One of the reasons you enjoyed the pizza you just had is because of the pizza steel used in baking it. The pizza steel absorbs and distributes heat evenly to make baking more efficient than if a pizza stone was used. However, it is important to know that the quality of your pizzas depends on how you clean your baking steel, or pizza steel in this case.
A pizza stone is made of ceramics or clay, while a pizza steel is made of steel. In addition, a pizza stone is generally cheaper than a pizza steel. Plus, the pizza steel is a suitable and more effective alternative to a pizza stone.
Baking Steel or Pizza Steel?
Baking Steel is a pizza stone manufacturing company created by Andris Lagsin. He owns the trademark ‘Baking Steel.’ Andris wanted to develop a product that would encapsulate ‘baking pizza’ and ‘steel.’ The company produces baking steels, which are similar to pizza steels. We shall use these two terms synonymously throughout the article.
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Andris never thought he would ever combine the two completely diverse industries (food and steel) into something as revolutionary as Baking Steel. His idea was to create a pizza with an airy crust, like the Neapolitan-style pizzas.
He used a pizza stone at home, and though it worked satisfactorily enough, it still did not produce the desired effect. So one day, he used an old Caterpillar scrap metal (yes, the truck) as his pizza stone, and the results were exemplary. He obtained funding, and Baking Steel caught fire from then on.
Did you know? Pizza is enjoyed by 98% of the American populace.
Cleaning Your Pizza Steel
Household appliances need constant maintenance to prevent breakdown. Your pizza steel is a machine since it makes baking pizza easier and more effective. Cleaning your pizza steel is simple, and we have outlined some best practices for doing so properly.
Step 1: Let it Cool Completely
Steel is a good conductor of heat, one of the best. Its ultra-conductive ability ensures that it creates a hotter cooking environment than is provided for by the oven. The whole point of using pizza steels was to recreate restaurant-type pizzas cooked in stone ovens.
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The only issue was that stone ovens got hotter than any home ovens could. While a home oven could only max out to 500-550°F, thick pizza steel can easily double that within less time.
In contrast, a pizza stone would not survive this kind of thermal shock. Additionally, you will need a pizza peel to bring the pizza steel out of the oven after using it because of how hot it will be. Oven mitts will not cut it.
Now, you have a picture of how high steel’s thermal conductivity is. And consequently, you can imagine what would happen if you touch pizza steel while it is still extremely hot. You’ll burn your hands.
So, before cleaning it, allow the steel’s temperature to cool. Give it an hour or more after using it.
Note: There are stainless steel pizza steels and aluminum ones. While stainless steel may be easier to clean and more durable, aluminum ones are more lightweight.
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Step 2: Scrape off Food Debris
You can run water over the pizza steel to remove as much debris as possible. Some people may clean their pizza steels entirely this way. However, running water over your pizza steel may take much longer and be more wasteful.
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Use a bench scraper or spatula to get rid of food debris and solid fat that remains on the surface. Solid fat may be caused by too much oil or cheese that melted when cooking.
Use a long brush to loosen and sweep off any stuck-on cheese and toppings while the pizza steel is still hot. While this is not advised, if you do it, ensure you don’t touch the steel directly.
Brush off burnt food debris and throw the residue into the garbage. However, scraping the pizza steel too hard may destroy the non-stick surface used to make it. In addition, it will require re-seasoning to maintain its usefulness. Hence, using gentle nylon scrubbers on your non-stick surface baking steel would be best.
Tip: A bench scraper works best because it is plastic, flexible, and reusable. Metal scrapers may damage your pizza steel.
Step 3: Wash the Pizza Steel
Wash your pizza steel using hot water and a nylon brush. It is not advised to use soap because it contains chemicals that may be harsh to the steel. However, if you use soap, you should season your baking steel after cleaning. Since we will season your baking steel, we shall use soapy water.
Use a damp sponge or cloth to clean the pizza steel first. You may also use a scouring pad. If this does not completely clean your pizza steel, scrub it using steel wool.
If all these do not do the trick, you may use sandpaper or a cleaning brick to scrape off stubborn debris. Afterward, rinse thoroughly with warm water.
You can also use baking soda using the following steps:
- Mix baking soda with hot water.
- Apply this mixture to your baking steel.
- Leave it on for a few minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrape off the debris. It will now come off quite easily.
- Wipe down the surface using a wet towel.
If you do not have baking soda, you may have washing soda. The only difference is that washing soda may irritate your skin. Therefore, you should wear protective gloves. The perk of using baking soda or washing soda is that the baking steel will not be discolored.
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Step 4: Dry Both Sides Thoroughly
The main purpose why you should dry your pizza steel completely is to avoid rust. Water catalyzes the process of rusting. So wipe your baking steel with a kitchen towel to dry completely.
Remember to dry both sides and refrain from air drying the baking steel as it may also cause rusting. Instead, you can place it in a warm place to enhance the drying process.
Since your pizza steel is a non-stick surface, you should spread some food-grade oil, such as flaxseed oil, on it to avoid rusting.
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Another way to dry your pizza steel is to place it in a warm oven for a few minutes. The warm temperature will dry off the moisture on the steel. However, do not place it there for long; it could start the rusting process. Instead, you could wipe the steel completely using a towel, then place it in the warm oven for further drying.
Step 5: Re-Season the Pizza Steel
It is normal for your pizza steel to change color after being used severally. It will get darker and more discolored with time. However, a way to correct this is to re-season your baking steel. There are two reasons why it is recommended to re-season your baking steel after every 3 to 6 months:
- To prevent rusting.
- To prevent the sticking of food on the baking steel while cooking.
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This step is done after cleaning the pizza steel properly. To begin with, apply high-smoke point vegetable oil such as grape seed, canola, or flaxseed oil. This helps retain the non-stick surface nature of the pizza steel and creates a protective layer against rust.
Note: The oven will produce fumes if the baking steel is placed without a thin oil coating.
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The seasoning process is done using the following steps:
- First, spread some high smoke point oil on the baking steel. You should have a thin oil layer spread across the entire surface.
- Wipe off the excess using a paper towel.
- Set the oven to 400°F for 30-60 minutes.
- Turn the oven off.
- Place your baking steel on the oven’s top rack.
- Leave your baking steel on the oven rack and allow it to cool completely.
- Store your baking steel in a cool, dry place.
Most baking steels come pre-seasoned. This is what gives them that sheen. Re-seasoning may not give you that brand-new look your baking steel had during its first few days, but it will appear newer, have better performance, and have a longer shelf-life.
How to Remove Rust from Your Baking Steel
Stainless steel rarely rusts. However, if not cleaned and maintained properly, this could provide the perfect breeding ground for the chemical reaction. Therefore, buying 304 stainless steel for your household items is recommended.
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Here are the steps to follow to remove rust from your pizza steel:
- First, rinse the pizza steel with running water. This is to wash off any rust that can come off.
- Cover the pizza steel with a mixture of baking soda and water.
- Leave the pizza steel to rest for a couple of hours for the full chemical reaction.
- Scrub the pizza steel with an abrasive, such as a scouring pad.
- Run the pizza steel again through the water to rinse.
- Dry completely using a paper towel.
Mostly, this will serve its intended purpose. You will have a shiny non-stick surface that will serve you longer.
Your pizza steel’s rusty color may be dissuading, but as we have seen above, it is salvageable. The following reasons may have contributed to your pizza steel having rust:
1. Wrong Cleaning Techniques
Since cleaning your pizza steel using water, avoid placing it in water for long periods. Water is a primary requirement for rusting. Cleaning rust may be difficult, so prevention is better than treatment, even in this case.
2. Poor Drying Methods
Avoid air drying your pizza steel. Exposing wet steel to sunlight and oxygen will promote faster rusting than if dried using a paper towel.
3. Poor Storage
Storing your pizza steel in a damp place may provide the necessary environment for rust to be formed. Therefore, always store your pizza steel in a dry place.
However, if this does not work, you can use vinegar instead.
- Mix vinegar and water in equal proportion, that is, 1:1.
- Spray this mixture on your rusty pizza steel.
- Allow the mixture to sit for a while, say half an hour or so.
- Lightly scrub your pizza steel. You may put on protective gloves to prevent irritation.
- Wash with warm soapy water and dry completely with a paper towel.
Of course, after dealing with this rust situation, you will need to re-season your pizza steel.
What to Avoid When Cleaning Pizza Steel
- Do not use soap to wash your pizza steel. If you do, re-season it.
- Do not handle hot pizza steel. Instead, please wait for it to cool.
- Do not air dry your pizza steel. Instead, use a paper towel to dry it completely.
- Do not place your pizza steel on other objects or household items. Instead, place it on the bottom shelves or under your oven.
- Do not soak your pizza steel in water. Its contact with water should be as minimal as possible.
- Do not put your pizza steel in the dishwasher. It could damage the steel material.
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Finally, pizza steel is an expensive investment. Baking steel can go up to $129. Therefore, you should take care of it as much as possible. Season your pizza steel immediately when you buy one, regardless of whether the manufacturer has already pre-seasoned it. It would be best if you always seasoned your pizza steel before use.
The most important thing when you clean your pizza steel is to re-season it after.
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