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No pizza stone. Can I bake on my oven's floor?

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Hi all,

I'm trying to improve my pizza skills here. I've been reading tons of great pizza posts, and apparently I am out of the loop on the importance of stones.

I'd like to do two hand-shaped thick-crust pizzas with the whole wheat-fresh oregano dough that's about to come out of the breadmaker. My gas oven can really crank out the heat, so I've never found heat loss when opening the door to be a problem. Can I cook my pizzas right on the oven floor on some foil? Should I stick with my usual cookie-sheet-on-rack method?

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  1. I would stick with the cookie sheet. With most gas ovens, the fire is pretty close to the oven bottom, so that panel is probably hotter than you want to cook on. If you have a heavy one, heat that instead of a stone and slide the pizza onto it.

    1. I agree with babette. Stick with a cookie sheet. Pizza stones can be expensive, but I have heared that you can use an unglazed piece of terracotta tile and just leave it in there as your pizza stone.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HungryRubia

        Stick with the cookie sheet. Make sure to preheat it in the oven for a while to get it nice and hot. You can also use a cast iron skillet or griddle to the same effect. Just make sure they get hot in the oven before sliding your dough onto it. If you use a cast iron skillet, place it inverted in the oven and cook on the bottom so you don't have to deal with the sides.

        1. re: ESNY

          unglazed quarry tiles work great, they absorb moisture much like a pizza stone, but they do tend to crack easily - like if you get cold liquids on them etc

      2. I agree with everyone else, that the best bet is to stick with the cookie sheet.

        I thought that was so creative, though, I'd love to see you try, just so I could know whether it worked! You won't know unless you try, right? I like that out of the box thinking. But I'm the sort of person who will start a fire trying to barbq in my oven, so you proably shouldn't listen to me.

        The other thing that can work pretty well is if you have a big heavy oven safe pan, that may be able to take the place of a pizza stone. Obviously, it would need to be big enough to have a large flat area. The key, as I'm sure you know, is just to have something that holds a lot of heat.

        1. The impact of the pizza stone it the thermal mass; that it doesn't cool much as it imparts the heat to the bottom of your crust. When you put a cool pizza crust on the bottom of your oven or on a cookie sheet, it quickly cools down, and relies on the hot air in the oven to get it hot again. The oven floor will have this problem as well as the burner directly below it for wildly varying temperatures.
          That said, a cast iron frying pan or other massive device will make for a crisper crust. That's why many recipes for corn bread call for a pre-heated cast iron pan.

          1. I once had a cheap ($10) pizza stone, and I disliked it. Far better are the 14" perforated metal non-stick coated pans . They make a great crust, and no preheating or "peelin" necessary.

            1. Unlike Don Giovanni, I'm not brave enough to risk ruining dinner, at least not tonight! i think you are right that the oven floor will vary greatly in temperature as the flame goes on and off. I took your advice and stuck with the preheated cookie sheet and a super-hot oven, and my crust came out really nicely! maybe next time i will upend my giant dutch oven and try baking my pizza on that--if it works, i'll post! thanks for all your comments and advice.

              1. Probably the single biggest leap in quality you can get in becoming a home baker is to start using a stone for breads. I leave mine in the oven all the time to create a little extra heat stability. When I bake bread, I bake it on the stone. I've also used the pizza stone outside on the weber kettle with very good results. In any case, the stone simulates the floor of a hearth oven which is designed to produce a crispy crust.

                7 Replies
                1. re: markethej

                  Phood is right on the money above. A very good and potentially free source of pizza stones is the guy in your area who makes granite counter tops. I gave mine a call and he was happy to provide me with a roughly 20 x 20 piece of counter top scrap that is nicely polished on one side. No charge. Like markthej, I leave it in the oven always.

                  1. re: gargantua

                    Will a permanent stone require more energy to heat the oven? Should the stone be placed directly on the floor of the oven?

                    1. re: ennyl

                      Yes, it will take more time, and more energy to preheat the oven -- there is, however some offset, as the food will cook a bit more quickly in direct contact with the hot stone than it would by just sitting on a rack -- concievably you could turn off the overn before the food is removed, as the mass of the stone will continue to provide heat after the flame is out, but this takes several well timed runs to make sure that you don't accidently under cook.

                      DO NOT place the stone directly on the oven floor -- doing so will almost certainly block too much of the flame area, possibly leading to an overtemp safety shutoff. There is also a strong possibility that the stone will shatter -- the flame is far hotter than the oven cavity temp.

                      I do not keep the stone in the oven when I am not baking some sort of bread/pizza -- their is little in benefit. In fact, when roasting or baking a caserole of something else that primarily needs "top heat" there is possibility of over doing the bottom and not getting the top to brown-up / crisp....

                      I know that there are dedicated "brick oven" users that swear everything is better in such an oven, but even they will admit that the whether those of fired with wood, coal, or gas there is significant "pre heat" period reguired to ensure the walls/roof radiate heat back to the food instead of absorbing heat that should be going toward the cooking.

                      1. re: renov8r

                        renov8r, thank you. if not on the floor, should i place the stone on an oven rack? where inside the oven is best (low, middle?)

                        1. re: ennyl

                          I never preheat the stone at the upper position, generally only the middle or lower (not BOTTOM) positions.

                          I have found that I can preheat two stones and then bake two pizzas -- the first stone gets preheated at a low rack and then moved up after 15 minutes or so or preheat. and then 10 minutes or so for the second stone. This enables two pizzas to come out at the same time.

                          1. re: renov8r

                            By BOTTOM do you mean on a rack at the lowest setting? I have always set the stone there upon recommendation, is there a reason you do not?

                            1. re: kevine

                              The bottom rack position in some ovens in 1" from the floor of the oven ( I just was at my mom's and measured her GE Profile range) to me that is TOO close to the HOT burner. You risk cracking the stone and gettin un even heat distribuition. Moving it up to next position increase the distance to almost 4" and still leaves more than a foot of room for an additional level of cooking -- I never use more than two racks for backing anying in a non-convection oven

                2. For the love of God, I implore you to please use something that is approved specifically for cooking. How is that for dramatic? Sometimes using items such as tiles, etc. can have unintended consequences such as leeching chemicals or toxins into your food. Although I have little experience using a baking stone, a method that I don't really prefer, they arent too expensive. If you really want to go that route, go to Target and get one for $20. If you think that you'll really get into it, spend a little more.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: amy_rc

                    Unglazed stone tile...no problem. I saw it on a show like Alton Brown's Good Eats and other cooking shows. I've tried it at home and works perfectly. $2-$3 for a stone tile at Home Depot.

                  2. I'd stick to a Suzy Homemaker Oven. But, heck, that's just me.

                    No, seriously, I'd tell you that a pizza stone is extremely inexpensive, and readily available.

                    1. i love my $10-$14 dollar pizza stone that i picked up at TJ Maxx, or Ross, or some place like that. It defiintely got better with age, and I never take it out of my oven (it stays on the bottom rack in the lowest position). But, I never place anything outside of pizza or bread on it. If I'm making cookies, lasagna, etc. I put the sheet or cassarole dish on a rack that doesn't have the stone on it. ps: don't use the oven floor!