My quest for the perfect pizza continues. But after last night’s attempt, I’d say that I’m pretty close to achieving my goal. A few weeks ago, fellow food blogger, Diane Darrow, sent me a link to what I believe to be the best recipe so far for my pizza dough. And so far, I’m sticking with it.
However, my last two posts on pizza switched the focus from the dough to the cooking medium and highlighted Breville’s “Crispy Crust” pizza oven. This counter-top appliance yields very good pizzas with a nice balance between the crisp and chew factors. But after experimenting more with this oven, I felt that its size limited me to making smaller pizzas, about 10 inches in diameter, if I wanted to achieve a balanced crust.
After my first post about the Breville oven, Ms. Darrow wrote to me, saying that she had discovered another tool that promised even better results than the Breville. Last week, she posted a story about it on her blog, Another Year in Recipes.
Named “The Baking Steel,” it’s a 1/4-inch thick slab of steel weighing 15 pounds that’s preheated for 45 minutes in a 500° or 550° oven. Like a pizza stone, it provides a hot surface on which to bake a pizza, but does so at an even higher temperature.
Following Diane’s post, I read more about the steel on Serious Eats. It provided directions for achieving excellent results with the steel by cooking the pizza in the prescribed preheated oven on the second highest rack, but right before putting the pizza into the oven, you turn the broiler to high. Serious Eats has a richly illustrated story on this method.
After reading both blogs, I thought that the steel’s 16” x 14” inch surface would allow me to make larger pizzas, so I went to the manufacturer’s website and ordered one. It arrived the next day.
Last night, I used it for the first time. I’m a convert. It worked as advertised and delivered the best pizzas I’ve made to date: one Margherita, pictured above, and one mushroom, pictured below. I was hesitant to cook the pizzas so close to the broiler so I placed the steel on the third position in the oven. And although they took about 6 minutes more than those on Serious Eats, they were perfectly cooked with an even better balance between the crusts’ crisp and chew factors.
I’m sure that I shall experiment further and next time I will probably take the plunge and move my steel to the higher rack.
One word of caution: if you’re like me and don’t have an air-conditioned kitchen, between the pre-heating and the baking, it does get quite warm in there.
I recommend reading both blogs to learn more about this tool and, if you’re still interested, going to the manufacturer’s website.
6 thoughts on “Pizza Crust IV”
Ciao Roland- will have to try the “Baking Sheet” but we get very good results from the
“Hearth Stone” that comes with side. Robert’s pizza dough is almost exactly like the one in our pizza book, “Pizza Any Way You Slice it” published in 1998
I’ve heard a lot of good things about both the Hearth Stone and the book.
Golly, Roland, now I’m jealous! Your pizza on the steel is handsomer than my pizza on the steel. But you’ve given me a mark to aim at, and I will.
BTW, my pizzas also took quite a bit longer on the steel than the Serious Eats ones did. My oven goes up only to 500 degrees, not 550, so that might be a cause. Also, because mine is an electric oven (alas!) I couldn’t use the trick of chocking the door open to keep the heat from cycling off — the moment the door opens, my oven turns off until the door is closed again.
Thanks, Diane. I was aiming to get your side crusts….next time, I’ll try “convection broiling” to see if it speeds things up.
So now I have steel envy…..loving the pizza adventure, though. Please continue!