Main Course/ Pizza/ Recipes

Be My (Pizza Spinaci) Valentine


Every Rom-Com, every book, every platitude says when you meet “The One,” you’ll just know.  We didn’t lock eyes in a crowded airport terminal or pass each other on a train platform or have an awkward conversation about the weather in biology lab.  We met on the Internet.  And it’s like….magic. I have fallen completely, utterly and irrevocably in love. We are M-F-E-O (made for each other). My husband? What?  No, I met him in a bar.  I’m talking about the Baking Steel.

For years I’ve used a baking stone  to make pizza at home. I fumbled around at 425F for awhile, then discovered I should probably be cranking up the oven as high as it would go. The stone works fine, better than a sheet pan, that’s for sure.  You can get some decent color on the crust. But if that baking stone is my Walter, the Baking Steel is my Sam.  (Stick with me people, you’ve seen Sleepless in Seattle, right?)

baking steel | dailywaffle

The Baking Steel is a whole different ball game. After reading Kenji’s review on Serious Eats, the Baking Steel went on my Christmas list.  The idea is almost too intuitive. Steel conducts and holds an amazing amount of heat, so duh, it’ll compensate for the comparatively low temperatures of a home oven. From the first pie I made – a whole wheat crust I’m still working on, it was game over for the pizza stone.  And once I used Kenji’s New York Style crust recipe, I was a goner.  Hook, line and sinker.

pizza spinaci 2 | dailywaffle

Roll the dough out thinly and once baked, it holds its shape, no floppy ends here.  Let the dough cold ferment for a few days in the fridge and you’ll get even better air bubble development and a nice chew. I kid you not, this thing is a rock star.  It pays for itself in 3 large pizzas or so (the good place here runs about $25 a pizza, it ain’t cheap).

Over the weekend, on dough on just 24 hours in the fridge, we made a garlicky spinach pizza a la Tomasso’s in San Francisco. It’s an Italian-American joint in the midst of a bunch of strip clubs in North Beach, and they serve a damn good pizza spinaci. In my version, the sauce is crushed tomatoes sprinkled with dried oregano and salt and it’s topped with part skim mozzarella.  Fresh spinach is tossed with super thin slices of garlic and goes on just after the pizza comes out of the oven. Grate parmesan cheese over the top and you hardly need a side salad.

pizza spinaci 3 | dailywaffle

This pie is a personal size done on dough fermented for 4 days in the fridge. I was in a rush, so it didn’t rest on the counter as long as it probably should have. You can see a little bit of the development in the cross-section. These little guys certainly puffed up more than the large pie we made on Saturday with just one day’s rise.

pizza heart front and back | dailywaffle

Now with Valentine’s Day this week, I tried to cut out little pepperoni hearts, but didn’t have a cookie cutter small enough or sharp enough. So instead, with my usual amazing rolling out pizza dough skills I managed to make this pizza valentine. Roll out a circle, create a little cleavage at the top and pull down on the bottom.  Take one more pass at it with the rolling pin, top as desired and then pop it in the oven.  It looks a little more heart-like from the flip-side.  And dig that char on the bottom!

All those platitudes also say you tell those nearest and dearest to you that you love them, before you don’t have the chance.  So, Baking Steel, I love you.  Thank you, Andris Lagsdin for creating it, and thanks to the 470+ people who funded his Kickstarter making it possible for me to make pretty damn good pizza at home.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

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  • Andris Lagsdin (@AndrisLagsdin)
    February 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    The finest piece of writing i have seen on the Baking Steel! Thank you for sharing with your readers. So grateful to Kickstarter and our backers and Kenji at Serious Eats for helping us get our product into more homes!
    Your photos are splendid and your pizza’s are ace! Thank you!

    • Michelle
      February 16, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Hi Andris – Ha – thanks! I admit it’s a bit fangirly, but I thought it was about time to publicly profess my love. 🙂 We really are having a fantastic time w/ the steel. Thanks again!

  • @yumivore
    February 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    if only this had been posted sooner! just got a baking stone, it’s super heavy and this looks a lighter and easier to use, I may have to do a #bakingsteel myself, lovely heart shaped pizza, looks yum! happy valentine’s day!

    • Michelle
      February 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Orly -The steel is still pretty heavy, at least as heavy as the stone I have. Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day!

  • Hannah
    February 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I’m adding a baking steel to my wish-list…I had no idea. Your pizza looks divine, and I’m impressed with the heart shape! Love those air bubbles in thin crust pizza, too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Michelle
      February 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      If you’re into pizza, it’s totally worth it. It’s almost ridiculous how much I love that thing, but pizza is a default setting around here. The hard part is remembering to make the dough in advance! Happy V-day! 🙂

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