How To Choose the Best Pizza Stone
Written by: GregCreates
It may have been born in Italy but pizza is about as American an institution as you'll find today. Every second in the U.S. 350 slices of pizza are eaten, equalling 63,000 entire pizzas if you cut them into 8 slices each! Extrapolate that out and you get 3 billion pizzas a year! (Dough!)
This love for pizza isn't just the kind you buy at the store or order from the pizzeria either, as many people around the country love to make their own pizza at home from scratch. To get the perfect pie however you'll need more than just the best ingredients, you'll also need a top-quality pizza stone (and one that matches your tastes). To do that, keep reading to find out exactly what makes a good pizza stone. Buon appetito!
What Material Makes the Best Pizza Stone?
Pizza stones come in a variety of materials, all of them made to withstand extreme heat and bake your pizza evenly. They also absorb moisture, so that your crust comes out crispy and crunchy.
Stone and/or clay pizza stones are excellent at this, producing a crisp crust that's to die for. The drawback with them, however, is that they need to be preheated, which takes time and wastes energy. Steel pizza stones conduct heat better than clay and so cook pizza faster, using less energy. They're also heavy and expensive, making them hard to move once they're heated.
Then there's cast iron, like a (large) cast iron skillet. Cast iron heats quite quickly, delivers a fantastic crust and is normally easier to move around, although they can be heavy.
Should You Preheat Your Pizza Stone?
Most pizza experts recommend putting your pizza stone in the oven for upwards of an hour before using it, pre-heating the stone so that the pizza crust will turn out well and won't stick. This is indeed a good idea (even though it does waste energy) because the crust will turn out much better if your stone has been preheated.
After you're done you'll want to let the pizza stone cool off in the over, where it will be safe from being damaged, and your family will be safe from burns. Keep in mind that it's not recommended to wash a pizza stone directly after you use it, as the shock of going from hot to cold could cause it to crack, ruining your stone and your good time.
What Shape Makes the Best Pizza Stone?
Pizza, in most people's view, is round and thus a round stone would seem to make sense. If you're into Sicilian pizza, however, which traditionally has a thicker crust and is rectangular, you'll need a rectangular stone that also has a 'lip' on the side so that the pizza dough can rise while cooking.
Does the Size of the Pizza Stone Matter?
The size of your pizza stone should be large enough to make a pizza that will fill the bellies of everyone who's going to be eating but, if you have a small-ish oven, you might have to consider getting a smaller stone to fit. Also, there are pizza stones made for use on the grill and so the same caveat goes for those.
Some people like a smaller stone so that they can make a larger variety of pizza without everyone filling up after the first. Of course, you can always buy a larger pizza stone and simply make your pizza smaller, but the choice is yours. We recommend that you buy as big a stone as will easily fit in your oven or grill.
Does a Pizza Stone Need to be Seasoned?
Many kitchen tools used to bake should be seasoned first, which simply means to get them ready by baking on a thin coat of oil (or several thin coats) before use. With a pizza stone that's not necessary, however, as it will work perfectly without being seasoned. It is a good idea to clean your new pizza stone thoroughly though, to remove any residue or glue that might have become attached during the manufacturing process.
So there you have it, all the information you will need to go out and purchase your first pizza stone and join the home-pizza-making revolution. Best of luck and hey, remember to save a slice for us!