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Pizza Stone ... Which one?

n
Nav210west Sep 3, 2012 09:29 PM

Since there are many pizza stones available, which ones have you used and liked and which ones should I avoid. I have double built-in Wolf ovens, and although there is a pizza stone accessory available (at huge cost), is there anything better? (and most importantly, cheaper!) ... also, do you have any favorite pizza dough recipes?

  1. h
    happybaker Sep 3, 2012 09:33 PM

    I have used both a store bought, pricey pizza stone - and thin terra cotta tiles arranged on the oven rack. And actually? I think the tiles work best.

    My fav. recipe is Marcella Hazan's pizza dough - after an overnight rise in the fridge.

    5 Replies
    1. re: happybaker
      c
      chazfitzm Nov 27, 2012 11:01 AM

      I have a cast iron pizza stone from Crate and Barrel that is amazing, but I do not think they make them anymore. The key is to preheat the oven with the stone in it for a long time, then remove the hot stone to the top of the oven and makethe pizza on the stone. Make sure to wipe it with olive oil firat to prevent sticking. This gives the bottom of the crust a head start and eliminates the need for added flour. One caution: you will eventually burn yourself, but it's worth it.

      1. re: chazfitzm
        cowboyardee Nov 27, 2012 01:29 PM

        I've never seen a pizza crust stick to a stone when oil is not used. Oil just gives a slightly different effect to the bottom of the crust. But it's not really necessary.

        1. re: cowboyardee
          e
          ellabee Nov 27, 2012 08:51 PM

          For stone stones, absolutely.

          But chazfitzm's pizza stone is cast iron. The oil will help season the metal. After long use, it probably wouldn't be necessary there, either, but it makes sense up until then.

          1. re: ellabee
            s
            scott123 Nov 28, 2012 02:33 AM

            There's absolutely no difference, sticking wise, between cast iron and stone. If there's sufficient flour for the pizza to launch from the peel, the dough will never stick to unseasoned cast iron. Assuming, of course, you don't burn it. If you take bread past a black appearance, it will blister and liquefy, and become sticky.

            And while some pizza styles may not require peak oven temps, the most popular styles do, and, at peak oven temps, oil will burn. By oiling a pizza stone- any pizza stone of any material, you're smoking up the house for no reason.

            1. re: ellabee
              cowboyardee Nov 28, 2012 03:26 AM

              My 'stone' is cast iron as well. No sticking. Never seasoned it either.

      2. s
        scott123 Sep 4, 2012 03:15 AM

        Nav210west, stone selection hinges on your desired pizza style, how serious/committed you are to making the best possible pizza, and your oven specs.

        If you want to just match the specs of the optional Wolf stone but with a far friendlier price tag, a kiln shelf, being made from the same material, will mirror the Wolf stone flawlessly.

        http://www.axner.com/cordierite-shelf...

        Depending on what temperature the oven can reach, this will give you any bake time down to about 7 minutes, and possible even a bit lower if the oven can be calibrated to a higher temp. 7+ minute pizza is probably what 99% of the population considers to be great.

        If you want world class pizza, though, then you'll need to look at other materials. 1/2" steel plate is readily available from local metal distributors and, although it's heavy, it will give you any bake time down to 2.5 minutes. 3-6 minutes is where, for NY style, the pizza making magic happens. The intense heat creates more oven spring, producing a puffier crust.

        1/2" steel plate won't give you sub 2 minute Neapolitan bake times, though. If you want those, then you'll need two things:

        1. Experimental hearth materials, such as silicon carbide kiln shelves, aluminum plate or a willingness to mod the oven to reach higher temperatures (1/2" steel plate can achieve Neapolitan undercrust browning at 625 deg.).

        and, more importantly

        2. A broiler that can do Neapolitan top baking (aka leoparding). About 1 in 200 people have the necessary broiler specs to do Neapolitan, so the odds aren't that great, but a Wolf oven should have an abnormally strong broiler, so, for you, there's a little more hope. I'm not able to find any close up shots of the broiler or wattage specs. I can usually tell from either if you have an oven that can do Neapolitan. If you do, then it's definitely worth experimenting with a special hearth (such as aluminum plate), since a home oven setup that can do Neapolitan can sub for a multi-thousand dollar wood fired oven.

        The dough recipe, like the stone, is completely style contingent as well, and, again, depends on how involved you want to get.

        26 Replies
        1. re: scott123
          n
          Nav210west Sep 4, 2012 06:28 PM

          Thank you, Scott123, for the educational response. I am now anxious to find out if my ovens can achieve the temps necessary for 3-6 minute cook times. I will need to do more research for Neapolitan top baking. I have not heard of Neapolitan top baking before and am always anxious to learn something new. I had no idea my pizza stone question would lead to so many new future baking experiences. The self clean feature is supposed to get over 900F, so maybe there is hope. I will let you know what I find out about my ovens, and now my interest is peaked regarding Neapolitan baking.
          p.s. a buddy's wife just built an outdoor wood fired oven from over 300 mortarless individual fired bricks so they could make wood fired pizzas.... now I understand more about this ... thank you.

          1. re: Nav210west
            s
            scott123 Sep 4, 2012 09:22 PM

            Nav210west, you're welcome.

            Knowing what I know about your oven, I can guarantee you that, with the right stone (1/2" steel plate) you can do 3-6 minute bake times, which is the pizza obsessive's ideal bake time for NY style.

            Authentic Neapolitan is an under 2 minute bake (ideally 60-90 seconds). That's what people, such as your friend's wife, build wood fired ovens (WFO) for. Or at least, that's what some WFO owners do. You'll find quite a few people that build or buy ovens and use them at lower temps- 3-6 minute bakes. It's only a small number of fanatics that are looking for true Neapolitan pizza.

            Neapolitan pizza, btw, is not for everyone. If you've been raised on NY or American pizza, Neapolitan can be perceived as a bit burnt or wet/soupy. With a skilled person making the dough and tending the oven, these can be mitigated, but it's normal to find at least a little char, which some people just can't tolerate. It's a little bit like espresso vs regular coffee. Some people go bonkers for espresso, while there are others that can't handle the darker roast. Before you start checking your oven specs, I highly recommend tracking down a local Neapolitan pizzeria, so you can see if you like it. Most urban areas these days have one. The market has been on fire for the last 5 years and pizzerias have been popping up all over the place.

            You would think that 900F could achieve any pizza style possible, but, unfortunately, that's not the case. First, most ovens have a safety feature whereby a latch keeps the door shut while cleaning. Just to be able to open up the oven, you have to break this latch, which, for the money you paid for your particular oven, I'd probably want to avoid. Secondly, hearth temp is really not that much of a concern. You can, as I explained earlier, choose a hearth material with very fast heat transfer, which will give you Neapolitan undercrust char in 60-90 seconds at fairly low temps- as low as 550. The clinker in the equation, though, is top heat. The strength of your broiler makes it or breaks it. A ceiling pre-heated to 900 can give off some radiant heat, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to what a powerful, high wattage, multi pass, glowing red broiler can do.

            I hope I'm not getting your hopes up re; Neapolitan in a home oven. Even with a Wolf, I don't think there's a great deal of hope. Here's the kind of broiler you're looking for:

            http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/inde...

            As you can see, it's a freakish number of coils.

            Even if you can't do authentic Neapolitan sub 2 minute bakes, 3-6 minute pies, with the right flour and stretching skills, can be majestic. Everyone oohs and aahs about home made 10+ minute pizza, and some might even say it's the best they've ever had, but put any 10 minute pie next a 4 minute one and the 4 minute's superiority will be blatantly apparent.

            1. re: scott123
              n
              Nav210west Sep 5, 2012 02:29 AM

              Thank you for the pizzamaking link. I have read a few posts and realize there is a lot to learn. I also now understand what the pizza was that I had in a little basement eatery in Rome. It was the best pizza I have ever had. Now I think there is hope that I can create something of similar taste. The broilers in my ovens are 8 pass, so if I want to expand out to neapolitan top bake pizzas, I'll need to consult with my friend and build an outdoor wood fired oven. For now, though, I think creating the 3-6 minute pizzas will keep me busy for a while. Thanks so much for opening the door to my pizza education.

              1. re: Nav210west
                l
                LJS2 Sep 5, 2012 08:11 AM

                i do my pizzas on my big green egg. I have two inexpensive stones both of which work just fine. What I leaned early on is to wait until the stone gets good and hot before putting on your pizza. In my case, I wait about 40 minutes after the BGE comes up to temperature (600-650 F). The pizzas cook for 7-9 minutes depending on how much topping I put on. Lots of good advice in this thread. This is my 2 cents...

              2. re: scott123
                kaleokahu Sep 11, 2012 05:03 PM

                Hi, Scott:

                If steel is good, and aluminum is better, what about copper?

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu
                  s
                  scott123 Sep 11, 2012 06:06 PM

                  Kaleo, steel is good, but only in certain settings (550 dial temp, broiler in main oven compartment), and aluminum is more conductive than steel, making it a potential candidate for Neapolitan bake times for oven owners with freakishly powerful broilers, but I wouldn't necessarily say aluminum is better. It may be better in this incredibly specialized role, but the jury's still out. Between silicon carbide and aluminum- in this particular role, I'm leaning towards silicon carbide. Some additional conductivity is good, but the kind of conductivity aluminum brings could end up introducing some negative aspects, such as extreme charring, even with longer bakes/lower temps.

                  Aluminum, right now, is just a theoretical possibility and not one that I'd bet a lot of money on. Copper is out of the running. If there's a chance that aluminum's conductivity will cause it to act strangely, then those odds increase exponentially when you get into the conductivity realm of copper.

                  The pizza community is beginning to experiment with stacking, and it's possible, like an all clad pan, copper may play some sort of role, but, on it's own, I'm pretty confident that it's conductivity will prevent it from being viable.

                  Copper is so conductive the temp might drop when you open the door the oven.

                  And that's just looking at it's conductivity. I think it's price would be fairly prohibitive as well.

            2. re: scott123
              davis_sq_pro Sep 13, 2012 10:06 AM

              I use a 3/4" thick (16"x16") aluminum plate. It works pretty well and weighs a heck of a lot less than steel. My oven only goes to 550, but my pies generally cook in around 5 minutes as long as I give the plate a good 45 minute head start.

              By the way, I am aware that there's no proven connection to health issues but I was a bit concerned about the Aluminum, so I seasoned it extremely well with grapeseed oil before I started using it for pizza. It is now sealed in a very thick black layer of polymerized oil and I can sleep easy knowing that instead of getting Alzheimer's from the aluminum I'll probably get cancer from the oil. Whatever, at least I'll go out having made some pretty good pies!

              1. re: davis_sq_pro
                cowboyardee Sep 13, 2012 10:33 AM

                A few questions if you'd be so kind:
                How is the undercrust texture and charring with your method?
                Have you tried using a broiler with it?
                Where did you find the aluminum plate?
                Did it cost an arm and a leg?
                What else have you tried to compare it with?

                1. re: cowboyardee
                  davis_sq_pro Sep 13, 2012 12:08 PM

                  Undercrust is ... crusty :-) ... Fairly dark, maybe a few spots of black here and there. (There could be more -- it certainly can't touch the crust of a pizza baked at, for example, Lombardi's in the East Village.) I'll take a photo next time I make pizza and post it here. I usually refrain from doing that because my pies don't come out with the amazing looks of what you can see from a lot of the obsessives. I'm only an occasional obsessive so I never quite get there.

                  I do use the broiler. I put it on the second rack from the top. (On the top rack, I was having some problems with the outer edges of the crust burning.)

                  I bought the plate from a local welder who I found via a Google search for "aluminum." He had it cut for me by his supplier. I paid him $80 for the plate, plus $10 to have him to deburr and smooth the edges for me.

                  The only thing I can compare it with is my pizza stone, which I purchased sometime circa 2001, quite possibly at Target. I'd say that the stone is more consistent, but I had 10+ years of practice with it. I'm still learning how the plate behaves; when I hit it on a good day the pies are amazing, much better than anything that ever came off the stone. (Crisper, deeper and better flavor, etc.)

                  1. re: davis_sq_pro
                    cowboyardee Sep 13, 2012 12:21 PM

                    Thanks.

                    One last question:

                    Do you turn on the broiler only right before the pizza goes in or do you heat the aluminum under the broiler for a while first?

                    1. re: cowboyardee
                      davis_sq_pro Sep 14, 2012 06:34 AM

                      I've been trying both ways, and I'm not sure which one works better or if there's a difference. When using the broiler first I'm never quite sure how long to give it, etc. Do you have any thoughts or information on how best to do that?

                      I really need to invest in an IR thermometer so that I can figure things out a bit more objectively.

                  2. re: cowboyardee
                    davis_sq_pro Sep 16, 2012 05:02 PM

                    Okay, I made a couple of pies today. Here's a photo of the underside of one of the slices. I cooked today's pies on the top rack, using the broiler. I allowed the broiler to preheat the plate for several minutes before putting the pies on, and it seems to have worked well. They took around 3 to 3.5 minutes each, which is definitely a new record for my oven. (I think the crusts could have benefited from another minute or so -- they weren't quite as crispy as I would have liked -- but the tops were burning a bit. Next time I'll kill the broiler after a couple of minutes and leave 'em a bit longer.)

                    IR thermometer arrives tomorrow, so I can get some better information on heat absorption, etc. But I can say that the latter pies seemed to cook slightly more quickly, indicating the the aluminum does benefit from some preheating.

                     
                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                      davis_sq_pro Sep 17, 2012 09:08 PM

                      And now for the readings from the IR thermometer. I did two tests; one with the pizza stone on the top rack (it still lives in the oven even though I'm using the plate to cook on these days) and the aluminum plate on the bottom rack, and another test with the opposite configuration.

                      Overall things I learned:
                      A) A preheat absolutely does matter. Scott's claim of aluminum's "extreme conductivity" might be true in thin sheet metal, but a plate is a lot of material and it definitely takes time to heat through.

                      B) Surprisingly, my pizza stone got hotter in both tests than did the aluminum. However, it's a lot less massive than the aluminum, and I didn't do an extremely long preheat (see below).

                      C) My pizza stone's lack of mass showed itself when I allowed the oven door to stay open for two minutes at various phases of the tests. The stone lost a lot more heat than did the aluminum plate.

                      Now for the data.

                      Methodology: I started both tests after leaving the oven door open for a while and allowing the stone and plate to come to the same approximate reference temperatures each time. I began each test with an oven preheat, followed by a round of broiling on high. At various intervals I pulled the racks out and allowed two minutes to pass, in order to simulate someone taking their time getting the pizza in place and losing some heat along the way.

                      I took the temperature at top dead center on both the plate and the stone. I also measured the oven walls at various points to verify my oven's thermometer. It seems to be fairly accurate. I measured before turning on the oven; then at 444 degrees during the climb to 550; again the moment the oven beeped 550; then allowed the oven to reach 550 again and gave it 25 minutes after the beep; then proceeded to do the broiler tests.

                      All numbers are in degrees F. Ambient temperature in my kitchen was approximately 71 degrees.

                      Test #1: Stone on top rack, plate on bottom rack
                      --
                      Temp-------------------------------Stone----------------------------------------Plate
                      Starting temp---------------------095------------------------------------------125
                      444----------------------------------277------------------------------------------268
                      550 (immediate)----------------425------------------------------------------425
                      -- door open 2 min--------------403------------------------------------------411
                      550 (25 minute preheat)------547------------------------------------------577
                      -- door open 2 min--------------505------------------------------------------541
                      Broiler - 5 min--------------------577------------------------------------------N/A
                      Broiler - 10 min-------------------596-----------------------------------------N/A
                      Broiler - 15 min-------------------629------------------------------------------N/A
                      -- door open 2 min---------------543-----------------------------------------N/A

                      Test #2: Plate on top rack, stone on bottom rack
                      --
                      Temp-------------------------------Stone----------------------------------------Plate
                      Starting temp---------------------098------------------------------------------124
                      444----------------------------------385------------------------------------------259
                      550 (immediate)-----------------605------------------------------------------415
                      -- door open 2 min--------------564------------------------------------------406
                      550 (25 minute preheat)------644------------------------------------------546
                      -- door open 2 min--------------567------------------------------------------513
                      Broiler - 5 min--------------------N/A-------------------------------------------560
                      Broiler - 10 min------------------N/A-------------------------------------------570
                      Broiler - 15 min------------------N/A-------------------------------------------590
                      -- door open 2 min--------------N/A-------------------------------------------535

                      All in all I'm not sure what this data indicates. Next time I bake I'll do a full hour preheat on the bottom rack, then move the aluminum up (hopefully without scorching my hands along the way). I'm not sure how multiple pizzas will work in this configuration but hopefully the metal will hold enough heat to do the job. I'll also have to do some more baking on the stone and see whether I've missed something there.

                      Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for further testing.

                      ... and, apologies for how those tables rendered. Subsequent spaces are being treated as a single by the forum software, and an attempt to insert tabs resulted in an exception being thrown. So the only way to get a semi-reasonable result was to use lots of hyphens as separators.

                      1. re: davis_sq_pro
                        cowboyardee Sep 17, 2012 10:54 PM

                        davis, thanks for taking the time to record and post these measurements.

                        I'm thinking the stone generally got hotter because it reflects less of the element's radiated heat away. The extra conductivity of the metal plate should make a bigger difference to how the pizza cooks than those relatively small differences in temperature before the pizza is added.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro
                          davis_sq_pro Sep 23, 2012 07:31 AM

                          Quick update:

                          I made a couple of pizzas last night with the plate on the floor of the oven. One hour preheat. Measured temp just before putting the first pizza on was 632F. Unfortunately the bottom of the pizza started to seriously burn and smoke within about a minute.

                          The second pizza was much more successful; I killed the oven and instead put on the broiler (just to help maintain ambient temperature in the oven). This crust was heavily charred--much, much more so than it the photo above--but not burned. Unfortunately the top didn't get quite as cooked as would have been nice.

                          It seems to me that preheating the stone very low in the oven is good for the undercrust, and getting it close to the broiler is good for the top. But without the dangerous task of moving the thing after preheating, there are few options for perfection in both regards. I'm wondering if a long preheat toward the bottom of the oven (maybe the first or second rack) followed by turning on the oven's convection baking feature, might yield more balanced results.

                          Another option I thought of is to use both my stone and the plate. Plate on the bottom for charred crust -- 1 minute(?) -- then move up to the stone right under the broiler to cook the top -- another minute or two. This is more complex a system than I'd like, but might work...

                          Thoughts?

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro
                            tommy Sep 23, 2012 09:05 AM

                            I wrote a nice lengthly response and then clicked on an ad or some crap and lost it.

                            Anyway, the thrust of the post-gone-missing is that I have been using 2 stones for some time now with pretty good success. I have two ovens and the stones are on the second from top rack in each. I suspect you will have improved results even with one oven, a stone near the top and a stone on the bottom.

                            1. re: tommy
                              davis_sq_pro Sep 23, 2012 09:44 AM

                              I'll give that a try next week. Looks like I'm going to be eating a lot of pizza in the coming days... Life is tough.

                              Thanks for taking the time to type up the long post. I feel your pain. Due to the way this site uses dynamic HTML I lose stuff all the time and my browser is unable to cache it. I now type my lengthier replies in Notepad and then paste them in, so as to avoid the problem.

                    2. re: davis_sq_pro
                      s
                      scott123 Sep 13, 2012 05:41 PM

                      Davis, I would be eternally grateful if, on the next bake, you could include a shot of the undercrust. Right not the data on aluminum bakes is practically non existent.

                      Do you happen to own an infrared thermometer, and, if not, would you be open to purchasing one? You can get them for as little as $17 shipped.

                      Here's one that's pretty cheap/reliable:

                      http://www.dealextreme.com/p/1-2-lcd-...

                      An IR thermometer would go a long way confirming hearth temp, which, for your bake times, seems like it could be a bit lower than 550. Do other foods that you bake take a bit longer than stated in recipes?

                      Regarding the 45 minute pre-heat: aluminum's extreme conductivity causes it to pre-heat very quickly- faster than the walls of the oven. As soon as your oven is 550, I assure you, your aluminum will be 550 as well. That could easily be 20 minutes, but I'd probably give it half an hour to be on the safe side.

                      1. re: scott123
                        davis_sq_pro Sep 14, 2012 06:47 AM

                        Hm, not sure I want to be a pioneer in this particular field! I got the idea to buy it from some posts by Nathan Myhrvold in an eGullet thread. He seemed to indicate that he'd done plenty of work with it. Oh well.

                        Anyway, yes, I've been meaning to buy an IR thermometer for some time. Any recommendations for one that's less cheap and even more reliable? (I decided a few years ago to buy only high quality stuff, as it usually lasts much longer and more than pays for itself over time. If that's the best model and $17 is the correct price then forget I said that.)

                        I am almost certain that my oven is a bit off. Unfortunately my oven thermometer is one of the aforementioned cheap pieces of garbage; it broke a while back and I've not bothered to replace it. Also happy to hear any recommendations for one of those!

                        As for the preheat, your advice is in contradiction to what I've read about plate metal baking, both from Myhrvold and some work by Kenji at SeriousEats (plus some comments in his posts). Or are you implying that aluminum and mild steel react differently to the various forms of heat produced by the oven? (I assume they were using the latter in the various tests.)

                        Either way the IR thermometer will give us a lot more clarity, so please share any more recommendations and I'll order one right away. Always nice to have a good excuse to buy a new toy.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro
                          f
                          foodie4me Sep 14, 2012 07:15 AM

                          I had a cheap one. I invested in the Kinitrex Infrared Thermometer IRT0421 I purchased it on Amazon http://amzn.to/PAo4pl $43.80. The majority of the reviews are positive, so I purchased it and have not had a problem yet, but I suggest reading the reviews and deciding if it is worth the $$.

                          1. re: foodie4me
                            davis_sq_pro Sep 14, 2012 07:20 AM

                            Thanks! I've just been reading reviews and am currently leaning heavily toward the Raytek MT6. The only negative reviews there are from a few people complaining that the box smelled like plastic fumes when they first opened it. I've been eyeing one of these for a long time, so absolutely no problem spending the $50 now that I can call it a purchase in the name of science.

                            1. re: davis_sq_pro
                              f
                              foodie4me Sep 14, 2012 08:04 AM

                              Oh it has changed my life. I use it to check the temperature of my saute pan and it has made a world of difference. No more steaming and finally getting that crispy crust that I had been missing out on. Enjoy.

                    3. re: scott123
                      j
                      JohnF Sep 14, 2012 08:40 AM

                      I have a stone which I keep all of the time on the floor of the oven to maintain even heat no matter what I'm baking, and keep it there on the bottom when I slide my pizza onto it. Question I have is, is the floor of the oven the best location for pizza, or should I start off by moving it up as I read somewhere else so the heat reflects downward on the pizza? Thanks, good detail Scott, you should teach pizza making and maybe conduct tours in NYC.

                      1. re: JohnF
                        KitchenBarbarian Sep 14, 2012 11:05 AM

                        I guess it depends on what kind of pizza you like. I am perfectly happy with 10-12 minute non-authentic-Neapolitan-or-whatever-but-perfectly-acceptable-American-type pizza, so my pizza stone sits on a rack (there actually is not room for it in the bottom of the oven unless you guys are talking about setting it DIRECTLY on top of the element, which doesn't sound like a wonderful idea to me ...)

                        In my old oven, that preheated pretty well and retained most of the heat actually in the oven, I had it on the bottom rack. No problems.

                        In the new oven, however, the bottom rack is (1) much closer to the element than the old one was and (2) this oven sucks rocks major big time because there is a frickin' HOLE in the top that vents directly through the back left burner on the range.

                        This means that my *$()*@@! oven NEVER reaches temp if I want to bake anything at over about 350F. Because it isn't a real oven, it's a frickin' giant SPACE HEATER. It also means I can't actually use that rear burner while the oven is on because anything I try to cook there will burn as it is heated by the oven instead of the burner control. Dagnabbit.

                        In order to get around this I have been forced to move the rack with the stone to the CENTER of the oven, else my pizza burns to a crispy crunch on the stone which becomes superheated because that frickin' lower element NEVER GOES OFF once you turn the oven up to anything over about 400F (and it's on way too much between about 350F and 400F). In the meantime my toppings have not yet begun to cook properly.

                        There is no separate broiler control so I can't speed the cooking of the toppings that way, and I don't LIKE my pizza that way anyway. Either the broiler is on or the baking element is on. Cooking toppings with the broiler only works if you want that semi-charred crust in 2 minutes or less from a super heated stone. I most emphatically DO NOT.

                        So, it all depends on what you want in a baking methodology. I have no interest in baking in a superheated oven or on a superheated stove, so this works for me. For me, a superheated stone is something to be assiduously AVOIDED, not sought and wooed. LOL!

                        1. re: JohnF
                          j
                          jscout Sep 14, 2012 12:18 PM

                          I keep my stone in the bottom rack of my oven all the time to ensure even heat throughout the oven and speed recovery from opening the door. But for pizza, I move the stone to either of the top two rack positions. That's because my oven, like many, vent out from the bottom, making the top of the oven the hottest part. Hope this answers your question.

                          1. re: JohnF
                            cowboyardee Sep 14, 2012 12:32 PM

                            Depends on what kind of pizza you're going for, what kind of dough you're using, etc. A little experimentation might be in order.

                            Typically, the element that heats the oven is on the bottom. Even though the air is typically hottest at the top of the oven, preheating the stone on the bottom normally translates to having a hotter stone than placing it in the middle or higher because it takes so much radiated heat directly from the element (though preheating the stone in the oven and then placing the stone under the broiler makes it even hotter still in my experience). Also note that this effect will lessen if you preheat the oven for a long time - well past the point at which the oven reaches your set temp - because the element won't be on as much and the temp will equalize somewhat. ETA- I'm actually not sure if this applies to a gas oven. It likely depends on the gas oven in question. Offhand, I'd say a low position during preheating should translate to a hotter stone more often than not either way.

                            Whether this is a good thing or not depends on how you make pizza. The point of cooking pizza more quickly isn't exactly to char the crust - little bits of char are a byproduct. Instead, the idea is to make the dough expand more quickly in the oven leading to a lighter interior, with some texture contrast from the somewhat crispier/chewier exterior of the crust, and also a non-soggy undercrust. But a hotter stone isn't always better - if the bottom of your crust is charring badly in the time it takes to cook the dough through and heat the toppings, then keeping the stone a little cooler while cooking might be a better option.

                            IF you do use a broiler to actually cook the pizza, you may find that having the pizza closer to the broiler element during cooking is beneficial. This can also depend on your broiler and the rest of your method. Likewise, even without using the broiler, you may also find that the hotter air near the top of your oven is more crucial to your results than a hotter stone preheated on the bottom of the oven.

                            Also keep in mind that different dough recipes are somewhat designed for different cooking times/temperatures. New York pizza dough is typically a little different than Neapolitan pizza dough, and arguably responds better to the lower temperatures and longer cooking times most home ovens are capable of.

                            Practically speaking, I doubt most people are going to run into problems with overheating their stone just by putting it on the bottom to preheat. But it's hard to speak for you without being in your kitchen. It mainly has to do with making sure that the heat delivered to the top of your pizza isn't too out of sync with the heat delivered to the bottom of your pizza.

                            And of course, not everyone prefers the textural effect of a quicker cooking time anyway, so that can be a factor too.

                            Scott123 might be able to explain this better than I can, or even correct me here or there. But that's the basic physics of it to the best of my understanding.

                        2. e
                          escondido123 Sep 4, 2012 08:47 PM

                          Our pizza stone came from Trader Joe's and cost $10. It has sat in our oven for 5 years being used regularly, does the job just fine.

                          1. e
                            easily amused Sep 4, 2012 08:54 PM

                            A real crowd pleaser
                            http://braveapron.com/2012/04/25/moms-35-minute-pizza-dough/
                            http://braveapron.com/2012/06/04/whit...

                            1. s
                              shaebones Sep 6, 2012 01:42 AM

                              Heard great things about Lodge cast iron pizza stone on CI podcast. Has any one used it?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: shaebones
                                s
                                scott123 Sep 6, 2012 02:43 AM

                                The Lodge pizza stone has some advantages. Out of the stones you can walk into a store and buy, it's one of the best. It's the best you can get in Walmart, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. It also offers risk seeking pizza bakers the option to pre-heat the stone on the stovetop to a very high heat and then transfer it to the oven for use with the oven's broiler, although, personally, I'm not a fan of handling very hot stones, even when they have handles. Another advantage is that it pre-heats quickly. Lastly, unless you completely abuse it by plunging a red hot stone into water or use it with frozen pizzas, it should last indefinitely.

                                Once you start looking at online options, though, it doesn't rank quite as well. It's a notch below Old Stone baking stone or Williams-Sonoma, and quite a few notches below a 1" kiln shelf.

                                Where it gets completely blown out of water is when it's compared to steel. Steel and cast iron have very similar baking properties. This particular stone, though, is only 1/8" thick. 1/8" doesn't have the thermal mass to give you the fast bake times you'll see with much thicker hearths, such as 1/2" steel plate. Even if someone felt that 1/2" steel plate is too heavy, 1/4" steel plate has twice the thermal mass of the Lodge pizza stone, and, depending on where you buy it, will most likely be a few dollars cheaper.

                                In summary, if you're happy with denser, breadier, longer baked (12+ minute) pizzas, then I would say that this is a fairly solid, easily obtainable option. Otherwise, if you want a shorter (better) bake time, then I'd look at a kiln shelf (8+ minutes) or 1/2" steel plate (3+ minute bakes).

                                1. re: scott123
                                  n
                                  Nav210west Sep 6, 2012 09:44 PM

                                  Many thanks to all the Chowhound bloggers for their suggestions.
                                  1/2" steel plate it is. I hope to begin experimenting soon after I get my latest business venture opened and running. Thanks Scott, and now I look forward to an eventual pilgrimage to Da Michele ... I will need a good vacation soon. :-)

                                  1. re: Nav210west
                                    s
                                    scott123 Sep 7, 2012 02:17 AM

                                    Nav210west, a trip to Naples is certainly a tremendous culinary experience, but, as I said before, if you can make it to a large enough North American city, there's a really good chance you can save some airfare and experience the real deal. Domestic Neapolitan pizzeria owners are hungry and have a lot to prove. When you get this kind of fire in the belly, you see Da Michele quality results.

                                    I've said it before, but, just to make sure you're completely aware of what you're getting into, 1/2" steel plate is heavy. A typical plate is in the 40 lb. realm. It's not easy to get in and out of the oven. I've done it on my own, but, ideally, it's a two person job. Most people just leave it in all the time. In most ovens, the steel needs to be placed in close proximity to the broiler (6-7"), and, in this position, it makes it hard to bake other things. With your convection ability, though, you might be able to put the steel on the bottom shelf and still get great top browning. Even if it's on the bottom shelf, though, it still might make it difficult to use the oven for other things.

                                    The weight of steel, as I mentioned above, makes it only for obsessives in search of the perfect pizza- those who are willing the pay the cost of having to either take it in and out or having to work around it when baking other things. It's not for the faint of heart.

                                    The pizza making community is aggressively seeking out something that will provide the same baking properties, but with less heft. There's glimmers of hope on the horizon, but nothing that's tangible today. If you're feeling incredibly motivated, you can't beat 1/2" steel, but there's nothing to be ashamed of in going a more tried and true route and matching the specs of the optional Wolf stone with a 1" kiln shelf. The axner shelf that I gave you the link for, if your oven can fit it, is 24 lb. That's not a bad interim stone to use while we look for a lighter alternative to steel. It's also worth looking to see if you have any ceramic suppliers in your area, since shipping tends to be costly.

                                  2. re: scott123
                                    cowboyardee Sep 11, 2012 06:38 PM

                                    I have been using the lodge cast iron pan for a little while now. The results have been pretty decent. A preheat in a 500 degree oven followed by heating it past 500 directly under the broiler and then cooking under the broiler has given me a cooking time of about 3-3.5 minutes (i've timed it). Some decent char and crispiness on the bottom in that time, with a pretty good texture from the quick puff. My broiler is an electric coil of better-than-average but not superpowered strength, and at this point I suspect that using a more conductive material could possibly be a waste just because I can't generate any more top heat.

                                    The thermal mass doesn't seem to be a big issue for an individual pizza given my broiler, There's still a decent bit of mass to work with. OTOH, I have found that the 'stone' needs to be reheated for a a while under the broiler for subsequent pizzas. At any rate, I can tell you first hand that you're not limited to 12+ minute pizzas with the Lodge pan unless you don't have a decent broiler to work with.

                                    ETA: by the way, I'm not trying to recommend against a steel plate. I'm just saying the Lodge pan is capable of some fairly fast cooking times. I'm also wondering where you've seen that it's 1/8 inch thick. I don't have calipers and the rim makes it tough to measure otherwise, but it feels like it's closer to 1/4 inch thick just by my offhand guess.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee
                                      cowboyardee Sep 13, 2012 11:35 AM

                                      I want to add a theoretical consideration:

                                      One potential downside of the lodge pan, and one potential upside of a steel plate that's cut to fit your oven is this - at least theoretically, a large plate stretching the whole way across your oven should reflect more of the broiler's heat back up at the top of the oven, and might effectively make the entire top of your oven hotter. This could probably even help an underpowered broiler behave like a stronger one and push cooking time lower, even with concerns of thickness and thermal mass put aside.

                                      Problem is, I have not yet experimented with a larger plate than the lodge 14 inch 'stone' so I can't compare first hand. I was wondering if anyone else has. My cooking time is already pretty low, but I imagine that's mainly just because I have a fairly strong broiler to work with. If I ever try out a larger plate, I'll try to remember to cite my experience here.

                                  3. re: shaebones
                                    SanityRemoved Sep 11, 2012 03:51 PM

                                    I use one all the time and am quite pleased with the results.

                                    As scott123 mentioned, heavy and hot are not an ideal combination when it comes to transporting a pizza. I have done it but don't recommend moving it at all. I use a short handled peel to move the pizza in and out of the oven. The handles on the Lodge work great when you want to clean it but will transfer heat very fast through a pot holder. Before you get the pan to the stove top, your hands will tell you it wasn't a good idea.

                                  4. emglow101 Sep 6, 2012 09:52 PM

                                    I like my Emile Henry pizza stone. Just over $50.00

                                    1. MsDiPesto Sep 6, 2012 09:59 PM

                                      Have you seen the Baking Steel? It's on Kickstarter, and I've seen some good reviews of the pizza it makes. (Due Diligence, at this time I'm not an investor-just point out its existence for those who make pizza at home).

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: MsDiPesto
                                        s
                                        scott123 Sep 7, 2012 01:37 AM

                                        The Baking Steel is a sanded down version of the exact same steel plate that I recommended above, except it's 3-4 times the price. Steel plate does take a little elbow grease to prep for baking, but it's not, imo, worth 3-4 times the price to avoid it.

                                        The Baking Steel also only comes in one size- 14 x 16. In order to launch your pizza comfortably, this translates into 13" pies. As you scale down the size of a pizza, the rim stays relatively static, so smaller pies tend to have proportionately more crust than larger ones. This can make for a pretty bready eating experience, or, if you have the type of eater that discards the crusts, a large amount of waste. Another factor to consider is that if you're ever entertaining, and you've got a lot of hungry guests to feed, larger pies will feed them faster, with less recovery time between pizzas. The huge advantage of getting your own steel plate is that you can size it to your oven and maximize your real estate. You can get a square plate that will touch your back wall and almost touch the front door when it's closed, with room on the sides for air flow. For most ovens, this translates into at least 16" and sometimes even 18".

                                        Beyond the price gouging aspect of this product and the ridiculously small size, the purveyor makes completely fraudulent claims about it's abilities to make "Neapolitan Style" pizza at home. This product cannot make authentic Neapolitan pizza in an unmodified home oven. I know at least 20 people who have tried. It can do an almost decent 7 minute NY bake in some home ovens, but then, so can a host of other far cheaper materials. The seller also completely drops the ball relating to the omission of any mention that steel is only effective in ovens with broilers in the main oven compartment. There's still a lot of home oven owners with old fashioned single burner gas ovens with separate broiling drawers under the main compartment. For these folks, steel is completely counterproductive.

                                        Bottom line, this is snake oil. Don't waste your money.

                                        1. re: scott123
                                          cowboyardee Sep 13, 2012 10:13 PM

                                          I saw that you posted a reply to me, but it seems both of our posts were removed when the original (unrelated) post got yanked.

                                          I understand the objection to calling approximations 'Neapolitan pizza.' For me though, I'm mostly looking to get as close as I can with the equipment I have (though I might buy a sheet of metal at some point), and acknowledge that what I make isn't truly Neapolitan pizza, and wouldn't fool an experienced taster even on my best days. As close as I can get is what I'll have to settle for.

                                          Thinking about it, I don't know why or even exactly how the Modernist Cuisine pizza got that... leathery, i guess... look to it. It's possible that look is the effect of cooking with a lot of radiant energy but relatively cool air. Or possibly that MC didn't use a fermented dough and the lower pH of a fermented dough promotes a lighter overall color with much darker leoparding in spots. I'm just wondering exactly why their cooking time of 90 seconds produces a dark but fairly even brown whereas a traditional Neapolitan pizza oven produces a much lighter brown with leoparding in just about the same time in the heat. That's not rhetorical, btw - speculations aside, I really don't know. Likewise, I'm not sure whether those differences have significant implications in terms of what kind of texture they'd achieve.

                                          I am more or less inclined to trust MC's quoted cooking times, though I could be wrong.

                                          I'm also wondering if you've tried preheating a metal plate via the broiler after preheating at max oven temperature (you might have to open the oven door to get the broiler to turn on). It can really get the metal itself extremely hot, but obviously that's only part of the equation.

                                      2. b
                                        Bobbakes Sep 11, 2012 05:26 PM

                                        I've used a cheap walmart stone for years. It's worked fine on the top shelf of an electric oven under a broiler. No questionable saftey hacks or anything. I basically preheat the stone with the broiler for a little over 30 mins to get 3-5 minute bakes for NY style (any more than that and the pizza is burnt on top). I was staying with a friend who had a different oven and used a similar stone (I don't remember the brand) and got even better results: pretty close to Neapolitan for a ~2 minute pizza. There was nothing special about the ovens at all. Broiler element basically looks like a "U" loop, no multiple passes or whatever.

                                        1. m
                                          mike0989 Sep 12, 2012 07:59 AM

                                          I've been using a Mario Batalli pizza pan for several years. It cost about twice as much as a Lodge, but it's also basicaly maintenance free. When it first came out, a LA Times food writer reviewed both the Lodge and the Batalli, and had positive things to say about each.

                                          1. e
                                            escondido123 Sep 12, 2012 08:29 AM

                                            This discussion about metal instead of stone makes me wonder. Wasn't the point of porous stone that it absorbed/dissipated moisture for a crisper crust? Isn't that why folks started using them instead of metal pizza pans? How do these metals you're talking about deal with that issue?

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: escondido123
                                              cowboyardee Sep 12, 2012 08:44 AM

                                              Yes. And if I had an oven that gets up to 800+ degrees, then I'd be using a stone myself for those reasons.

                                              But I've found that a bigger factor in getting the crust right is how much heat you can deliver to it in a short time. Whether you use a stone or a metal sheet, a pizza that's starting to char in 3 minutes has a texture to the crust that's much more to my liking than a pizza that takes 10+ minutes to cook. The crispness of the outside, the airiness of it, the chewiness of it - that's all determined by delivering a lot of heat to the pizza in a very short time. The idea of using a metal pan is that the extra conductivity of the metal can effectively make the surface cook the pizza more quickly, can deliver more heat. In effect, it makes my oven 'hotter,' at least when combined with a broiler. And that's a good trade off to me using an oven that doesn't get above 500. The textural differences between stone and metal are dwarfed in comparison.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                e
                                                escondido123 Sep 12, 2012 09:39 AM

                                                Thanks for the explanation. Guess it's all about what kind of crust you like.

                                              2. re: escondido123
                                                tommy Sep 12, 2012 01:08 PM

                                                I think the jury is still out on the idea that the porous nature of stone allows it to absorb moisture. I'm not sure I can fathom how a 600 degree stone is going to absorb water that turns to steam at 212 degrees.

                                                1. re: tommy
                                                  s
                                                  scott123 Sep 12, 2012 01:33 PM

                                                  Actually, the jury is very much in on porosity and pizza.

                                                  The idea that pizza stones are porous is a bit of a myth. Air in pizza stones makes for weak, thermally fragile (and poorly conductive) stones. Fibrament is pretty porous, because it's a cast cement, and it pays the price with fragility and poor conductivity. Quarry tiles are even worse. Other than those options, though, stones don't absorb moisture. Traditional cordierite pizza stones are only marginally porous. Whatever texture of crust that can be achieved on a regular stone can be matched on steel.

                                                  1. re: scott123
                                                    cowboyardee Sep 12, 2012 02:01 PM

                                                    I have seen several tests examining the effects of different stones. Usually a thick cast iron 'stone' and a thin, metal sheet pan are both included. Most often, these studies compare pizzas that are cooked over longer times in 550 degree ovens, or cooler, without using a broiler. Notably absent is any discussion of the rise or interior texture of the crust - usually these tests only evaluate the bottom crust's texture.

                                                    Still, stone has often outperformed cast iron in these admittedly limited tests. I suspect the traditional explanation for this - that stone is more porous and this limits steam, leading to increased crispiness - might be lacking. But I'm less sure that there is no difference in effect whatsoever at a given cooking time.

                                                    Obviously as I've stated above, I get best results with metal myself. But I'm not convinced that stone doesn't have some textural advantages for the crust if you can get the temp high enough to justify getting away from metal.

                                              3. KitchenBarbarian Sep 12, 2012 12:05 PM

                                                This is the stone I own, works fine, has not cracked, is left in the oven 24/7, can be superheated but I don't except for naan because I don't like charred pizza crust:

                                                http://www.amazon.com/Old-Stone-Oven-4467-14-Inch/dp/B0000E1FDA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347475946&sr=8-1&keywords=pizza+stone

                                                This is the stone (Well, set of tiles) a lot of people on pizzamaking.com are fond of:

                                                http://www.amazon.com/Dough-Joe%C2%AE-Pizza-and-Baking-Stone/dp/B004ZLY3US/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1347475946&sr=8-8&keywords=pizza+stone

                                                Another possible solution is to buy BRAND SPANKING NEW kiln shelving made of cordierite (some kiln shelves are made of other materials). These are actually quite common in commercial ovens for several reasons, including their excellent heat retention as commercial ovens are used for hours and hours at a time, their durability, and their tolerance of heats MUCH MUCH higher than even the hottest pizza oven will ever reach. NOT THE HOLLOW SORT, only the solid sort for a home oven.

                                                Read some opinions here:

                                                http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=5122.0

                                                and here:

                                                http://www.thefreshloaf.com/searchres...

                                                Let me reiterate, with the cordeirite/kiln shelf option - NEW SHELVING that has NEVER been fired in a kiln only! Many glazes are toxic. There is no telling what chemicals a used shelf has been exposed to, and no amount of grinding will render it safe again. So - unless you have a death wish you urgently wish to fulfill - BRAND SPANKING NEW KILN SHELVING ONLY!

                                                I say this to you with love, as both a potter and a baker.

                                                1. grampart Sep 13, 2012 10:43 AM

                                                  Regardless of what Scott123 has to say about Fibrament baking stones, they are a top-notch product. I've been using one for over six years and have had nothing but success with it. If you peruse this site, you'll be hard pressed to find any Fibrament users who have any complaint. Any claims of fragility are unfounded and, as far as conductivity, all I can say is my pizzas are praised by all that have eaten them.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: grampart
                                                    w
                                                    white light Sep 14, 2012 09:19 PM

                                                    agreed

                                                    1. re: grampart
                                                      tommy Sep 15, 2012 04:24 AM

                                                      So you can't really speak to the conductivity of Fibrament vs a steel plate or other materials, but you can say your friends like your pizza.

                                                      I like my Fibrament. I get pizzas out of the oven in about 3.5-4 minutes. Sometimes 3. I suspect that time would drop with a steel plate.

                                                    2. MikeB3542 Sep 13, 2012 05:34 PM

                                                      My $.02 worth: the Lodge cast iron pizza pan works really well. I like to make Chicago pub-style pizza, which has a thick chewy crust and a lot of cheese (it is not a deep-dish or stuffed pie...those are good, too). I have a pretty basic gas stove, so what I do is just crank up the oven with the pan in to 500F and let it pre-heat a good half hour. Trust me, it is all pretty darn hot by then . A little corn meal goes down, then I spread out the crust and top of the pizza right on the hot pan. I like the cheese browned a little, so my pies are in the oven a while. Also works well on the charcoal grill. (I have a cheap Aussie Walkabout, and results are good.)

                                                      Dough: 2-1/2 cups AP flour, 2-1/4 tsp ADY, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt....mix or sift together in bowl. Add 1 cup hot (115-120F) water and 2 T EVOO. Combine in bowl...when dough comes together, turn out onto floured board and knead 5 min. When kneading, keep it easy with the flour...OK if dough is a little sticky. Rise 30-60 min and use OR (better) put in lightly oiled ziplock bag and leave in fridge overnight (give it an hour to warm back up before using).

                                                      1. f
                                                        foodie4me Sep 14, 2012 05:31 AM

                                                        I make pizza one of three ways: On the grill directly, in the oven using a HearthKit oven insert, or on the grill using the lodge cast iron pan. My favorite is the HearthKit (http://www.hearth-oven.com). It is a very heavy pizza stone with sides. The problem is you have to get the size right and it works best in a gas oven. I have heard complaints of a noticeable uptick in someone's electric bill when they used it in an electric oven. It is also very heavy and requires room for storage. I am lucky enough to have two ovens, so I devote one to the stone. It is not cheap. The way it works and why the size is important you have to fit it so you create a pocket inside your oven. The stone is very thick. You need to heat the stone so it reaches 500 degrees F. I use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature. It takes an hour for my oven to get it to temperature. Once it is heated you can crank out pizza after pizza. I was looking for a way to get as close to the NY style of pizza I grew up with so it works for me. The Lodge cast iron pan I find works great on the gas grill, but the texture is different. A great way to enjoy pizza in the summer without heating up the kitchen.

                                                        The Hearthkit comes with its own oven rack so you can leave it in the oven and still use it, but I find to do that you have to lower the position of the Hearthkit in the oven. Also, I lack the skill to flip the dough off of the peel and onto the stone. I have had very good luck rolling the pizza dough out on parchment paper which slides right off the peel and onto the stone. I close the oven door and let it set. As soon as it is set I reach in and pull out the parchment paper because it will eventually burn. If the pizza is set the paper slides right out. The trick is to find parchment paper that can take high heat some are better than others. Hope this helps.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: foodie4me
                                                          Zeldog Sep 19, 2012 07:49 PM

                                                          I use a DIY version of the hearthkit. Set a baking stone on a middle rack and place two refractory bricks (splits, which are 8x4x1 inch) in back, and on on each side of the stone, resting on the long side. On another rack above, place 3 more splits (a second baking stone would do as well). Takes a long time to heat up, so an IR thermometer is a good investment. Like a previous poster, I use a Kintrex IRT0421. Very good piece of equipment, and accurate as far as I've been able to determine. After a few pizzas you'll know how long it takes to heat everything up in your particular oven but you can still use the thermometer to determine when your skillet is hot enough to fry an egg. For me, it takes about 50 minutes to get to 500F, so if you don't have an IR thermometer, give it a full hour or a bit more and you should be good to go.

                                                          Frankly, I think all that extra masonry (especially the bricks on the sides and rear)makes a very small difference in the final product that most people would not notice. But it does cook pizza a bit faster, and chars the top nicely, if that's what you like (and I do).

                                                        2. j
                                                          jscout Sep 14, 2012 08:17 AM

                                                          I use a large 18" square soapstone tile as my baking stone. Soapstone is non porous, dense and has a great ability to retain heat. It does take a little longer for the oven to preheat, but there's very little drop in temp when the oven is open. Recovery is extremely quick. I preheat to 500 degrees (the max for my oven without going over to broiler mode) for pizza and calzones. I get great crusts.

                                                          When I redid my kitchen recently, I put in soapstone counters. I asked if they would "throw in" a single large soapstone tile and they did. So I didn't have to pay for it. My tile was fully intact, but I did see that they sold chipped tiles for significantly less, maybe under under $20. So check with stone fabricators. Keep in mind that soapstone is one of the few natural stones adequate for a baking stone. Marble and Granite are prone to cracking under high heat and should be avoided. I believe over time, slate is also prone to separating and flaking, so it may not be a good choice either.

                                                          Before the remodel, I used one of those round Pampered Chef pizza stones that I received as a gift. It did a good job for about ten years and I still use it in my smaller oven. I think it might cost about $30-$40.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jscout
                                                            r
                                                            Raffles Feb 15, 2014 08:00 AM

                                                            We have a soap stone wood heating stove. Works great , slow to heat up, slow to cool down.

                                                          2. j
                                                            joelraven Sep 16, 2012 08:36 AM

                                                            I've always found that a dozen or so 4" square baking tiles set on the upper rack work well, but what really makes a difference is juicing up the temperature effect by setting the oven on convection'," at 500F. the baking process is quick, blazing hot, and the crust is crispy without being tough.

                                                            1. j
                                                              jjirka Feb 15, 2014 07:30 AM

                                                              We have a wolf double convection oven and use a pizza stone that we got for under $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond. We put the stone on the center rack then preheat the oven and then place pizza on the stone and cook for about 8 minutes. Works great

                                                              1. v
                                                                VenusCafe Mar 8, 2014 03:54 PM

                                                                Good pizza in a normal oven needs Convection Roast setting at highest temp, plus a pizza stone sandwich:

                                                                KING Arthur pizza stone ($54) for bottom
                                                                Trader Joe's ($10) or Emile Henry pizza stone ($50) for top

                                                                Avoid using rolling pin on pizza dough; stretch it instead for the best texture. Stretch, holding edges and letting it fall and drop of its own weight; lay it on corn flour sprinkle w/oregano, then pinch-spread out the edges!

                                                                Avoid metal. Best use only cordierite (KA $54) for bottom b/c only porous material can
                                                                absorb the dough moisture to ensure crisping.

                                                                I use Wolfgang Pucks pizza dough, available
                                                                at Gelson's. Really good.

                                                                My tip would be to use the Convection Roast setting with two stones. Convection Roast is the
                                                                highest level of heat, and ALWAYS pre-heat for one full hour. Then your pizza stones will get up to 588 degrees when you put pizza in to bake.

                                                                Stretched out dough/Two stones/High heat/BAKE FIVE MINS= best home pizza!

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: VenusCafe
                                                                  grampart Mar 8, 2014 04:30 PM

                                                                  All very good suggestions, but you REALLY should make your own dough.

                                                                  1. re: grampart
                                                                    v
                                                                    VenusCafe Mar 9, 2014 01:22 PM

                                                                    Don't have the food processor or hook.
                                                                    Wolfgang's dough is famous; it was mentored by genius Ed LaDue.
                                                                    www.zagat.com/b/5-chefs-who-changed-p...
                                                                    This was after Wolfgang did his time at the lauded La Maison. I doubt I could trump THAT dough.
                                                                    Certainly can not trump just throwing out those incredible pizza balls, one after the other.
                                                                    As a perfectionist, it would take so much time to make my own that I would not be able to have my incredible pizza 3-4X a week!
                                                                    Time is Savory's friend.
                                                                    Wolfie is consistency's friend.

                                                                    1. re: VenusCafe
                                                                      grampart Mar 9, 2014 01:30 PM

                                                                      Pizza dough isn't that difficult.

                                                                      1. re: grampart
                                                                        v
                                                                        VenusCafe Mar 9, 2014 02:00 PM

                                                                        You just don't get it.

                                                                        1. re: VenusCafe
                                                                          grampart Mar 9, 2014 02:19 PM

                                                                          I believe you are the one that "just don't get it".

                                                                      2. re: VenusCafe
                                                                        cowboyardee Mar 9, 2014 06:51 PM

                                                                        I'm not trying to gang up on you. But I just wanted to point out the actual reasons to make your own dough - it's not just a matter of personal accomplishment.

                                                                        The main problem with store-bought doughs, or even doughs bought from your local pizza parlor, is that they are generally a bit drier than is ideal for a home oven, This makes them a bit sturdier when stretching and easier to release from a peel. But it also generally makes for a dry crust that doesn't rise dramatically in a home oven, or else one that winds up more bread-y than pizza-like. Making your own dough also lets you ferment it more, which can make for better flavor and a slight resistance to burning.

                                                                        I don't have a stand mixer either. If standard kneading sounds like too much work, you might want to look at some of Peter Reinhart's techniques for developing gluten by folding doughs in stages rather than kneading them. It's actually a very easy process.

                                                                        Obviously, you should do whatever pleases you. I just wanted to point out why you might want to bother making your own dough.

                                                                    2. re: VenusCafe
                                                                      s
                                                                      Sirrith Mar 8, 2014 05:16 PM

                                                                      Avoiding metal is wrong. My baking steel provides better crusts than my baking stone in less time.

                                                                      Also, I would refer you to this:
                                                                      http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                                                                      1. re: Sirrith
                                                                        e
                                                                        ellabee Mar 8, 2014 06:58 PM

                                                                        What kind of oven are you using the baking steel in, Sirrih?

                                                                        I ask because I have a steel that I hope to use for pizza sometime soon, but also have just read a comment upthread that my oven is all wrong for it (counterproductive, even) -- a small single-burner gas oven with the browler below the main unit.

                                                                        1. re: ellabee
                                                                          s
                                                                          Sirrith Mar 8, 2014 07:29 PM

                                                                          A small-ish electric convection oven.

                                                                          My dad however has a similar oven to yours, small gas burner at the bottom, no broiler. He also uses a baking steel, and it still works slightly better than his previous baking stone which we now put above the pies in the hope that it will provide some radiant heat. You should try experimenting with different shelf heights though. Putting it near the top may help.

                                                                        2. re: Sirrith
                                                                          davis_sq_pro Mar 10, 2014 06:49 AM

                                                                          (Edit: Looks like I talked about this upthread already. Sorry for the repetition; I didn't remember what else had already been discussed here.)

                                                                          I bake on 3/4" aluminum plate -- and doing so has completely changed my undercrust, for the better. I do not believe that pizza stones absorb any moisture. How can a 500+-degree stone, no matter how porous, retain any water?

                                                                          I also use convection roast mode in my oven, and agree that it is a real game changer in and of itself. I don't do five-minute bakes, though. Only four minutes needed on this end (14"-15" pies, usually around 400g of dough) :-)

                                                                        3. re: VenusCafe
                                                                          f
                                                                          foufou Mar 8, 2014 06:16 PM

                                                                          I use two stones as well: King Arthur on the bottom and Williams-Sonoma on the top; High heat. Don't use convection setting. Very pleased with both stones.

                                                                          1. re: foufou
                                                                            v
                                                                            VenusCafe Mar 9, 2014 02:12 PM

                                                                            Isn't it grand to be pleased with your pizza!
                                                                            How high is your oven setting?
                                                                            Do you know how hot your stones get?
                                                                            Most imp, how long do you bake it for best results?

                                                                            I've enjoyed 800 and 900 degree pizzas, but for a home pizza, given my dough, oven, ingredients and preferences, baking for 5 min (sometimes 6) at 575 nails the pizza for me.

                                                                            Everyone is different with all of those elements.

                                                                             
                                                                            1. re: VenusCafe
                                                                              f
                                                                              foufou Mar 9, 2014 05:05 PM

                                                                              oven setting is 550...don't know how hot stones are. Bake between 6-8 minutes

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