The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Which conducts heat better Iron or Steel

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SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Which conducts heat better Iron or Steel

I would think iron and more evenly but, then again I think not..because all of these steel heating plates are coming out on the market.  I received an e-mail from Sur La Table and they are offering free shipping on any $59 purchase.  One new item is their Baking Steel plate 14X14 1/4 inch thick.  I haven't experimented with using one of these and I'm thinking about adding one for another baking accessory.  

They can be used on stove tops, bar b q's and as a cold plate.  I was just wondering about baking pizza in an indoor elec. oven.  Has anyone tried the bottom of their ex-lrg Iron Skillet and how did it work for pizza.

I've been meaning to give it a try with my iron pan..but have just been procrastinating about it.

Sylvia 

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Sylvia - I believe cast iron would be considered a better heat conductor than steel in that it holds heat better and more evenly. That said, it takes longer to heat (hence the reason it holds heat better too - it takes longer to cool down).  The baking steels are becoming very popular. I have one and it outperforms a baking stone for pizza in the kitchen oven. One reason the steel may be more popular than cast iron for pizza is it isn't prone to rusting like cast iron. I believe my baking steel is stainless.  Steel may be easier to fabricate commercially, although that's just a wild guess. 

The pizza section of seriouseats.com has several good articles on the baking steel and how best to use them. 

Happy pizza baking!

Sjadad

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

of iron is 450 J/(kg * K) and steel is 466 J/(kg * K), so it's pretty close and in my opinion close enough so that you wouldn't notice in home baking. Steel will take slightly more energy to shift temperature up a degree, but it will have exactly this much more energy (barring loss) to radiate. However, usually objects made of cast iron are much more massive.

 So I wouldn't waste money on something that has essentially the same physical properties as anything you are bound to have in your kitchen anyways -- the new products coming out are probably nothing more than a marketing ploy :)

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

They just look prettier.  Nice information on the energy.

Sylvia

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I thought that about iron.  

I have read that baking a pizza on an inverted iron skillet makes for a nice pizza.  It's hard to beat iron for even hot heating.  I guess I won't know until I try a pizza on it.   So many ways to make pizza, might as well give this one a shot too.  Indoors, any solution to beating that long, long, heating up of the stone for pizza, sure sounds tempting. 

I don't have a problem with my iron pans rusting.  It's not that hard to take of an iron pan, and if done properly it will out last me that's for sure.

Certainly the steel plates are a lot prettier too, sitting in the oven and ,have some great uses.

Sylvia

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

bread on the BBQ in a CI skillet.  I heat the BBQ to 650 F and do not invert the pan because I want the sides of the pan to radiate heat to the bread too .....plus the bottom gets closer to the fire and hotter when not inverted.  Doing pizza on the BBQ tonight and would try the skillet for you but have ruined it with lava rocks and steam for big old Betsy.  I can fix it but don't have time today .

Pizza should bake up just as well   as the naan I would think.  i put one of my stones on the BBQ for pizza. Works great and hotter then the oven.

Happy baking Sylvia

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

those old CI skillets.   Kind of makes me sad to see it.  Good to know it can return to new.   

I don't think there is anything you can't cook in a CI pan.  

If I could have only one pot to own, it would be made of Cast Iron.  

You've put it to the heat test on your grill, without fail.  I think they even give better flavor to foods than steel.

Thank you for the kind thoughts of making the pizza tonight on the CI skillet.  

Sylvia

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

linked here...http://bakingsteel.com/

It is great and does look wonderful too ! I didn't get good results with it for the one pizza I used it for but that was my fault as far as the timing and the dough and toppings. But I have used it for all of those 16 SJSD's I posted on my thread and it is WONDERFUL ! I never saw such a great crust on the bottoms of the loaf. Also it really holds the oven heat when you are opening and closing the door for steam. It is darker now than when I got it . It is recycled steel and is treated before you get it with organic oils . It is great as far as wiping off with a cloth...never will look awful like my old stone did :) It is $79 and free shipping. I don't think you can go wrong with it. As far as pre-heating you will have to do it as long for your cast iron, or your stone or your steel. There isn't any difference. They suggest an hour too. The only difference if you are using a smaller cast iron skillet is that of course you can pre-heat it on the cooktop that you have and load your pizza and then slide your skillet in to the oven. I plan on doing that the next time I make pizza.  That way there is no in oven preheat at all. Only caution would be to not get it TOO hot on the gas stove top...but other than that it should do great. c

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

You've answered all the things I was wondering about the baking steel!  Thank you for sharing your experience with your SS.  I was especially wanting to know what it did to the bottom of the bread crust and most importantly, how long it took to heat up.  

It's good to know it browns the bottom of your loaves so nicely.  

I did think that the SS and the CI would heat up a lot faster than the oven stones.  I didn't realize it would take that long to pre-heat.  That was very disappointing for me to hear.  My way of thinking...was that it was the best feature to heat up fast and would have been my reason to purchase one.

  

I'm glad you have such great results with your SS.  

Now, I will be very happy just using my stones.  The plus side of my stones is they are made to fit my oven end to end.

Sylvia

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Have no idea how long it takes to heat up CI or the steel ! Just guessing as everyone always says to "preheat your oven and stone for 1 hr " !! I just went along with that. One would have to have one of those fancy thermometers to really be able to tell how hot the steel it. Where did you get your stones ?  What are they made of?  I am planning on getting a box of 6 fireplace bricks..they are ceramic and others on here have place them in their oven and they work great as a stone and very inexpensive. Down side is they are 9x4x1/2" but you can lay them around and I always use parchment anyway. It is $20 for 6 stones. I guess they are also called splits and are used to build a fireplace in ones home. Hope this helps with your decision. I will post you and let you know how it works to use my cast iron preheated in the stove top. c

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

My oven came with a third rack that has is made to hold two stones that fit side by side the wide and length of the oven.  I'm not sure what they are made of but, they are nice and thick, probably just over 1/2".  When I want to make them look new again I just leave them in when the oven self cleans.

When I use my Iron Combo Cooker.  I usually let it pre-heat 45 min..so your guess is probably close

 

Sylvia 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

See, when we got our first self-cleaning oven, I CLEARLY remember leaving the racks in during the clean cycle.

However all the newer ovens say not to do that.  I suspect the newer cheaper oven racks may be coated with chrome which may burn off at the high temp, but I don't know.  If so I'm pretty sure I don't want to breathe that.

So is it, or is it not, safe to leave the racks in?  Will they be discolored if you do?

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

My ovens are not new.  But, I did read the instructions about leaving the racks in to self clean them.  It said if you left them in  on the self clean cycle they would be harder to slide in and out, which they are and they did discolor somewhat.  There is no smoke or oder from them.  I remove them now when I put the oven on self clean.  Unless, I'am cleaning my oven stones, which I do maybe about twice a year.  In that case, I have to leave the rack in that holds them.  My racks slide in and out fine but, not nearly as easily if they had never been through a self clean cycle.  If I had know they would have been that much less 'slideable' I would have not put the ones in that do not hold my oven stones.

I have GE ovens.  

If you are not sure about what instructions your oven gave about the racks.  I think it would be a good idea to just give the company that makes them a call.  Personally, I think it's better to wash them yourself.  I don't think the racks are stainless steel or they wouldn't discolor.  

Sylvia

Sylvia

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Wow!  I just went and checked prices on replacement oven racks - $45 to $100 EACH!  So much for solving the problem by buying spare racks, LOL!