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I'm trying to avoid cornmeal, although it used to be the ideal choice since the dough tasted too much like flour when I used corn flour.

But now I've moved on to using a steel surface to bake.

Should I worry about adding semolina, flour, or cornmeal to the steel in the oven? Or will the pizza not stick to the steel platform?

I saw this thread, any reason to put cornmeal/semolina on hot pizza stone or steel?, but it sounded like it depends on the dough hydration, and I'm clueless as to how to determine that.

Would putting the dough on parchment paper, then sliding it in work?

  • 3
    I put semolina on my peel. Build the pizza on that. Then slide it onto the baking steel. No sticking. – moscafj Sep 25 '16 at 18:57
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I ended up skipping the parchment paper. I had 6 small-medium pizza worth of dough, and padded all pizza-dough with semolina, as well as padded peel with semolina prior to each slide-in-to-oven.

Prior to first pizza I put some semolina on the steel in the oven (though it might've been unnecessary... yet to confirm)

All 6 pizzas turned out great, with quality crust.

It wasn't really messy, might've been two three burnt spots, simply before the steel cooled off, I grabbed a wooden cooking spoon, lightly scratch, and pushed it out onto another plate.

Update

Confirmed you don't have to add anysemolina flour or anything to the steel, pizza won't stick.

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I would put the dough on parchment paper. The dough probably won't stick, but parchment paper makes there be much less mess taking it in and out of the oven, and pizza on parchment cooks just the same. If you're using a pizza peel (the large wood spatula for sliding the pizza in), you should definitely use parchment if you aren't using cornmeal. Otherwise your dough will stick to the peel, and you will end up making what I call a "plalzone"— a pizza that you scrape off the peel into the oven out of frustration and fold it over on itself in a terrible mess.

  • Most people who use a steel for pizza cook at quite high temps. Either macing out a home oven or even using the broiler. Most/all parchment can't handle those temps. I've tried it in my steel, didn't work so well. – dpollitt Sep 29 '16 at 3:36
  • dpollitt: I have baked pizza at 550º F, and the parchment holds up fine. The paper was a bit burnt but it didn't harm the pizza – margalo Sep 29 '16 at 3:57
  • @margalo : I suspect it charred around the edges, but didn't under the pizza. (which helped to keep that area cool, so long as you don't let it dry out too far). – Joe Oct 3 '16 at 15:35
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No, you don't need to put anything on a steel in your oven prior to launching a pizza on it. Even with 75%+ hydration(quite high dough), I've never had a problem myself.

The reason to use semolina or flour is to prevent sticking to your pizza peel and a failed launch into the oven. If you can get away without any additions to your peel, you likely have a low hydration dough which is just fine.

Now what will stick to a steel is sauce, cheese, and toppings that slide off of the pizza and melt/burn long after your pizza is done. For those, try a grill cleaning stone to scrub off the surface once it's cooled down.

As for calculating your own hydration percentage, check out: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/bakers-percentage.html

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It may stick to the stone/steel initially, but as it cooks it will de-stick itself.

What this means is that you may have difficulty sliding it onto the stone/steel without the dough catching and you accidentally folding or scrunching the pizza which is a pain. It can also be difficult to reposition or turn the pizza until it's developed much of a crust on the bottom. If you find these aren't issues for you then flour or cornmeal isn't needed.

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