Pizza might be little more than some dough, cheese, and a few toppings- but the infinite variety and enduring popularity are testament to it’s versatility. It might not be the perfect food- it’s best hot, takes quite a bit of preparation, and even requires some special equipment to do properly- but pizza can be found anywhere on the globe and can be gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, round, square, deep dish or thin crust. No matter how you do it, though, you’ll probably want to bake it.
And the fact is, your oven doesn’t get hot enough to do your dough justice. Most brick ovens- the gold standard- reach up to 800 degrees. You’ll be lucky to hit 450 degrees or so in your home oven; that’s most of the reason why many people buy a pizza stone. But before you do- or even if you have one- we’d recommend the Modernist Cuisine Baking Steel instead. They claim that with this dense piece of metal, you’ll be able to replicate that “signature crispy, blistered crust of a wood-fired pizza”. We put it to the test in a regular oven on a few different pizzas, and compared both with a pizza stone and without- and there is absolutely no doubt that the crust from the Baking Steel was far superior.
That said, it takes effort and time- you’ll need to put the baking steel in the oven and turn it on to broil for one hour before you use it. Plus, the steel is impressively heavy (15 pounds for the original Baking Steel; 22 pounds for the MC edition), so finding a good spot to keep it, and even just getting it in or out of the oven, can be difficult. Make absolutely sure that you have a decent pizza spatula before starting, since you are definitely not removing the baking steel from the oven. Also, it will stay dangerously hot for hours- which makes sense, but can be difficult if you’re trying to bake something after your pizzas are finished.
We loved that it was pre-seasoned and ready to go right out of the box, and works with any over type, electric or gas. And you don’t need much downtime between pizzas- we baked three in a row with no trouble. It’s big enough for larger pizzas, and cleanup is simple. It looks sleek, and can apparently be used as a griddle on induction cooktops, though we didn’t try it. At $100 for the Modernist Cuisine version or $80 for the original Baking Steel, it’s not a cheap addition to your kitchen. But it’s a must-have for the chef who loves to impress guests with great pizzas.