I like crispy, Neapolitan-style pizza. The single biggest improvement to my pizza and bread baking, in the last year, has been the addition of a baking steel.
Pizza should be crispy on the bottom, but chewey, with great hole structure just above, and poofy edge crust sporting a few charred bubbles! My pizza stone got me close, but I was never really getting restaurant quality pizza at home.
The trick to getting your crust that perfect, I found, wasn’t just making great dough and rolling it out well. It is not even so much about an exact temperature, but a question of heat transference. Stone holds a lot of heat, and but steel holds more and conducts it far, far faster. A crispy bottomed, well risen crust is formed by the rapid vaporization of water in the dough. The faster and more evenly that happens, the better. You want bubbles and holes? You need a baking steel.
Clearly one should use a metal surface, rather than stone. The baking steel is a 15″ x 15″ square of seasoned carbon steel. It is 1/4″ thick and weighs in at 15 lbs. You were wondering where it stored all that heat? In mass. My oven rack takes the weight just fine, and the plate heats up quickly.
Slide your pizza on to the steel with your peel, and bake for about 1/2 the time you would on a stone! The increased heat transfer cooks the pizza much quicker than on a stone! I find the crust comes out perfectly in about 4 1/2 minutes, I used to bake at 500F for about 8-9 minutes.
I still use my old pizza stone. I keep it on my 2nd rack and place it about 4″ above the baking steel. This creates a nice radiant heat source directly above the baking pizza, and helps char the taller crust bubbles. I get pretty close to a wood-fired pizza.
The carbon steel comes pre-seasoned, and you reseason it just like cast iron, naturally I love it.
The recipe for dough I use is here.