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Pizza Saga Continues- Help with a Pizza Stone??

Hi CHs-

Those who have read my previous posts will know I've been after good local pizza (Dufferin & Lawrence)- and have not managed to find any. Even the "good" chains do not deliver to us- and we are too far away from other recommended places- if anyone has new ideas- please share!

So- I've taken to just making my own- which is quite enjoyable. I like my crust/sauce recipes, so I'm pretty happy. I bought a pizza stone from Pampered Chef (first thing I've ever bought from them), based on a recommendation from a friend who has had hers for 5+ years (her hubby uses it in the oven, bbq etc). They happened to be at my place of work- so I figured, what the heck I'll try it.

Well- my stone has cracked each and every time I used it. I'm on my 3rd stone- and it too cracked on my 3rd use. The previous ones cracked on first use- leading us to believe they were somewhat defective. One thing I can say is that they haven't given me any trouble with the exchanges, and I've now asked for a full refund.

My question is two fold-
1) any recommendations on where to buy a good stone? What to look for specifically?
2) how do you use yours? I was always under the impression you should put the stone in a cold oven and let the oven/stone heat together. After doing this with the first two stones, I was told by PC that this was not the case- they recommend heating the oven, placing the stone in, and then letting the stone heat up. I tried that too- but didn't seem to make the difference. I don't have the worlds best oven, and perhaps the issue is poor heat conduction. The other thing I question, is whether there needs to be more food on the stone. PC states that if there isn't enough on the stone this can cause it to crack. I'm putting a ~ 10 inch pizza on a ~15" stone.

Thanks for the help....

In the pursuit of a good pie-
S

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  1. Haha - my PC stone also cracked the first time I used it. I haven't even bothered with getting a replacement because it seems VERY common, and if I have to baby the thing with special care, I'm not interested. I think they are for people who bake their pizza at 400F or something. Maybe I will seek out a refund.
    Anyway, the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day website recently did a review of pizza stones - and alternatives. They rated cast iron as a great choice, and it will of course never crack. Not the cheapest option but if you already have a piece of cast iron you can repurpose it like we have our grill pan.
    I'm also currently using my broken stone on top of a cheapie pizza pan that effectively holds the pieces together.

    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=...

    1. I had a huge, industrial-grade stone (over 1" thick) that I found years ago at Brookstone. Mine didn't just crack -- it busted right in half -- diagonally! -- when I dropped the stupid thing. (It weighed a ton.)

      I used it anyway for years - and only got rid of it when we relocated to Europe -- it would have been too big to put in my little (but mighty!) oven anyway, and I couldn't see the wisdom in shipping a busted stone.

      If I ever find another one, I'll buy it in a heartbeat....it was black and shiny from all the crud that had spilled on it over the years (pizza, mostly...)...but it was also mostly nonstick, too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Thank you both! I'll look into cast iron...
        and yes- I should clarify- mine is split right in half! I keep using the larger piece- and it does a good job- just not sure if I should bother trying to find one that is more durable.

        I'll check out that site Jules... thanks.

        1. re: shariberri

          Cast iron isn't really a good material for a pizza "stone". It transfers heat too quickly, which will result in a crust that burns before the toppings have cooked.

          get a piece of cordierite, like the old stone oven piece recommended below. It's got substantial heat capacity, good heat conductance, good mechanical properties (it doesn't break, unless you drop it.), spectacular resistance to temperature differences (it won't crack if you take it out of the oven and put it in your freezer, or when you put cold dough on it.). It's what the vast majority of commercial deck ovens are lined with. The downside of it is that its got a substantial heat capacity, so it takes a long time to get to temperature. It's also used as kiln furniture (shelves to put unfired pottery on, etc), which is probably the origin of the very thick piece sunshine used to own.

          I don't know what sort of pizza your trying to make, nor what problems you have,

      2. FWIW, I have a PC stone in my oven. It lives there. There's not always something on top of it and it has never cracked. It sounds defective.

        If I had to get another stone I'd look at getting a natural, unglazed stone from a tile dealer.

        DT

        1. I think that I have this one:

          http://www.amazon.com/Old-Stone-Oven-...

          It is hard for me to remember for sure, because I have had it for nearly 15 yrs. Technically, it 's my husband's, since I gave it to him as a gift when we were still dating. Except when we have moved, it is in the oven and never comes out. It is never washed, just periodically scraped off with a long handled metal spatula. We've been making great pizzas on it for years without any problems.

          1. Cook's Illustrated tested baking stones and highly recommended the baking stone by Old Stone Oven #4467. You can order it at King Arthur Flour or Amazon.

            You can also line your oven with unglazed quarry tiles.

            1 Reply
            1. re: observor

              my old stone oven pizza/baking stone came today from amazon - very well wrapped and padded. it's impressive. hoping to start using it next week as soon as the oven is hooked up.