All posts by cocaseco

Pizza Stone Hacks

What is a hack?  How can you “hack” a pizza stone? Well for those not familiar with the word and its current use, a hack means doing something other than what it was intended for. But no, it doesn’t mean using it for a heavy Frisbee or shooting clay.  For us it means what else can you cook on your pizza stone other than pizza?  Remember, the whole reason that a pizza stone performs so well is that it disperses heat evenly across the surface of the food.  So we went searching for other types of food to be cooked on your pizza stone, because you really shouldn’t eat pizza everyday.

The first obvious choice is anything with dough.  This includes bread, scones, calzones and pita pockets! But also, don’t forget muffins, rolls, biscuits and cookies. All of these items

homemade calzones on a pizza stone

can take advantage of the pizza stone’s thermal properties and provide food that is cooked throughout and much less likely to burn. One thing to consider when using your pizza stone for other purposes is the cleanup.  You might like your chocolate chip cookies with a hint of oregano, but probably not.  Use a sheet of parchment paper to separate, or a light dusting of cornmeal to absorb the oil from the pizza. Remember from our earlier care and use discussions, never use a cleaner or detergent on your pizza stone.  If it is especially greasy you could use some very hot water before anything else.

Besides dough type foods we found a lot of people making baked french fries and onion rings on their pizza stone.  This is a great healthy alternative that is so easy to prepare and even easier to clean up.  Heat your oven to 350, remember to include your pizza stone so that it gets preheated too.  Put your fries or onion rings right onto the stone or parchment and cook fro about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. You could also try the same thing with potato wedges and seasoned vegetables in general. I saw an article on Food Republics “Hack of the Day” feature with detailed instruction for cooking vegetables on your pizza stone.

Hopefully this will give you some new and innovative ways to use your pizza stone more often.  Don’t forget about general reheating of leftovers, or frozen fish sticks too.  Everything generally will cook better on your pizza stone and most importantly, it will probably be healthier for you.  Some things may take a little longer to cook this way, so experiment.  With a little creative planning you could use your pizza stone every night of the week and only have pizza once!

Does a Pizza Stone Really Make a Better Crust?

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 Slice of breadhas 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.

How to Make a Pizza Stone for $2

So if you are new to baking stones and aren’t sure if you will like cooking with them (you will) and want a cheap way to try it, this is for you. Remember, thousands of years

Terracotta Tiles
Terracotta Tiles for use as Pizza Stones

ago people were cooking with stones because they realized the benefits. But they didn’t have the option to go on line and buy one, so they simply went out to their nearby stone quarry and found a large thin stone. In between going out into your local quarry, and buying one online, is the DIY solution. It will take a little more work on your part, and use won’t be as convenient, but you will get all the same benefits.

To start, go down to your local Home Depot, or similar, and look for unglazed terracotta tiles. These are typically the same color and feel of clay pots. They are typically 6″x 6″ so unless baking 5″ mini-pies, you will need at least four of them to make a 12″ square cooking surface. You may want to get an extra just in case one breaks. For a large family size pizza you may need 16 or more. These are usually under 50 cents a piece, so be prepares to shell out $2, plus tax if applicable.

When you get them home, wash them and let them dry. While probably fine, they have been in transit for months and have probably picked up a few extra flavors along the way. Coat the cooking surface (the smooth side) liberally with your favorite oil and arrange the stones in the oven. The challenge is to arrange them on the rack so that they will stay in position.  You might find a cookie sheet will help, but only for a small stone array.  Heat the oven to 500 degrees to “season” the bare stones and make sure there are no unseen defects that will result in a cracked stone. This is where having an extra stone may come in handy. Allow to cool and then you are ready to cook with the now seasoned stones.  Another challenge you will face is getting the pizza onto the stones without disturbing their arrangement.  with a traditional large stone, you would built the pizza on the stone together, then place the entire unit in the oven.  That won’t work with multiple smaller stones. Once you have the pizza on the stones and in the oven, heat the oven up and be prepared to taste the best homemade pizza dough you ever made. After you are done, you can leave the stones arranged in the oven, or take them out and store for the next time. Like with a larger stone, don’t wash these or place in a dishwasher, and whatever you do, don’t use soap for cleaning your pizza stones!

Of course the downside to all this is that the four stones have to be arranged each time and they make some more challenging situations for placement and removal from the oven.  Not a big deal, but it does take time and effort.  once you use your homemade pizza stones a few times you will probably want to take the plunge and buy a large, traditional style pizza stone. We have a large selection of pizza stones available in our Amazon store, starting as low as $16!

Copper Pizza Stones Vs Steel Pizza Stones

We found a great article over at Serious Eats that asked about COPPER pizza stones.  Being a fan of copper for so many reasons, we had to investigate. My first question was about the cost because copper is very expensive lately.  As it turns out there is no commercial product available yet and this was a purely academic experiment.  The idea was that the new steel pizza stones are preferred by many because they claim the heat is better dissipated resulting in a better crust.  The reason for the better heat transfer, as compared with a traditional pizza stone, is the  significantly higher thermal conductivity (it transfers heat faster), as well as a higher volumetric heat capacity (a piece of steel will hold much more energy than a comparable piece of stone), which is what makes it such a great baking surface. Copper has improved performance in both of these physical properties and so the idea was that it must be better.

Well as it turns out, this is another case of bigger not necessarily being better. Their results showed that the steel pizza stone still did a better job of cooking, with a more consistent crust throughout. They cooked a lot of pizzas just trying this out and they sure looked good.  Go on over and read the entire article and savor how good those pizzas must have tasted.

Pizza Hack: Is Copper Better Than the Baking Steel? | Serious Eats.

Pizza Stone or Baking Stone?

Actually, these two terms are used interchangeably through this site and with most manufacturers and retailers.  The fact is that both pizza and baking stones are made from the same materials, come in the same shapes and are used and cleaned the same way.

Remember the use of a pizza stone or baking stone is all just an easier and more convenient method of cooking than using a traditional stone oven.  Historically people have been baking pizzas and breads, and everything else for that matter, in clay or stone ovens since the 19th century.  These ovens were found throughout the world, which

Stone Oven
Cooking Bread in a Stone Oven

demonstrates their efficiency and effectiveness. While there are many reasons that stone ovens have been used for thousands of years, one of the primary reasons is the way the heat is transferred evenly throughout the food. This increases the likelihood of your bread or pizza crust being fully and evenly cooked. Every beginning bread maker has experienced a loaf of bread that didn’t fully cook inside, even though the crust is perfect. Many modern restaurants have built stone ovens into their restaurants and marketing campaigns. While most people don’t have the room or finances to build a stone oven in their home, a pizza stone or baking stone is an easy and economical way to bring the same benefits to your kitchen today.

The only real consideration that might result in a difference is the shape.  If you are just making loaves of bread, then an appropriately sized baking stone might be your best choice.  If instead, you plan on only making traditionally round pizzas, then a round stone may be best.  Of course there are no rules that say you can’t make round loaves of bread or square pizzas!

Bottom line is if you find just the right size and priced stone that is labeled as a pizza stone, and you want to make bread, buy it.

What Size Pizza Stone Should I Get?

This is one of the most important factors to consider. First of all you need to think of the practicalities – measure your oven and ensure that the pizza stone or baking stone you are buying will actually fit inside, with enough room to spare to allow it to be maneuvered. Remember, your pizza stone will be very hot and quite heavy when in use so you want to make it as user friendly as possible. If you plan on using it on the grill, do the same thing.

Larger pizza stones are generally the best as they give you more flexibility – you can cook everything from small individual pizza’s and breads up to large family size Pizza Stonespizzas. It is also easier to transfer your uncooked pizza from your pizza peel or cookie sheet to the pizza stone if it is big – with small pizza stones you need to be more accurate and it doing this can be hard enough as it is. Similarly, a square or rectangle pizza stone gives a bit more room than a circular stone. This is especially important if you plan to use it as a baking stone for breads which are generally rectangular, verses traditionally round pizzas.

And of course bigger will cost more, though pizza stones are not very expensive and really, the best answer to this question is to have more than one.

Your New Pizza Stone

So you went ahead and bought your first pizza stone. You read through the care and studied the types. Now comes the fun part..Making Pizza! Before you get to cooking, there are a couple of things to do to ensure your new pizza stone will give you years of service.

Square Pizza Stone
Pizza Stone

First  pizza stones and baking stones are very porous. You may be tempted to wash it first, but don’t use any soap or detergent. Simply wash it with hot water and it will be fine. If you use soap it will seep into the stone and may affect the taste of the food.

Next, coat the pizza stone with a generous amount of olive oil. You want to use enough to cover thoroughly, but not so much it is dripping off. Let it sit and “dry, then repeat. Then let it sit overnight if possible.

Now you are ready to start cooking with you new Pizza Stone!

 

Welcome To Best Pizza Stone Dot Com

Ever wondered how the best pizza chefs make such incredible crusts?  Many of them use Pizza Stonepizza stones, made from a variety of materials. Pizza stones are inexpensive, easy to clean, even easier to use and make great tasting pizza.  Pizza stones can also be used as baking
stones for breads, pies and countless other items where good temperature control is important. Check back often as we add more information about cooking with pizza stones.