Pizza stone tricks
July 3, 2004 11:54 PM   Subscribe

I bought a pizza stone. According to the instructions you are supposed to slide your pizza on to the pre-heated stone. How the hell can you slide a large pizza on to a stone without mushing the damn thing up? And any tips for doing this on a pre-heated stone that do not involve minor burns to the cook?

(Guess what I've got in the oven, answers inside...)

... one worse for wear pizza, of couse.

It'll still taste great, but it's more than somewhat mangled, and loading it onto the stone was a trial.

There's gotta be a secret to this, yes?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is the problem that there's too much friction between the pizza and the stone? If that's the case, have you tried flouring the stone?

Ideally, you'd use a big spatula thing for picking up the pizza and then sort of slide it off that, gently onto the stone.

PS: My knowledge of pizza extends to making it get in my tummy.
posted by pealco at 12:15 AM on July 4, 2004

pizzerias use those big wooden spatula things, and i am secretly lusting after one.

but i have been using my pizza stone for a few years and i rarely preheat it. i preheated it once, pulled it out, and tried to prepare calzones on it - the dough started cooking before i could get all the fillings in, making it impossible to close.

the only time i preheat mine is for frozen pizza-in-a-box. those slide in and out really easily.

my pizzas turn out great, so i must be doing something right.
posted by rhapsodie at 12:17 AM on July 4, 2004

on preview:

dont flour the stone! but do make sure it is well oiled, and if you want, sprinkle some cornmeal on it.
posted by rhapsodie at 12:17 AM on July 4, 2004

Are you talking about sliding it onto the stone uncooked? Or cooked?
posted by scarabic at 12:24 AM on July 4, 2004

Response by poster: The problem is sliding it off another surface (I tried an oiled baking tray) onto the stone.

I dusted the stone with cornmeal and the pizza did not stick, so that at least was not a problem.

Yes scarabic, I'm talking about an uncooked round of dough.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:30 AM on July 4, 2004

Best answer: It's a shame you don't have the Good Eats episode on pizza ("Flat is Beautiful"), which makes all this clear, but you can read the transcript online. Note that this is not the same as the new Good Eats coming this week, Flat is Beautiful II, which is about flattened meats like Chicken Kiev and Turkey Piccata.

Anyway. Watch the show if you can; read the transcript if you can't, and read AB's recipe for more info. Basically, you need a peel, apparently known on AskMeFi as that "big spatula thing." You preheat the stone, but you flour the peel (or put cornmeal on it), and assemble the pizza on the peel.

As AB says, "Shake the pizza on the peel to be sure that it will slide onto the pizza stone or tile." In other words, if you're piling pounds of product on your pie, keep shaking the peel every now and then to make sure the dough still slides and hasn't gotten stuck to it. If it has, use something large and flat to loosen it, and put more flour/cornmeal underneath it so it will remain mobile.

You can then "shuffle" the pizza onto the hot stone, where it will bake from raw dough to delicious crispiness in about eight minutes. An oiled transport would be gloppy; you want it to slide right along. The flour/cornmeal keeps the wet dough from having enough places to stick to the peel.

Peels are usually dirt cheap at your local restaurant supply store, as AB says. If you don't have one locally, the Baker's Catalogue is very pizzaful. This peel works wonderfully, but if you want to build the big heavy stuff that's always going to stick to a transport, consider the Super Peel.

posted by mdeatherage at 1:03 AM on July 4, 2004

Response by poster: Aha! I don't know if I can find a peel, but it sounds as though I could improvise on a platter. mdeatherage, you are my hero.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:06 AM on July 4, 2004

dont flour the stone! but do make sure it is well oiled, and if you want, sprinkle some cornmeal on it.

Oil a pizza stone? No, no, no. The point is to get that sucker super hot. Putting oil on it will only result in lots of smoke.
posted by crunchland at 1:13 AM on July 4, 2004

Response by poster: PS: Good Eats has not screened in New Zealand, so I didn't know about it. I'm now browsing the transcripts. This is a treasure.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:33 AM on July 4, 2004

Prepare the pizza dough on a floured surface as for any bread. Then cornmeal the peel, and put your rolled/stretched dough on that. Add toppings. Shuffle onto the preheated stone.

In a pizzaria usually they have a metal peel for removing the pizza. At this point it is good to have a rough screen to slide the cooked pizza onto, where you spin it around a bit to remove any toasted/burnt cornmeal.

The stone really is the ONLY way to get a decent pizza at home. Another secret to true Napolitan pizza is to drizzle olive oil on top of the rest of the toppings just before popping into the oven.

Another secret for authentic pizza is about the tomato topping. It's not sauce, its tomoatos, usually crushed. Canned is fine! Then you put the seasoning onto the tomato, then the rest of the ingredients. I prefer basil and oregano as the principle seasoning.

My personal observation is to also use finely diced onions as a seasoning. No need to use a lot of it, but a bit of this evenly sprinkled does wonders.
posted by Goofyy at 4:21 AM on July 4, 2004

When Matt turns on the "keywords/categories" link at the top of this page, I am so bookmarking the "cooking" section. You guys are awesome.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:06 AM on July 4, 2004

Never made pizza, but with bread (even with a peel) I put the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and slide the paper onto a stone. After about 5 or 10 minutes in the oven, i can slip out the paper and set the bread right on the stone. It works great; you might want to try that.
posted by transient at 5:25 AM on July 4, 2004

I make both bread and pizza - I've used both the parchment papaer method that transient mentioned and the corn meal method. both work well. You need to use a peel or the back of a cookie sheet though. For pizza I prefer corn meal as I like the texture it adds. Just use tons of cornmeal on the peel and you won't have a problem.

As for oil on the stone - I've never heard that, and In fact, I'd heard that any liquid other than water probably wasn't a good idea to put on the stone, IANAPizzaStoneExpert though.
posted by soplerfo at 7:10 AM on July 4, 2004

Here's my pizza recipe, where I detail how to use both a peel and a pizza stone.

If you don't have a pizza peel, a big piece of cardboard will work just as well.

I suspect one problem you may be having is thinking the raw pizza needs to slide on stone. it really works more like this: Place the peel with the pizza on it over the pizza stone, tilt the peel at an angle, then slide the pell out from under the pizza with a rapid shaking motion, or if you're feeling lucky, one rapid pull. The trick is to make sure the pizza doesn't stick to the peel.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:16 AM on July 4, 2004

Putting oil on a pizza stone will ruin it. One of the main reasons to use a stone is that it has pores which will pull the water out of the bottom of the dough and give you a crispier crust. If you fill the pores in with oil you don't have a pizza stone anymore, you have a very heavy and inefficient cookie sheet.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:21 AM on July 4, 2004

Joe's Spleen, Good Eats' Alton Brown is a geek's geek (complete with a Slashdot interview). His shows always talk about the chemical reactions side of cooking and he does cool tricks like attach an air intake and a hair dryer to his barbeque to help whip the coals up to proper heat. They are available on DVD, but I don't know if they support your region or you are willing to spend $50 on cooking shows DVDs. His books are good for not exactly learning specic recipes (though they are there) but sound techniques for cooking and are highly recommended.

Sorry to sound like an Alton Brown fanboy, but I guess I am.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 7:45 AM on July 4, 2004

FWIW, I used a US$5 "no sides" cookie sheet as a (very cheap) alterantive to that big spatula thingy, which was about US$35 at Crate & Barrel. I put a little cornmeal on the baking sheet to make sure the uncooked dough wouldn't stick. Worked like a charm...
posted by JollyWanker at 7:56 AM on July 4, 2004

I would be worried about flour burning at those temperatures.
posted by smackfu at 9:35 AM on July 4, 2004

"I would be worried about flour burning at those temperatures."

It does indeed burn. Which means it's important to dust the peel very lightly. Cornmeal won't burn, or at least it burns much less, but I don't like that taste/texture with pizza, and I don't think it works as well in terms of keeping the pizza from sticking to the peel.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:14 AM on July 4, 2004

I'm assuming the reason for having it preheated is to make sure the dough cooks completely. I always use a stone for homemade pizza, but I bake just the crust for about 10 minutes then add the sauce and toppings. That way the whole crust gets cooked.
posted by MrAnonymous at 10:34 AM on July 4, 2004

Oil a pizza stone? No, no, no. The point is to get that sucker super hot. Putting oil on it will only result in lots of smoke.

the reason i say to oil it is because my pizza stone came with very firm instructions to spread oil on it thoroughly before heating it up. ive never had any problems with smoke, or the dough. but i suppose each stone is different.
posted by rhapsodie at 10:38 AM on July 4, 2004

Check the website or Google for the stone you bought. You'll find they recalled those instructions. I can't remember the brand, but I had a conversation with someone about it a while back.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:45 AM on July 4, 2004

Response by poster: Re burning flour, I have that covered. That's why some people are saying cornmeal; it doesn't burn, it just toasts.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:06 PM on July 4, 2004

You'll find they recalled those instructions.

so what can i do to help fix all these months of oiling? or is it destined for replacement?
posted by rhapsodie at 3:33 PM on July 4, 2004

I would try burning it off. Turn the broiler up all the way and bake the stone under it for a few hours. Let it cool and brush it off.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:19 PM on July 4, 2004

I'd contact the company that sold you the stone with bogus instructions and DEMAND they replace the stone. Your demand may be worded politely, but firm none-the-less.

Re: toasted cornmeal on pizza: The pros put pizza on a metal mesh and spin it around to remove excess toasted cornmeal. The oven is routinely brushed out when empty.
posted by Goofyy at 1:07 AM on July 5, 2004

Best answer: Someone said that they didn't preheat the stone. That is just plain asking for a ruined crust. The whole purpose of the stone is to store lots of heat to ensure that the crust gets properly cooked and crisped. If you like a nice fluffy, doughy crust, stop reading. I like my crust crisp and thin, New York style. To achieve this heat your stone to about 500 F, at least a half hour and preferably longer in a 500 F oven. Roll out your dough (or pull it, either way seems to work for me) adding flour to get it so that it is not too sticky, but not too dry. Have all your ingredients ready as moving quickly from this stage seems to help. Prepare your peel with a light dusting of flour and a goodly amount of cornmeal. Place the crust on the peel. Oil the top of the crust lightly with olive oil, add your ingredients, oil generously on top of those. Move the peel to the oven and with a quick pull backwards, like pulling off a table cloth and leaving the dishes, yank the peel out from under the pizza leaving it on the stone. If you are less confident, use a spatula to get one edge down onto the stone first and then pull back the peel. If it wrinkles pick it up and adjust, being careful of course not to touch the stone (at least for very long). The dough should be stretched fairly thin to make a nice crisp crust. I sometimes turn down the oven while the pizza is inside (400 F).

I would guess that an hour or so at 500 degrees will burn off most of the oil in your stone. The thing will eventually turn pretty dark after a hundred pizzas or so, probably a lot less bet I am several hundred into my current stone.

The best pizza I make is on the grill. First grill the dough on medium heat on both sides (oil the crust generously with olive oil for flavor) to make an almost cooked crust. Add the toppings quickly and back on the grill to complete. It tastes like coal fire brick oven pizza, especially when grilled over charcoal.
posted by caddis at 9:00 AM on July 5, 2004

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