Make pizza at home? You want a baking steel

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I like crispy, Neapolitan-style pizza. The single biggest improvement to my pizza and bread baking, in the last year, has been the addition of a baking steel.

Pizza should be crispy on the bottom, but chewey, with great hole structure just above, and poofy edge crust sporting a few charred bubbles! My pizza stone got me close, but I was never really getting restaurant quality pizza at home.

The trick to getting your crust that perfect, I found, wasn't just making great dough and rolling it out well. It is not even so much about an exact temperature, but a question of heat transference. Stone holds a lot of heat, and but steel conducts it far, far faster. A crispy bottomed, well risen crust is formed by the rapid vaporization of water in the dough. The faster and more evenly that happens, the better. You want bubbles and holes? You need a baking steel.

Clearly one should use a metal surface, rather than stone. The baking steel is a 15" x 15" square of seasoned carbon steel. It is 1/4" thick and weighs in at 15 lbs. You were wondering where it stored all that heat? In mass. My oven rack takes the weight just fine, and the plate heats up quickly.

Slide your pizza on to the steel with your peel, and bake for about 1/2 the time you would on a stone! The increased heat transfer cooks the pizza much quicker than on a stone! I find the crust comes out perfectly in about 4 1/2 minutes, I used to bake at 500F for about 8-9 minutes. Read the rest

Delicious Madagascar hissing cockroach cake

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Artist and baker Katherine Dey made this creepy-as-hell but probably delicious cake that looks like a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Its innards oozes with Boston cream filling. Dey made a video how-to, below. Just make sure you clean up the crumbs or else the real roaches will come and then who knows what could happen if they realize what you just ate.

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Amazing beehive cake!

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Christine McConnell baked this magnificent "Milk & Honey Cake!" Read the rest

Tessellated Escher cookies

In the Boing Boing Flickr Pool the fractal-obsessed Fdecomite posts the latest iteration in a series of experiments with tessellated, Escher cookie-cutters. Bake-time expansion creates irregularities that lead to a chewy (literally) series of interlock-imperfections, which give old MC's classic a bio-organic air that rather invigorates it.

You can 3D print interlocking lizard cutters with a free model from Thingiverse. Fdecomite, if you're reading this, please post in the comments with a link to the cookie cutters you used here!

Update: From the comments, Fdecomite writes, "Hi, those are cookie cutters I made from aluminium foil.I also made some 3D printed Escher cookie cutters you can find in my Shapeways shop.

Escher Cookie Cutters - The Sequel Read the rest

Time to start coveting vintage Pyrex

Pyrex is supposed to be tough stuff, capable of withstanding extreme temperature changes, like a trip from the freezer to the oven. And that was true with old Pyrex, made from thermal-stress resistant borosilicate glass. But starting in 1994, Corning began licensing the name Pyrex to other manufacturers, which, today, make Pyrex brand cookware with a different chemical formulation—soda lime silicate glass. A report in the Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society says the new glass doesn't have the heat-protection powers of the old stuff. So why use it? Apparently, the manufacturers say soda lime silicate glass provides better protection against breaking when dropped. The report didn't test that, but this could just be an example of chemical trade-offs. Listen to Scientific American's podcast about this news. Or read the full report. (Via Christopher Mims) Read the rest

Chocolate Han Solo in Carbonite Sugar Cookie

Moogieland has a recipe, and photos, for this delightful Star Wars-themed sweet. Snip:

In a galaxy far, far away, I purchased the Han Solo in Carbonite ice cube tray from Think Geek. I knew that I wanted to use it to mold chocolate. But I wanted more than a chocolate bar. And by harnessing the power of the dark side, I added a sugar cookie layer. Yes, Dark Sith Lord, I have cookies. Da da da, dun da-daaa, dun da-daaaa. Now step aside Darth Vader, no using the force to raid the cookie jar!

(via Boing Boing Flickr Pool; photo: Moogieland) Read the rest

How To: Build a geologic time spiral cake

For Christmas, some Oxford geologists built an amazing cake based on the geologic time spiral—a way of visually representing the order and flora/fauna of the different stages of deep history.

It's a pretty damn epic cake. It's creation involved 32 eggs, 3 kg of marzipan, 7 people, and 30 hours of labor.

Video Link

Via Evidence Matters

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