Using a pizza stone can make a dramatic difference to the results you are getting with your home-cooked pizza crust. I'm willing to admit that I might be just a bit toooo obsessed with pizza, but making the switch to baking on a stone changed my pizza-making life. Stone pizza is light, crisp and gorgeous with a really authentic appearance (perfect for showing off). Definitely for me, the most essential piece of equipment for home pizza making.
When choosing a baking stone, go for a good quality, thick variety. It's best to buy the largest size that will fit in your oven. This will give you the most flexibility and will also make it easier to place the pie on the stone.Measure the interior of your oven and allow about an inch of space on all sides.
A rectangular stone like the one above or a square variety offers the most flexibility, particularly if you plan to use your baking stone for lots of different size pies or you also want to use it for baking bread.
The baking stone pictured above is a very highly recommended, top quality rectangular style. Using a pizza stone like this, will give you excellent results.
I'm not a fan of stones that come with a tray or serving rack. Why not? Well, pizza stones get extremely hot. If you serve your pie on the stone, not only are you likely to get burnt, your pizza will continue to cook - and get over-cooked - while on the serving rack.
The best place to store your pizza stone is in the oven. It's also the best way to ensure that it enjoys a long life. Cracking is a common problem when you move stones suddenly from hot to cold and vice versa. Moving a scorching hot pizza stone out of the oven into the relative cool of your kitchen or dining room can cause thermal shock meaning you risk cracking the stone. The same is true of moving a cold baking stone to a hot oven. Let the pizza stone heat up and cool down in the oven and leave it there. You can place baking trays and pans on the stone if you need to so it won't be in your way.
I personally use a good heavy round model like the one pictured here.
My oven is relatively small and I found a round stone fitted best. I keep it in my oven all of the time. Right now, it's been there for over two years and I have had no problems with it at all.
In fact, these days it cooks my pizzas better and faster than ever. The theory is that as pizza stones age, they get dryer and more efficient. I have no idea if this is based on any kind of scientific research but it seems to be holding true for me.
Get the oven as hot as you can. For most domestic ovens that is somewhere around 500F/250C. Heat the stone in the oven for at least 30 minutes before baking your pie.
Season it, particularly if it is new. Seasoning is done simply by sprinkling some flour or cornmeal on the stone before you place your pie on it. You will probably find over time that you don't need to keep seasoning with each bake.
Now assemble your pizza on a well floured pizza peel. A peel is essential to avoid burnt fingers and a mess on the oven floor when using a pizza stone. Take a look at our guide to peels if you would like more information about the best type of peel to buy for home use.
Next slide your pizza onto the stone using the pizza peel. Ovens and stones vary so you may need to experiment a little with cooking times. The amount of time you spend heating will also be a factor but generally using a pizza stone in a domestic oven means that your pie will cook in about 8 to 10 minutes.
This depends a bit on what your pizza stone is made of so follow the
manufacturer's instructions for care. Generally though,
washing is not a good idea. Most pizza stones can be
just brushed clean. A specific pizza stone brush with steel bristles is very effective for this. Discolouration and staining due to high temperatures is normal and safe so don't worry too much about this. If you have stubborn bits of dough or
cheese stuck to the pizza stone, use heat to remove it. Heat in the oven until very hot, then carefully scrape off the excess. If you have a steel bristled brush, this will make the job easier.
Bull 24127 PizzaQue Pizza Stone Scrubber