Pizza stone needed, longevity required.
October 5, 2017 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm searching for a pizza stone that won't break in 6-12 months of (moderate?) use.

We fire up the oven to do some pizza 2-3 times a month. We also bake bread 1-2 times a month that often requires the use of the stone. Over the past few years, I've been churning through these things at an annoying rate. The first couple times I attributed it to not heating the thing up slowly enough, or cooling down too fast, but now I have a (slowish) protocol for heating up and cooling down. They're still breaking on me pretty quick. The last one I had lasted the longest, but it clocked in at a whopping 13 months.

Are my expectations for a pizza stone too high? Are these little buddies effectively disposable, kind of like teflon pans? Do I just need to suck it up that I'm in for replacing these on the regular

I'm not opposed to a baking steel, but most of the pizza stone buying guides by normal food websites seem to be assessing these from a pizza-only stance. While they're good for pizza, other breads aren't geared towards being used on them. True? False? Nuanced? I'm hesistant on the price point, but christ, I'm already spending that much just spread out over time

What's the thing that I need here? What's the magic pizza stone?
posted by furnace.heart to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I bought this stone 13 years ago (although it was half the current price, then). It has lived on the bottom rack of three electric ovens and one gas oven. It's been used for pizza or bread once a week or more throughout its life, and since it stays in the oven, sometimes there's just a sheet pan full of asparagus on it. No problems there. Other than a little cheese scorched onto it (oops), it's in perfect condition.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:10 AM on October 5

I have a pizza steel and like it a lot, but I think the magic pizza stone you're looking for is a set of six or eight unglazed tiles, which is what I used for years, happily. You can get them for super cheap at a hardware store, and swap out individual ones if they crack. Here's a blog post (not by me) about doing exactly that, with photos and more details.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:10 AM on October 5

We use unglazed clay tiles from the hardware store. Like these.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:11 AM on October 5

I had one from the Pampered Chef (yes, I know, MLM, but they actually have some good products) for YEARS (like 5) and it lived in the oven. I left it in there even when I was cooking something else not on the stone, because it helped hold the heat. I lost it in the divorce but I bet it's still going strong.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:21 AM on October 5 [7 favorites]

Ha ha - let me hip you to a $3 Pizza Screen that is SO MUCH BETTER for bread and pizza. Legit. You will never go back :))
posted by jbenben at 8:30 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

My Emile Henry stone gets used at least weekly, for the past eight years.

If I hadn't been gifted that, I'd probably have gotten a Lodge cast iron one, which would actually have been more practical because I could use it on the stovetop as a comal/griddle.
posted by padraigin at 8:35 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

My Good Cook stone has been in use for over 5 years, used at least once a week.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:38 AM on October 5

After breaking many purpose-manufactured stones, I started using an inexpensive matte-finished (unsealed) saltillo tile (I think it was recommended on Metafilter!) a few years back and I've only broken one.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:55 AM on October 5

i also just generic pizza stones and our primary one is about 10 years old (and seasoned so beautifully at this point).

honestly it sounds like an expansion problem which usually means water- any chance your kitchen is super humid, maybe you're soaking it regularly as part of your cleaning, or it's just not drying fully before use?
posted by noloveforned at 8:56 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

I had one from the Pampered Chef (yes, I know, MLM, but they actually have some good products) for YEARS (like 5) and it lived in the oven. I left it in there even when I was cooking something else not on the stone, because it helped hold the heat. I lost it in the divorce but I bet it's still going strong.

Ours is from Pampered Chef, and it's almost 20 years old and been through 4-5 moves and it gets used... well, I eat more Tombstone pizza than I probably should.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:59 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

Also - we never wash it. It gets scraped with a spatula (if necessary) and then wiped down with a soapy rag, but it never gets washed like a plate. Stones of all types can retain a lot of water and split when heated.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:04 AM on October 5

Just to clarify, I agree that it sounds like an expansion problem, but I usually just scrape the chunks off and wipe it down with a dry cloth. Sometimes I'll gently hit it with a soft brass brush, if something is really, really burnt on. Humidity might be a problem. I'm in the PNW, so moisture is an unavoidable part of life, but I wouldn't imagine that level of moisture would affect the stone?
posted by furnace.heart at 9:07 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

I love my pizza steel. Fabulous for pizza and I also cook southern biscuits directly on the steel and they come out great.

The steel is easy to clean; every once in a while I grab my dough scraper and scrape it across the steel, wipe it down with water, and turn the oven on for a minute to dry the steel off. It's so nice to not worry about getting the pizza stone wet and drying it for days.
posted by gregr at 9:13 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

How are you storing it? We keep ours in the oven full time, and leave it in there no matter what we're cooking. We've had it for 12+ years.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:14 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]

I have the same Old Stone Oven stone that uncleozzy recommends, and I have had it for more than twenty years now. I leave it in the bottom of the oven and occasionally relocate it to a rack for specific baking purposes. It's got a couple chips and numerous stains, but it's still going strong.

BUT! Back in college I briefly worked in a restaurant that added a brick oven and used stones as serving dishes (we didn't cook on them, but we'd slide a hot pizza off the peel onto a stone). At least a third of them broke in half in the first couple weeks. It usually happened at the pizza station, but a few of them broke on tables (and boy, wasn't that fun. "Need a rush remake on X. Stone broke on the table." "Again?"). It was chalked up to manufacturing defects, but I think moisture was a contributing factor. Maybe if we had tempered them we'd have had a lower failure rate, but I was told they were all going back to the supplier and it wasn't my problem to solve, and that was that. After the initial kinks were worked out they generally only broke when they were dropped.

I've considered getting a steel, but my stone literally ain't broke. I don't think there's any reason a recipe that specifies a stone wouldn't also work on a steel, since the claim is that a steel does all the same things a stone does, only better. If you're already leaving your stone in the oven all the time and it's still breaking on you, it sounds like you should try the steel and find out.
posted by fedward at 9:34 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

Oh, my vote is 100% for just getting the Baking Steel. I've had mine for at least six years. I moved that sucker across an international border, even. I would not want to be without it. I've made bread on it, too, and been happy with the results. Maybe it depends on the kind of bread you're after? In any case, for pizza it is worlds better than any stone I had ever owned.
posted by veggieboy at 10:25 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]

Baking steel for pizza; Dutch oven for bread. you can definitely use the steel for bread but the bottom may cook faster than you expect.
posted by O9scar at 11:35 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]

I too have a Pampered Chef stone that has survived for almost 15 years. If had to purchase something new I'd go with the steel.
posted by mmascolino at 1:18 PM on October 5

I've also had a Pampered Chef stone for 15 years, no problems. It gets used a lot. I don't give it any special care.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:53 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]

I have a emile henry bread cloche, where I can use the bottom part without the lid as a pizza stone. The bread from it is amazing, the pizza is fine.

I also have a cast iron griddle that I use for pizzas in the oven as well as its normal griddle life on the stovetop, and I prefer that when I want to bake more than one pizza since it seems to be less sensitive to opening and closing the oven door, or even being taken out for a better pizza-forming proces.
posted by mumimor at 1:56 PM on October 5

Baking Steel 4 lyfe!!!

I love my baking steel. This is a stupid thing to say, but it was a life changing purchase. You can definitely make other things on it besides just pizza! The creator sometimes posts recipes specifically for use on the steel for other things, mostly other breads:

A Perfect Loaf of Bread
Mixed Berry Galette
English Muffins
posted by firei at 3:48 PM on October 5

I read every answer to be sure my husband didn’t already weigh in. We have two large pieces of unsealed granite he pulled out of a dumpster (with permission) behind a stone countertop shop. He cut them both down with a tile saw and he uses one to bake on, and the other on the highest rack in the oven to hold the heat in. We’ve used one on a gas grill, too. Works *great*.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:41 PM on October 5

large, overturned cast iron pan
posted by kensington314 at 6:51 PM on October 5

I've had one of these for 15 years, and I dare you to try prying it out of my piping hot dead hands. Bakes pizza and breads like a dream.

There is a tempering process when you first install it that drives any moisture out slowly via gradual temperature increases. I re-tempered when we moved a few years ago, just in case the stone had picked up any moisture in transit. Otherwise maintenance is near-zero (brush off the occasional crumb, scrape a cheesy spot every now and then) and it helps to regulate my oven temperature for everything else. A+++would Fibrament again
posted by spinturtle at 10:04 AM on October 6 Highly recommended.
posted by improvingmylife00 at 6:08 PM on October 6

Alright, it looks like I'm going to be trying out unglazed tiles, pizza screen and some granite first (can't really beat those prices, even if they eat it in a few months). Then I'll move onto some of the more expensive options if they don't pan out.

Oh, I'll mention that I'm a cast iron fanatic, and have had bad luck with it cracking at really high, sustained temperatures. My griddle lost a chunk, and has a hairline fracture on it from cooking pizza on it. I'd love it if cast iron was an option, but they're usually only rated to 450F, and our oven is routinely able to get up to 550F.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:39 AM on October 10

We were given one of the fancy, rectangular pizza stones when we got married in 1996 and we have used it once (or more!) per week since then. It has never never NEVER been wet at any time: all burned-on spillage gets scraped off with a pocket knife once the thing cools, several hours after use.

Last summer I was given a much thinner, round stone for use on the grill, and that thing is awesome. It takes less time to heat up than the rectangular stone (smaller surface area and thinner means way less mass), and it still makes wonderful crust.

(ObDisc: I have worked in a couple of pizzerias, as well as making a lot of pizzas at home.) I believe that stone-floor ovens result in a better crust. Cooking on a mesh-belt/screen requires heat from above to make sure that the toppings and upper crust cook at the same time as the bottom crust. Commercial pizza ovens with a belt (e.g., a big CTX) make sure to heat from above and below, but a home oven won't be rigged that way.

For bread, I used my cast iron dutch oven for bread a bunch last winter, but stopped baking bread when the weather got hot. *shrug* The tools for bread baking are a way more personal, experimental thing that depends on your oven and weather and flour as much as the stone/steel/pan/cloche/whatever.

Good luck!!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:16 PM on October 13

« Older Technology that is perfect despite being obsolete?   |   Custom spreadsheet auto populates Google map with... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments