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Pizza Stone Corn Meal Question

Good Day Chowhounders,

A friend gave me a pizza stone for X-mas. I planned on making pizza for lunch. I just noticed it says on the directions of the pizza stone that I have to use corn meal on the bottom of the stone. I do not have any. Is this absolutely necessary? Can I substitute and use something else? If so, what? I want to avoid running back out to the store.


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  1. I would say it's not absolutely necessary. Just be sure to very generously flour the bottom of the wooden pizza paddle or rimless cookie sheet that you use to make the pizza on before transfering it to the pre-heated stone. That way the pizza will slide easily from one surface to another (though this does take a bit of practice so don't be dismayed if your first few attempts create a big mess!). The cornmeal mostly provides a nice texture on the bottom of the pizza and makes it easier to slide it onto a hot stone. I've found that if you start with cornmeal on the stone and pre-heat it for an hour in a 500 degree oven like you want to do get the stone hot enough, then the cornmeal burns and makes a huge mess.

    1. Thanks E2E, The instructions say not to use any flour because it'll burn?

      5 Replies
      1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

        There are a couple of things you could do. If you have grits on hand use that. Semolina will work too lastly form your pizza on a piece of parchement paper and if you have sufficiently heated your oven and stone you will be ale to remove the parchment from under the pizza after baking about 3 mins.

        Preheat your oven as high as it will go and heat 30-45 mins with the stone on the bottom rack in your oven.

        Put a sheet of parchment down on the peel. Put your pizza dough on the parchment and roll out the dough and build your pizza. Then slide pizza and parchment on to the hot stone. Remove peel. After 3 mins remove the parchment.

        1. re: Candy

          This is what I do with pizza and bread with the parchment. I cut the parchment so very little hangs out from under the dough, just enough to hold. I never thought to remove it after a few minutes. It darkens but hasn't burned (yet?).

          1. re: Candy

            I did not see these in time, good stuff! It would have saved me so much trouble.

            After I got the corn meal from my neighbor, I had a heck of a time getting that pizza on to the stone. I used foil and just yanked it from under it after about two minutes. So the thinking was similar, but it was stressful and nerve wrecking. Off topic, can I cook steak on this stone? in NYC I had a steak cooked from a brick oven, it was delish. My instructions say this is like cooking in a brick oven. Thanks again.

            1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

              If the pizza stone is the typical rimless kind, I wouldn't recommend cooking a steak on it. All the juices would run off it. I'd guess, too, that your brick oven steak (sounds so good!) was cooked at a much higher temp than you could achieve in a home oven. I use my pizza stone for lots of other things, though, like baking excellent cookies!

            2. re: Candy

              Preheating the stone on the bottom rack might help in your oven. I have found that only on the top rack does the crust fully cook before the topping gets overcooked.

          2. Nevermind, I got some the old fashioned way...from a neighbor. :)

            1. The next time you have the problem you can use flour.

              1 Reply
              1. Thank you Brandon, Candy & Chowser. This really came out great and it's quite economical to make. I made a pepperoni, shallots, and mushroom pizza, delicious!

                I got the traders joes pizza dough. You should have seen me tossing the thing in the air trying to shaping it. Any techniques? I almost made it square like the old Perry's Pizza in Inglewood. lol. I didn't love the crust. I got the garlic and herb, will try the plain next time.

                What other doughs are good? What about personal size crusts?

                9 Replies
                1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                  Working with dough can be tough, and I haven't at all figured out how folks at pizza places make it look so effortless. The most important thing is to make sure that you're not working with cold dough--leave it out of the fridge for at least an hour to let it come to room temp. Then I let it hang/fall, letting gravity do most of the work, stretching it gently. I make rectangular pizza on baking sheets and it's generally misshapen. But with good ingredients, it's completely delicious.

                  1. re: rose water

                    That Pizza looks delicious! Yours makes me realize I did not cook mine long enough.

                  2. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                    Leave the dough out until its room temperature so it's easy to work with, Making your own pizza dough is, actually, very easy and it tastes a lot better. We just stretch it out to shape but mostly because we're not skilled enough to do the spinning. I've been stretching it out on the back of a cookie sheet, sprinkled w/ corn flour or w/ the parchment paper. Then you put it on the stone. It works okay but kind of heavy so I'm considering investing in a pizza stone.

                    1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                      It'll be even more delicious and economical when you jump into making your own dough! I think the trick is to expect a few disappointments while you're learning. My first attempt reminded me of those horrible "cracker crusts" at Pizza Hut. Absolutely dreadful.

                      Let me know and I'll post the basic dough I've been making (makes for a good NY style thin/foldable crust with a bit of chewiness to it, and a slight "crisp" to the crust). I don't think the recipe is the trick, though - it's learning to judge for yourself when the dough won't take any more flour. The success of your crust also relies on getting your stone as hot as possible. My oven goes to 500 so I preheat at 500 for at least an hour.

                      As for tossing pizza dough - I'm making a mean pizza these days, but I'm just not coordinated/skilled enough for that. I'll leave it to the pros. I pretty much form it into a ball and gently work it into a circle. (Or at least a close fascimile.) As I generally make three or four pizzas at a time for my family of five, my peel is in constant use, so I shape it on the counter, then transfer it to the corn meal dusted peel by wrapping the dough around a large rolling pin.
                      Edited to add "recipe."

                      I realized my recipe is pretty basic and more instinctive than anything so I'd just take a minute to add it. After trying a few recipes I decided to go by my gut and this is what's developed. Remember, this makes four large pies, so you might want to just shape part of it into a loaf and bake it as bread, since it's an adaptation of a bread recipe I use frequently.

                      1 slightly heaping tablespoon bread machine yeast (it's cheaper to buy a big jar and keep it in the fridge if you bake often)
                      2 1/4 C warm water (you're going for very warm, not hot)
                      about 1 T sugar
                      about 1 T salt
                      1 heaping T vital wheat gluten (find it in the baking aisle)
                      Up to about 5-6C All purpose flour - there's no way to say for sure, it'll depend upon the humidity in your house.
                      Extra virgin olive oil - about 1/4C

                      Combine the warm water and yeast, then add sugar, salt, vital wheat gluten and about 1/2 cup of flour. Mix and let sit for about five minutes. (This is a good time to put your stone in the oven, start preheating, get the rest of your prep area ready for you.)

                      If you have a mixer with a dough hook, add flour about a cup at a time until the dough starts to pull away from the sides. At this point, if you pinch off a piece of dough, it'll look like it's started to be "dough" but will be very soft and sticky on your fingers. Turn out on a floured surface and sprinkle with flour and start to knead your dough. Since it's a relatively soft dough your hands are going to pretty much be a mess (not coated in stickiness, but close), but the trick is to only knead in enough flour so that you can work the dough. You'll probably knead in about a cup or more of flour - the goal is a soft, pliable dough that will stick to your counter if you don't keep moving it and adding small amounts of flour as you go. (A pastry scraper is handy at this point in letting you pick up the dough and slam it back down on the counter keeping one hand out of the way, doing most of the kneading with one hand.)

                      When the dough is still soft but you're just almost able to knead it without adding any more flour, pour the olive oil into a large bowl and place your dough in the bowl, turning so the top is coated. Cover with plastic wrap (loosely, but so the dough is covered) and place in a warm - not hot - spot near your preheating oven. Let the dough rise to double, about an hour.

                      Punch the dough down and divide into four pieces and let rest for a couple of minutes. On a lightly floured surface, pat/roll into a circle and transfer to your pizza peel.

                      At this point it can't be stressed enough - work as fast as you can to avoid warming the dough too much if you're using the corn meal method.

                      I'm not convinced that the "recipe" is the trick at all, as I've said - I managed to make a perfect dough a few weeks ago and since then I've made it a couple more times and realized it's really about knowing when to leave your dough alone and not try to get it too easy to knead.

                      1. re: shanagain

                        For what it's worth to those interested in tossing the pizza dough, the dough I make is essentially this same recipe, but I don't coat it with olive oil before it rises. I used to, but my husband can actually toss pizza quite nicely, and he says it's a lot harder to do if the dough was coated with oil during the rise (though I still put a good amount of olive oil in the dough). So if you really want to toss, you might try omitting that step.

                      2. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                        I've tried that TJ's pizza dough and find it needs flour, otherwise it is too sticky. Mine was a mess. That was about 2 years ago. Since then I've made my own pizza dough (I use Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe version) and I love it. It makes two large, I freeze one. I make it almost once a week in the winter. Adding semolina to the pizza crust adds texture and makes it more crunchy. I'm also a fan of parchment and gently stretch mine into a rectangular shape as well. If it won't stretch out, let it rest a few mintues and then try again. Also, like others point out, room tempature dough is best. If you do use TJs I'd recommend having some flour handy.

                        Edit / Add: I also cook it at the hottest temp I can get ~550. I put the cheese on top as I really like browned cheese (putting ingredients on top prevent this browning from fully developing).

                        1. re: huruta

                          I, too, use Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe but did not know I could freeze it!! Do you freeze the ball?? I use the Bar-B-Que , heat it to 500 for about an hour but then have the darndest time transferring to the stone. I thought I had enough corn meal to help it slid but obviously not. HELP!!

                          1. re: firechief43

                            Just use parchment and slide it back out after the pizza has baked for a few minutes.

                        2. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                          If you are SoCal Chowhound, try Gelson's;

                          Gelson's has a Wolfgang Puck area where they sell his pizza dough, both fresh and frozen.
                          $1 each for small ones and $4 for the large one.

                          I like it a lot, and it is very good proofed in the fridge a day or so before proofing at room temp.

                        3. even corn meal burns on a super hot pizza stone (I cook my pizzas as hot as my oven can burn - around 550 - but even if it does, it really isn't a problem. You smell it for a second, then that's it.

                          But, as others have said, nothing is easier than parchment. after you've formed your dough, just cut trim the partchment so it doesn't stick out more than an inch. It will blacken, but not burn.

                          1. We use unglazed quarry tiles from the "home improvement store". Preheat for an hour and place the stretched dough on a pizza screen. We have two different sizes bought at a restaurant supply store. Bake the screen directly on the tiles. It's a lot easier to move around, flip front to back, etc. and the bottom of the crust still cooks beautifully.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rockycat

                              since my pizza stone a few years ago, all I've been using are the unglazed tile I got at home depot. It costs about 30 cents per tile (6" x 6 ") and works every bit as well as my old stone. I still throw bread and pizza directly on them. Works great.

                            2. I will dig out my standby recipe for pizza dough. The cool thing about made at home pizza is that nothing is disqualified from becoming topping.

                              I shape it with a rolling pin. I don't have the patience to develope a solid "toss and spin".

                              My best advice is to use plenty of flour on the underside of your dough, regardless of what you put on the peel. Few things be out the frustration in me like trying to talk an underfloured pie into letting go of the peel.

                              1. Lots of great info in the replies to this one, but let me put in my pitch for using corn meal. I have tried the parchment paper idea and it works very well, but I wanted to have the pizza in direct contact with the stone. I don't think this makes a noticeable diff. but I was being a bit anal here. The point is, if you use enough corn meal on the peel or whatever you form the dough on there will be no problem sliding it off and directly on to the stone. If you want to make sure, just give the thing a little shake to make sure the pie is still loose after you put on each ingredient. Just cover the entire peel with a good thick layer of corn meal. Don't put it on the stone as enough will carry over when you transfer to the heated stone in the oven and there won't be any major burn issues. The only problem with this is the first couple of times I wound up getting cornmeal all over the floor, but with a little practice and being careful you can minimize this.

                                Good Luck

                                1. I agree with Jambalaya. Put a good amount of cornmeal on the peel. It works great - no sticking and the pizza then cooks right on the stone, instead of parchment. The direct contact with the stone adds to the crispiness of the crust I think but can't assert as I haven't done the parchment trick.

                                  I do also sprinkle more on the stone but put it on just before putting the pizza in. This alleviates the burnt cornmeal issue.

                                  As, as for dough - I don't like TJ's - as someone said it's- too wet. I do the easy and pretty economical thing (I think) and just buy the dough from a local pizza joint - from one of the ones whose crust I really like. It's about $3 a dough.

                                  1. This turned out to be a great thread! Thank you for all the replies. I did add flour to the TJs dough, it says to on the package. I think the problem was I made the dough too thick, if I had made it super thin, then I think it would have been better.

                                    I made pizza again yesterday, since I had ingredients left over, but with the boboli crust. It was terrible, well not terrible but tasted like a tombstone pizza!

                                    Anyway, I will eventually try the home dough. I am pizzaed out at the moment. FYI, I was a erewhon yesterday and they have pizza crusts, anyone try them? I LOVE the idea about getting the dough from a pizza joint! I'm going to ask village pizzaeria in larchmont. Lastly, can someone recommend good sausage and pepperoni to buy to put on it? I LOVE the sausage at Village Pizzaeria.

                                    1. Before I put in my two cents....I know I technically do this totally wrong, but I have always had great results. My pizza stone is really well seasoned (completely black) so this may be why it works for me so well....

                                      I make homemade dough and take a room temperature pizza stone and put the ball of dough on it and push and pull it until the crust fills the pizza stone...I usually just leave about half an inch of pizza stone showing all the way around. No flour, no corn meal, nothing. Then I put the crust and stone in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes to set the crust. After that, I top it and cook it according to whatever recipe I'm making. I've never had the crust stick and the results are delicious. If find this way easier than trying to build the pizza on a wood board and sliding it into the oven. My husband gets so mad at me because this is not the way pizza is "supposed" to be made, but it always turns out better and easier than when he tries to make it according to all the cookbooks and gourmet directions he's read.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: sunshinedrop

                                        This is an interesting idea sunshinedrop. I would have thought the dough would stick like crazy but since you say it doesn't... I'll have to try. My stone is about a year old and not completely black but pretty dark. Still spotty though.

                                        1. re: sunshinedrop

                                          My only concern would be the possibility of the pizza stone breaking in the sudden temperature change. This ever happen?

                                          1. re: thinks too much

                                            There is no sudden temperature change. The dough is at room temperature and the stone is at room temperature. You only have to worry about the temperature change thing if you heat the stone to 400 and then try to put a frozen pizza on it, and if you have a good stone, even that won't crack it.

                                            1. re: sunshinedrop

                                              What about the temperature change from a room temperature stone into a 400 degree oven? If it produces great results, good on you!

                                              1. re: thinks too much

                                                Your pizza stone shouldn't break from that. I have a lot of stoneware and use it in a lot of recipes where you have to preheat the oven first. I have never heard of a problem from that. Usually, the cracking comes from the stone being hot and putting something cold on it or running it under cold water while it is still hot (my husband's aunt did that, I don't know what she was thinking!). The temperature change has to be more drastic than just room temperature to heat or room temperature to cold.

                                          2. re: sunshinedrop

                                            We also build the crust and pizza directly on the stone when we want to avoid making too much of a mess. My stone is slightly less well seasoned, so I put some cornmeal down. Generally there are no sticking issues and the crust comes out with a bit of crisp and some good chew. FWIW, the dough recipe we've developed uses some cornmeal and a good helping of oil as well.

                                            1. re: markdsgraham

                                              So, you don't preheat your stone?

                                              1. re: tommy

                                                Often not, because of time constraints and also because in a small apartment like mine the heat is sweltering enough after having the oven on at five hundred degrees for the time it takes to cook the pizzas, never mind a whole additional hour in advance.

                                                You don't always get the same crackling crisp to the crust doing it this way, but I find the difference to be relatively minor and the convenience it adds to often be well worth it.

                                              2. re: markdsgraham

                                                If you are not preheating your stone you are doing the opposite of the stone's purpose. The stone is meant as a 'heat capacitor' to speed cooking. You must preheat the stone well for to to do its job. Otherwise you are better off cooking on a cookie sheet.

                                            2. My M.O.:

                                              (I do use cornmeal but I like sunshinedrop's idea and may try that next time)

                                              1. Make the dough, let rise for 3 hours or whatever
                                              2. Heat the stone in the oven
                                              3. While it's heating, prepare the toppings: chop the veggies, shred the cheese, etc.
                                              4. Pull out the stone & rest it on top of the stove (or cooling rack if you prefer)
                                              5. Sprinkle corn meal, then smash out the dough directly onto the stone. Add the toppings ASAP and put back in the oven.

                                              The crust starts cooking the moment you lay it out on the hot stone. Honestly I have never tried making a thin-crust pizza since I like mine thick; so I don't know what effect this would have on a thin crust. I'd think you would just have to bake it for a shorter time, which is probably true for a thin-crust pizza anyway.

                                              P.S. good pizza dough is VERY EASY to make. You don't even have to let it rise if you don't have the time or patience.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: misterbrucie

                                                Oh, that would be easier to take the pizza stone out and then put the pizza on. I was afraid I'd lose too much heat but it's hard transfering the pizza onto the stone in the oven when you don't have a peel. I do thin crust and it takes almost no time to cook.

                                              2. I'm a cornmeal fan also, and recommend investing in one (at least - two is better!) pizza peels -- that's the term for the wooden paddle-like board that you can build your pizza on and use to slide the pizza on the stone and then recover it when it's finished. I like two peels because that way, you can build your second pizza while you're waiting for the first one to come out of the oven.

                                                I also like to put some cornmeal in the dough (substituting for some of the flour), esp. for deep-dish Chicago-style pizzas, but by no means exclusively for that style.

                                                What I do is first to roll out the dough on a large cutting board sprinkled with a decent amount of flour, rolling out to slightly more than the desired thickness and size (I like thin, and large), because the dough tends to spring back somewhat. Then, transfer to the pizza peel, having first covered the peel with a generous and even layer of cornmeal, adjust the shape as needed by stretching gently, then brush on some olive oil, load up with the desired ingrediants, and finish with another brushing of olive oil on the crust. I also brush the crust again when it comes out of the oven. In other words, don't skimp on the olive oil :-) I think this is one of the reasons good pizzeria pizzas taste so good, they don't skimp on the good stuff. (I also put some in the dough, I think any good pizza dough must do this).

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: mikester

                                                  Peel question for you mikester. I have a wooden one and seems you have two. I've been realizing I need a second one and was considering one of the metal ones. Do you have an opinion on that?

                                                  1. re: laylag

                                                    I have a wood one, but if I got another one, I'd definitely go metal. I like that they are much thinner. Plus, they don't stick any more than wood either.

                                                    1. re: laylag

                                                      If you need the second peel for the same reason as mikester, i.e., because you want to start the second pizza do this: Build your pizza on parchment paper, slide it easily on to the peel, then put it in the oven, parchment and all.

                                                  2. Because corn meal is coarse, it acts as "ball bearings" to keep the dough from sticking to the stone. I have a recipe for Italian bread where, not only are you do put corn meal on the stone, but cornmeal on the bottom of the pan that the dough is rising in, so you can slide the dough from one place to another w/o touching it.

                                                    I imagine a healthy handful of flour would do a similar thing, but might be a little messier.

                                                    1. I think the role of the cornmeal is possibly being overlooked. It is not necessary to use corn meal to get the crust on the pizza stone. Flour is enough, but you should pre-bake the crust for about 1 1/2 minutes before you put the toppings on. After pre-baking remove from stone and add toppings. The topped pizza will now transfer to the stone very easily. You should still put corn meal on the stone to keep the dough/crust from having too much direct contact with the stone because it's easy to burn the crust. The presence of the corn meal will provide a little buffer between the hot stone and the crust while still allow the crust to bake nicely.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Pizzza

                                                        I know of no serious pizza makers who want a buffer of burnt cornmeal between their stone and crust.

                                                        1. re: Pizzza

                                                          why on earth would you prebake your pizza crust? i guess if you are baking a really doughy thick crust? But for a thin crust, I bake at 550 degrees and it's done in 5 minutes max.

                                                          And agree with tommy on his comments there too. crust + direct stone contact = good. Crust + buffer + stone = dominos.

                                                          1. re: adamclyde

                                                            This is actually a technique that works well with some very wet forms of pizza ( e.g. A desert form). I don't often do it, but par-baking a pizza crust can be an effective tool. Just don't over cook.

                                                        2. Hi there,

                                                          I had a home made pizza disaster last night. I used a cutting board as a pizza peel. My dough was home made (recipe Alice Waters). I had dusted the cutting board with flour and a little cornmeal, but apparently not enough. I then prepared the pizza with my home made tomato sauce, sauteed onions and shredded mozzarella). The toppings were goopy, the dough became gooey, and I could not get the thing onto my (brand new) pizza stone. I finally gave up, used a spatula to push it along.

                                                          The pizza (if you could call it that) was a disaster. Hot goopy mess, the bottom of the oven covered in melted cheese, the house filled with smoke and the smoke alarm went off three times. We had to sleep with the fans and the windows wide open.

                                                          My point being - use the cornmeal to get the pizza onto the stone!

                                                          Next time I might par bake the dough, just to help ensure that the pizza stays together.

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: jasimo17

                                                            That's happened to me. Try using parchment paper. You can pull it right onto the stone on the parchment.

                                                            1. re: jasimo17

                                                              I make a thin crust and even with a light hand on the toppings, when i made a 16" pizza, I could almost never get it to slide off well. And I have no problem flipping an omelet with a quick jerk of the pan. Just not one of my skills I guess.

                                                              so I bough a "Superpeel." Works great, and also great for transferring pie crust, tart dough to the pan. http://www.superpeel.com/
                                                              Sounds goofy, but it works.

                                                              1. re: sbp

                                                                The superpeel is great. Especially for those who don't want extra raw flour or the taste of cornmeal on their crusts.

                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                  I loved my superpeel! It got ruined though. Maybe someday I can get another.

                                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                    I just looked on website, they now make an extension so you can slide a full 16" pizza.

                                                                    1. re: sbp

                                                                      I've been using a SuperPeel for over 3 years and just recently received the extension kit. Works well, but the weight of this larger pie will really test your wrist strength. In my opinion, the pizzas that come out consistently the best are 14" and dresses with minimal toppings.

                                                              2. re: jasimo17

                                                                The trick is moving FAST - load your toppings fast and move your dough to the stone FAST. It's hard - but easier if you realize you don't have to have a perfectly round pizza. Go for "artisan" instead. Also, it kind of sucks if you're making more than one pizza. Or don't have valium. Or uppers, I guess.

                                                                1. re: shanagain

                                                                  Uppers???? Heaven forfend!

                                                                  Xanax, all the way.

                                                                2. re: jasimo17

                                                                  The trick to getting the dough off the peel if it is sticking is to lift up an edge with a spatula, then blow briskly underneath. Blow in some more cornmeal and you should be back in action.

                                                                3. Speaking of things pizza, has anybody ever tried making the pizza on a cookie sheet and then putting that on the stone? Or would most cookie sheets just warp at that temp?

                                                                  This guy:


                                                                  recommends doing that, but then he also recommends heating the oven to EIGHT HUNDRED DEGREES!

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                    The cookie sheet would be too cold to get the crust you want. It would defeat the purpose of the hot stone in the oven. I've made mine on the back of a cookie sheet and slid it onto the stone. It's clumsy but it works. Much easier with a peel. Hotter is better for the pizza but it's impossible to get home ovens to the right temperature w/out jury rigging it somehow. Some have fooled around w/ the self cleaning cycle but I'm not willing to do that to my oven. A good cookie sheet would hold up to 550 degrees but you don't get that crisp crust.

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      We're going to try aluminum foil next time. The pizza peel/cornmeal thing just isn't working for us. I worked at a pizza place lo these many moons ago - a real one, where they made their own dough and sausage, etc., not a chain - they had excellent pizza (they were from NY). They would use foil under the dough and it made using the peel simplicity itself.

                                                                      If parchment paper is OK, foil should be about the same. It's pretty thin, should heat up right away.

                                                                      BTW, I've had (admittedly not very good) cookie tins warp at as low as 350 F. A thinner sheet would probably heat up faster than a good, heavy duty one, but I'd bet it'll warp, too.

                                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                        Parchment paper works much better than aluminum foil; parchment is stiffer and facilitates the back and forth well, while foil tends to chip, fold, tear and be incapable of simply MOVING the pizza.
                                                                        No comparison, use parchment for better results.

                                                                          1. re: Becca Porter

                                                                            I agree. I had a terrible time with that foil. I have since purchased a shovel thingy. LOL.

                                                                          2. re: VenusCafe

                                                                            Somewhere (probably here at chow) it was suggested that when using parchment from a roll, to crumple it into a ball and then "un-crumple" in order to avoid struggling with it tending to curl back up after being torn off the roll.

                                                                            Just thought I'd add that I'm currently working on a theory that this also produces a better texture on the bottom of the dough (and probably cookies too) than the one produced using just a "flat" piece of parchment.
                                                                            I probably need to do to a few more "tests", but at this point, I think even if I purchase parchment in loose sheets I will continue the crumple/uncrumple method.

                                                                    2. Another option is what I do: on your countertop or wherever, roll out the dough into the approximately correct shape and size (I have tried and dough tossing is just not going to work its way into my skillset, I fear), put it on the hot (out of a 550 oven, sprinkled with cornmeal) stone, and THEN quickly top the pizza. That way there's no messing around with a peel, which I also lack the skill to master - you can fold over the circle of dough to get it onto the stone easily and don't have to worry about losing your toppings. I've been doing it this way for years and honestly until reading this thread I had no idea that other home cooks were adroitly sliding fully-topped uncooked pizzas around! You guys have blown my mind with your dexterity. I thought that was left to pizzerias, man. I think this way is easier, saves my floors from being littered with uncooked pizza and my crusts always turn out lovely (I make the dough roughly the same as Shanagain describes above); the trick is just to have all your toppings ready to go so you can get the pizza in the oven in under a minute before the stone starts to cool down.

                                                                      I also just cut the pizza directly on the stone when it's done, which I DO know people clutch their pearls about, but honestly I find a peel for that purpose kind of fiddly and harder to clean than the stone itself, which just gets quickly scrubbed off and then goes back into the oven where it lives. I've had the same stone and pizza cutter for 5 years with no ill effects to either from doing this.

                                                                      Getting WAY back to the original question, which I swear this whole thing actually IS in answer to, I've forgotten the cornmeal on more than one occasion doing it my way and it still works fine, other than disappointment because I just like the taste/texture of cornmeal on the bottom. But the crust still comes out fine without it; no need for additional flour because you aren't trying to slide the surface of the dough anywhere.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: RubyV

                                                                        Put parchment paper on the peel first. Then make your pizza on that. Right before you slip it onto the hot stone preheating in the 500 degree oven, trim the paper to match the pizza. Perfect every time and no problems getting it in or out. Yes, the paper browns but doesn't flame.

                                                                      2. Cutting pizzas on stones. Building pizzas on stones. Parchment between the crust and the stone. Cold stones hot ovens. There's so much unorthodox advice in this thread I just don't know what to do with myself.

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                          1. re: grampart

                                                                            Have you ever tried the parchment? We have made hundreds of pizzas, with and without the parchment, and no one can tell the difference. I believe giving people a way to work with a hot stone in the oven (where ours is all the time) and not face the frustration of pizzas sticking to the peel all the time, then that's a good piece of advice.

                                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                                              I actually asked Peter Reinhart this question. Would using parchment on the stone interfere with the crust? His response was no it would not. It it bothers you, you can always slip it out after a couple of minutes.

                                                                              1. re: Becca Porter

                                                                                It really depends on how you define 'interfering.' Parchment is wood based, and wood is an insulator. That fraction of an inch of cellulose pulp will have a slight impact on the bake time.

                                                                                More importantly, though, pizza baked on parchment paper has a different surface on the undercrust- almost like the smoother surface of pizza baked in a pan. There are many who prefer the rougher surface of pizza baked on a stone- to this group, parchment paper is interfering.

                                                                                1. re: scott123

                                                                                  " That fraction of an inch of cellulose pulp will have a slight impact on the bake time."

                                                                                  An impact like spitting in the bathtub might impact the height of the water. Do the math, comparing the density of the parchment to the pizza and stone. I have never adjusted my baking times for baking on parchment from pizza to cookies and I've never read about needing to do so. I'll go with Peter Reinhart on this.

                                                                                  I would love to do a blind taste test of pizza eaters and see if many can discern the difference between the smoothness of pizza baked on parchment vs the roughness directly on the stone. I'm sure there are those who think there's a difference.

                                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                                      Oops, sorry if it came off harsh. Didn't mean it. Sometimes it feels like splitting hairs in imperceptible differences. I throw caution to the wind and sometimes, gasp, don't even measure the salt in my pizza dough.

                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        Oh I thought the tone was fine. I did however get a little concerned when you expressed interest in eating pizza eaters. :D

                                                                                        I salt dough by feel, although I know I shouldn't. But I also have enough experience to know what's right and what's wrong and what types of differences I can expect. Which is why I don't use parchment paper.

                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                          I've always had this theory that people who eat pizzas are heartier and thus better tasting than non-pizza eaters...

                                                                                          I like salt so tend to be a little heavy handed (not excessively but more than is called for). I know it can inhibit yeast but I've never had problems with it. I don't think parchment is the end all to pizza baking--far from it. But, I don't buy that adding a sheet of parchment will affect the bake time. I like parchment because I can make up a few pizzas at a time and slide each in, as the previous one cooks. It's important when you're cooking for a big family and want efficiency.

                                                                          2. re: tommy

                                                                            I'd totally agree with you, if I had ever been able to get my pizza on to the stone without mishap.
                                                                            I've had spilled pizzas and pizzas that suddenly stopped moving and 'accordioned' right on the stone, etc, etc. So i use parchment; as i said before, it keeps your oven HOT, it browns great
                                                                            and leaves you with the forensics of the entire pizza journey at 550!
                                                                            All the other stuff is really unorthodox, the parchment, less so. (IMNSHO)

                                                                          3. Something you might want to try to transfer your pizza onto the hot baking stone is this:
                                                                            Spread your dough out as you normally would to the point that you are ready to top it. Now, place it directly onto the heated baking stone and leave it in the over for one minute and take it back out. The dough is now a lot easier to handle and slides very easily back from whatever you prepare it on onto the baking stone without being flimsy. This tip was included with the baking stone I bought and it works like a charm. No cornmeal, flour or parchment paper needed. Give it a try...

                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: webhammer

                                                                              I have made a lot of pizzas on a pizza stone in my grill and this is what I've found works best. First, use a bread machine to make the dough. Most of the work and mess in making a pizza is making the dough. A bread machine makes this nearly effortless and messless. After the dough is finished and you've kneaded it, let it rest for about 15 minutes before you try to roll it out. At this point the dough is no longer elastic and rolls easily. Next, transfer the dough to the hot pizza stone for about a minute. I put some cornmeal on both the pizza peel and the stone. After the short prebaking step, remove the crust from the stone and add your toppings. Now the crust will slide back onto the stone easily regardless of the amount of toppings on it. When I put the topped pizza on the stone for the final baking, I add a lot of corn meal to the stone. The corn meal burns, but the crust doesn't, and the burnt cornmeal does not integrate into the crust. I bake the pizza for about ten minutes with my grill temperature at 400 to 450 deg F.

                                                                              1. re: Pizzza

                                                                                I've found this method makes more of a flatbread than pizza.

                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                  I would say that as pizza crusts go the one I make is far from the best I've ever had, but so far it's the best method I've been able to devise using a pizza stone on a gas grill. All things considered, it's still far better than any restaurant pizza I can get locally. My earlier attempts resulted most often in burned or partially burned crusts when I left the pizza in long enough to get the topping cooked. The pre-baking step has been a big help, mostly because transferring a topped pizza with completely uncooked dough can be more than a little challenging. I realize that much of this is technique, but if you only do it once a month, it's hard to master the technique. Some of what I do might work better in a conventional oven, but I just like the idea of doing it on the grill. I intend to keep experimenting to see if I can get a better crust.

                                                                                  1. re: Pizzza

                                                                                    "Some of what I do might work better in a conventional oven, but I just like the idea of doing it on the grill."

                                                                                    If you've got an electric oven and it goes to 550 f., then you're doing yourself a tremendous disservice by making pizza on a typical bottom burner gas grill.

                                                                              2. re: webhammer

                                                                                You had me there for a minute, webhammer...
                                                                                but why would it be any easier to get this dough on the stone for a minute, than to get it on the stone, topped, for 5 min? Its moving the dough on to the HOT stone that is the difficulty, topped or not.

                                                                                1. re: VenusCafe

                                                                                  Because the longer the stretched dough stays on any surface, the more likely it is to stick.

                                                                              3. I read this entire thread with great interest. I have been making pizza at home for a very long time. Being a natural experimenter and researcher, I've tried a million different methods, equipment, recipes, and styles.

                                                                                My pizza is very good.

                                                                                These things said, a great pizza can be made using any number of methods. I keep my stone in the oven and either transfer the pizza with a peel or go "Italian grandmother style" and plop down onto the stone a professional sheet pan (available at Sam's Club) which has been oiled and loaded with my pizza - this produces a surprisingly crisp, brown crust.

                                                                                Firstly, the stone must ALWAYS be preheated, ideally for an hour. There is a home-party kitchen goods company that promotes rolling the dough out on the cold stone and then placing the works into the oven. I know someone here says they do that, but I have never had a pizza done that way that turned out well.

                                                                                When I use the peel, I choose between two methods: One, I generously sprinkle semolina on the peel before placing the shaped dough on it, do the experimental shuffle to be sure the crust is sliding freely, then top it (lightly), shuffle it again, and then unload it on the stone; or, two, if I don't feel like fetching the semolina from the freezer, I will build the whole pizza on a piece of parchment paper, slide it onto the peel, place the pizza and parchment on the stone, then pull the paper out from under the pizza after about a minute and a half in the oven. I do not see any detriment from using the parchment for 90 seconds.

                                                                                I stopped bringing cornmeal into any part of pizza making long ago. It adds an unpleasant, mealy crunch whether used in the dough or on the peel. There is no reason to ever sprinkle it on the stone. Years ago I bought into the idea that it allows hot air to circulate between the crust and the stone - I have since learned that this is silly. Oh, and it really doesn't belong in Chicago deep-dish pizza, either.

                                                                                Using flour to lubricate the peel creates a bottom crust that is unpleasantly floury, and the flour burns too easily. It can also accumulate on the stone, putting burnt flour on subsequent pizzas. Wiping burned flour off of a 550-degree stone in a 550-degree oven is unpleasant, to say the least.

                                                                                Pizza screens are good for reheating pizza, but not great for fresh unbaked dough.

                                                                                I have both wood and metal peels - both are good.

                                                                                As for dough, I go for one pound of unbleached flour, one Tablespoon of instant yeast, and one teaspoon of salt. Stir them together, then add a cup and a half of good water. Stir until smooth. You are finished. Do not knead. You are making light, crisp, pizza dough, not bread. You CAN use the dough right away if you are in a rush, but it is best raised/aged for 0-24 hours. This is a wet dough. Add more flour if you want to do the tossing thing. I used to stretch and toss my pizzas - I was fairly good at it, but it makes a mess and after a TV special about pizza in Italy made fun of this, I happily stopped doing it. They said that it was a fun thing to watch, but that the best pizza dough was too wet and tender to be tossed. Now I just shape it however I feel like doing it at the moment - stretching, rolling, whatever. There is always something to learn!

                                                                                Don't overtop your pizzas. Hard to handle, too heavy and wet/greasy, etc. Toppings talk could be another thread (although I'm sure there must be several here already!) In brief, watch your quality and salt level.

                                                                                If you are learning the peel/stone shuffle, make small pizzas to begin with.

                                                                                And so on....

                                                                                1. I'm with Brandon and Suneshinedrop.

                                                                                  1. I throw my dough up in the air a few times (learned this at a pizzeria I worled at in high school) then because of time constraints, finish it off with a rolling pin.

                                                                                  2. I also preheat my oven only. I (gasp) actually put a light coating of cooking spray on my cold stone, then put the dough down on the cold stone, prick the dough in many places with a fork (to prevent bubbles) then pre-cook for about 12 min. I find if I do NOT do the precook, the center of the pizza gets soggy.

                                                                                  Then I pull it out, hit it with the sauce and toppings, then cook another 15 min.

                                                                                  Comes out perfect. And if it sticks, which it usually doesn't, I run a long, thin, metal spatchula in between the crust and the stone first, then slide it off onto a cutting board to rest about 10 min. before cutting.

                                                                                  1. I've posted on this before, but I've been continuing to work on improving the technique of making pizza on the grill, so I thought I'd give an update. I happen to have two pizza stones. Making a pizza on a stone which sits directly on the grill is always problematic with respect to burning the crust. Putting corn meal on the stone helps this to some extent, but I wanted to eliminate this problem altogether, so instead of using just one stone, I place a couple of bricks on the first stone, and put the second stone on top of the bricks. I still use some cornmeal on the stone, but the crust comes out much more like a conventional oven baked pizza. To my way of thinking, this makes the grill more like an oven (I could use my electric oven of course, but what fun would that be?). With the grill temperature indicating 4-500 F, I leave the pizza on for ten minutes which gets both the crust and the toppings done to the proper amount. I've also found it is no longer necessary to prebake the crust, but this still makes handling the uncooked pizza with topping much easier. If you have trouble transferring the topped pizza on the stone, then try just making a smaller pizza and be sure to generously flour the bottom of the raw crust before you put it on your pizza peel. Putting some cornmeal on the pizza peel also will help with the transfer. Good luck with your pizza.

                                                                                    1. This is a good thread and I appreciate everyone's passion for pizza. A link to my pizza dough recipe for advanced pizza makers is attached. A version of this I posted on a pizza site inspired a very successful pizzeria.

                                                                                      Give it a try!


                                                                                      1. I'll add that I like to use a wood paddle to build the pizza ,dusted with a little corn meal so the pie will slip in to the very hot stone . I use a metal peel to remove the pie and cut it. Don't use too much corn meal , just enough to keep the dough from sticking . Shape the dough by hanging the flat dough over two fist and stretch while pulling outward. A pizza stone will make you a star at your next party and using a peel with make you look like a pro. Read through this string , great tips all around . ...... BTW ... Reheat in the broiler heating the bottom first on a piece of foil and then flip to toast the top . Heating the top only will leave the bottom soggy