Pizza stones give you the ability to take your pizzas to the next level. With a pizza stone, you can replicate a wood-fired pizza oven using your home oven.
I’ve cooked with a pizza stone for many years, and I’m always amazed when people tell me they think they’re difficult to use. As long as you understand a few basic rules, cooking with a pizza stone is simplicity itself. Read on, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to use a pizza stone.
Why use a Pizza Stone?
Pizza stones are made out of stone, ceramic, and other dense materials. If you’re on a budget, you can even make one using house tiles. Whatever type you choose, they all work by storing heat which they transfer through to the base of your pizza in a controlled and even way. This is important because it ensures that your pizza has a uniformly brown and crispy base.
A pizza stone allows you to quickly cook your pizza at a high temperature in the same way as in a traditional brick oven.
Choose the right sized stone
Before you shop for a pizza stone, first measure the dimensions of your oven. It’s obvious but necessary to ensure that the stone you buy will fit comfortably inside your oven. Pizza stones are pretty heavy, and cumbersome so make sure there’s plenty of space on either side of the stone.
To season or not to season?
Seasoning is the process of preparing your pizza stone so that it’s easy to use without pizzas sticking to its surface. You can buy pizza stones that manufacturers claim don’t need to be seasoned.
My golden rule is that unless a pizza stone is sealed and non-porous, it’s a good idea to season it, whether or not that’s what the manufacturer suggests. This is because seasoning is a relatively straightforward process that protects your first few pizza stone projects from turning into a sticky mess, potentially putting you off for good.
What do you need to cook with a pizza stone?
Apart from your pizza stone, and of course, your oven, here are a few kitchen utensils that will prove very useful when you cook with your pizza stone.
1. Pizza Peel
A pizza peel is the strangely named shovel-like utensil you use to place a pizza in and out of the oven.
Pizzas cook at extremely high temperatures, so it’s handy to have a long-handled tool to stop you burning your hands and singeing your eyebrows.
The pizza peel is a handy tool to carefully place your pizza onto a pizza stone already in the oven. You can’t just pick up the hot, heavy pizza stone and drop it in and out of the oven. Pizza peels give you the safety and control you need to administer your pizza’s cooking properly.
2. Pizza Wheel
if you’re going to the trouble of cooking pizza with a pizza stone, then you want it to look the part as well as tasting fantastic. While it’s possible to cut your pizza with a knife, it’s much neater and more professional to simply run across the top of it with a sharpened pizza wheel cutting it into perfect eighths.
3. Pizza Stone Brush
a pizza stone brush is a tool that you used to clean a pizza stone. It’s a stiff wire brush that is perfect for taking off the hard to remove charred pizza debris from the surface of your pizza stone. You can manage without one, as we will see when we look at cleaning the pizza stone, but the brush makes the cleaning process more manageable.
4. Oven Gloves
you’re using an oven, so you need to protect your hands with oven gloves. Safety is all-important, and oven gloves are a simple and effective safety precaution.
A light dusting of cornmeal goes a long way to stopping your pizza from sticking to your pizza stone. I like to keep some in a handy shaker, so I don’t have to search for it at crucial moments.
The Three Golden Rules Of Pizza Stones
1. season your pizza stone
seasoning is the process of getting oil into the porous surface of the pizza stone. It prevents pizza sticking, particularly the first few times you use the stone. Some pizza stone manufacturers suggest that you don’t season their stones but unless you’ve bought a fully glazed and sealed pizza stone, then season it anyway since it makes it easier to use.
2. Never put a cold pizza stone in a hot oven
Peter stones like to heat up slowly, so always put them in the oven before turning it on. If you place a cold pizza stone into a hot oven, it will crack and break.
3. Always cool the pizza stone in the oven
pizza stones store heat well, so they take a long time to cool down. It’s super easy to burn yourself on a pizza stone, so get into the habit of taking cooked pizzas off the stone with a pizza peel and leaving the pizza stone in the oven to cool back to room temperature before removing.
How To Season A Pizza Stone
it seems that everyone has a preferred technique for seasoning a pizza stone, but they all involve a similar baking process with hot oil. Here’s my tried and tested seasoning method, which gives you a perfectly seasoned, nonstick pizza stone.
Simply follow the steps as detailed in this table.
|Brush the pizza stone with light oil|
I prefer to use flaxseed or rapeseed oil since they are light and odorless. I find that traditional olive oil can burn and smell bad.
|Rub the oil in and remove any excess||Use a lint-free cloth and rub the oil in until the pizza stone is evenly but not thickly coated.|
|3||Place the pizza stone in an oven and heat to 500°F|
Remember, never put a cold stone into a hot oven.
|Cook on high heat for 15 to 20 minutes||This bakes the oil into the surface of the pizza stone|
|5||Turn oven off and allow to cool|
Remember, don’t remove hot pizza stones from the oven
|Repeat two or three more times|
Inspect the stone after each seasoning, when it looks nonstick and has a nutty brown coloring, then you know it’s ready
Admittedly, this is a fairly time-consuming process, but remember that you’ll only have to season your pizza stone once. And once it’s seasoned, a good pizza stone will give you many years of service as long as you clean and look after it well.
How To Clean A Pizza Stone
Over time pizza stones acquire a characteristic blackened color that you don’t need to clean away. This simply shows that the stone has been put to good use and many owners claim that blackened pizza stones make the best pizzas.
But burnt dough and other materials can stick to your pizza stone, so you’ll need a system for cleaning it. I’ll quickly describe two great ways to clean your pizza stone.
Method 1. Oven cleaning of pizza stones
A great hassle-free way to clean your pizza stone is to simply put it back in the oven.
First, use a metal spatula or pizza brush to scrape off most of the blackened crust on the top of the pizza stone.
Then just pop the pizza stone back into the oven, turn it on, and heat to 500°F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Next, turn off the oven and allow the pizza stone to cool. Check, and much of the blackened coating of the stone should have burnt away. Scrape again and repeat as necessary.
Method 2. Cleaning Pizza Stones By Hand
the issue with cleaning pizza stones by hand is that they are made out of porous materials. This means that water gets absorbed into the pizza stone and can damage it by removing the oil seasoning and expanding when heated.
Also, you must never use soap or chemicals to clean a pizza stone. If detergents get absorbed into your pizza stone, then they can come back out when you use it, and you’ll have a soap-flavored pizza. Yuck!
So keeping these points in mind, here’s an easy way to clean pizza stones by hand.
First, use a metal spatula or wire-tipped pizza brush to scrape away the worst of the burnt surface of the stone.
Next, use a detergent-free scouring pad or nylon brush to further scrape away any coatings.
Then, you can add a little warm water to your cleaning implements and clean the surface again. Some people advocate placing the stone under hot running water, but I prefer just to use a cloth for the reasons above.
By now, your pizza stone should be clean. If it isn’t, then you can go to the oven cleaning technique above, cleaning by hand again after if required.
If you have any comments or questions about how to use a pizza stone, please share them below.