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pizza stone?

  • d
  • dzime Jan 5, 2009 02:34 PM

Does anyone have any advice on pizza stones. My stones have all cracked after a few months of normal use. My oven heats to 550 degrees, I don't wash the stones or do anything weird to them. I'm wondering about trying out a slab of slate or some other material, any ideas----this is getting expensive.
thanks

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  1. I have purchased unglazed quarry tile from Home Depot.

    First I took measurements of the inside of the oven, then purchased the correct number of quarry tiles to line the oven. I needed some tiles cut and they did it for me. It's been many years since I purchased them but they work great.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Scott M

      Yeah, I did the same. They work great and are super-cheap.

      I leave mine in the oven 24/7 and my oven has much more even heat than without them.

      1. re: jeremyn

        i've several terra cotta garden tiles around an inch and a half in thickness that i plan to sterilize and use as pizza stones. if i were in a rush or really just impatient and fire up the tile over the stove to cut down oven time, do i risk cracking them?

        1. re: epabella

          It's not quite quarry tile, but a friend who works with ceramic clay made me a 'stone' (just a flat slab) that I keep in the oven. I've had it for 10 years, and use it for pizza and bread. It works very well.

    2. Really? My stone is almost 15 years old now. I can't imagine having them break regularly. I regularly heat mine to 500+ as well.

      What kind are you buying? Are you preheating it with the oven? Leaving it in to cool with the oven as well?

      Mine is a pampered chef which I don't think is any sort of magical stone. If anything it's actually a bit on the thin side.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ziggylu

        I have 2 Pampered Chef stones for almost 2 years, a round one and rectangle, both work great and are now well "seasoned"

        1. re: bworp

          funny, my PC stoneware always cracked in a fast oven.

          1. re: bworp

            I was given the pampered chef round pizza stone as gift and it cracked after using it 3 time, for absolutely no reason. The pizza was on the stone in the oven (a commercial grade Garland) and I heard a crack and that was it. I managed to salvage a good chunk of it because it cracked along the the line of the handle. I kept using it once a week for another couple of months until it cracked again but this time right up the middle. What a piece of junk.

        2. I like my Fibrament very much. http://www.bakingstone.com/

          1. I dunno. I bought two of them cheap ($7 or $8 each) at one of those huge pottery places. Made in China of course. I've probably used them 15-20 each times so far at max heat in my oven (550), and so far no problem. I just leave them in there all the time (it's a lower oven and I mostly use it for pizza). Maybe it's the luck of the draw.

            1. You didn't say how many "all" your stones were, but even two bad stones in a row would be exceptionally bad luck, especially if they were different brands. Are you sure it's not something you're doing? Maybe putting a cold stone into a hot oven? Like other posters (and probably thousands of non-posters), I have a basic, cheap stone and it's been used at least 50 times over the last few years with no problems.

              That said, Fibrament has a good reputation. But check to see if they have a warranty before you buy. With your luck you may need it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Zeldog

                Years ago, Trader Joe's sold pizza stones for about $10. These were circular stones, perhaps 1cm thick. I bought one and it broke about a year later. Trader Joe's replaced it without question, and that second one broke again. By the time that second year was up, they were no longer selling those stones.

                I lived for many years with that bifurcated stone in my oven, just letting it live there, evening out temperatures as best it could. However I finally decided to start buying quality equipment for my kitchen and I purchased the king arthur bakers stone... a massive square slab, about 1/2" thick, and it just lays in the oven like a giant immobile walrus. It bakes pizza beautifully.

                http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

                Mr Taster

              2. i leave my single-slab pizza stone in the bottom of my oven continuously, even during the self clean cycle and have never had a problem in 17+ years. i'd spend a little more and get a better stone.

                (i also overrode the self clean safety catch so i can use the self-clean setting to get a serious heat for Neopolitan style pizzas)

                1. I am inclined to agree with the poster who suggested that perhaps you might be mishanding them by putting a cold stone in a hot oven. Or, perhaps you are plunging a hot stone into cold water? If that is not the case, my sincerest apologies. You are just plain unlucky.

                  I used to have a flat, cheap stone, but I did not like it because it seemed to give off smoke in my oven (the seasoning oil). I switched to an expensive Naturestone with copper handles, and love it. However, at $70 or so a pop, with your record, I would be reluctant to recommend it. Why not try a brand name stone for about $20, perhaps a Pampered Chef, which has a warranty and a great reputation, and see if that doesn't work for you, assuming you handle it properly. I seriously doubt that it is your oven temp. getting too high.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: RGC1982

                    Off subject, but I never understood why some people season their stones. The stone does 2 things: holds heat, and allows water vapor to wick out of the bottom of the pizza to produce a crisper crust. If you make a water resistant barrier on the stone by seasoning it, you defeat the latter. And at 500 degrees F, all you're really doing is making smoke and turning the stone black. Nobody seasons a skillet in a 500 degree oven, so what gives?

                    1. re: Zeldog

                      the idea of seasoning a stone is odd to me as well. i keep mine clean, and eventually clean it completely in a self-clean cycle. having a smooth black coating on a stone, as you suggest, seems to defeat the purpose.

                      1. re: Zeldog

                        I followed the instructions that came with this no-name Tuesday Morning find to the letter, including using the recommended type of oil, and all I got was a smoky mess every time I tried to use it. Interestingly, my Naturesone was also seasoned according to manufacturer's instructions included with it, and it never smokes. If you are able to clean yours during the oven's self-cleaning cycle without harm, then I also seriously doubt that the OP's problem is a high oven temp.

                        I assume that it will resist stains, perhaps? Tomato sauce can easily penetrate these things, but I really have no idea why the come with these instructions. I don't really know much about these cooking items.

                    2. my advice is to do a search - there is another thread on Chow with more detailed debate...

                      1. This is a shot of my Fibrament stone at rest on the bottom of my oven. I've had it for over 2 years, have made at least 200 pizzas on it, and (except for when my wife makes cheesecake) never leaves the oven. I never "seasoned" it, but there was a 5 hour
                        "tempering" process where you gradually brough it up to maximum heat. I use a "Superpeel" so there is no burned residue of cornmeal/flour/ etc that slides off the peel when laying it down. All I ever do is occasionally (lightly) scrape it down with a putty knife to get the carbonized cheese spills and brush it down. It's never been through an oven clean cycle.

                         
                        1 Reply
                        1. re: grampart

                          That looks exactly like mine! I've had it for at least 5 years and have never had a problem. I do occasionally run it through an oven-clean cycle with no apparent adverse effects. These Fibraments are considerably thicker than other versions I've seen/tried. I highly recommend them.

                        2. I have one of the cheapy GOOD COOK stones by bialetti that I got as a gift. It is always in my oven (if I need to use the lower rack, I just put it on the floor of the oven.

                          I've had it over five years trouble free.

                          They are under $20 at Amazon.

                          1. Thanks for all the advice. By saying I didn't do anything weird with the stone I meant I just left it in the oven 27/7, as I've done in the past. I bought these last two stones at Bed and Bath and can't recall the brand name but this time I'll try the Pampered Chef brand.
                            thanks
                            dz

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: dzime

                              be aware as i said, PC stuff has shattered in my ovens at temps around 500 degrees.

                              1. re: ScubaSteve

                                Conversely, I have used my Pampered Chef pizza stone for 6 years without problem. I always use it at 550 degrees, with convection on. I put the stone in a cold oven and leave it in there until the next day (or later...depends on when I remember it is in there).

                                Happy pizza making!

                            2. Here's and idea

                              http://www.earthstoneovens.com/oven_a...

                              they are 12" X 12" X 1 1/2" oven floor tiles $20

                              Jim Lahey is using this brand oven in his new pizzaria

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Jack_

                                That's fine for Jim Lahey and his professional pizza oven , but most of us have plain old civilian sized ovens. Mine has interior dimensions of 23 1/2 by 18 inches, so if I want pizza bigger than maybe 10 inches in diameter, 12 x 12 tiles are worthless.

                                Also, pizzaria ovens work all day long, but do you want to wait (and pay) for heating a 1 1/2 inch thick stone for two hours to get it up to 500 degrees just to make one pizza?

                                1. re: Zeldog

                                  if you want to cook pizza in that style you do.

                                  I'm not sure how much it costs, but I'm guessing it's not a lot. Surely heating an oven for 2 hours costs less than ordering a crappy pizza from a local joint.

                              2. Walmart $9.99 -- included a serving rack, which I promptly threw away. The stone as been sitting on the lower rack of my oven since I bought it 3 years ago. If/when it breaks I'll spend another $10 on a new one.

                                (This is a repost of my response to another pizza stone question)

                                1. I just got a Pampered Chef pizza stone. I love it. I plan to get a bigger one later in the fall.

                                  1. Well put me in the "unlucky" column, too. I have cracked 3 pizza stones in a row. All different brands, doing nothing unusual to them, although the first one was probably user error - I had a pizza disaster that left all the toppings on the stone. Once cooled, I cleaned the stone with soap and water and it cracked the next time I heated the oven with it in there.

                                    The others, however, just seem to spontaneously crack. My stones go into the oven and never come out. One cracked on heating and the current one (which is cracked into 5 pieces now) has repeatedly cracked upon cooling in the oven. I haven't a clue why. I bake a lot of bread and pizza, and the cracked one is doing fine for now. Some day I will just get those cheap quarry stones and be done with it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Divamac

                                      Or, you could bite the bullet and buy a Fibrament.

                                    2. All Clad makes a very nice one that goes into a steel rim with handles for serving. Has ours about 5 years. Not cheap $120 but worth it

                                      dc

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: don515

                                        i would avoid serving pizza on a stone that just came out of an oven. stones can get up to 600 degrees. not something you want to be carrying around, not to mention the pizza would continue to cook and possibly burn if left on the stone.

                                        unless of course the all-clad stone doesn't get very hot, in which case it might not be useful for high-heat applications.

                                        1. re: don515

                                          Leave it to All Clad to take a $30 product and find a way to charge $120 for it.

                                        2. A stone will break if exposed to too much heat. What "too much" is pretty much depends on the thickness and clay of each one. But here's the good news: the parts of a stone with a clean break are just as good as a stone with no break for most things like baking bread. Just shove them back together and leave them on the rack -- no glue required. If you want to use it on the BBQ grill, it's best to elevate it some from the direct flame -- a stack of the broken bits of cheap quarry tile are good for this -- then you can bake bread outside.

                                          A thick stone is much more effective than the cheaper thin ones. The builders' supply unglazed things are fine but are more likely to have unseen air bubbles that increase the chance of eventual cracking.

                                          Just leave the stone in your oven and stop handling it. Let it heat up with the oven. This actually makes the internal temperature of your oven much more stable so you don't get as much fluctuation when you open the door to check on a casserole, for example.

                                          Don't put anything cold on it to avoid thermal shock -- doughs are fine; wet things like chicken are not (said the girl who broke many stones trying to use them like a tandoor). Spills won't hurt the stone in the least -- let the liquid dry on and scrape away with a bench knife.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: rainey

                                            i've been leaving my pizza stone in my oven for about 15 years even during the Self-Clean cycle and have never had an issue.

                                            jus' sayin'

                                            1. re: ScubaSteve

                                              Great to know!

                                              But I take the racks out to protect the chrome finish so where do you put the stone when you're running the cleaning cycle? I think my stoves both had warnings about putting anything directly on the oven bottom.

                                              1. re: rainey

                                                my current stove is bleh-lectric and has a coil on the bottom. so my stone now sits on an un-chromed rack.

                                                1. re: rainey

                                                  I've always left my racks in the oven during the cleaning cycle in order to get them clean, too. Then I just give the side frame of the racks a *very* light coat of cooking oil (wiping off the excess) after the oven cools down, to ensure easy operation.

                                                  Re the general pizza stone discussion, I saw your comment re A-C and couldn't agree with you more! JMO, and I know millions of people disagree with me, but I think AIl-Clad is *much* better at marketing than at pan-making.

                                                  I have bought the gospel on not succumbing to single-purpose equipment, so instead of a pizza stone, I use my cast iron griddle or skillet. For pizza, I just stick one of those on the bottom rack while the oven is pre-heating. I can use that opportunity to season the pan, too, if it needs it. And if I'm baking from a recipe that calls for a little bit of water in the oven (e.g., some crusty breads, etc.), I can put that right in the cast iron item.

                                                  1. re: Normandie

                                                    This is coming from a complete pizza newbie, so I apologize in advance if this has already been covered - but where do I leave my stone in an electric oven? On the bottom rack? And if I need to use the rack for say, a baking sheet, do I just put the baking sheet on top of the stone or should I take the stone out before I turn the oven on?

                                                    Thanks in advance for help on this.

                                                    1. re: MPJ

                                                      To my understanding, you can leave the stone in essentially all of the time and many report to even leave it in during the cleaning cycles. If your electric oven has coils on the bottom, you would need to place the stone on a rack. If you are baking something else, I would think you could place a rack in the next rack setting above your stone and lay the baking sheet on there. As long as its not glass, you may even be safe laying metal pans directly on the pre-heated stone in the oven.

                                                      I hope more will chime in to share their experiences or correct my assessment.

                                                      1. re: MPJ

                                                        The pizza stone serves not only as a surface for wicking moisture and retaining heat, but it also stabilizes the temperature of the oven. So there's a benefit for keeping it in there all the time, even if you're not baking. The only danger with baking stones is getting a thin/cheap one, because it won't hold up to the repeated heat/cooling. I went through 2 cheap $20 stones before I finally invested in a thick, high quality one which I got from the King Arthur Bakers Catalogue (the highest rated Cooks Illustrated model). This particular one is square (rather than round), meaning that you don't have to fit your dough to the stone as closely. It fits perfectly in my 1960's-era gas oven, which is kind of small. I posted the link above, but here it is again for your convenience:

                                                        http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

                                                        Mr Taster