Do you own a pizza stone or a pizza steel? And what do you prefer? Or do you think it really doesn’t matter much. Let’s have a discussion.
I own an aluminum pizza baking plate. Actually 2 of them. Both perfectly smooth. thick, non-warping cast aluminum made out of Mig 6 alloy. I think one is about 6 mm thick and the other about 10 mm. but maybe it’s 12. It (Mig 6) has a lower thermal conduction than some other aluminums, which is good, because you can get a plate that conducts heat too fast The thing I sort of dislike it that the temperature is harder to read with an IR thermometer because of the shiny bright surface. These are reasonably cheap on Ebay.
Nice. An aluminum pizza pan non-warping. That would be of my liking
After I managed to crack my second pizza stone, I got a pizza steel. I’m very happy with it, except that it gets rusty from time to time and has to be scoured clean. And it’s heavy. I don’t think I can break it, though, and I’m very good at breaking things.
I got the alloy wrong, it’s Mic-6.
It’s not a stone or a steel, but I have this:
For my purposes, it is terrific. I am generally only cooking for two, so I don’t mind the size limitation. A 12-13" pizza is easier to prep and handle than a larger size in any case. This pan holds heat well (I can cook several pizzas in quick succession without having to wait for the pan to reheat) and gives me great leoparding on the bottom of my crusts. It’s also easy to move from oven to broiler (which is necessary with my current crappy oven) and can be used on the stovetop as a large griddle, or on the grill, etc.
I actually made pizza tonight (using that cast iron pan) and I’m currently in a food coma after consuming almost a whole 12" pizza by myself! Here’s a photo:
I also use a cast iron pan for pizza. It’s an oval about 9"x18" or so and about 2" deep. I rarely make deep dish pizza though. I put it in the oven when I turn the oven on & it heats up right along with the oven. So - I guess bionda and I have pizza ‘irons’.
Steel, no question in my mind, for pizza. For bread, it depends.
Thanks. I saw the Lodge cast iron pan as well on Amazon. It is cheaper too. $20-40 for cast iron as opposed to $80-100 for steel.
Exactly what I read from others too. steel pizza pans are more expensive, but they are more durable. So the price difference actually is smaller.
Chem, as suggested, there is some difference between using stone and using metal. Stone is a great reservoir when preheated, and re-emits more of it’s heat energy as infrared. It also conducts heat into the bread, better than a thin cookie sheet.
However, preheated thick steel is also a massive heat reservoir, not quite as good for bread at radiating infrared heat, but much faster a conductor of heat by contact with the pizza dough. Since pizzas are cooked fairly fast, the conduction of heat from the surface of the thick steel becomes more important.
Of course baking is a combination of heated air (conduction and natural or forced convection), radiant heat(invisible infrared rays- that everything above absolute zero produces- but especially things like the sun, and fires) and conduction with the pan or surface the food sits (or is contained) in. And there may be some steam involved.
Stone, on the other hand may be better for a bread that sits on or in it for 40 minutes, as it provides better browning from greater infrared, but less burning because of the contact with the less conductive stone. And some people use another extra stone above the loaf to mimic a brick or stone oven.
The final observation is that home ovens do not get much hotter than 525 degrees F. and so must rely on the greater surface conduction of a thick steel plate to bake a quick pizza. And because the dough is so thin, it can accept a quick bake and still be cooked through if the air is hot enough or it’s sitting on a more conductive thick preheated metal surface.
So a pizza stone might be fine for an 8 or 12 minute pizza, or longer, depending on the dough, but if you want to have 4 to 6 minute pizzas, you need a baking steel, or a 700 F oven temperature.
I have one of each. The pizza stone was offered as an accessory to my oven (Gaggenau). It is rectangular and fills the whole oven. It mounts at the bottom of the oven, where it has its own heating element. It takes a good 45 minutes to heat to the maximum temperature of 300 degrees Celsius / 572 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the maximum temperature is reached, it remains stable for a long time. It takes 4-5 minutes to cook a pizza. After some 10 years of use, it has a crack down the middle, but it is still in one piece
The steel is the original 1/4" model from Baking Steel, although it was a special order to accomodate smaller European ovens. It sits on the top oven rack so the pizza can also brown under the broiler. It heats up a bit faster than the stone, and being steel, it transfers the heat more readily to the pizza. A really nicely browned , puffed up pizza comes out in 3-4 minutes. However, since it transfers heat more quickly, it also loses heat. The first two pizzas are terrific, the third and fourth take longer and do not brown as well, unless I let the stone reheat for another 10 minutes or so between pizzas. I imagine that the thicker model would do a better job in this regard.
Both the stone and the steel do a great job with pita bread.
Yes, that was part of my consideration as well. It’s also much easier to handle and more versatile. I love pizza, but I don’t make it so often that I need to add a more or less permanent steel to my oven. The cast iron is a good compromise. BTW, in my old oven, which would heat to a registered temperature of 550, my IR thermometer would register low-600s and I could cook a pizza in about 6 minutes, with maybe a minute under the broiler at the end. My current oven (which sucks) only heats to 500, so the same pizza now takes 8 minutes plus 1:30-2 mins under the broiler.
Yes, this is what I meant that for bread, it depends. Kidding aside, a thinner steel won’t give you as many problems with burnt bottoms. Even on a thicker steal, you can get away with baguettes if you use parchment in between the steel and the loaves. The radiant heat issue will bug you a bit as you try to perfect your free standing loaves. I currently have my steel plate at the top of my oven to mimic a stone oven, but it doesn’t give off as much radiant heat as I would like.
How about cast iron? Will that also provide radiant heat like a stone?
I have a thick stone but I would like to get a thick piece of steel (maybe 1/4") that I can use for pizza and other dough products. The prices I see for “pizza steels” are crazy stupid, upwards of $200.00 for a large size. Can’t I just get a hunk of steel that I can use for this purpose? Where? Thanks!
This is the one I have. It’s $89 (it was less when I bought it - maybe $60).
Hi bmorecupcake, I don’t really know, because emissivity varies with surface treatment and color. as well as temperature.
In general, the ceramics, stones, bricks, glass and tiles are higher for emissivity. Metals can vary wildly, even the same metal depending on the surface, whether it’s oxidized etc.
But a dark, dull, almost black cast iron would be fairly good.
Yes. I just tackled this in April. Give me a few days and I’ll post all the details. Just got back after being away for a while.
I agree. I think you can get a straight piece of metal for a cheaper price (steel, copper or aluminum). The thing is that these will not be thoroughly cleaned and will have sharp edges. So if we are will to polish the edge of and clean off the machine oil, then any machine steel should work just fine.
Yes, scrap steel works just fine. You may need to round some edges, clean and/or descale.
I think 1/4" or 3/8" thick are good. Any thicker and you are likely to scorch the bottom before your broiler finishes the toppings.