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Baking Steel-best way to cook pizza and bread

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    Baking Steel-best way to cook pizza and bread

    As far as product reviews go, I have never used anything better for pizza and bread making than "The Big" (1/2" thick) Baking Steel. Basically, it is a 1/2" thick food grade steel plate that you use in place of your traditional ceramic pizza stone. Their standard size is 1/4" thick, but the 1/2 " size retains so much more heat that it's well worth the extra price tag (http://bakingsteel.com/shop/the-big/).

    Some background:
    I live in New Jersey. What's basically happened over the last 20-30 or so years is that the increasing rent in New York has forced most of the great pizza places out of the city and into New Jersey, Connecticut, and Long Island. What this means is that I most likely grew up on pizza better than you can find in the majority of the country. I also lived in France for a time, and saw what a country with a culture based around fresh baked bread is like. I always wanted fresh baked bread in the house, but my bread makers and KitchenAid could make only supermarket bakery caliber bread-certainly not on par with the boulangeries of Provence.

    I tried everything to make pizza. In the oven, on the grill, cracking the oven door, pre-baking the crust, etc. I used no-knead, quick crusts, and store bought dough. I even bought dough from the same great local pizza places. Nothing worked. I cracked 2 stones over the years and never came close to a pizza as good as the place up the road that sells a 18" large cheese for $12. The best I was ever able to come up with was something comparable to a good fast food pizza or a good frozen pizza. That may be fine to some, but I am a bit of a pizza snob and with so much good pizza readily available I just about resigned myself to the fact that I just would never make better pizza than what I could find locally.

    Months after I had given up, I was looking into no-knead bread recipes a-la the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method. I was on http://www.seriouseats.com/ and saw several related posts about this amazing new Baking Steel. He's making bread on it, pizza, even using it to sear steaks. If you're not familiar, the site is a great resource, and backs up it's statements with science like this site. Anyway, the bottom line is this:

    I make bakery caliber bread, and the best pizza I've ever eaten in my home oven. I don't use the grill because the thing weighs 30 lbs and for bread I usually dump a cup of water right onto the bottom of the oven for humidity. My oven heats to 550 and the steel never gets much above 450, but it RETAINS it. When making pizza, I preheat the steel for about an hour on the highest rung that will allow clearance, then switch to broil when I start to turn out the dough and top it. The method is explained in much better detail by Kenji on seriouseats than I can do it justice. Perfect thin crust, and the top finishes exactly at the same time as the crust. I am an admittedly weak baker, but am still able to consistently turn out finished products like the below pics. I use either the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Master Recipe (http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/20...basics-updated) for bread more often than not, and a simple google search will come back with numerous no-knead pizza dough recipes, all of which I've had good success.

    Anyway, here are some pics (camera stinks and it looks like I took them all sideways):

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    Edit: ugh I had a typo in the header of my very first post
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Rlasky; July 21, 2014, 08:18 PM.

    An addendum:

    I stink at handling and forming dough. Really bad. I eventually get to understand something after repeating it over and over. Usually. I have never gotten the hang of dough. Especially the no-knead stuff which is usually very wet and difficult. It may be a beginner's crutch, but I always use parchment paper until the bread or pizza is cooked enough to pull it away and place back directly on the steel. Usually takes a couple minutes for a thin pizza to pull away, and as much as 20-25 mins before a loaf of bread will easily pull away. You technically don't have to remove it at all, but I think it adds nice texture and color to at least finish direct over the steel.


      Good looking bread there Rlasky! I LOVE bread. And that right there looks like restaurant quality! I have very little desire to learn to do it like that, I think the most I would ever attempt is homemade grilled/smoked pizza. I picture trying to spin dough like the stereotypical baker in a chef's hat, and making a giant plop on the floor and my elbows and my hair, and then giving up. But kudos to you on a job well done in those pictures. I think I'll stick to my pit for now.


        Getting flour and dough all over and dropping stuff generally describes my baking technique. But, like I said, this method has been so easy. I basically grab a fistful of dough from the premixed tub in my fridge, shape it like a neanderthal, and hope for the best. The " fancy" round loaves either were thrown in a cast iron dutch oven as prescribed by Jim Lahey and coated with wheat bran, or cooked in cheap bannetons from Amazon. (Feel free to amend this to an amazingribs link):http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1. All you need to do is slop your wet no-knead dough into a heavily floured wicker form, turn it out on a pizza peel after it has risen an hour or so and you can get the same results as what I posted above.
        Last edited by Rlasky; July 21, 2014, 08:56 PM.


          This is a cool accessory for sure. Your bread looks AWESOME. I got to start working toward getting some heavy metal for sure.


            Your pics are amazing. I can't get enough of grill and homemade pizza, and have recently found that my Lodge cast-iron pizza pan is the best thing I've ever used. I use it on the grill, in the oven, for making bacon, steaks, burgers, and especially pizza. Love the post and the sentiment for steel!



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