When making pizza at home without the right tools and equipment, you may not be getting the taste and texture that you enjoy in restaurants. The homemade dough is particularly challenging. Aside from the kneading and tossing that pizza dough, the crust has to have a smokey, even crisp that the regular oven cannot achieve on its own. In a convection oven found in most home kitchens, the pizza dough would be quite soggy, without the sought-after pizza crunch. To solve this dilemma, you need a pizza stone. Scroll down to learn how to use a pizza stone in the oven.
What is a Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone looks like a round slab of stone where pizza is placed for baking. It can also be used in making biscuits and bread. It is made of ceramic, stone, or salt. It is a good insulator. The flat surface of the stone distributes heat evenly on the crust. The result then is a crispy crust.
A pizza stone helps your convection oven simulate a very hot brick oven’s condition. A brick oven is the traditional ‘appliance’ where pizza is baked. You can turn up your oven’s heat to as much as 600 degrees Fahrenheit, a high setting that’s beyond a convection oven’s limits. Using a pizza stone in an oven would crank up the heat to help you get your desired pizza crust.
Steps on How to Use a Pizza Stone in the Oven
Here are some quick steps on how to use a pizza stone in the oven.
- Position the pizza stone on the lowest rung of your oven. Your oven mustn’t be turned on and heated when you place the pizza stone. Otherwise, a hot oven would cause a thermal shock on a cold pizza stone. The big variations in temperature will cause the stone to crack and shatter.
- When the stone is in the oven, preheat it gently for half an hour before putting in the pizza for baking. Allow about 30 minutes for the stone to heat before cooking the pizza.
- Before baking the pizza, be sure that the dough is at room temperature. A cold dough or a frozen pizza on a hot pizza stone would also cause the latter to crack and break.
- Transfer the room temperature pizza onto the pizza stone using a pizza paddle or a pizza peel. You may dust the pizza peel with some cornmeal or flour, or even rice flour so that it would be easier to remove the pizza.
On Pizza Peels
While we’re at it, here are a few side notes on the pizza peel that is truly a trusty tool when transferring pizza dough onto the oven’s pizza stone. Unbaked pizza dough is, as you can imagine, quite difficult and too malleable to transport or slide properly to another surface. The pizza peel then provides a firm base that can easily peel away the pizza dough from a surface.
Pizza peels come in many forms. There are wooden peels, and there are those made of metal. Wooden peels may be short-handled or long-handled. For home cooking, you’re fine with a short-handled wooden pizza peel.
Brick oven effect
You can leave the pizza stone in the oven to give a brick oven feel as you bake other bread types and meals aside from pizza. Just take note of a pizza stone’s inherent properties, that changes in temperature can damage it. You ought to remember this as a basic rule on how to use a pizza stone in the oven.
Cleaning the pizza stone
A pizza stone needs special care instructions to make it serve you longer. Since its surface is porous and not particularly smooth, the odors of food baked on the pizza stone and other substances may stay in its grooves. It is advised not to wash it with soap or dish-washing liquid. The best way to clean a pizza stone is by washing it with hot water. Be careful not to bathe your pizza stone for too long or to leave it in water because it may cause your stone to crack when baking. Just one rinse and you’re alright.
If not using any active cleaning ingredient besides water does not leave you in peace, use baking soda. Baking soda is especially recommended, especially when your pizza stone gets stained. But stains on your pizza stone shouldn’t be a problem. They could be battle scars that show how well and far your pizza stone has served you.
The pizza stone is also not to be seasoned with oil or grease; otherwise, it would be too difficult to clean. The oil and grease that accumulate on the pizza stone during baking already do the job of seasoning it. You don’t necessarily have to make the stone squeaky clean since a bit of gleam from grease that stays there is useful for your future baking projects.
If food is stuck on the pizza stone’s surface, scrape it off with a metal spatula when the stone has cooled down. Then, scrub the surface clean using a clean sponge and water. Know more about pizza stones.
Your pizza stone can stay in the oven even when you are not baking pizza, provide that it’s clean. Other meals that you bake can be placed on top of the stone, too. But be mindful of the weight of the food you are baking on the pizza stone. If you cook heavy roasts in the oven, bring the stone to the lowest rack first and then place the food item. Lighter items like cookies are best for the top rack, white bread and biscuits on the pizza stone ideally go to the middle rack. Keep searching, because there’s more to discover how to use a pizza stone in the oven.