The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stone or Steel

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daveazar531's picture
daveazar531

Stone or Steel

has anyone looked into a baking steel for pizza and bread?

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html?ref=search

I'm thinking about getting one and im in the market for a griddle and this can serve that purpose as well

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I mean, maybe it fits on top of your stove and maybe it doesn't. But if you want a griddle  you might want one that actually is designed for being a griddle and has a "lip" on it so your food doesn't spill over onto the stove.

There is still a bit of question out there, it seems, over whether the cast iron lodge pizza pan will do as well as the baking steel.  My own view is that  if you have a peel and you plan on slipping  your pie into the hot oven form a peel, the steel is better than the lodge pizza pan.  If, however, you are happy to take the hot pan out of the oven and peel the pizza on top of the stove, then I like the lodge pizza pan because it is easy to move about due to the handles [but it is smaller and harder to get the pizza on with a peel as a result of being smaller and having the lip that goes around the circumference.

I keep my lodge cast iron pizza pan in the oven all of the time, and I expect I would have to do that if I had the baking steel because it seems to awkward to move.  If you don't want to keep the cookware in the oven when not making pizza or bread then the lodge pan would be better because it is easy to move (heavy but lighter and has handles).

I have not baked a hearth bread or other bread on the pan because I have been using the lodge combo cooker to get great results.

Here is a link to various pizza baking options at amazon:

 Pizza Steel or Cast Iron?

You can sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime via this link f you do not have it, to save on shipping.

daveazar531's picture
daveazar531

i use the Lodge combo cooker as well and I've been very happy with the crusts it produces. I actually use the cast iron skillet to make a really nice deep dish style pizza.

You made a great point about the handle, I would also be keeping the steel in the oven and moving that plate of steel def wouldn't be doable until completely cooled down. However from what I've read it could be a good griddle. Of course any heavy cast iron/steel griddle could do a hell of a job of putting a crust on some fajitas. At 15 bucks the 10 inch round griddle is to good to pass up! I just ordered it.

Peeling the dough on to the steel inside vs outside of the oven is more about comfort and practice then anything else i think. I have always transferred pizza's right into the oven on a cheapo unglazed tile. I found if i just did it as quickly as possible id avoid heat loss and dough stick-age. I'm sure your getting a nice clean transfer by taking the time to do it without sticking your hands into a 500 degree oven and i like that now i will have the option of doing it either way

I've been a prime member for years, its great for shipping but also for instant videos and free kindle books... that's again for your input David

 

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Just to clarify -- I was talking about the the lodge pizza pan (the pro logic 14" model) as opposed to the pan you just ordered. In my opinion, if you plan to peel the pie into the oven, I don't think you'd want to use the pizza pan.  I say this because it is round and probably smaller than the typical tile set up, and because it has the lip on it.  I just think you would wind up making a mess.  BUT, I am sure if you are excellent with the Peel it can be done.

I make my pie so it just fits on the tray and I can't see myself landing the pie on it consistently, though perhaps with practice that won't be a problem. (Even taking it out so I do it on the stove, sometimes my dough drops over the side a bit.  On occasion I have been able to push it back onto the pan, something I would be less interested in doing if it was in the oven.

daveazar531's picture
daveazar531

I went with the cheaper one because i don't make pizza that often and i though the long handle would be easy to manage on the burner. It should be large enough for a small pie. I'm gonna test it out and see how I like it. I'll throw a blog up with my results

Cheers

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I used a baking steel for pizza a few times.  It was better than a stone ( quicker transfer of heat ) but the results did not blow me away.   I have read that it excels if the oven can reach 550 F, which my oven can't.  You would not want to use it for bread - the bottom of your loaves would be burned before the loaf was done.   

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I have the steel and have baked loaves as well as pizza on it. I have posted the pizzas here on TFL. The pizza is done at the top of the oven and finished/assisted by the broiler to increase the heat. The breads are baked in the lower oven range and there is no burning at all. One must remember the steel can not get hotter than the oven...so if one pre-heats to 460 F degrees that is the temp at which the steel is baking. No burn involved. No more so than the hot pots that I use. Have never understood others saying the loaves burn. The heat is what it is. Oven temps can be off in home ovens but otherwise no burn can happen if one has accurate temps to begin with. It is what it is. Have never burned a loaf in a cast iron pot or on the steel in all the years I have used them. c

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

However, there may be a tendency for the bottoms to over cook, particularly of the metal is nearer to the heat elements.  The recommended solution of this is to slip a sheet pan under the loaf 1/2 way through the bake if you experience overbaked bottoms, shoeing up as too tough bottoms or burned bottoms. Not a difficult solution if moving the steel to the middle rack doesn't fix this. 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Trailrunner, I can't argue with your results, and congrats on not burning the bottom of the loaf, but for most people, we have to treat stones and metal differently.  Heat isn't just temperature, it also involves other factors, including efficiency of transfer.  If I put a turkey in a oven surrounded by hot air at a certain temperature, it will cook much more slowly than that same turkey in a vat of oil at the exact same temperature.  While different baking stones have a different rates of transfer of heat to a loaf, in general, they are all far slower in transfer than metal - which is why metal is preferred for pizza ( unless you can get the heat really high - at 650 F and up,  usually you go with stone instead of metal to slow the heat transfer to the pizza bottom)   So if I am used to baking a batard on a pizza stone starting at 450F , and switch to a pizza steel, I am pretty sure the bottom would be done much more quickly.  Again, I am not arguing with you about your results, but for what I bake, I see the difference pretty quickly.  

 

Turning back to the original question, in my opinion, the advantage of a pizza steel over a stone is that is preheat times are shorter, and it won't break.  The downside is they can be very heavy  ( I have a 3/8 inch one) and can burn the bottom quickly, and can involve the same maintenance as a cast iron pan.  The downside of a stone, is that it can crack from mishandling, or just in use if not made properly, takes longer to preheat, but generally requires no maintenance, and can't rust.