Expert Interview Series: Andris Lagsdin Of Baking Steel About the Tools/Accessories Necessary to Make the Perfect Pizza
How often have you gotten excited about making pizza at home, only to suffer the disappointment of soggy or rock-hard crust?
Mastering homemade pizza is an art form unto itself, that can be challenging even when you have the best equipment. Seeing as how most of us don’t have wood-fired ovens, dough mixers or industrial cheese graters in our kitchens, the deck is stacked against us to begin with when attempting to make the perfect pizza at home.
This frustration inspired Andris Lagsdin to create the Baking Steel – sort of like a steel pizza stone – after meditating for months on how to create the ultimate pizza crust. We talked to Andris about the Baking Steel, pizza stones and the other tools necessary for making the perfect pizza.
You’ve talked about steel being better for creating the perfect crust than a brick oven’s stone. Why is steel so good for creating great pizza crust?
We know from seventh grade science class that steel conducts energy very well. What we know now is that steel also stores 18 times more energy than stone. How does this translate into cooking? The Baking Steel will reduce bake times in half compared with a stone, which means a lighter, airier pizza crust that is cooked crispy every time.
Over the years, you’ve tried nearly every pizza gadget there is to get the perfect pizza in a home oven, but were always disappointed. What were some particularly notable letdowns and why were they so devastating?
Devastating may be a slight overstatement, although i have cracked or broken several pizza stones in my cooking career.
There was one particular date with my future wife where I had promised to make pizza one evening. I got back to my apartment later than expected so ripped the oven at its highest setting. The dough was already made, so I started prepping the toppings. About 30 minutes into the oven preheat, I realize my stone was sitting on the kitchen table. I took it out the night before to try and clean it. Anyway, placing a cold pizza stone into a scorching hot oven is not a good idea, but i didn’t have many other options. So i tossed the pizza stone into my hot oven. Needless to say, that damn thing cracked. I had no idea 10 years later I would create a pizza stone that would ultimately never break.
Some recipes call for a food processor for pizza dough. What are some other ways food processors can be useful for making perfect pizza?
I first saw this method with Kenji Lopez from Seriouseats.com. He uses the food processor to blend together the ingredients faster, which realigns the proteins in the flour much more efficiently than by hand or stand mixer.
What are some methods to achieve the taste of a brick or wood pizza oven at home, if possible?
We place our Baking Steel on the top rack of an oven and pre-heat it for about 45 minutes. We want all that heat to absorb into the steel. About five minutes before we launch our first pizza into the oven, we switch the oven to the broiler setting. Then we launch the pizza. The steel will be so hot, the dough will create this amazing oven spring. Think bubbles and airiness and a very crispy bottom crust.
If you had to choose, what would your ultimate pizza preparation kit include? What are the most essential pizza tools and accessories?
The Baking Steel is a must-have item.
The other items would include:
- A pizza peel for launching and removing.
- Dough containers for making and bulk fermenting the dough.
- I love using a pizza rocker for slicing.
- Good sources for fresh ingredients.
- I love Central Millings artisan flours.