Baking Steel pizza dough: the hottest crust around

Inventor and guest writer Andris Lagsdin shares the story of how a realization at work led to Baking Steel pizza dough and one of the best pizza crusts you’ll ever make.

A unique combination of interests and skills led to the birth of the Baking Steel. And, in my humble opinion, pizza is the better for it.

In my day job, I work for a family-owned manufacturing company, Stoughton Steel. But outside the office, I’m pretty passionate about food — pizza in particular.

My thoughts are never far from creating the perfect crust. One day, I was browsing a volume from the book series Modernist Cuisine, by Nathan Myhrvold. As fate would have it, Myhrvold stated that the best tool to use for making the perfect pizza crust would be a piece of steel.

And that, my friends, was my “AH-HA” moment! As soon as I could, I hustled out to our plant, found a piece of 1/4” high-quality steel, and brought it home for some testing.

Baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

According to Myhrvold, steel is better at conducting heat than a brick oven’s stone. Because of that conductivity, pizza crust cooks faster and more evenly at a lower temperature, resulting in a beautiful, thin, crispy crust.

Real-life tests with steel confirmed that theory completely for me! But why is steel a better conductor than stone?

Here’s the scoop. We know from seventh-grade science class that steel is a great conductor. What I’ve since learned is that it stores more than 18 times the amount of energy — heat — than stone can store. The steel then transfers that heat so quickly that pizza can be fully baked in a home oven in about 5 minutes — less than half the time of a traditional pizza stone.

I’d spent plenty of time over the years with countless pans, pizza stones, gadgets, and gear trying to perfect my pizzas in a home oven. Who knew the solution had been waiting for me all along in a pile of steel over at the shop — and some insight from Modernist Cuisine? Talk about serendipity!

I’m lucky to be living out my dream of combining two great interests — pizza and steel — into one amazing product, the Baking Steel.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk pizza dough.

Most artisan pizza dough rests 24 hours or less before you shape and bake it. But we’re going to make a simple adjustment to the typical no-knead recipe that will change your home pizza game forever.

The @BakingSteel makes pizza crust comparable to great crusts found in top pizzerias. Click To Tweet

And what’s this simple adjustment? Extending the dough’s rest from less than 24 hours to a full 72 hours.

Why is this extended rest important? The process, called slow fermentation, is a favorite of baking professionals and experienced pizza makers. By slowing down the dough’s rise, it has time to develop wonderfully rich, complex flavor.

Do this test: Make a batch of dough, and divide it into seven pieces (as directed in the recipe below). Bake one crust after the initial 24-hour rest; then another at 48 hours, a third at 72 hours, etc. It’s a fun test and you’ll get to eat lots of pizza! The results should speak for themselves — you’ll notice a marked difference in flavor between the 24-hour crust and successive crusts.

By the way, don’t let the recipe name intimidate you. The hands-on time for this 72-hour dough is just 15 minutes — and that includes cleanup!

72-Hour Baking Steel Pizza Dough

adapted from Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough

8 1/4 cups (1000g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 teaspoons (16g) fine sea salt
heaping 1/4 teaspoon (2g) active dry yeast or instant yeast
3 cups + 2 tablespoons (700g) cool water (filtered)

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Mixing

Whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the water, mixing thoroughly.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Kneading

Knead the resulting dough for 2 to 3 minutes. The idea is to work the dough by hand until no dry patches remain. Knead until the dough forms a fairly tight ball.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Rising

Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Let the dough rest and rise for 24 hours at room temperature. This process, called bulk fermentation, enables the dough to more than double in size and become very aromatic in a clean, alcohol sort of way. This 24-hour rest also yields wonderful flavor in your crust.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Dividing

Lightly flour a work surface. Place the dough on the floured work surface. Divide it into equal portions (about 240g each).

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Shaping

Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold two of its sides into the center. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold the sides into the center again. Repeat this process until you’ve formed a smooth ball. Place the ball, smooth side down, in your palm, and firmly pinch the bottom seam closed. If your hands feel too sticky at any time, dip your fingers in flour.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Resting

Place each piece of dough into a heavily oiled 1-pint lidded plastic container. Date the containers, and refrigerate for at least 48 hours. Each container of dough will make one 12” pizza crust.

When you’re ready to begin your pizza, remove as many pieces of dough from the fridge as you need at least 1 hour before shaping. Any dough you don’t want to shape immediately can be frozen in its plastic container for up to 3 months, if desired.

Baker’s tip: How long can you store your dough in the refrigerator? I find the dough has a “strike zone” for ideal use between days 3 and 5 (counting the day it’s made as day 1). After day 5, the dough will start to break down some, making it a little more difficult to stretch. But the flavor remains outstanding right through day 10. Dough that’s nine or 10 days old will be quite “brittle” and hard to shape, so use it for rolls, short bread sticks, or other breads that don’t require a lot of stretching.

Turn Baking Steel pizza dough into pizza!

Ready to make pizza? Let’s start with a traditional cheese pizza — with some heat.

Your first step is preheating your oven at 500°F for a good hour, with the Baking Steel on the top rack, about 7” from the broiler.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Stretch or roll your pizza dough into a 12” round, and place it on a pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet, if you don’t have a peel).

Switch your oven to the broiler setting.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Top the crust with a generous 1/3 cup (3 ounces) tomato sauce, leaving a little crust bare around the perimeter.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese, then 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded low-moisture mozzarella.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Place the pizza onto the steel, under the broiler.

How to make baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

After 2 minutes, rotate the pizza 180 degrees (front to back, back to front). Switch the oven back to bake mode, 500°F. Bake for 2 more minutes, until the crust is as dark as you like.

Baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Remove the pizza from the oven. Notice those nice char marks on the underside, courtesy of the steel.

Sprinkle the pizza with 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste.

Baking steel pizza dough via @kingarthurflour

Take a photo, slice, serve, and enjoy!

Want to bake your own professional-style pizza at home? Check out the Baking Steel; and try Andris’ recipe above, or our recipe for Artisan No-Knead Pizza Crust.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Alissa

    LOVE KAF and Baking Steel! 72 hour dough makes a huge difference. We have used it up to 8 days old and it is still very good but that 72 hour is definitely the sweet spot. After years of using a stone, I was amazed at the difference a Baking Steel makes. Only wish I had a gas range so that I could use their griddle version for breakfast or burgers. We typically use cornmeal to help the pizza off the peel. We prebake the crust 3-4 minutes on the steel, top and then bake another 4 minutes. I haven’t tried the broiler method yet. One recommendation: make your own no-cook tomato sauce. Strain canned whole San Marzano type tomatoes and crush. Add a bit of olive oil, salt, and Italian seasonings (if you like). Spread it on your crust like sauce.

    Reply
    1. Rosebud

      Two things make a pizza, to me: 1. a thin, “burnt” crust and 2. the sauce. If the two don’t come up to my liking, forget it. And that’s why we very, very seldom ever order pizza from one of the national chains. Your recipe for the sauce sounds exactly like the sauces we’ve come to enjoy. Now to try the recipe for the crust.

  2. Lynn McLure

    Have loved my baking steel for a long time and this pizza recipe (and the one BS published for a shorter version) are my go to crusts. Really the best product! I have baked galettes on the steel too and get fabulous results.

    Reply
  3. Karen U

    Can a freezer type zipper bag be used to store the dough instead of pint containers? Freezer space is limited and bags take up less room.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to use ziplock bags if you like. Just be sure there’s some extra space for the dough to expand if you plan on leaving it in the bags to rise. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. judy Boncel

    I have a large pizza stone I use to leave in the oven, but after reading liquids dripped on it could crack it, I removed it. If I get a baking steel can that hold up to a pie overflowing and dripping on it?

    Reply
  5. Carol Doeringer

    Whoa, that’s a lotta dough! I am amazed at how the baking steel produces a light, airy, yet chewy crust. I’d like to try this recipe, but it’s way too large for the amount of pizza our two-person household can consume (or ‘should’ may be the better word choice). If I weigh 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and then use 1/3 of that (using my jeweler’s scale, in grams), do you think the proportion of yeast to flour will still work…or does scaling down the volume of dough, and losing some of the warmth a larger mass creates and retains, mean that proportionally more yeast would be needed to achieve the 72-hour result? By my calculation, I’m looking at 0.2 to 0.3 gram if I scale the recipe back. That’s not much…will it likely still work?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for checking, Carol. When it comes to an overnight rise and this small an amount of yeast, the exact amount you use will matter fairly little. For 1/3 the amount of dough you can use 1/8 teaspoon, 1/16 teaspoon, or a pinch of yeast, and any of these amounts should work just fine. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  6. Paul Johnston

    THANK YOU for posing this I have just now started looking for a good pizza recipe … Now the question is how would you convert this recipe to a Sourdough pizza recipe

    Reply
  7. Richard konchalski

    Seems like one would want someone like America’s Test Kitchen to independently do the taste test side by side with the stone and the steel. After all, 100 plus bucks is a good bit of money to most of us. Aside from attempting to lug 25 pounds in out of the oven and storing it somewhere; it just makes good sense to have the steel justified by an independent source…….Would also be interesting to hear what the great pizza makers in Italy think

    Thanks Really love your site –Its a great place to go and get the inspiration to try a bit of baking

    Reply
    1. jan

      I got my baking steel at Home Depot for $25. Have used it for pizza and artisan bread. works great. I have been known to leave it in the oven for weeks at a time with no harm done to it. Love it

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      While we haven’t tried making this low-carb, almond flour based pizza crust in our test kitchens, you’re welcome to try baking your pizza crust on a baking steel that’s been pre-heated to the temperature called for in your recipe. It will likely give your crust more of a crisp texture. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  8. andy

    My “intuition” has been that a pizza stone (porous) “wicks” excess moisture away from the pizza dough, helping to make a crispier thin-crust pizza. I’d appreciate your input on that.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Andy, wicking moisture via a pizza stone is true; and I suspect the steel, getting much hotter than stone, accomplishes the same thing by simply blasting the moisture out of the crust in a shorter amount of time. PJH

  9. mary kaye

    why would you need to heat the piece of steel for a full hour at 500? it seems like an incredible amount of electricity to use and with grandkids or kids ,pizza is a quick fix meal and not something that you necessarily have an hour to wait for. I love the concept but would a thinner sheet of steel work any faster? thanks mkm

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary, the challenging reality of using a baking steel (or stone for that matter) is that they do take this long to fully heat up and thus efficiently transfer heat to your crust. We know that for some the wait isn’t worth it, which is why we also carry a traditional Pizza Pan (http://bit.ly/2h2SoLe)–baking on this or an aluminized steel cookie sheet is akin to baking on a thinner piece of steel. This method definitely works well for pizza too and does take much less time to preheat, but it doesn’t produce quite the same thin, crispy crust. Mollie@KAF

    2. Jean Dee

      Agreed. When I saw the “preheat at 500 degrees for 1 hour,” I knew I would never use this recipe. IMHO…too much energy expended to make a pizza.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, it might just be the way the photo was shot, Karen. 7″ is about the right distance to put between the top broiler and the pizza for ideal caramelizing action. If you put the rack in your oven on the first level, you should be all set. Happy pizza baking! Kye@KAF

  10. Rudy

    Hello pj Hamel I would like to know,we’re I can get the steel baking pizza pan thank you,
    Your recipes, are great, what a baker! Rudy

    Reply
  11. Frank

    I have baked Artisan and Sourdough breads for about 2 years now, incorporating herbs/olive oil or dried fruits and nuts with great results. Can you tell me how to convert your pizza recipe using a sourdough starter please.
    Does the mild (carbon) steel need to be seasoned like cast iron does with oil prior to using it for baking?, and if it does what’s the best method of seasoning the mild steel? Will using a stainless steel piece (316 stainless steel won’t rust) instead of a mild (carbon) steel piece make a difference in the heat transfer?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Frank, we’d love to help with all your questions. First, we have a sourdough pizza crust recipe which you might like to try, or you can read about how to add sourdough into this recipe in the article on our blog.

      As for your question about seasoning the Baking Steel, we have full care and storage tips on the product page here. We recommend brushing the Baking Steel with vegetable oil using a paper towel and then baking it in a 375deg;F to 400°F oven for 1 hour and then letting it cool in the turned off oven for 1 hour. While we haven’t done a side-by-side comparison between this heavy-duty steel plate and a stainless steel plate, we would imagine that if all other factors were the same, you could expect a similarly effective heat transfer. Hope that helps! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That’s a great point, Bill! Next time we’ll be sure to include a shot of the bottom crust in all it’s golden glory. It might be helpful to even stage a side-by-side comparison and show the bottom crusts of a pizza baked on a steel and one baked on a sheet pan. Then you’d really be able to see the difference. We’ve made a note for next time–thanks. Kye@KAF

  12. Al

    That looks pretty neat. I can’t afford the steel, but would otherwise love to try it. I do get a nice crispy pie by preparing the pizza on a standard (round) aluminium baking pan which I put on the floor of a 500 degree oven for around 2 minutes (standard bottom-heating oven). I then transfer the pizza to a stone on the middle rack (slips right off of the aluminium pan) and cook for another 4 -5 minutes, a little more if there are toppings. This produces a beautiful, crispy crust and bubbly cheese top. I use KA Bread flour. Great result.

    Reply
  13. Brenda

    This crust and the pizza steel are the perfect match!! I can’t imagine ever going to a pizza restaurant ever again! Superb recipe and where has that pizza steel been all my life!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Bill

    The amount of salt in this recipe is about 30% less than I normally use for that amount of dough. Would adding more salt inhibit the rise?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to bump up the salt slightly Bill if you’re looking for more flavor. We’ve done some side-by-side comparisons, and in incremental amounts there’s very little change in the rising time in response to more or less salt. So add a smidge more if you love that salty flavor! Kye@KAF

  15. Isabel

    Any tips to get big air pockets in the pizza dough? Our whole family likes the crispy blister but don’t know how to do it intentionally.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We love those big air pockets that get caramelized and crispy too! You might want to check out this article called, “The best pizza you’ll ever make: Artisan perfection in your home oven.” As the title indicates, it includes a recipe and instructions for a folding method that helps develop the gluten and creates nice air pockets. Key steps include letting the dough go through a long, slow fermentation process and using a super hot oven to bake the pizza. It also helps to par-bake (bake the crust for a few minutes without any toppings), which gives you a crispy bottom and subtle char on the top crust. Hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  16. Gio

    Let me start by saying that this is *the best* dough recipe that I’ve tried…and I’ve tried a lot! It results in the perfect combination of a crisp crust but with an airy/chewy interior. Wow.

    Now for my question:

    When I use this dough from the fridge, all works great. But last time, I froze three portions after they were in the fridge for 2 or 3 days. At that point, they had risen nicely, were bubbly, etc. Yesterday evening, I transferred one of the frozen portions to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. This morning, I took that portion out from the fridge, formed it into a ball, and let it rest on the counter (covered) for a few hours.

    The problem is that it did *not* rise again or get bubbly; it just kind of spread into a blob. When I baked it, there was very little spring and it turned out pretty flat.

    This has now happened on two separate occasions. I’m wondering what might be causing that and what (if anything) I can do to prevent that or mitigate that? It must have something to do with how I’m freezing/thawing it — as I said it works just great if I don’t freeze. But obviously the recipe/blog indicates that I should be able to freeze it…and I have to figure out a way to make that work because I can’t/shouldn’t eat that much pizza! 🙂

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gio, if you’d like to freeze some (or all) of the crust, try kneading, dividing, shaping, and then freezing the dough immediately without letting it rise at room temperature. Store the dough in one-pizza portions in zip-lock bags or airtight container, as shown here. This way when you let the dough thaw in the fridge overnight and then at room temperature for a few hours, the yeast should still have some raising-power. Give this approach a try and see if helps. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  17. Ted

    If you like steel, try cast iron. Gray cast iron can have a thermal conductivity of from 47 to 80 W/mK, vs carbon steel (30s to 50s depending on the alloy) and stainless steel that can be as low as the teens or as high as the 40s. Of course, copper can be 350 to 400. Unfortunately cookware does not come with technical specifications, but Lodge makes a pretty good cast iron pizza that is readily avaialble and there are internet reviews of others that you may have to mail order.

    Reply
    1. ELOISE MASON

      Thanks for speaking to this. I have used this Lodge pizza pan for years….rarely take it out of the oven, so the weight is not an issue. I highly recommend it. Although the price varies wildly depending on the source, it is less than half the steel.

  18. Clarice Feldman

    To keep your pizza from turning into calzone, I find it helps to place it on a parchment paper, trimmed to about a 1/2 inch around the dough. After a few minutes it will be firm enough to remove the paper and get a nice crunchy bottom to the crust.

    Reply
  19. Carol

    The dough recipe looks great, can’t wait to try it.
    I found and use an old heavy steel griddle (16-18″ in diameter) my father in law used to take camping with the Boy Scouts. Works like a charm,

    Reply
  20. CliffG

    The SanFran Chronicle just did a 4 page story on one of our pizza restaurants with many different styles of pizzas and cooking ovens available: sfchronicle.com/restaurants/article/Pizza-101-A-crash-course-in-regional-pizza-styles-11142696.php

    may have some other ideas for toppings, etc. as well as discussion of different styles from different places.

    Reply
    1. David

      I just read the entire article and have only one conclusion …

      There is no pizza in Chicago.

      Otherwise, the article is ok.

  21. Thomas S DeQuardo

    Morning I just was reading all the pizza stories very interesting & helpful I too have the pizza baking stories I have both stone & steel baking tools both work well in my Electric double oven . Thanks for all your helpful information & HAPPY PIZZA BAKING TIME .
    Tommie DQ

    Reply
  22. Victoria

    I have an Aga cooker which has a roasting oven that does not preheat but is ALWAYS at 500 degrees. Would it warp or harm the room temperature steel if I put it directly into the roasting oven?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Victoria, this isn’t a question we’ve gotten before, so we reached out to the vendor to check. They were excited (and a little jealous) to hear that you were baking in an Aga cooker and assured us that you’d be safe using the steel in this way. As a reminder, it’s safe up to 1000 F and should serve you well, as long as it’s kept well-seasoned. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  23. Nancy Q

    How can anyone complain about about the price of the pizza steel ?!! Sunday night is pizza night. You can easily spend a fortune on pizza ( # of people, size,toppings,etc.) For what we were spending a month for pizza EASILY paid for the pizza steel! Love the pizza steel – will never get take out again !

    Reply
  24. Anu

    Dear Sir,

    Good morning.

    All the recipes are superb. I have tried few of your cake recipes and everyone in
    family loved them. I am going to try your pizza and will send u the feed back.
    A small suggestion to you, please have a store in Singapore and after seeing your store details and I am sure most of them will have interest in baking and getting all the items as per mail message.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for your message, Anu, and we’re glad to hear you’re eager to bake with our flour and ingredients. At this time, we only distribute our products within the United States, but appreciate your suggestion. We hope the bakers in Singapore find what they’re looking for. Cheers! Kye@KAF

  25. Rosalva Arredondo

    A couple of questions: if i freeze the dough for a later day, how long does it need to thaw and sit out before using? Also, my Viking oven has low, medium and high broil. Which should i use? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this recipe on the baking steel

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Let frozen dough thaw in the fridge overnight, and then it will need a few hours at room temperature 2-4 depending on the temperature of your kitchen until it becomes puffy. You can also go straight to room temperature, but rising time will vary (3-6+ hours). During the final broil, start on medium temperature and watch the cheese closely if you want more control. If you know you like pizza a little more charred, you can switch it to high but don’t even think about walking away! 😉 Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Rebecca, the answer depends on how hot the brick oven gets. Most brick ovens are known for reaching 500°F or higher, so this approach should work. Typically pizza dough is put straight onto the hearth of the oven to get a full wood-fired effect, but if you want to use a steel (let it preheat while the oven heats up), you’re welcome to see if you like the results. Either way, this recipe will certainly work to make delicious wood-fired pizza. You may just need to adjust your baking time based on the heat of the oven. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  26. Wendy Short

    Will this slow fermentation technique work with any pizza crust recipe or does it have to be this specific recipe? I would like to try it with the King Arthur Flour pizza crust recipe that I currently use.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Most pizza dough recipes can handle an overnight rise in the fridge (12-16 hours maximum). If you exceed this time frame or let it rest at room temperature, the dough will likely become over-proofed because of the amount of yeast that’s in most recipes. This recipe works because of the very small amount of yeast in the dough–you might want to experiment with reducing the amount you use slightly to see how you like the resulting flavor and texture. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  27. Diana

    I’m wondering if you’ve tried this recipte using the KAF white whole wheat. I’m just at the 24hr point with this dough, using 75% white wh wh and 25% white but wondering if it’s going to work out.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Diana, we bet you’re happily filled with (or eating!) homemade pizza at this point. We typically recommend substituting white whole wheat for about half of the flour in a recipe initially. That way you don’t need to make any drastic changes and the final product will still be similar to what you’d expect from all-purpose or bread flour. Whole wheat flour tends to ferment faster than white flour, you should check the dough to see if it’s ready a bit earlier than you otherwise would. It also helps to let it rise some place that’s not too warm. A cool-ish environment is best for whole wheat. Lastly, you might have noticed that the dough felt a little bit drier or more stiff. Often times whole wheat flour needs a few tablespoons of additional water to become fully hydrated. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

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