Item: The Baking Steel
Overall Impression: Fantastic and durable pizza accessory, one that will help your pizza cook much faster and give it a deliciously chewy, blistered crust.
Do you use a pizza stone? Putting a heavy stone in your oven helps stabilize its temperature, retain its heat, and transfer it more efficiently and directly to your pizza. I had a pizza stone a long time ago, but broke it rather promptly, and ever since then I've baked my pizzas directly on an oven rack. Well, that's all changed now, as I bought one huge hulking chunk of thermal mass, The Baking Steel, and it's making my pizzas that much better.
Characteristics and Specs: The Baking Steel is a 15-pound, 1/4-inch-thick piece of steel that goes into your oven when preheating it for pizza. The dimensions: 16 x 14 x .25 inches.
Favorite details: This is a beast — one heavy piece of steel! Its thermal mass helps my oven maintain a more even temperature, and the crusts on my pizzas have been so much crisper and faster-cooking since I started using it.
Potential problems: It's heavy! It takes some concentration to pull it in and out of the oven, and forget about moving it if it's still hot. Also, this isn't exactly a problem, but it is worth noting that my crust bottoms cooked so fast that the tops didn't get as browned as I would prefer. So I found that this is best used on the very top rack of the oven.
Splurge-worthy? If you are really into pizza, this is a great splurge. It works so well, and it will optimize even a weak oven, turning it into a hotter, better vehicle for great pizza. I haven't tested it on breads yet, but I'm looking forward to baking rustic breads on it this fall. (Also, Kenji at Serious Eats points out that it also makes a great stovetop griddle, fitting easily across two burners.)
Good for small kitchens? This is more easily stored than a pizza stone, since it's very slim and can fit between cabinets or even under the couch! You also don't need to worry at all about breakage.
The Baking Steel was designed by Andris and Eric Lagsdin, two brothers and owners of a family steel manufacturing business. Inspired by Nathan Myhyrvold's Modernist Cuisine, they realized that their core product, steel, could make a far superior sort of baking stone. Not a baking stone, in fact, but a baking steel.
They designed a simple flat sheet of recycled steel, weighing 15 pounds and small enough to slip into almost any home oven. The result: Pizzas that cooking blazingly fast, almost like in a wood oven. Kenji at Serious Eats called it, "...the most impressive home pizza product I've ever tested." The Kickstarter campaign they started to help fund the startup product exceeded its goal tenfold.
I bought a Baking Steel during the Kickstarter campaign, eager to put it through its paces. And I was not disappointed. After heating up the oven with the Steel inside for over half an hour, I found that my pizzas cooked easily in under 5 minutes — sometimes less. They also had much crisper crusts all the way through, not just on the edges.
This thing makes fabulous pizzas, and in its recycled plastic case, it fits just about anywhere in my kitchen. I keep it slid out of the way behind a cabinet right now; it takes up almost no space.
Have you tried one of these Baking Steels? What are your thoughts on it?
Find It! The Baking Steel, $72 (without case) or $102 (with case) at Stoughton Steel
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This product was purchased by the author.