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Cracking Pizza Stones

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Brainfreezebob Jan 22, 2007 09:25 PM

After blowing through several unglazed tiles (bought in bulk from Home Depot for a buck a piece), I decided to cave and buy a real pizza stone. The second day I used it, it cracked. I did get some cheese on it (I was going super-thin, and had a pizza that refused to let go of the pan, cornmeal and flour dusting be damned). Any tips on not buying a stone every time I want to make a margarita?

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  1. RShea78 RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 22, 2007 09:55 PM

    Brainfreezebob Wrote: "...I decided to cave and buy a real pizza stone."

    Better details and what brand was it?

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    Brainfreezebob Wrote: "Any tips on not buying a stone every time I want to make a margarita?"

    I recommend keeping the margarita out of the oven and away from the stone. Surprised you both do not crack up and fall to pieces. <wink>

    1. b
      Brainfreezebob RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 22, 2007 10:50 PM

      Oh, it wasn't a fancy stone. I threw the box away already, so I'm not sure what brand it was. I bought it Sur La Table for $20. Seemed like an upgrade from the tiles at the time....

      1 Reply
      1. re: Brainfreezebob
        RShea78 RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 04:43 AM

        If it is one of them cheapies your probably just buying something more expensive that tends to break. Like the few I got from Walmart.

        I suggest the Fibrament brand at the link below of do a search for one nearest you.

        http://www.bakingstone.com/

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      2. shanagain RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 08:38 AM

        Have you been preheating your stone with your oven, or preheating your oven first, then adding the stone? That "should" be the problem, according to what I've read elsewhere.

        I have a cheapo stone, and just leave it in my oven all of the time now (figure it might be saving gas as it helps to conserve heat, right?) and haven't had any issues at all.

        1. b
          Brainfreezebob RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 09:27 AM

          I've been heating it up along with the oven, so I don't think that's the problem. I've read elsewhere that people in humid areas have cracking problems, so maybe that's it.....

          1. Candy RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 09:33 AM

            This stone from King Arthur is a very good one. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/l...
            I have had one of these for about 15 years. It lives on the bottom rack of my oven and never comes out, goes through the cleaning cycle beautifully. It has never chipped or cracked. It is quite sturdy and is about 1/2" thick.

            1. s
              scott123 RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 10:25 AM

              Fibrament, as has been mentioned, seems to be a sturdy stone. It's pricey, though.

              If you want a less expensive solution, I'd call a few brick suppliers and track down half width fire brick. If memory serves me correctly, it's about 1" thick. If you want a ton of thermal mass/phenomenal pizza, you can get the 2" brick, but you'll have to find a way to support your oven shelves, as they're not made to handle that much weight.

              Depending on the size of your oven, you might be able to work out a $15 setup. Fire brick has excellence resistance to thermal shock and is safe to use for baking. It's what wood burning pizza ovens are made out of.

              Measure your oven and buy enough bricks to allow for a 1" gap between the brick and the walls of the oven. Make sure you wash the bricks well, letting them dry a few days and season them by heating the oven in very small increments. Internal moisture is the death of all ceramic materials. For this same reason, washing with water is not recommended. Just brush off the crumbs and never use your brick for anything fatty (like cookies).

              If you do get a lot of fat on your brick. Run it through the cleaning cycle. Have your exhaust running at full blast, though, as there will be a lot of smoke.

              I'd also get your hands on a peel rather than using a pan.

              3 Replies
              1. re: scott123
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                Brainfreezebob RE: scott123 Jan 23, 2007 10:49 AM

                Will pizza really slide of the peel more easily? I'm a little sick of cornmeal in my crust as well.....

                1. re: Brainfreezebob
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                  hummingbird RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 06:17 PM

                  I use parchment paper, as I find cornmeal (Idon't like it either) and flour burn.

                  The PP that is not under the pizza will burn, but with no problem affecting the pizza.

                  1. re: hummingbird
                    RShea78 RE: hummingbird Jan 23, 2007 10:45 PM

                    If your parchment paper is burning it is being used in an inapproperate mannor. I also believe anything that burns can be toxic so I don't want anything like that around my food.

              2. Behemoth RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 06:13 PM

                I build the pizza on parchament paper, and slide the whole thing right onto the stone. After about 5-8 minutes, the crust is hard enough so that I can pull the paper out from under with no sticking, and the remaining time is enough to get the bottom nice and crisp. I hated using cornmeal, semolina was a slightly better option, but the parchament is my favorite solution so far.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Behemoth
                  Candy RE: Behemoth Jan 24, 2007 07:06 AM

                  I do that too because I like to make a sticky dough and the semolina/cormeal thing just did not work

                2. daveena RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 07:36 PM

                  I just keep using my old cracked stone. Hasn't affected the quality of the pizza, and it's easier to store in two pieces.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: daveena
                    daveena RE: daveena Jan 23, 2007 07:49 PM

                    Oh hey, check out tomorrow's LA Times - maybe the answer is a cast iron pizza pan! http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

                  2. RShea78 RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 23, 2007 11:13 PM

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                    I hear all this stuff about sticking and I never had any major problems with it.

                    I am getting to wonder if the pizza crust is containing way to much moisture such as in the cases of baking a frozen pizza (ice crystals) or an unblanched crust? In such cases a layer of aluminum foil should be placed under it or a change in technique is in order. I am not fond of the idea of parchment paper.

                    Cast Iron?

                    For as old as the stuff is, it seems odd there hasn't been stampede effect or rave reviews in such an application of pizza baking.

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                    2 Replies
                    1. re: RShea78
                      Behemoth RE: RShea78 Jan 24, 2007 04:12 PM

                      RShea78, the wet dough for the crust is intentional if you are looking to make a traditional italian-style pizza. The water quickly steams out in the (very high) heat of the oven and causes large bubbles to blow up around the edges. It tastes fantastic but can be a little tricky to work with in a home oven.

                      1. re: Behemoth
                        RShea78 RE: Behemoth Jan 25, 2007 12:00 AM

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                        Behemoth- It is your stone and money, so you can do whatever you want.

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                      elizabt RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 24, 2007 04:16 PM

                      This stone insert is the best. It is a 3-sided stone insert to your oven. I preheat it for 1/2 hour or more on 500 and get the perfect pizza crust. It also does a terrific job with roasts. If you don't have a pizza oven, I think this is the next best thing. Check it out:

                      http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/hear...

                      1. r
                        rexmo RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 25, 2007 10:14 AM

                        A round 5/8" thick kiln shelf from a ceramic supply house is what I use.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rexmo
                          RShea78 RE: rexmo Jan 25, 2007 11:33 AM

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                          rexmo:

                          If the kiln shelves are made from Silicon Carbide, those would make a poor pizza stone as we know them, based on the desired characteristics. Silicon Carbide dissipates or absorbs, heat or cold to rapidly. It would probably carry over some metal pan characteristics, (like that maybe of stainless) so it isn't totally useless.

                          I almost bet if I take a laser thermometer, after you preheat your oven for 2 minutes, the thermometer would show the outline of your lower element through the stone. The effect would be similar to heating up a thin stainless steel pan of water on the stove and watching a boil ring to appear.

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                        2. b
                          billmarsano RE: Brainfreezebob Jan 27, 2007 07:51 AM

                          I have 3 pizza bakers:
                          1. a large rectangular pizza stone--quite goodl; bought for $10 at a close-out store, so originally it was pricier;
                          2. A 12-inch round pizza stone a neighbor tossed out, also quite good; and
                          3. red brick pavers of coarse texture, which I lijke best.

                          The rectangle is usable either side. The round job has concentric ribs on the bottom. The pavers (and this may not be the correct name, or may be a name not in universal use) are about 4x7 in, about 3/8ths thick. I adopted them as soon as I discovered them, more or less byaccident, 20-odd years ago, after I gave up on quarry tiles. Warning: In a previous pizza discussion someone with some expert knowledge said not to use them; they will splinter; splinters will stick in the dough; the result will be dental catastrophe. I say that in fairness to all readers. My own experience--quite a bit of pizza-baking on pavers since the 1980s--does not validate that opinion.

                          Pavers and stones alike go into the dishwasher and come out fine.
                          Flour is tossed (by some) onto the peel and/or stones/pavers for the express purpose of simulating real pizzeria bottom-char. Don't do it if you don't like it.

                          Excess moisture is I'm sure the cause of dough sticking to the peel, and I'm working on dryer dough--but still want the elusive bubbles (will advise).Certainly sticking can be damned messy! In my case it has resulted in an entire pizza--except for the dough!--sliding directly onto the bricks. Cures the sin of pride just like THAT!

                          Pre-heat the brick? Well, it has never occurred to me not to: if you're going to bake on stone, it has to be hot If it isn't you're baking the stone and the pzza at the same time.

                          Have never had trouble w/pizza sticking to stones/bricks in the oven--just on the peel. Have seen the 3-sided stone inserts--expensive, cumbersome, clumsy to store--so have never tried them. For best top baking I raise the bricks to half height or higher in the oven.

                          Re wet dough and semolina/cornmeal: I'll bet that won't work. The foemr will probably melt into the dough as it does when you flour bread dough too lightly. The corn meal wont be absorbed but wet dough will collapse around it, killng the 'ball-bearing' or rolling effct you desire. Important that peel is dry! Many forget this!

                          Cast iron? Hmm. Maybe. If you've got a large iron skillet or flat gribble, experiment.

                          Soapstone (these days mainly used for v. pricy sinks) has a long history in cooking--has been succcessfull made into pots, gribbles, as it's v. soft.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: billmarsano
                            RShea78 RE: billmarsano Jan 27, 2007 09:59 AM

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                            ""Certainly sticking can be damned messy! In my case it has resulted in an entire pizza--except for the dough!--sliding directly onto the bricks. Cures the sin of pride just like THAT!""

                            Sure does!

                            I was over at a friends house and spent most of my time biting my lower lip when he decided to make the crust on the wet side. The scenario went like- He got the pizza on the pizza peel and it stuck on it like a tongue would on a freezer shelf. He used a turner to assist in sliding it off, then it somehow flipped over out of his frustration. In the next process he went to remove the stone (it was starting to stink from the burnt toppings), still fustrated, and he broke the glass cooktop on the stove as there was no other place to set the stone.

                            I politely asked to leave, as I knew when his wife comes home from work, there will be hell to pay.

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