The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

PROBLEM #3: You love Neopolitan-style pizza, but don't want to invest in a brick oven.

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Yippee's picture

PROBLEM #3: You love Neopolitan-style pizza, but don't want to invest in a brick oven.

SOLUTION: Make an oven out of a steel sheet.

Get a ¼-inch-thick sheet of steel from a metal fabricator (Search online for a local one), have it cut to the size of your oven shelf and insert it in the rack closest to the broiler. Preheat the oven at its highest temperature for ½ hour, then turn on the broiler and slide your pizza onto the metal plate. It should emerge perfectly cooked in 1.5 to 2 minutes.

WHAT'S GOING ON: Pizza in a brick oven cooks at about 800 degrees-way hotter than the highest setting of most home ovens. The metal sheet is more conductive than a brick oven's stone, so it can cook just as fast at a lower temperature.




This is one of the helpful concepts on cooking from a six-volume collection of cookbooks 'Modernist Cuisine' by Nathan Myhrvold:

 I'm interested in finding out more.



suave's picture

I suggest you start with figuring out how much a quater-inch steel plate would weigh.

fancypantalons's picture

I was with the poster until I re-read and saw "1/4 inch"... yeah, have fun with that. :)

cranbo's picture

Based on my research between 20-30 lbs for a typical oven, in my case 16x22 inches.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A griddle on the top shelf might do the same. Heat it up first on the stove, then under the broiler with it and the pizza.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

that others have made as well elsewhere. I've seen it suggested to use the bottom of a cast iron pan too. 

Thinking about it, maybe a piece of steel just a little larger than a small pizza, say, 14 inches in diameter, might not be too unwieldy, weight wise. says a 12 inch square of 1/4 inch thick steel will weigh about ten pounds:

ehanner's picture

Aluminum plate also conducts heat very well. I have a griddle that I had cut to fit above a 2 burner gas camp stove. I use it for pancakes and other breakfast items but I'm sure it would be fine in the oven. A 14 inch square of 1/4 or 3/8 plate wouldn't be very heavy.


SylviaH's picture

I have seen where an iron fry pan is turned upside down, heated and pizza baked on it in a home oven....maybe add a dash of liquid smoke...just kidding...hummm....I did see some good things about liquid smoke on tv just the other day.


EvaB's picture

made of cast iron, its about 14 by 18 inches fits on two burners of my gas stove (with a frame work to hold it, because it needs to get air under the griddle for the gas, and its not as even heat unless you take the spiders off and have a frame) I got it years ago, and use it on the BBQ all the time, its not that heavy, but it is not something you want to move about when hot! The caution with cast iron over plate steel is that the cast breaks like a glass bowl if you drop it! However it does have handles, a grease well and groove, and is made for cooking on, no possible contamination from differing steel components. (titanium, cadmium etc).

This might be hard to find, but they do have large cast iron and cast aluminum griddles in the sporting section where the BBQ's are sold. So check out stores that sell BBQ equipment for a large griddle. My mother had a large aluminum griddle which she gave away (and belive me she rarely gave things away) but she hated it for cooking on because it stuck no matter how well she greased it.

Cast iron can be seasoned to perfection and should be, but it rarely ever looses its seasoning unless you wash it with soap! Not good, and never put it in the dishwasher unless you wish to reseason the pan.

It might not be as cheap as a sheet of steel, but its made for cooking, and can be used on the BBQ, the stove top and if really necessary over a bed of coals when the power is out!

dosidough's picture

Lodge-logic makes a cast iron 14" pizza pan. Pre heat the oven really high then flash it under the broiler a few minutes. Nice even heat. I use my pizza stone for bread but the cast iron for pizza. It gives a good sear to the bottom crust. Good bubbles in a Neopolitan.

I also use it stove top (on an electric stove) as a large griddle.





3 Olives's picture
3 Olives

Just buy an old Griswold cast iron griddle. I'd call Lodge to make sure the product was made in the USA before purchasing from them. If it's made in China I'd pass as they use scrap iron from any source and that is not good.

MichaelH's picture

"If it's made in China I'd pass as they use scrap iron from any source and that is not good"



cranbo's picture

Ordered a 16x22" piece of steel plate 1/4" thick from a local metal supply. Should pick it up tomorrow. Will let you know how it goes. Will cost about $30. 

I'm thinking I should've sized it slightly smaller, maybe 15x21 or 15.5 x 21.5, but I think it will still fit nicely. 

MichaelH's picture

Wish I had seen this thread earlier. Steel is not a very good conductor of heat. It heats unevenly. That is why it is not used in cookware, unless there is a layer of aluminum sandwiched between 2 layers of stainless steel on the bottom of the pan.

Good cookware is either sandwiched steel, aluminum, copper, cast iron or ceramic.

Steel will probably will work ok for pizza......good luck.


cranbo's picture

I agree that steel is not as good a conductor as aluminum, but we're not just concerned about thermal conduction here, we're also concerned about thermal mass.

The thermal conduction of steel is similar to that of cast iron, but much less significant than aluminum, copper or gold (see this chart on thermal conduction of various materials). 

Thermal mass is important because it represents how well heat it held. Stone, like baking stones, hold heat well because they have a lot of mass and the material is highly dense. As you know baking stones take a long time time heat up though, but they generally hold their heat rather well. Same goes for a masonry stove/oven. 

I'm betting that a thick piece of steel plate (similar to a big piece of cast iron) will be a good compromise of both: heat up more quickly than stone, and due to its thickness and size, serve as a significant thermal mass that will hold heat relatively evenly for a long period of time. I'm guessing the same principles for thermal mass for building materials apply here. 

In any case, I'll let you know how the experiment turns out. 

bnom's picture

I'm going to a salon featuring Nathan Myrvhold at the University of Washington on  Monday. He's talking about innovation and entrepeneurship - in the kitchen and in life.

cranbo's picture

I picked up my 16x22 piece of 1/4" steel plate this afternoon from my local metal supply shop. 

Will need to take an angle grinder to the edges, which are rough from where they cut it. 

Weight was 25.5 lbs, not light, but not too heavy at all. 

Cost with tax was $27.60 USD. 

I'll post some pictures later...

I plan to clean it well with possibly some sandpaper (there's some light surface rust), scrubber pad, dish soap and water, and then season it like a cast iron pan. I have an outdoor, propane fueled wok burner (65,000 BTU) which I can use for the purpose, instead of smoking up the house. 

cranbo's picture

Took about 15 minutes or so to grind down all the edges, smooth out the cuts. Took some sandpaper and polished the surface.

Wiped it down, then washed it with hot soapy water, scrubbed with steel scrubber.

Threw it on the stovetop (it's big enough to easily cover both burners). Cranked up the burners, seasoned it with melted bacon fat, green onions, a generous heap of salt. Wiped clean, then reseasoned with garlic and leftover bacon fat.

Wiped clean again, then into an oven @ 550F for 30 minutes. 

I gotta say, that steel retained heat on the 2nd rack from the top better than my baking stone 2nd rack from bottom. After 30 minutes cooling, I could easily touch the stone, but I could barely touch the steel. 

Whipped up some pizza dough, will try baking on it tomorrow. Photos to come...


lynnebiz's picture

When you say that it took you about 15 min to grind down the edges - did you do that w/a shop grinder, or sandpaper for the whole process? I don't want to end up w/edges that could cut me (any more than usual - my right hand is scattered w/burn scars. I wear them as badges of pride - but don't want any more, hehe).

I don't have any power tools, nor would I, for the love of all that's good in the world, allow myself near any.

cranbo's picture

Of course you could use hand tools, like sandpaper & metal files, but it would take longer. 

I used a 4" angle grinder, which is the most useful cutting tool I've ever had in my garage. Harbor Freight tools sells them for cheap. I did some finish work with 100 and 220grit sandpaper. No rough edges here!

Of course, if you're getting a piece cut, you might ask your metal supply house if they'd grind the edges down for you. 

Or if you have an electric drill, you could buy a cheap grinding bit from your local hardware store and have a go at it, another option. 

GinGin06's picture


How did the pizza turn out using the sheet metal?  Hope it was tasty and would like to hear more about your experiments.

cranbo's picture

You can read more about my results (including photos) with the 1/4" steel sheet instead of pizza stone on this thread: