So the number one question we hear is “Does pizza crust actually taste better when you use a pizza stone?” Of course, the answer is subjective, but most people will agree that pizza dough cooked on a pizza stone will be “better” tasting than the same dough cooked on a sheet. When we say “sheet”, we mean a thin cookie sheet, not a steel pizza stone. We are guilty of being fairly loose with that claim as are many others. So what makes one crust better than the other? Just like with all baking, most people prefer a dough that is light and has risen properly, along with a dough of consistent texture and moisture throughout. There is nothing worse than a heavy flat crust that is not fully cooked and just looks bad.
So what makes the crust rise anyway? It all starts with the recipe and to get started, take a look at the large selection of recipes at Recipe-Select. One of the most popular pizza crusts uses honey and makes a great example of why dough rises. I think everyone knows that the crucial ingredient in all recipes is yeast, more exactly Bakers Yeast. Bakers Yeast is a live microorganism that can even be found on the human body. There are a wide range of types of yeast used in baking, and the specific yeast is what gives much of the flavor and texture. Consider sourdough bread, a very specific yeast is used, and the resulting dough has a distinct taste and texture, especially when compared to regular bread. Early microbiologists learned to always save some yeast so that they could reproduce a specific type of dough over and over. For one brand, the yeast for their sourdough bread was a valuable, closely guarded trade secret, using the same batch of yeast for over 100 years. The yeast, being alive, eats (consumes) available sugars in the dough. The sugars can come from a variety of sources including honey or other carbohydrates like potatoes. as they consume the food, they naturally have to release something and that is carbon dioxide gas. As the gas is released, the dough rises and that creates the bubbles and pockets of a good pizza crust. Other additives like salt or sugar effect the rate at which this process occurs as do other variables like temperature, elevation and time allowed to “rise” before cooking. Finally, the amount of kneading is another variable that can effect the crust due to the gluten starting to get stronger, which changes the consistency of the dough. Placing the dough in the oven exacerbates all of these activities and is why the dough can be light and fluffy, or flat and heavy. By experimenting and controlling these variables, you can fine tune the perfect yeast to make the perfect pizza dough from scratch.
As we covered earlier, the pizza stone has several advantages over a pan. The biggest of these is the ability of the stone to hold heat at a constant temperature across the entire surface. If the pizza stone is preheated properly, that initial burst of heat as you place the pizza on the stone causes a rapid jump start to kick the last bit of the reaction into high gear. Lastly, the porous stone will draw any excess water away from the dough, ensuring that the pizza is thoroughly cooked and has a very consistent texture.
A metal pan just can’t do that. Hence, a better pizza is made with the pizza stone. Of course if you like thick, heavy crusts with pockets of raw dough along with pockets of overcooked dough, then the pizza stone isn’t for you.
If you are convinced that the pizza stone will help you cook the best pizza ever, take the next step and try it. Be sure to report back and share what you found that worked or didn’t work. If you haven’t yet got your pizza stone, order one today! We have a great selection of pizza stones available through our Amazon store. If you order now you can have it in time for this weekend.