CRACKED PIZZA STONE
I'm new to home pizza making. First time was a success--After researching on Chowhound, I used a pizza stone, which I oiled first and then preheated at 500 degrees for at least an hour with the oven rack in the lowest position. The pizza came out just fine-- in fact delicious!. Second attempt--I did the same thing , except did not reoil the stone. Did not think this was necessary since I've read about people just leaving their pizza stones in the oven on the bottom rack all the time when baking other things. When I went to put the pizza on the stone after the hour of preheating, I was shocked to see that the stone had completely cracked through. Any ideas why this may have happend and how to avoid it in the future?
I have a cracked stone in one of my ovens. It's a clean (though ragged) break. I've been using it that way for 4 years. It only comes out occasionally to be scraped clean of 'carbony' bits.
All I am saying is if the two pieces still fit together then you can carry on using it. In terms of why it broke? I don't even know what caused mine to crack.
Why preheat for so long? If you leave a stone in the oven for 10 minutes at 500 degrees it's enough.
Oil outgasses at 500 degrees. Depending on your stone and amount of oil, you may have inadvertently broken it through excessive internal pressures. Next stone, try heating it to 450, *then* wiping oil on it, then bumping it to 500 degrees.
It's not uncommon advice to leave your stone in the oven for an hour before cooking your pizza on it. That's what I do.
Regular ceramic pizza stones crack - I have 3 that have cracked on me within a couple of months of use. I now have a Fibrament stone that I inherted - no signs of cracking in over 2 years. I think the composition of the material prevents cracking.
You can still use a cracked stone if they fit together like puzzle pieces. I use them that way in my BBQ.
a stone in a 500 degree oven will not be nearly 500 degrees in 10 minutes, and in fact won't be very hot at all. if the goal is high temperatures, then it takes at least an hour to get anything with the thermal mass of a stone up to temp. i go more than an hour, as the temp continues to rise. if the goal isn't a high temperature for a cooking surface, then there's very little reason to bother with a stone in the first place. use a cookie sheet, slather as much oil on it as you'd like, and call it a day.
the concept of oiling stones evades me. there has been much discussion on this. perhaps people are buying the wrong kind of stones. real baking stones don't need to be oiled or "seasoned".
Why are you oiling your baking stone? They are naturally non-stick so the desire to oil it is quite baffling. The 500°preheat certainly did not cause harm to your stone but the oiling might have played a part in its demise.
You put the cold stone into a hot oven. The easiest way to crack a stone is to put it into a hot oven, especially if the stone is damp. After you've bought a new stone, put it in the oven and then turn on the heat so the stone heats up gradually.
And oiling the stone makes no sense at all. Pizza stones are not cast iron skillets, and there's no vegetable oil that doesn't turn to carbon at 500 F, so all you're doing is turning the stone black. Total waste of time, oil, and energy. But it does no real harm, so people oil their brand new stones, make good pizza, and think the oiling had something to do with it. If you know of a good pizzeria that uses an oven with a ceramic cooking surface, ask them how often they oil it.
And I don't care if the manufacturer's instructions say oil the stone. Pizza stone manufacturers make pizza stones, not pizza.
How did you clean the stone after the first pizza? Was there any chance the stone might have been wet? Water is deadly to a pizza stone.
As others have mentioned, never ever oil a pizza stone. That being said, though, I highly doubt the oil had anything to with the crack, as the initial 500 deg. pizza baking session would have most likely cooked off the oil, and, if it hadn't cooked it all off, it most certainly would have oxidized what was left into a solid coating.
What kind of pizza dough are you using? Is it cold? Cold dough might have weakened the stone the first time around and the thermal shock from the second preheat might have finished it off.
If water was never involved in the equation and the dough was room temp or warmer, I'd venture to say that you bought a defective stone. Stones are a ceramic/cast material, and there's lots that can go wrong. If you purchased it locally and still have the receipt, I'd take it back.
As far as using it cracked, I've heard lots of stories of people using cracked stones without issues, but, it's important to remember, if a stone experiences enough trauma to crack, there's a really good chance other areas of the stone are weakened as well. Cracks in stones aren't surgical in nature. They're usually part of a network of micro fractures- fractures that may not be visible to the naked eye. A stone shard lodged in a pizza is very very serious business. Should a shard ever meet a tooth, the shard will win. I have a chipped tooth to prove that. Imo, it's not worth the gamble.
Pizza stones are porous, so they soak up water if you wash them. Put a damp stone in a very hot oven and the water can turn to steam faster than it can escape, causing stress and possible fracture. Heat it slowly and the steam makes it way out and there's no problem. Put a cold egg into boiling water and it is likely to rupture, but put it into room temp water and bring it to a boil, no problem. Same principle.
Oil does not vaporize when you heat it. It just oxidizes and turns to carbon, so it's not a factor.
I've used a Fibrament stone for the past 2 years and, for best results, ALWAYS preheat the stone for 1 hour AFTER the oven comes to temp (550 degrees).
I've been using unglazed quarry tiles for several years, and have yet to have one crack. I tempered the new tiles, starting at a low temp, raising it every 15 minutes, for 3 or 4 hours, until the oven was its highest, and then let them bake an additional hour. I always start them in a cold oven, and don't remove them until the oven has cooled. I never oil them. That would only set off the smoke alarm.
I clean them by putting them through the oven's self-cleaning cycle, and they come out looking like new. Some people claim tiles/stones should never be cleaned, but I'm not one of them.
The tiles are brilliant for baking pizzas and breads. Recently I purchased a cordierite stone. I don't think it works as well as the tiles, and it cost many times more.
Oh, and I do preheat them for at least 45 minutes before baking, but 60 minutes is better for pizza.