What Is A Pizza Steel, And Why Would You Want One?
\A pizza steel, also known as a baking steel, is a better heat conductor than a pizza stone. The pizza steel is popular for cooking bread and pizza because it is able to transfer heat at a high rate while simultaneously stabilizing at a steady temperature. This means when you place a pizza on the steel, the dough is cooked by the transfer of heat stored in the steel – rather than just the hot air in the oven. Since steel conducts heat better than a ceramic stone, you’ll be able to get that really crispy crust. A pizza steel will also last you a lifetime if you take proper care of it. Pizza steels are a little heavy, weighing between 12 and 15 pounds depending on their dimensions, while pizza stones can weigh as little as five pounds. On the flip side, it does have a slimmer profile, which makes it easier to store. So if you’re serious about pizza, and don’t have access to a proper pizza oven, a pizza steel should be the first thing on your wish list.
5 Steps to Use a Pizza Steel
Now that you’ve been thoroughly convinced why a pizza steel should be an essential part of your kitchen, let’s help guide you through using one for your first delicious pizza. Soon, you’ll have everyone fawning over how you’re able to get your crust so crispy, without sacrificing the doughy goodness inside.
1. Preheat Your Steel
Place your steel on the top rack of your cold oven, and then begin preheating it to it’s hottest temperature – typically between 500F and 550F. Once your oven reaches temperature, leave it heating for another 15 minutes. The steel should be fully stabilized to the temperature of the oven in that time.
2. Stretch Your Pizza
Stretch the dough to the desired size. Ideally, you should do this on a pizza peel with flour, cornmeal, or parchment paper to easily transfer your pizza (check out our guide on how to use a pizza peel).
3. Add Ingredients
Add your sauce, cheese, and favorite toppings. Be careful not to spill the sauce on the peel or parchment paper.
4. Cook Your Pizza
Place your pizza in the center of the baking steel. Bake for approximately four minutes. After four minutes, rotate your pizza, and place your oven on broil. This will take around 2 more minutes, but watch your pizza carefully for burning. The bake and then broil method assures that your pizza cooks all the way through but also ends with a crispy crust.
5. Enjoy Your Pizza
When the pizza is finished, pull it out of the oven with your peel. Leave the stone in the oven to cool off while you enjoy your delicious pizza. After it cools, you can safely take the stone out of the oven and clean it.
Tips and Tricks from a Pro
The more you use the pizza steel, the more experimental and inventive you’ll become. We interviewed the owner of an excellent local pizza restaurant for a few pro-tips to make that perfect pie:
- If you’re topping with fresh basil and oregano, let the pizza cool for a bit or else the herbs will go dark.
- If you are cooking multiple pizzas in a row, let the pizza steel reheat for 10 minutes or so after every 3rd pizza. This will ensure you don’t lose crispiness with subsequent pizzas.
- Make sure your dough is at room temperature for less condensation and moisture. It is also important to think about the moisture in certain ingredients you are using, mushrooms being a notorious one. Strip the water out a bit by giving them a few minutes in the microwave with some paper towels.
- Most pizza steels range from 3/16 inch (4.8 mm) to 1/2 inch (12.7 mm), and the thicker the steel is, the faster it bakes the pizza. The reason is that it can hold more heat. But the thicker it is, the longer it will take to preheat the steel. f your pizza steel is very thick, but your oven doesn’t get that hot, and also don’t have a broiler, you’ll probably burn the crust before the top of the pizza is done. So thicker is not always better.
Cleaning and Maintaining Pizza Steels
When it comes to cleaning your pizza steel, it’s very easy. Let the pizza steel cool in the oven, but you may want to pull it out while it’s still warm for ease of cleaning. Clean the steel with hot water and a brush (do not use soap). Thoroughly dry the steel and store in a dry environment to avoid any rust. The color of the steel will change with extended use, don’t worry, this is normal. Occasionally rub a light coating of oil on the steel to maintain seasoning. Always use caution when handling the pizza steel. The steel plate will get extremely hot. Use oven mitt or glove when handling.
Other alternatives to steel
If you don’t want to go with the steel option, there are still other ways to create a delicious at home pizza, even if they have some drawback. Cast iron is decent, but can create way too many hot and cold spots throughout that metal which will affect the consistency of your crust. You could also just use a sheet tray by itself, the dough doesn’t have much of a chance of cooking properly throughout without the ability to retain the heat you’ll get with a true pizza steel. That being said, if you’re reading this article, you love pizza. And if you love pizza, you know that there’s almost no such thing as bad pizza, just varying degrees of goodness. We hope that this article helps you make an even better pizza.
One negative about pizza steels vs. stones is that they are slightly more expensive. That said, they are made to last much longer than a stone, which is easy to crack over subsequent uses. Bakingsteel.com has quality steel with ¼” thickness. They claim that through their experiments this is the ideal thickness for pizza, and it’s their best seller. Even the New York Times regarded this as the ideal pizza steel. If you are looking for something a little cheaper than the $89 price tag, Amazon sells a variety.