Baking Steel

I purchased what I thought would be my final pizza stone a few years ago. It was very thick and very heavy. It should have lasted for as long as I would have it. But alas it slowly cracked and a few months ago finally broke into two. It was still usable, but the crack was right in the middle and the two pieces would magically migrate apart.

About this time I was hearing about a product called a Baking Steel. A heavy sheet of steel that would conduct heat better than a stone, thus providing you with a superior crust. Gail of One Tough Cookie got one and raved about how good her pizza was turning out. I hemmed and hawed for a couple of months and then finally ordered one for myself.

The first two times I used it was for bread. Using the pizza stone for years I was resigned to not getting the really brown bottom crust on my freeform loaves. The Baking Steel changed that! Both loaves had beautiful brown bottoms and they were crunchy. See the loaf to the left. The other thing I noticed was that I got a bit better oven spring on the loaves.

So, onto pizza, finally after having the steel for a while. I made the dough with Italian “00” flour and that recipe makes for a very stretchy dough that you can make very thin and it turns out crisp. I preheated the oven at 500°F for 45 minutes as directed. The rack it is on is in the upper third of the oven, so I turned the broiler on for a couple of minutes and then back to bake right before sliding the pizza in.

I kept an eye on the pizza and it probably took about 7 minutes to cook. The crust was CRUNCHY! There were air bubbles and it was cooked evenly all over. It was an Emeril Legasse recipe for Duck Confit Pizza. It was good, but lacking some zing. It was better leftover today than last night. I don’t think I”d make that recipe again. But I will make my take on it: no potatoes, more cheese, a good amount of chopped rosemary. The picture is up top.

So, if you want some really crispy thin crust pizza at home I can heartily recommend a Baking Steel.

Here’s the recipe I follow for the dough:

Neopolitan Pizza Dough          Servings: four 8″ pizzas

1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115°)
1 t. instant yeast
4 cups Italian “00” Flour
1 T. sea salt

Mix everything together in a stand mixer using the dough hook. Knead until it’s glossy and smooth. This will take 10 – 20 minutes. If it’s not coming together because it’s too wet, add a a little more flour. If it’s too dry add some water.

Place the dough in lightly oiled container with a lid or a bowl with some plastic wrap. Be sure to turn the dough once to coat it with the oil.

Let rise 4 hours in a warm place.
Or, place it in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to use it. It will keep in the fridge for several days.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces or for larger pizzas make just 3.

Stretch, shape or even roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured board. This dough stretches easily without tearing. Top and bake.

I was not compensated for this post. It’s just my opinion.

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