almost always a result of being heavy handed with the oil. Err on the side of too little oil, and, if you have to, go with more layers. You don' t have to let the pan completely cool between layers. I do 1 hour at 400, let it cool 2 hours, apply, then another hour and repeat this 6 times. Lastly, this is not universally agreed upon, but seasoning, like paint, greatly favors a surface it can grab on to. This is why sand blasted cast iron pans take seasoning so well. You don't have to go overboard, but a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper will give you a surface that the seasoning will be a bit happier sticking to.
  3. scott123

    Drying chamber for cured meats

    I come from a cheese background where the cleanliness of your curing environment is mostly like far more critical, but, outdoors feels a little dirty to me. Not that the caves or root cellars that have been historically used were clean, but, I don't know, it is the 21st century. I would sleep better after giving the insides of my mini fridge a nice sanitizing wash, but, that's me :) And, like I said, I'm much more cheese-y.
  4. scott123

    Drying chamber for cured meats

    5 dollar timer. Cycle the refrigerator on one hour and off for maybe 4 hours. It's not going to be super precise, but, imo, curing isn't sous vide- you're replicating a cellar environment and while cellar temps tend to be relatively stable, they fluctuate a bit. For 5 bucks, it's worth trying. Edit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F6XJXBB/ref=dp_prsubs_2 This will go down to 1 minute intervals. 1 minute will damage the compressor, but there will be a setting low enough to keep the temperature relatively stable that doesn't damage the refrigerator. 10, maybe 20 minutes might be a happy place.
  5. scott123

    Alkalizing Chocolate

    Perhaps it was the chocolate I was raised on, but I have developed a strong preference for alkalized chocolate/cocoa. Non alkalized chocolate tends to have a fruitiness that I just don't resonate with. At least some do. Scharffen Berger, for instance, is almost painfully fruity. I'm shopping for baking chocolate and I'm not coming up with too many alkalized options, so... I'm considering alkalizing the chocolate myself. Any thoughts? Baking soda? Washing soda? Heat (above melting temp)? Time? I'm just looking for pH neutral. Oreo level cocoa has no flavor to me whatsoever.
  6. I haven't bought unsweetened chocolate in about 5 years, but I noticed that my brand of choice, Nestle, is off the market. If memory serves me correctly, I could occasionally find it on sale for $2 for an 8oz. bar, $4/lb. I'm well aware that $4/lb is a pipe dream now, but I'd still like something in the $6/lb realm. I grew up with Baker's brand, and I'm just not a fan. The Nestle bar was alkalized though, and I definitely prefer alkalized chocolate, so that may be why I prefer the Nestle. On a recent trip to the store, I noticed that the Baker's brand isn't cheap any more either. Right now, TJs is the leading candidate. I'm going to have to convert all my recipes from unsweetened to sweetened chocolate, which is going to be a pain in the behind, but, at $5 for 500g, at 72% cocoa solids, that gives me about a $6/lb unsweetened equivalent (subtracting some for the value of the sugar). I made chocolate milk from some 54% TJs the other day, and was surprised by how fibrous it was (underconching, I'd presume), but that wouldn't impact cake or brownies.
  7. Breville is responsible for some of the worst pizza ovens in the history of pizza ovens. If they really wanted to appeal to the obsessive market- and, let's face it, the only people spending $800 OR $1200 on a pizza oven are going to be obsessives, if they wanted to market this in the best light possible, they should have removed their name. As far as the oven itself goes, a 2 minute bake isn't Neapolitan pizza, and, if you're going to spend $800, you had darn well better get Neapolitan capabilities. I'm not saying that this oven can't do Neapolitan, but, from the videos I've been able to track down, I haven't seen it, and, if the Uuni and the Roccbox are any indicators, it's going to be at least 8 months before this oven gets into the hands of someone that even knows how to make Neapolitan pizza. I'm not going to lie, the lifting action on the hearth as you close the door is pretty ingenious. In the prototype ovens that I've designed, I've had that feature- at least I've had the hearth down for launching and up for the bake. Having it come out- with a heavy-ish stone- I think the engineering gets a bit iffy on that. It's hard to tell, but I get the feeling that they may not use a stone, but, rather, use a metal sheet for the hearth. Depending on the thinness of the metal, that may be a bad idea, but I have to learn more to know for certain. The Blackstone is off the market, so, if this could do a 60 second bake, that would be a pretty big selling point. But it would have to be at most $800, not $800 on sale, but $800, period. When you get into the $1200 realm, that comes close to the cost of having an F1 shipped from Europe.
  8. As I said before, 10 bucks: https://www.amazon.com/Thermometer-58℉-1022℉-Non-Contact-Temperature-Adjustable/dp/B07C3SLMVN It's not the prettiest IR thermometer, but, should you ever get a Neapolitan capable oven, the peak temp on this model will play friendly with it. This will get to the bottom of your mystery. Guaranteed. You will need to, as previously discussed, season your aluminum for IR to work, but, you'll want to do that anyway to minimize the preheat time by maximizing absorptivity.
  9. As I mentioned before, with the temps your main oven can reach, aluminum isn't buying you anything in terms of a reduction in bake time, because you'll be limited by the strength of your broiler, but it will be considerably lighter to work with. Even at a whopping 1 inch, it should still be relatively easy to take in and out of the oven. What size did you get?
  10. https://youtu.be/itqTL3knVeM?t=139 This particular process uses sodium hydroxide to prep the surface, which basically corrodes it. I've seen sandblasting as a prep as well. https://i0.wp.com/img0.etsystatic.com/002/0/6262900/il_570xN.377462932_bkig.jpg I have this vintage sunbeam waffle iron with irons that swap out for flat griddles. For as long as I can remember, at least 40 years, the waffle iron has been seasoned dark black, without a single flake. I attribute this longevity to both the nooks and crannies of the iron itself and the surface imperfections of the cast aluminum. Ive tried seasoning the flat griddles with little success, but this was years ago, before I started watching videos on teflon pans. I may give them a try with sandpaper. I think the major issue with the griddles, though, is that they tend to give a bit. Flexibility is the kiss of death for seasoning.
  11. Nathan and Chris's mistreatment of Neapolitan pizza in MC has been the focus of my attention for many years. I focused so much on the misinformation, I lost sight of the useful information in the book. I was doing some digging today, and remembered this: From Volume 2, Page 26 of Modernist Cuisine: "Buy a metal plate (not shown). A piece of metal 2cm/3/4 in thick and large enough to just fit in the oven is ideal- and surprisingly inexpensive. Either steel or aluminum works, but the latter is much easier to lift." So, as you can see, the Modernist folks have already recommended 3/4" aluminum plate for pizza. I do not agree with their blanket recommendation for all ovens and all types of pizza, but, as I've said, in the right setting and the right application, thick aluminum can be invaluable. Here's some experimentation with aluminum: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=51228.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=21951.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=25758.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=30572.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=21951.0 https://forums.egullet.org/topic/152882-diy-crispy-pizza-crust/?tab=comments#comment-2048144 https://stefangourmet.com/2012/06/27/real-pizza-in-a-domestic-oven-using-an-aluminum-plate/ https://www.reddit.com/r/Pizza/comments/190jhp/pizza_cooked_on_a_200mm_thick_aluminium_slab_in_2/ It took a few years, but the pizza community figured out that 3/4" steel couldn't produce a faster bake than 1/2". Basically, the heat can't travel from the bottom 1/4" during the time the pizza bakes. Aluminum, though, is different. We haven't determined the thickness of aluminum that produces the fastest bake- and with it's incredibly high conductivity and cost, we may never reach that point. With this in mind, if you are dead set for getting aluminum for your CSO, I'd go with an inch- or even thicker. 1" aluminum at 450 might actually give you the coveted 4 minute bake. And don't worry about a special alloy. 6061 is the cheapest, it's what everyone uses for pizza, and it's perfectly fine to use at the temps you'll be using it at. As has been mentioned, you will want to season it. I would take a page out of the teflon coating handbook and rough up the surface a bit with sandpaper prior to seasoning. That will help the seasoning stick (aluminum is a bit harder to season).
  12. I resonate a bit more with the comment from this guy "I’m betting the steel just got hotter than the copper. Most of the heating in an oven is by radiant heat, and materials that absorb more IR will heat up much faster." I'm sure you recognize that comment, but, just in case you don't, it's your comment from the comment section of Kenji's post. I guarantee you that the copper was at a lower temp than the steel. It's mind boggling that Kenji would compare two different materials for baking pizza without an infrared thermometer. While I think that emissivity plays a role with shiny materials like aluminum and copper, I don't think radiation is the 'primary' player over conduction. https://forums.egullet.org/topic/136959-cooking-with-modernist-cuisine-part-1/?page=6&tab=comments#comment-1791987 "3. Once the pizza is in contact with the metal plate, heat will be primarily by conduction, not radiation, so the heat transfer to the pizza will be pretty much the same regardless of whether the aluminum is shiny or not." Nathan is erring in the other direction by downplaying radiation completely, but I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Radiation does play a trivial role, and this impact typically results in greater contrast in longer bakes with shiny aluminum. Contrast isn't necessarily a bad thing (see Neapolitan), but, to level the playing field, I do feel that seasoning aluminum is important. So I agree 100% about the need for seasoning, but I feel very strongly that it's primarily a conduction game, not a radiative one.
  13. It's all about conductivity. Steel plate is able to transfer heat at a faster rate than stone, and aluminum is able to transfer heat at a faster rate than steel. So, while the bottom of the pizza might cook in about 11 minutes on a stone @ 500, and 7 minutes on steel plate @ 500, aluminum plate can, at that same 500 degree temp, achieve a 4 minute bake. Aluminum is considerably less dense than steel, but it has a higher specific heat. A little less than 1/2" of steel plate (.47) matches the heat capacity of 3/4" aluminum. This is why I generally recommend 3/4" aluminum. It's low density is a big plus. 16" x 16" x .5" of steel weighs 30 pounds, where 16" x 16" x .75" of aluminum weighs 10 pounds. That's going to be a lot easier to get in and out of the oven. Lastly, I should point out that I was recommending aluminum to Katie in the context of her 500F oven, as well as European ovens that can reach 250C/482F. It was not in the context of 450F, so aluminum is not the answer to your Cuisinart Steam Oven. It also wouldn't be buying you anything in your main oven either, since, although it might very well take you down to 90 seconds @ 585 on the base of the pizza, it's almost guaranteed that you won't have the necessary broiler strength to bake the top of the pizza at the same rate. Aluminum plate, right now, is extremely application specific- 4-5 minute NY style pizza @ 482-500F. You're not in this group. You might be able to hit 6 minutes with the CSO, maybe, but that's completely uncharted territory.
  14. While I fiercely disagreed/disagree with Nathan and Kenji on particular aspects regarding steel, we all agree on one thing. Steel's primary purpose for the home pizza maker is reducing bake times. Heat is leavening, so a faster bake produces a puffier crust. Within this paradigm, 7-8 minutes is really not that fast. I used to talk about how, out of the (at the time) hundreds of people I knew who had used steel, not one, when they successfully achieved a 4-5 minute bake, ever went back to the 7 minute bakes they were getting on stone. And then a couple people went back Still, though, 99% of the folks that achieved that elusive 4-5 minute bake continued on that path. You sound extraordinarily pleased with your current pizzas, but, should you ever get the itch and ask yourself "where do I go from here?", assuming you have a broiler in the main compartment of your oven, you can hit that magic 4-5 minute bake with thick aluminum plate. Aluminum is going to be the next stage in home pizza making. The modernist team's days of trailblazing faster bakes appear to be over, and without their stamp of approval, Kenji won't go anywhere near it, so it might take as long as a decade to match steel's ubiquity, but any entrepreneurs reading this might want to get their hands on the bakingaluminum.com domain now Also, the bakingaluminum.uk and bakingaluminum.de addresses as well, as aluminum is poised to explode in Europe where 250C (482F) is a very common peak temp- and where interest in making better pizza at home is on the rise.
  15. When Raffaele Esposito made the first Margherita for the Queen consort in 1889, he certainly didn't take surface readings of his hearth with an in IR thermometer but, since IR thermometers became affordable to home and professional pizza makers in the early aughts, they have served this purpose valiantly. While I'm a little intrigued by the use of a surface thermocouple for this purpose, the track record for an IR thermometer in this role is so untarnished, I'm going to have to cast my vote in the 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' column. Are $10 (on Amazon) Chinese IR thermometers sexy? No. Are they super precise? Not really. But for this particular job, you cant' find a better tool, imo.