Pizza Stones and How to Buy One
Ever wonder what makes homemade pizza so different from what you buy at a pizzeria or bakery? One of the biggest reasons is the crust.As metal baking pans typically used in homes have no ability to absorb moisture (being non-porous), the crust often turns out too soft or even soggy.
This is exactly what baking stones, otherwise called pizza stones, are made to fix. Because a pizza stone absorbs moisture from the dough, the result is a more evenly cooked crust with a really nice crisp – and no hot spots that a kitchen oven would often give you. If you have tons of dough-based recipes, you can use them with pizza stones as well.
A pizza stone is a flat piece of natural stone, about half an inch to an inch thick, in the shape of a square, circle or rectangle. And it works in a very basic manner. The stone is first placed on the middle or bottom rack of the oven, where it must be preheated for 30 minutes to an hour (thicker stones naturally heat longer). The heat will be absorbed by the stone, where it can be sustained for quite a while. The best thing about this is that heat will transfer directly to your dough in a uniform manner, letting you bake breads and calzones and pizza evenly. Plus a crust that is temptingly brown and a bit crispy too. Different baking stones can be heated up to different maximum temperatures, but in most cases, this would be around 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s fairly easy looking for a baking stone that’s right for your needs. First of all, it should be just the right size for your oven. This is as easy as measuring the width as well as the depth of your oven capacity. If you will be using a gas oven, there should be a one-inch allowance on every corner of the stone to ensure good air circulation (works the same way as with cookie sheets). Furthermore, if you’ve always wanted crispy bread or a crispy crust, use a stone that is at least 3/4 inch thick. Heat is absorbed and distributed better in food when you use a thicker stone, so this is a good choice if you want a nice and consistent outcome. If you shop around, you’ll find that the biggest single piece baking stone available for standard-sized kitchen ovens is around 16in x 14in.
Lastly, we mentioned earlier that pizza stones can be square, round or rectangular, but this beyond a shape issue. Rectangular stones offer a bigger surface area, making them best for bread and other similar foods. If you’re only thinking about pizza, any shape will do.