So he and I were both quite interested when we heard about the new Baking Steel ($79) made at Stoughton Steel in Hanover, the brainchild of Andris Lagsdin. The story was in the May 22 Food section.
The steel, which weighs 15 pounds (shipping is free), has been blessed by "Modernist Cuisine" author Nathan Myhrvold. Writer Ann Trieger Kurland picked up a sample of the Baking Steel to try it before she wrote the story. The plan was that it would then go to me, and then back to the factory.
Stephen tried it last night and here is his report (the stunning pie it made is above, and let me assure you it tasted as good as it looks):
"You have to have more than a passing enthusiasm for homemade pizza to get excited about the Baking Steel. The 15 pound, 1/4-inch-thick sheet isn't easy to put in or remove from the oven, takes a long time (45 minutes) to heat to baking temperature, and wrestling its awkward bulk into the sink for cleaning isn't much fun.
"But if you're determined to turn out a Neapolitan-style pie none of this will matter. The steel does a better job of reliably producing a nicely-sprung, chewy-crispy crust than any baking surface we've encountered. Cooking times varied between 8 and 11 minutes -- longer than the accompanying instructions say, but we love a pie with scorched black here and there. Tip: turn on the broiler for last couple of minutes."
The next stop for the Baking Steel: back to Stoughton. You'd have to make pizza weekly to justify the cost.
Stephen had another idea: Baking pizza on a flat cast-iron griddle that's gathering dust in the basement, a purchase we know now we couldn't justify. We hardly use it. Almost relegated to what Bill Cosby calls "the equipment graveyard."
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.