mmm Crispy crust
April 4, 2010 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Recommend me a pizza stone!

The cheaper the better, would prefer a larger size than the unglazed tiles, also I usually make one meat and one veggie pizza at the same time, should that influence answers at all. Thanks!
posted by cestmoi15 to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I have 14x16 Old Stone Oven stone ($37 from Amazon) and it’s lasted me longer than the Bialetti I had previously. It’s also the exact one that King Arthur Flour sells for quite a bit more. (I bought mine at KAF, not realizing this.)
posted by Garak at 8:03 PM on April 4, 2010

We use a grid of normal unglazed tiles, 6 of them, 2x3 in our oven. We have them on our bottom rack and always leave them in. Bought them from the ReStore for about 10 cents each. I think one of them has cracked and we replaced one of them (we bough extras), over the last 3 or o4 years.

Is there a reason you don't want to just put tiles next to each other? (Can't promise it's as good as the $40 pizza stones since I haven't personally used them, but they've worked for me so far.)
posted by skynxnex at 8:18 PM on April 4, 2010

@skynxex: I love the tile idea but I did get a pizza stone as a gift before, and I love the crust, but I managed to crack the stone after about 3 uses, which is not something I'd like to repeat.

How do you take the pizza off of multiple titles? I love that you leave them in the stove, though, that was one reason I was concerned about tiles, seems like a lot to cart around with nosy dogs wanting to know what I'm cooking.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:31 PM on April 4, 2010

I use the Pampered Chef pizza stone-it's around $35 I think. Evenly browns pizza and calzones too. You need to pretreat it with a little olive oil but otherwise, it cleans up easy and works like a charm. It's lasted me four years of moderately frequent use.
posted by supercapitalist at 8:33 PM on April 4, 2010

2nd the unglazed tiles. You can buy a box of them for much less than a stone so if you break one you'll have extras. You can also put them on two racks and cook a couple pizzas at once. Just put the tiles close together and you'll have no trouble taking the pizza on and off.

I have both a stone and tiles. Results are exactly the same.

Make sure you get a peel and some fine cornmeal. The first couple pizzas i made turned into calzone until I got the hang of using the peel.
posted by bondcliff at 8:37 PM on April 4, 2010

We've had several Pampered Chef stones for years (~15). They work fine and are good quality. You just have to find a Pampered Chef rep to buy from (they sell through home shows like Tupperware). You could probably find one by googling Pampered Chef and your zip code, and could probably add your order onto an existing order.

I don't know what bondcliff is referring to as a peel; we just use a metal spatula to loosen the pizza from the stone. Once seasoned, nothing sticks to it.
posted by Doohickie at 8:44 PM on April 4, 2010

P.S.... you can see my results here.
posted by Doohickie at 8:46 PM on April 4, 2010

I've never had trouble taking the pizza *off* the stones, it's getting it off of the preparation surface that I have problems with. And as mentioned above, if you push them close together, there's basically no gap (at least with the stones I have). And the spacing of the grooves on the bottom of the stoves fit in perfectly with both of my oven racks, so they even stay in place. Once dough is cooked on a hotstone, it shouldn't stick to it all. If that does happen, you probably need to get it hotter.

I'm actually mixed about using cornmeal, it helps a bit with keeping the uncooked dough from sticking, but I'm not a huge fan always of eating the cornmeal.

I've left the tiles in when I've done the self-cleaning cycle and it cleaned off most of the bits of cheese or other stuff on them (well, turned the food bits into a fine white ash), without damaging the stones.
posted by skynxnex at 9:05 PM on April 4, 2010

3rding unglazed tiles, but failing that, check out a restaurant supply store for a stone. Skip the screens - those things are crap. Yes, do get a (wooden) peel, and yes, do have some cornmeal to help move your dough from board to peel to stone.
posted by Gilbert at 9:09 PM on April 4, 2010

Can someone explain what a peel is? Thanks!
posted by 2oh1 at 9:36 PM on April 4, 2010

Can someone explain what a peel is?

The big wooden paddle thing pizza chefs use. You basically spread out the dough on it, then fill the pizza with whatever you want. Hopefully, it slides right off the peel onto the stone.

Pizza places I used to work for had a different, metal peel just to take pizzas out of the oven (while having 10 or so wooden ones to get multiple pizzas going at one time).
posted by LionIndex at 9:55 PM on April 4, 2010

This is what a peel looks like.

I have the Williams Sonoma stone, and has been working well since we got it about 6 months ago. It was about $40, and it's guaranteed for life against breakage.
posted by supramarginal at 9:59 PM on April 4, 2010

Thanks! ...didn't mean to derail the thread :)
posted by 2oh1 at 10:01 PM on April 4, 2010

I picked up the Oneida baking stone from Bed Bath and Beyond a couple of months ago for $15. I have been using the hell out of it and have no complaints. (I use it for baking french bread as well as pizza; it sees a lot of use.)
posted by azpenguin at 10:51 PM on April 4, 2010

I've been using the Williams Sonoma stone for about five years now without a problem, other than the impossibility of completely cleaning off the occasional spill of cheese or sauce. The peel is essential for safely putting the raw dough on the preheated stone without disaster. If you don't like cornmeal, you can use semolina for the same non-stick effect.

Don't leave the stone in your oven when you don't need it, because it can reduce cooking temperatures for other foods by shielding them from the heat. Robert Wolke (the What Einstein Told His Cook guy) found that the baking temperature of his oven was reduced by 22°F when his pizza stone was in the oven.
posted by Ery at 5:24 AM on April 5, 2010

The stone that Garak linked looks like the one I have. Mine is many years old now and gets weekly use. I like it because it nicely fills the oven giving you plenty of space to slide the pizza onto. I prefer a stone over tiles as you are less likely to get cheese sticking between the tiles making it hard to get the pizza out. This isn't a big problem with tiles though. I would prefer a stone that is thicker.
posted by caddis at 6:55 AM on April 5, 2010

Seconding "Old Stone Oven Brand"--I had one that lasted for years until it disappeared in a move. I purchased two new stones--different brands--each of which cracked within months. I'm back to Old Stone Oven . . .
posted by donovan at 8:20 AM on April 5, 2010

Re: cracking pizza stones. Always place a COLD stone in a COLD oven. Never put a COLD stone in a HOT oven. "Thermal shock is the name given to cracking as a result of rapid temperature change." For the same reason, never run water over a HOT stone.

That WaPo article Ery linked to doesn't really tell the whole story. The reason that the pizza stone is casting an "infrared shadow" is the same reason it's useful for bread baking and pizza baking. The pizza stone isn't just a surface to put a pizza on, it's a thermal mass that conducts stored heat into the pizza. It takes a lot longer to heat the stone than it does to heat the air in the oven and, until then, the stone will be the coolest spot in the oven. However, without a stone you're depending entirely on radiated heat from element in the oven and the convection of the heated air. These forms of heat transfer are less effective than conducted heat. (Think about holding your hand in a 500 degree oven versus touching the surface of the stone inside the same 500 degree oven.) Yeasted dough demands rapid heat transfer to rise to its full potential, which is why you expend the extra energy preheating the stone.

If I'm making pizza I give the stone about an hour at 500 degrees before put a pizza on it. In the meantime I use the oven to roast vegetables for pizza toppings, toast bread for breadcrumbs, etc. I also use two stones, one on the floor of the oven and another on the middle rack - above the pizza. The upper stone provides a closer source of radiant heat for the top of the pizza, which shaves off several minutes of baking time per pizza and gives a little bit of that elusive pizzeria char. A wooden cutting board makes a perfectly fine peel.

I guess this is really just a long way of saying that pizza stones are materially similar to each other (and to unglazed quarry tile) and that the procedures you follow are way more important than the brand name of the pizza stone in determining the results.
posted by clockwork at 11:31 AM on April 5, 2010

Ok, this isn't quite the answer to your question, but reading this article changed my desire for a true pizza stone, in that the authors suggest stones don't get hot enough to do true, restaurant oven-style pizza. They suggest using a well seasoned cast iron frying pan, so my goal now is to find a big-ass frying pan. I've seen them at army-navy surplus stores pushing 24 inches in diameter. Until then I've been using the method in the article to make personal pan pizzas, although I don't use the bottom of the pan, as they recommend. I use the normal side you would use for cooking. You do get a crust much closer to restaurant style: crispy (almost fried) outside, soft inside - cooked but not doughy.

One tip, I get my frying pan super hot, preheat my oven, throw the flattened dough in the pan, and THEN add my toppings quickly and throw it in my oven. If you try to make the pizza and then transfer it to the pan, your soft dough will not hold the weight of the toppings. This method allows your pizza to cook in six minutes tops.
posted by Brodiggitty at 12:24 PM on April 5, 2010

Just wanted to post this for others: I got a pizza stone as a gift and didn't read the instructions, which were to season it and let it cool before trying to wash it. I had also been leaving it in the oven. Don't be me. Follow the instructions, don't leave it in the oven, season it if it says to and wash according to directions. Yes, duh, I know.

I went out and got the Bailetti as it was what the local store had at a really good price and I finally managed to follow the instructions and have been perfectly happy with it. Lesson learned.

Happy pizza making to all!
posted by cestmoi15 at 6:26 PM on April 29, 2010

Never wash a pizza stone, no matter what the instructions that came with it say. If your oven was properly hot when you made the pizza then everything left on the stone will have charred well. Just scrape it off. A metal spatula will do fine, but will need replacing over time as all the scraping will round off its edges. Yes the stone will eventually turn black. That is not a bad thing.
posted by caddis at 4:15 AM on April 30, 2010

I just found these FibraMent stones which are 3/4 inch thick. It may be time to upgrade. I think I am definitely going for the pizza one, perhaps even to put into a "Little Black Egg."
posted by caddis at 2:37 PM on May 4, 2010

grill one

oh the shame
posted by caddis at 2:37 PM on May 4, 2010

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