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Choosing pizza/baking stone size? Preheating ??

I was eyeing a rectangular pizza stone on Amazon that's 14x16. I measured my oven's racks, and they're 14.5" deep. Do I need to buy a smaller stone? I wasn't sure how much room I needed to have between the stone and the oven door. I have a gas oven.

Also, do you really need to preheat for an hour to get good results? Or will less time suffice? I'm wanting to use a stone for gluten-free homemade pizza and bread if that makes a difference. I've never made homemade pizza crust before (gluten filled or otherwise!) and only used mixes for gluten free bread, so this is all uncharted territory for me.

Oh, one more thing. Can you use a pizza stone on both oven racks at the same time and get good results for both pizzas? I have 4 kids, so I always think in high quantity!

Thanks!
Sharon

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  1. An oven needs room for air and moisture circulation to cook most things properly. If your oven's interior depth is really 14.5," which is uncommonly shallow--for an American oven, at least--then you would do better with a round stone, unless your oven is also uncommonly wide. What kind of oven do you have??

    5 Replies
    1. re: Bada Bing

      It's a Northstar. It's a new (6 years old) oven designed to look like a vintage oven. It's 18" deep, but the rack is 14.5". It's almost 25" wide. It's this: http://www.elmirastoveworks.com/north... We have a 1950's kitchen in our victorian house.

      1. re: sreese68

        The website that you point to indicates that the Northstar range is 28.5" deep. I don't get how it's possible to lose 14" of depth in the oven.

        Anyway, a round stone should do you fine, if that really is the depth of your oven.

        I agree with Ray2 that layers of stones might not work effectively, but it's all about how the heat gets around. It might work okay.

        On the other hand, I've never had a problem with baking stones cracking. A $30-40 stone is in my gas oven all the time, usually on the floor unless I need it higher, and it has spent 6 years there never cracking through every kind of baking, roasting, broiling and 550-degree pizza-making that I've done. The results were the same for me with a different stone at a previous address.

        1. re: Bada Bing

          28.5" is the exterior depth. The specs on the site say the interior is: Oven Size: 25"W x 15 1/2"H X 17 1/2"D, so I guess I was a little off with my 18" depth. I was thinking that the stone would be VERY close to the oven door with it measuring 14" in depth and my oven rack measuring 14.5".

          I've been assuming these are used on oven racks when cooking with them?

          1. re: sreese68

            Well, that size is pretty limiting. But your original message said the depth was 14.5", so now with 17.5 you're in safer range. Still, I'd go with a round stone in your circumstance.

            I don't think you would be successful with two stones in such an oven, as they would have only perhaps 4" separation. You can use a stone on the oven floor or on a rack usually, according to what works best. But take into account that you should not block any vent holes that you have on the bottom. In my case, my stone can stay on the floor in general, because the vent holes for the burner below are still on either side of the stone.

      2. re: Bada Bing

        can't reply to OP, hum.
        anyway, I have a pizza stone I got in Hatboro Pa at the Value Village there.
        It's a large rectangle and heavy. Used it several times and I always do only one pizza so don't know about using two stones and doing two pizza's same time.
        my stone fits with room back of oven and by door so I don't have the close problem either.
        I'd agree with BDB though, it needs room to circulate.
        also I always preheat my oven to at least 450 stinks up the house and sometimes it smokes a bit, but with the paddle dusted in corn meal, it's easy-ish to get it on there not as easy for me anyway to get it off. if you use a digorno [sp?] and not hand made dough that'll be easy to do also. < already formed and hard-ish crust

      3. You definitely need to pre heat. Start preheating at too high a temp and you risk cracking the stone. More than a half hour. An hour, doing it in stages is right. Even with this, most of the stones sold in the US are junk, aimed at value conscious shoppers. As such, they tend to crack/split regularly no matter how you pre heat them.

        If you want a stone that lasts, it's either luck or plan on spending $100 on an Italian stone.

        Leave some space around the stone. Do not use two levels in the oven. The stone needs the same level of temperature above and below it. You will have to figure out that position as each oven varies.

        Gluten free? If you are making pizza, you may as well use cardboard. The dough will have no elasticity without gluten. High gluten gluten flour from Canada or Italy is best. Not the stuff sold in supermarkets.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Ray2

          Thanks for the info on preheating, etc. I had read of the cracking risk. I figured I'd try out a mid-priced one before investing in an expensive one.

          I have celiac, so I have to eat gluten free. I honestly haven't even tried the pre-made crusts I've purchased because I also can't tolerate brown rice which is in most gluten-free baked products. (I haven't even had gluten-free bread in 6 weeks!) I have some cookbooks on order, and I plan on experimenting with white rice flour, teff flour, and other unusual ones. Hopefully, it'll help the taste!

          1. re: Ray2

            I've had only two pizza stones in 15 years and neither one cost more than $15. The first one cracked after four years, but since it just sat on the bottom rack in the oven it had no effect on its pizza making ability--still worked fine. The one I have now cost $9.95 at Trader Joes and is fine after 3 years. We make pizza or foccacia a couple times a week and find half an hour at 500 to do a great job. If you always have your stone in the oven it will always preheat gradually so risk of cracking goes way down.

            1. re: escondido123

              I'm with you. I have two pizza stones that cost very little and I can't even remember when I bought them, guessing 15 years or more ago.

              1. re: c oliver

                I just Googled pizza stone and was hard pressed to find plain stones for much more than $30 unless they had accessories or were some expensive brand name that seemed to be the same stone as no-name brands. I'm curious as to what makes a $100 stone worth $100 assuming you're just going to use in in the oven and keep it there.

                1. re: escondido123

                  And I commit a total mortal sin cause I wash mine in soap and water :) I guess I'm shortening its life by, say, a year. Dang.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Why do you wash it? And since the stone is porous how do you get the soap out completely? I just looked at ours and after 3 years only a few stains; my husband says it stays clean because we cook at 500 so often and it certainly looks that way.

          2. Here's the place I got mine from: http://www.bakingstone.com/order.php looks like they have many sizes to choose from. I haven't cooked pizza in a while on it, but I leave it the oven because it seems to help regulate the heat better in my oven.

            1. I think you need to preheat the oven for 30-45 mins. (550 degrees) while you are preparing the pizza. The pizza bakes so quickly that you can take out one and pop the next one in. I put the cooked one on a metal pan and can reheat it for 1-2 mins. while you are eating the second one. I love my rectangular (14 by 16) stone as my pizzas are not always perfectly round.

              1 Reply
              1. re: joelaine

                I agree with joelaine about the preheat and doing two pies. I preheat for about 30 minutes (sometimes more if I get distracted). The pizza cooks so quickly and they do need to rest before you slice them. So one pizza cooks and while it is resting, you put the second one in. When the first one is ready to slice, the second is done cooking. Approximately. So I don't see the need for two stones (and not sure the heating would work right anyway). I never need to "reheat" mine. When I take the first one out (use a peel - they're great), I put it on a rack like you would use for cookies. My pizzas take less than 8 minutes to cook so that time resting for the first is just fine for when the second is done and needing to go on the cooling rack.

                Good luck!! (Oh, and I have a very heavy rectangle stone that lives in my oven all the time. Probably over 15 years now.)

              2. I use unglazed quarry tiles that can be bought at a Home Depot rather than a pizza stone. They are so inexpensive.

                I do preheat for an hour. Less time didn't seem to get the oven hot enough.