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Substitute for MC's 1/2"-Thick Pizza Steel

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Since getting Modernist Cuisine at Home I've been lusting after one of the baking steels they describe. Unfortunately shipping to the UK would have meant a large on would cost over $200, plus import duty. Ouch.

After a bit of ebay trawling I managed to find a steel company locally who could do 12mm (1/2") thick mild steel plate in a variety of sizes. Got my order in and within a couple of days was the proud owner of a 25lb lump of slightly rusty metal!

Thankfully I'd read a really helpful post over on pizzamaking.com about using vinegar to clean the residue off these sheets. 24 hours soaking in a tray of that and cleanup was a doddle, a quick scrape down with some wire wool and a good wash in hot soapy water and I was ready to go. I'd read differing opinions on seasoning but decided to do it as the bare metal was starting to show rust spots within just minutes of coming out of the water.

For the first batch I used the "neapolitan" dough recipe from MCH, it's a very easy dough to make and seems to give pretty good results. Bake times were around 3:30 after preheating my steel for an hour or so and using the broiler on full whack. The steel was reading about 700-740F as the pizza went in.

There's still a fair way to go in getting used to this setup and how to get the most out of it, but so far, these were the best tasting pizzas I've ever made :)

The plate as it comes:

Photo 3495.jpg

After a good clean up:

Photo 3460 1.jpg

Raw:

Photo 3461.jpg

The end results:

Photo 3462.jpgPhoto 3463.jpgPhoto 3464.jpg

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Gorgeous! I have the 1/4" version, and I've been very happy with my results. I have found I need to oil the steel fairly often, but that might be caused by my leaving the plate in the oven all the time. I have a batch of 75% hydration, wild yeast, half whole wheat dough fermenting on the countertop right now. I'm still tweaking the WW crust...

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Nice! I like to toss basil on right as the pizza is being pulled out of the oven. It wilts a bit from the residual heat but doesn't dry out as much. That's not to everyone's taste, though.

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I too like to add my basil after baking. This summer I have been using fresh tomatoes on my pizza, but as of two days ago I have a canning jar of MC@H pizza sauce put up. I use a pizza stone rather than a plate of steel, which I don't think that I could lift. Now off to start a batch of dough for tomorrow.

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Very Nice.. that will probably be dedicated to your pizza's.

I also have a 1/2 StainlessSteel Plate that I use on my grill, never rusts and acts like a Plancha

Cheers Paul

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I've always thought that the oil used to season the slab would burn and give an-off taste to the finished product.

This doesn't happen?

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I've always thought that the oil used to season the slab would burn and give an-off taste to the finished product.

This doesn't happen?

It's the same as seasoning cast iron. The oils are heated to a high temperature at which they polymerise and create a protective layer which provides a barrier to oxygen which prevents it from rusting. IIRC, you have to use one of a few types of oils that go through this polymerisation at high temperatures, otherwise they just burn away. If done properly, the oil should be completely burned away after seasoning and won't produce any off flavours.

Question - can you use an IR thermometer with this, or is the surface of the steel too shiny to give an accurate reading?


Edited by Michael Speleoto (log)

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Mitch, no problems with the oil at all, I just did the same as I do for my cast iron skillet, put a tiny amount on and polish it off as much as possible then give it some heat. After an hour or so of pre-heating there was no smoke or smell at all from the steel.

Michael, the IR works great, the steel is actually a fair bit darker now than in that shot (sort of blue/black colour) so it seems to cope with it fine.

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I've always thought that the oil used to season the slab would burn and give an-off taste to the finished product.

This doesn't happen?

It's the same as seasoning cast iron. The oils are heated to a high temperature at which they polymerise and create a protective layer which provides a barrier to oxygen which prevents it from rusting. IIRC, you have to use one of a few types of oils that go through this polymerisation at high temperatures, otherwise they just burn away. If done properly, the oil should be completely burned away after seasoning and won't produce any off flavours.

Question - can you use an IR thermometer with this, or is the surface of the steel too shiny to give an accurate reading?

Depends on your IR themometer....mine has adjustable emissivity settings. Yours might as well. Here's a chart from Thermoworks w/emissivity ratings.

My baking Steel surface isn't too shiny--it's dark and kinda crusty after several months' hard use. (Yes, I scrape it, but there's a fair amount of carbon building up.)

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Celeste - can you repost the link to the chart from Thermoworks... it didn't come through... thanks!

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Bit of a thread revival but about to order one of these and wondering if there any reason why people are not using stainless steel?

Also why is it "mild" steel in particular that people appear to be using?

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Bit of a thread revival but about to order one of these and wondering if there any reason why people are not using stainless steel?

Also why is it "mild" steel in particular that people appear to be using?

I use stainless.. very forgiving

 

I have 1/4" and 3/4  SS--  and the MC plate also.

 

For me pizza cooking is about 75% top heat

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Bit of a thread revival but about to order one of these and wondering if there any reason why people are not using stainless steel?

Also why is it "mild" steel in particular that people appear to be using?

 

Price.  Stainless is going to be considerably more expensive than mild steel. A36 'mild' steel is the simplest and cheapest form of steel.  As you move into alloys, the price goes up. And stainless isn't providing any extra longevity.  Steel plate, when used for pizza and stored in a dry area, doesn't rust.

 

Btw, before you order, you might want to take a look at this:

 

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=31267.0

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Thanks for the info, exactly what i was looking for and more.

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Bit of a thread revival but about to order one of these and wondering if there any reason why people are not using stainless steel?

Also why is it "mild" steel in particular that people appear to be using?

 

I believe there's quite a big difference between stainless and mild steel in terms of their ability to conduct heat (mild conducts heat a LOT better than stainless).  The way you'd use this there's really no need to go for stainless - the small amounts of water that come into contact with the plate are dried off almost instantly due to the heat.

 

The plate I posted on has been used every month or so since last september and is fine, it just sits in the cupboard between uses.  I've not needed to re-oil it.

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I looked into doing this, thinking the modernist steel looked a bit pricey. All the quotes I found from metal fabricators were much more expensive. I looked into 1/4" steel and 1/4 to 3/8" aluminum.

 

I didn't look into stainless due to its high price and relatively poor conductivity (although it would still do better than the stone I have now).

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I was very close to ordering one until I realised my backyard BBQ is basically a big plate of 1/2" cast iron.  So I tried using the BBQ to cook pizza and although it took a few goes to get the temperature right, I'm now an absolute convert.  And the BBQ adds a nice smoky note that I don't think I'd get if I was using the kitchen oven.  With a good home-made tomato sauce and some buffalo mozzarella, I'm now knocking out pizzas that are better than our local pizza shop.

 

I am still looking for the best base recipe, though, to try and get a more yeasty bread taste.  I've been using the pizza dough recipe in Heston Blumenthal's "In search of perfection", and it's pretty good but not quite up to Italian standards.  It's probably the supermarket dried yeast that's causing the blandness though, I'll try using a fresh yeast one day, but any pointers in that direction would be welcome.

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Stainless..adds rust re-sistance..in my area and grill that is priceless

And an extra 25-20 Hr. heat. .isn't important to me..cuz I pre heat..and ir gun my steel for max temp


Edited by Paul Bacino (log)

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I recently went to a local fabricator who cut me a piece of 1/4" steel plate 16" X 17" while I waited. I went with the quarter inch plate because the half inch would be about 40lbs, which I think might have made me less likely to use as frequently as the pizza stone. As it is, at 19 plus lbs, it is something to be cautious with. It could easily damage your floor, sink or counter and you certainly would want to keep little kids or pets out of your path when moving it.

 

The cost was $26. I baked it at 550 deg F for about an hour. Even though I had vigoursly scrubbed it with a number of cleaners, it smoked quite a bit for the first half hour. 

 

I am very well pleased with it. It does a far better job than the stone I broke and at 550 deg, takes about 8 minutes to bake a true Peppy's pizza challenger. I like a thin crust pizza, and a thicker one would probably take longer.

 

With respect to the fresh basil, I have found that soaking them in olive oil and putting the soaked leaves on prior to the other toppings works well to prevent them drying out. The olive oil treatment is also highly beneficial for sliced mushrooms.

 

Rust has not been an issue at all, but I keep it in the kitchen and use it rather frequently so it stays dry.

 

 

HC


Edited by HungryChris (log)

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I used to use patio bricks in my oven to bake bread.  the really heavy ones.  oblong.

 

get a thick piece of plywood, at least 1/2 in thick, over size to cover the window in your oven door.

 

open that door, place the thick plywood over the window, then place your steel in the oven.

 

drop that steel through that oven window .....

 

:wacko:

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For those of you who keep your baking stone or steel in the oven full time, I think it's a big waste of energy.

 

It takes a lot of heat to heat it up, then it take lots of air conditioning to cool it down. All for nothing.

 

dcarch

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For those of you who keep your baking stone or steel in the oven full time, I think it's a big waste of energy.

 

It takes a lot of heat to heat it up, then it take lots of air conditioning to cool it down. All for nothing.

 

dcarch

Can you explain your reasoning?

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