Stone or Steel? Sunday Food Thread 8/16

About a month ago my wife read about using a pizza steel instead of a stone to get a good crisp crust on a home-cooked pizza. We’d been using a stone for years and have been quite happy with the results but the opportunity to make that even better (and probably a bit of covid cabin fever) got us going on some research so we took the plunge. One of the first things I found was that many places online sold very expensive hunks of steel. Being a bit of a penny-pincher I explored some options and found out that some people were buying regular old milled steel and cleaning and seasoning it themselves. I decided to go the DIY route and not long after a really heavy (I bought two because we have a double oven), flat rectangular package was at our door. I’d read that a good soak in vinegar and then a bit of scrubbing would clean the mill scale off, what no one wrote though was how fast it would start to oxidize once that mill scale was gone. I used some fine sandpaper to take care of the rust and immediately set about seasoning the steels. Using cooktop burners I heated them up and rubbed regular cooking oil onto the steels and that got me about half way there. I finished up the seasoning in the oven, which caused my smoke detector much distress.

On to the actual pizza cooking. Steel is the way to go for thin crust! Holy moly does it crisp up the bottom of those pizzas. And as much as I’d thought I’d seasoned the steels they really took on a rich dark color after using them to actually cook something on. What I’d read claimed they got hotter than the stones, which I can see as they had to cool off overnight before getting them out of the oven. And they took about half the time to come to temperature so while we don’t have to have the oven on as long as the stone it still heats the kitchen up for a long time while the steels are cooling off. We do want to try baking bread on a steel. It may be too much heat but we are game to find out.