My sister has long been a fan of her pizza stone. The idea being that you pop it in the oven and, because it is more efficient at transferring heat than air, you get a crisper pizza bottom faster. But I’ve never been that convinced. In his ‘In Search of Perfection’ series, Heston measures the temperature in Neapolitan pizza ovens – the magic number? About 700°C. No domestic oven will safely get that warm but using some common sense you can get close.
Metal is a much better conductor of heat than stone and by warming the base of a thick iron frying pan on a hob before putting it upside down in the grill you can get very very hot. I have a couple of very nice Debuyer frying pans which do this job admirably, but I liked the idea of taking the concept one step further. A kickstarter in America recently funded a trial run of pizza steels, a slab of metal that would do the same job, the price tag? Almost $120 for UK delivery. Being an engineer I snorted in derision and got a 6mm thick slab of mild steel delivered from a metalworking supplier for under £20. A few minutes tidying it up with a file and a perfect pizza stone was born.
The results speak for themselves – crisp, pillowy soft base and beautifully seared toppings. It cooked three pizzas in quick succession without blinking, each pizza taking about two minutes, start to delicious finish. Yum.
Over the next few weeks I’m hoping to see what it can do with a more American, New York style, slice.