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Favorite pizza and bread stones

WCchopper Oct 18, 2007 10:51 AM

What should I look for in a pizza stone? Any pointers?

  1. k
    karykat Nov 4, 2007 07:47 PM

    I have a pizza stone and have used it off and on. Did have one stone crack and replaced it. But recently I bought a cast iron thing with handles from Mario Batali and find I use it a lot more. It's just easier to maneuver in and out of the oven for me, so I use it more. I use it for the same things I used the pizza stone for: pizzas, certain baked things that should have a crusty bottom, tortilla sandwich things. It gets plenty hot and is good for cooking everything I would cook on a stone, I think. So I think it depends what you are going to use it for and how big you need it to be. If the Batali thing is big enough for your needs, I would go with it. The one thing I would do differently with it is I would season it like regular cast iron before using. I'm not sure the directions indicated to do that. I have had some things burn onto mine. Usually I just put down a piece of parchment paper and bake onto that. But I am going to clean mine with a kosher salt rub (got that idea for cleaning cast iron from this board) and then season it.

    1. b
      Buckethead Oct 19, 2007 12:52 PM

      There's also the fibrament stone:

      http://www.bakingstone.com/faq.php

      I believe it's made from the same material as the bottom of a commercial pizza oven. I've never baked on one, but if you're looking for an alternative to the standard stone, that's one.

      1. Farmgirl22 Oct 19, 2007 07:55 AM

        Well, I would definitely recommend avoiding the cheapos from Wal-Mart/Target/etc. AT ALL COSTS!! Unless of course, you'd like to have second rate quality and would rather spend that $20 more than a couple of times. I'd rather put out a little bit more money up front than get a cheap one several times.

        I do agree with the person that mentioned getting a square one--even though we think of pizza's in terms of roundness instead of being square, the flavor is the same, no matter the shape. On a similar note, cookies bake just as nicely on a round stone as they do on a square one, and many other foods are the same way. So the shape is really personal preference.

        I don't recommend following the tile suggestion--I'd be afraid of scratching the enamel in my oven! However, if your oven is out of warranty, and old to start with, it probably wouldn't hurt anything I guess....just make sure those tiles don't have some sort of additive that would affect your health by eating foods in contact with them or breathing in their fumes or whatever. There probably isn't anything like that to worry about, but you never know!

        OH! I know that they are kind of a pain in the butt, but I recommend getting a stone that has the wire rack thing to carry it around with. The metal cools fairly fast, so you don't have to carry the pizza around with a set of potholders all the time (or slide it around on the table with the mitten! ;) ) Really though, that's also more of a personal preference thing.

        Hope some of that helps!!

        6 Replies
        1. re: Farmgirl22
          r
          RGC1982 Oct 19, 2007 08:10 AM

          I might stay away from the bargain brands. I bought a cheapo at Tuesday Morning, and after following the instructions that came with it on prepping the stone with vegetable oil, all the stone does is create a smoky nuisance in my oven. It is going into the garbage. I have tried a number of times to use it, thinking of course that it would burn off, but the smoke is too heavy and I haven't really been able to use it. Washing it doesn't seem to help either. I don't know if the problem is that I should not have used oil to season it, or if this is just a piece of junk. Did anyone else receive instructions to oil the stone? Maybe that was the problem?

          1. re: RGC1982
            Farmgirl22 Oct 19, 2007 08:35 AM

            You can season it, by using a VERY light coating of crisco on it and baking it at like 200*F, but it's not necessary. I just made a batch of chocolate chip cookies on mine and VIOLA! instant season. High-fat foods such as cookies and some breads are good for seasoning a stone--I would skip the oil thing. I did the crisco thing (use butter flavored) and it didn't hurt anything (sorry if this is confusing--I have LOTS of stones :-) ) it did smell a bit, but not like it was burning, and I've been since told to just cook something high-fat on it instead. So when you buy another one, I use the Pampered Chef stones (my friend is a consultant and I recommend her AND the stoneware) just whip up a batch of cookies and you should be set to go!

          2. re: Farmgirl22
            j
            jzerocsk Oct 19, 2007 09:12 AM

            If you're worried about the tiles scratching the interior, you can just put them on a rack in the lowest position. That's what I do. $10 got me a couple dozen tiles...I've got enough for the oven, the outdoor grill, and extras in case one breaks. Sometimes I use them as spare trivets :-)

            1. re: jzerocsk
              WCchopper Oct 19, 2007 10:29 AM

              Asked about the tiles at HD and was told they don't have them. Are they thick enough, btw? What is the difference between the good and bad quality stones anyway? Thickness, material, texture?

              1. re: WCchopper
                j
                jzerocsk Oct 19, 2007 11:20 AM

                Quarry is actually the material, I believe, so the quality is probably size and thickness. I believe I got mine at Lowe's as I coudn't find any at HD. I think they are 1/4" thick, 6" square with a flat, smooth top surface. I haven't felt the need to, but I don't see why I couldn't stack a double-layer if I needed extra thickness.

                1. re: WCchopper
                  Zeldog Oct 19, 2007 01:31 PM

                  Unglazed tiles can be hard to find. I found some at a tile store in Berkeley (I forget the name but it's near the freeway and University Ave). They didn't work for me, though. They shift around too much if you touch them with a peel or try to move the loaf/pie to get even browning. Now I use a rectangular baking stone I picked up at Sur la Table for around $20. It's worth the few extra dollars.

                  And whatever you decide on, don't go rubbing oil into it! I've never heard of seasoning a stone. One of the functions of the stone is to allow steam to escape from the bottom of the pie crust. Seems like rubbing oil into the stone would interfere with that, if it does anything at all. If you keep your stone in the oven it's a good idea to cover it with foil when not in use to keep oil and grease off of it. That way you won't smoke up the kitchen when you bake something at 450-500 degrees.

            2. cassis Oct 19, 2007 05:31 AM

              Or just buy 6 or 9 6" square unglazed red quarry tiles at HD and place them on the lower oven rack. In fact you can leave them permanently in the oven. They are made of clay just like the bricks in a real bread oven.

              Spread cornmeal on the peel before you place the pizza (or bread) on it before shifting it onto the preheated tiles. Wipe the tiles now and then, they last forever.

              1. g
                graemejw Oct 18, 2007 01:45 PM

                go for a square one, rather than a round one

                more versatile in terms of what you can make with it

                these are great for good hearth baked breads in your oven (especially if you can spray the oven with cold water for a few seconds just after putting your bread in)

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