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Old 05-08-2012, 10:56 AM   #31
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Soma, I'm not one of those energy enthusiasts. Anyway stoves around here mostly use natural gas, the counter top pizza makers are electric, and IMO electric is far more than expensive gas at least here in the city.

Frank, I don't have any counter space either. My interest in the subject is for future benefit. I won't be doing baking of any kind until I move.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:09 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
Soma, I'm not one of those energy enthusiasts. Anyway stoves around here mostly use natural gas, the counter top pizza makers are electric, and IMO electric is far more than expensive gas at least here in the city.

Frank, I don't have any counter space either. My interest in the subject is for future benefit. I won't be doing baking of any kind until I move.
''
Gas is significantly cheaper here in the northeast too (probably true everywhere).

Most of us here make our pizzas in a home oven. I cook mine at or just under 500ºF. Not there is all that much advantage to a dedicated pizza oven unless you don't have a regular oven. (I thought that's why you mentioned it.)
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Old 05-08-2012, 01:33 PM   #33
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The pizza stone I use said to preheat to 500F. I don't know how hot it can actually handle.
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Old 05-08-2012, 02:05 PM   #34
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Andy, I was just curious about dedicated pizza ovens. The chief advantage I can see is that the good ones are capable of reaching higher temperatures than consumer ovens. In reading and watching the TV shows I became a bit envious that they could cook a pizza sometimes in 3 minutes. It's of course not so you won't have to wait. It appears to me (a novice pizza maker) that the higher temperature and shorter alter the outcome, arguably making better pizza.

When I get back into a house I expect I'll continue cooking pizza in my oven just like I always have. I also expect I won't want to take up valuable counter space with an appliance I would use probably only a few times a month.

Gas is probably cheaper than electric in most if not all cities, but one possible exception may be rural areas cooking from propane delivered to their homes by truck. I was looking at houses in a rural area last summer and some of the houses had city hookups, others had tanks. I didn't look into the expense of trucking propane in but I suspect it's not cheap.

One thing I forgot to mention from earlier in the topic, a comment on using a steel plate as a pizza stone. That sounded like a pretty good idea, and I suspect the comment is accurate that a steel plate will heat more quickly than a pizza stone because it's more heat conductive.

The steel sounded like a good idea. Since I live in the big bad city there are places where I can get practically any kind of metal in any form, and cut to size if I want to pay the cutting charge (or sort through scraps for one that suits). The ideal size would probably be a couple inches less than the oven's horizontal dimensions. Perhaps 1/4 inch thick? I presume stainless steel would be the desired material?

It would probably be more expensive than a pizza stone, but certainly it would be indestructible!
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Old 05-08-2012, 02:34 PM   #35
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Greg, the heat retention and porosity of a stone pizza stone is a key part of its benefit. Neither is there with a metal 'stone'. The porosity is important to draw moisture out of the dough to help produce a crispy crust. The heat retention, similar to a cast iron skillet, eliminates abrupt temperature changes. This is why most all pizza ovens are lined with a fire brick or other unglazed ceramic surface.

As to propane, I'm not sure of the cost but I know it requires modifications to your gas appliances to accommodate the higher BTU output you get from propane.
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:00 PM   #36
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I don't know for sure, but I think electricity is cheaper here in Quebec. We have a bunch of big hydro dams and natural gas comes from far away.
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Old 05-08-2012, 04:32 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Greg, the heat retention and porosity of a stone pizza stone is a key part of its benefit. Neither is there with a metal 'stone'. The porosity is important to draw moisture out of the dough to help produce a crispy crust. The heat retention, similar to a cast iron skillet, eliminates abrupt temperature changes. This is why most all pizza ovens are lined with a fire brick or other unglazed ceramic surface
My comments were based upon this post:

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Originally Posted by jim262 View Post
Since most clay and brick ovens have an active fire in them, they will always have the advantage of direct radiant heat from the fire source that speeds the heating and charring of the top of the pizza to help balance the intense heat of oven deck.

In a conventional oven the only radiant heat that reaches the top of the pizza is reflected from the oven walls an top, so the best placement of a pizza stone is high in the oven instead of the bottom. The high in the oven technique is advocated by both Cook’s Illustrated and Nathan Myhrvold in Modernist Cuisine. CI uses a conventional baking stone while Myhrvold uses a quarter inch steel plate cut to fit the oven. Since steel is a much better conductor of heat, it will preheat faster than ceramic and conduct heat into the pizza more efficiently for faster bottom browning. Using the broiler as a direct radiant heat source while the pizza is cooking is also recommended, but I think many broilers have upper limit shutoff that may interfere with the concept.

Either way, they key to properly cooked pizza is balance between top and bottom cooking. I get good results using my stone without the broiler when it is placed high in the oven so I am not quite ready to search for a 20 lb steel plate to improve my pizza, but since the steel plate will probably cost less than an a premium baking stone it is certainly a move worth considering.
It makes sense to me but I'm no expert. I've cooked pizza about two dozen times.

In any case even if either could be used I suspect that the steel plate would be more expensive than a pizza stone, maybe a lot more expensive. Steel is the sort of thing that companies using it in mass quantities can be economical in terms of cost and labor, but a consumer like me might find that getting a one-of-a-kind made could be more expensive than it's worth. Even if it was better.

I've heard of inexpensive pizza stones made from purchasing quarry tiles at a big box home improvement store, but I've also heard that some can be treated with toxic glazes or other toxic substances. Once again, sounds like a good idea to save money but probably a bad idea unless you know exactly what you're doing. (I don't.)

In any case I see several or a dozen pizza stones sold on Amazon for $13-$38 and several pizza stones sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $15-$50 (and one set for $125, probably over-kill) so I'm probably going to just eventually get one at Amazon or BBB. $20-$35 sounds like a reasonable price to pay. I like brick and mortar stores because you can go over and look at it, no surprises, the folks at BBB are very nice, and a 30 day satisfaction guaranteed full refund no questions asked. Plus, if you get the coupons it's 20% off!
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Old 05-08-2012, 04:43 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
My comments were based upon this post:
It makes sense to me but I'm no expert. I've cooked pizza about two dozen times.

I've heard of inexpensive pizza stones made from purchasing quarry tiles at a big box home improvement store, but I've also heard that some can be treated with toxic glazes or other toxic substances. Once again, sounds like a good idea to save money but probably a bad idea unless you know exactly what you're doing. (I don't.)

In any case I see several or a dozen pizza stones sold on Amazon for $13-$38 and several pizza stones sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $15-$50 (and one set for $125, probably over-kill) so I'm probably going to just eventually get one at Amazon or BBB. $20-$35 sounds like a reasonable price to pay. I like brick and mortar stores because you can go over and look at it, no surprises, the folks at BBB are very nice, and a 30 day satisfaction guaranteed full refund no questions asked. Plus, if you get the coupons it's 20% off!
The secret to purchasing these quarry tiles is to get the UNGLAZED ones. And get the white ones. Not the red ones. You will know the unglazed ones. They are the ones that have no shine on them. And they are rough to the touch.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:01 PM   #39
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Addie it may be but I'm reluctant enough considering the toxic nature of some tiles, considering I'm not an expert, considering that the employees at the big box home improvement stores are experts in using their wares for their intended use, and finally considering that a pizza stone is not any major expense even at BBB, I think I'll just stick with something specifically made for baking pizzas.

Back to flour, anybody have any comments on what to use and whether it's worth the effort to get it, significant better pizza, or do you think my bread flour is good enough for beginner/intermediate home pizza chefs?
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:17 PM   #40
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Back to flour, anybody have any comments on what to use and whether it's worth the effort to get it, significant better pizza, or do you think my bread flour is good enough for beginner/intermediate home pizza chefs?

IMHO regular AP flour does a good job and I am not willing to pay a premium for the small difference in the final result, what has made a big difference, at no cost, is making the dough or a batter and letting it ferment for one to three days. That extra step makes a big difference in flavor and texture.
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