Pizza stones are used to bake perfectly crispy crusts in all styles of pizza. These stones are used to simulate the intense and even heat of a wood-fired oven. They can be used in a commercial oven, residential oven or even on a grill. When you learn how to use a pizza stone properly it’s likely you’ll never return to any other style of pizza baking again. Pizza stones are very easy to use and maintain, but first you need to know the basics of how to use a pizza stone.
To Season or Not to Season
Although some home bakers may recommend seasoning a pizza stone, experts advise against it. Pizza stones are made of porous materials to absorb moisture easily. This is what helps your dough bake up nice and crispy. Seasoning a pizza stone will result in oil seeping into your stone, and will not create a non-stick glaze as it does with non-porous cast iron pans.
The temptation to season a pizza stone comes from the need to create a non-stick surface; however there is a better way to do that. Simply dusting the pizza stone with cornmeal or flour before a pizza is placed on it will ensure an easier surface to work with.
On Patience and Preheating
As mentioned before, a pizza stone acts as a replacement for a wood-fired oven. When you use a wood-fired oven, you heat it up, let it get nice and toasty and then place your pizza inside. The same goes for a pizza stone. Place your room temperature pizza stone into the oven before you turn it on. Set the oven to the desired temperature and allow the oven and the pizza stone to heat up together. This creates an evenly heated pizza stone that is ready to bake pizza efficiently.
So now you have a very hot pizza stone sitting in the oven. How, you must be wondering, do you get the pizza on it? It’s easier than it sounds.
Handling the Pizza
To get the pizza into the oven and onto the pizza stone, you need to use a pizza peel, sometimes called a pizza paddle. A large flat cookie sheet or a big piece of cardboard can work too, but a pizza peel is much easier. Many chefs find it easier to assemble the pizza on the pizza peel. If you plan to follow this method, make that the surface non-stick. Use the following steps:
- Spread flour or cornmeal onto the peel before you put the rolled out dough down.
- Roll out dough and assemble your pizza toppings.
- Use a long handled spoon and sprinkle some of the cornmeal onto the pizza stone inside the oven.
- Slide the pizza peel into the oven and angle the peel to slide the pizza off and onto the pizza stone.
- Set your kitchen timer and bake your pizza according to your recipe’s instructions.
A Word of Caution:
When it’s time to take the pizza out, keep in mind that the pizza stone will be extremely hot and should not be handled at all. Do not attempt to remove the pizza stone with a conventional oven mitt or kitchen towel! Instead, use the same tools you used to safely put the pizza onto the stone.
Removing the Pizza
Slide the pizza paddle into the oven and under the cooked pizza. The cooked dough should not stick to the stone. The crust may be a little baked on if this is one of the first few times you have used the stone, but it should release with as the paddle slides between the crust and the stone. Make sure the pizza paddle is all the way under the pizza and then gently balance the pizza on the paddle and slide it out of the oven.
Leave the pizza stone in the oven to cool. Simply turn off the oven, and leave the stone for an hour or more, until it is completely cooled. Wash your pizza stone and return it back to the oven for future use or store it in a safe and secure place in your kitchen.