Is $72 too much to pay for perfection? I don’t think so, for I have achieved pizza perfection with The Baking Steel. A while back, I wrote about my adventures in sheet-steel pizza cooking. After using the sheet steel a few times, I went back to my stone-plus-broiler method because my piece of scrap steel was too oddly shaped for cooking (long and narrow–not a suitable shape for cooking round pies). Meanwhile, I continued to lust after wood-fired pizza ovens (like this neapolitan oven from Breadstone), deterred only by the multi-thousand dollar price tag and expensive delivery charges.
In part to stave off any potential purchase of a WFO (wood fired oven), I broke down and bought the Baking Steel. At 14″ by 16″, It IS the right shape for pizza, and it is a bit thicker than the sheet steel I used previously. Three pies later, I think I am completely cured of any WFO madness. This thing turns out impeccable pizza….incredible pizza..amazing pizza. Pizza every bit as good as the best WFO…..no exaggeration. (What, me exaggerate?)
Here’s how it works: the 15-lb steel sheet preheats at 550 for 30-45 minutes. Next, the oven’s broiler is switched on high, blasting the steel with extra heat. Meanwhile, the cook preps the pizza. Within 20 minutes, the steel reaches 700+ degrees (yes, I checked it with my infrared thermometer), and a pie will cook about 3 minutes. The photos above show the (half anchovy/red pepper, half ricotta/parmesan/red pepper/black olive) pizza prior to cooking, at 30 seconds, at 1.5 minutes, and done at 3.5 minutes. Notice the lovely spots underneath, as well as the charred bubbling on top.