How to keep pizza from sticking to the stone.
- Lindsay B.
Here's the situation: I bought a nice, heavy ceramic pizza stone from Crate and Barrel a few months ago. I have an incredibly hot gas oven. This should be a match made in heaven, but I'm having some serious problems with pizzas sticking to the paddle and the stone. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Here are some things I've tried/noticed so far:
1. Cornmeal only helps so much. I can't use as much as I'd like because some particles invariably come loose and incinerate on the pizza stone, filling my kitchen with black smoke. Firefighters are sexy and all, but I don't want to share my pizza. (grin)
2. I friend of mine seasons his pizza stone by baking cookies on it. He swears that once the grease permeates the ceramic, he has no more trouble with sticking. However, the instructions that came with my stone said that I mustn't get any grease on it because the grease will smoke and create off smells.
3. Making smaller pizzas seems to help, but it hasn't entirely solved the problem.
I was making pizzas on a friend's stone recently and had the same frustrating problem. We made 3 pizzas, and by the third one, the sticking problem wasn't as bad. So perhaps after you've used it a few times, it's seasoned enough to not stick? I also found that working with the dough as little as possible on the stone made a difference-- if you're padding and prodding, it probably is more closely bonded with the stone (especially because the dough melts a little on the hot stone).
But here's a potentially stupid question-- what's a peel? If that's some sort of special tool, I wasn't using it.
I use flat unglazed tiles abt 1/2 inch thick that I got at a masonry place in SF. Ive had them for years and never had a problem with sticking on bread or pizza.I do not wash them , i just clean crumbs off with paper towels . If you've burned you might use salt to rub off.
I usually use a little cornmeal BUT I do heat the stones for about 20-30 min as high as I can before putting dough on.
Here's what I do:
First, the dough needs to be well-floured and stretched out (almost) to size when you put it on the peel. I dust my peel with flour, either that or cornmeal will work. If you stretch the dough on the peel and press it, you've created damp spots that will want to stick to it.
When you finish this step, you should be able to give the paddle a shake, and the dough circle will easily slip off onto the counter. If not, don't proceed. It won't get easier. Remove it and flour the bottom again.
Second, you should be sparing with the toppings. If you cover it with heavy stuff, you'll weight it down, and it won't slide off properly. If you want a pizza that's thick and dense with toppings, put it in a deep-dish pan for easier handling.
Your oven may be too hot, if the cornmeal burns up with lots of smoke. I have a cast iron round griddle that I use as a pizza stone. I can put it on the stove to preheat it, so it only takes about 15 minutes to get ready to bake on it. After it's cool, I can wipe off the darkened flour. But I like to keep the oven about 475F. Do you have a thermometer?
I've always been uneasy about baking cookies on a baking stone that I would use for something else. Actually, I've also been uneasy about baking cookies on a stone instead of a cookie sheet. I know they encourage people to do this at Pampered Chef, but they didn't provide me with instructions on how it's done. Do you only cook one sheet, or do you handle multiple batches differently? If you preheat it, how do you get the cookies onto it, and off it when they are done? If you drop cookie dough on a hot stone, won't the first cookie be done on the bottom before you get them into the oven? Or can you only do cookies that are easy to handle in the raw condition?
Someone I helped make bread for the first time asked me how to bake cookies on a baking stone. I suggested that they get the information out of someone who did it on a regular basis.
I always suspected this was a ploy to sell more baking stones, rather than a way to get better cookies.
I suggest a piece of dental floss for a pizza that is stuck to the peel. Just run it under the pizza.
A good way to prevent sticking on the peel is using a combo of flour and cornmeal. By using a fair amount, you should not have to add any directly to the stone. There will be enough under the pizza to stop any sticking problems.
Dust the stone and peel generously with semolina flour...not corn meal. It may brown a little, but won't burn up. My 30 year old stone has been corrupted with every edible substance known to man, and never has caused sticking. It is now almost black and nearly non-stick.