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How To Use A Pizza Stone For The First Time

A pizza stone is a movable baking surface for use in a home oven.

It’s commonly made of clay, ceramic, or cordierite, and it’s designed to simulate a hot pizza oven floor by absorbing and transferring heat.

If you bake the pizza on a pizza stone, it will cook faster and have a crispier crust than if you bake it on a baking sheet. A pizza stone can be used to make real Neapolitan-style pizza in a regular home oven.

A pizza stone is one of the most critical pieces of equipment for cooking pizza at home, and it has completely transformed the pizza-making process.

The main purpose of a pizza stone is to bake the pizza directly on the stone, resulting in a crispy pizza that you can’t obtain using a convection oven.

The major differences between a convection oven, which is what you’ll find in most kitchens, and a pizza oven are the temperature and baking of the pizza through direct contact with the hot bottom of the pizza oven.

In both an electric and a wood-fired pizza oven, the top of the pizza is cooked by a combination of direct contact with the heated floor and heat from the ceiling.

The primary difference is that a wood-fired oven does this by reflecting heat from the fire, whereas an electric pizza oven achieves this by using a broiler mounted on the top of the oven.

If you have ever wondered how to set up and use a pizza stone for the first time, then you’re in luck!

We’re going to walk you through everything you need to know so that you can get straight into making pizzas as soon as you can!

What You Will Need

The first thing you’ll need in the oven is something to place the stone on. It’s preferable to do this on a baking sheet or rack.

If you have a really heavy pizza stone, it may need additional support to hold the weight, although this isn’t usually an issue. Later, I’ll talk about where you should put the stone in the oven.

You can’t make pizza on a pizza stone without a pizza peel! You’ll need a tool to move the pizza because it will be baked in a very hot oven, and you don’t want to burn your fingers.

A pizza peel is used to move the pizza into and out of the oven. A baking pan can serve if you don’t have a pizza peel, but a pizza peel is strongly suggested.

It’s a low-cost device that will make transporting your pizza easier and safer.

The temperature of the pizza stone’s surface may be checked with an infrared thermometer.

This is a must-have accessory for a wood-fired pizza oven, but it’s more of a nice-to-have accessory for a pizza stone.

If you use thin pizza instead of thick pizza, the procedure will be a lot easier. This is due to the fact that a thin crust bakes faster, resulting in crispier pizza!

In comparison to a regular pizza, a Neapolitan-style pizza contains less sauce, cheese, and toppings. A lightweight pizza is easier to get on and off the pizza peel, which is one of the benefits.

Another benefit of having less sauce and cheese is that the pizza crisps up faster since there is less moisture in the pie.

Preparing Your Pizza Stone

eparing Your Pizza Stone

The first thing you should do when you get a new pizza stone is to inspect it to make sure it doesn’t have any cracks.

Cheap pizza stones, in particular, are susceptible to breaking and may arrive in poor condition. As a result, it’s important to check the stone thoroughly before using it.

The location of the pizza stone is debatable. The majority of people recommend putting it on the bottom rack of the oven.

However, after some trial and error to figure out the best technique, I found a better solution!

The challenge with baking pizza on a pizza stone is to get both the bottom and top of the pizza to bake rapidly and simultaneously.

You don’t want a pizza that’s been burnt and the cheese hasn’t melted. You also don’t want burnt salami and a raw crust on your pizza.

Most ovens include a broiler or grill option for baking pizza, which I strongly urge you to use. A broiler is a heating device that generates extremely high temperatures.

It’s usually located on the oven’s top-shelf. I recommend using the broiler to bake pizza because of the extra heat it provides.

This will hasten the baking process, melt the cheese, and brown the crust, just like a genuine wood-fired oven would!

Place the pizza stone as close to the broiler as possible to get the most out of it. The pizza stone should be put on the top rack in this case.

If your oven does not have a broiler, we recommend placing the stone in the center of the oven to ensure that the pizza is equally roasted on both sides.

How To Make Sure The Pizza Doesn’t Stick To The Pizza Stone

Many novice pizza enthusiasts are worried about their pie sticking to the pizza stone.

Contrary to common perception, sticking to the pizza stone when baking is not a problem if the stone is utilized correctly.

Parchment paper should never be used on a hot pizza stone. Because most parchment sheets can only tolerate temperatures of 430°F (220°C), this is the case. To make crispy pizza, your oven should be hotter than that!

Another common method for preventing sticking is to put cornmeal on the pizza stone. I would avoid using cornmeal on a hot pizza stone since it may burn.

It also gives the pizza dough a flavor and texture that you might not enjoy (especially for a Neapolitan pizza).

To avoid sticking, people have employed a variety of ways, including the two described above (parchment paper and cornmeal).

All of these folks, however, are striving to solve a problem that does not exist!

A pizza stone that isn’t hot enough is the most common problem. If the pizza stone is sufficiently heated, the crust will become crispy during baking and will not adhere to it.

If you’re having problems connecting the pizza stone to the pan, you should boost the temperature. The temperature of the pizza stone should be as high as your oven allows.

It’s also a poor idea to pile on too much sauce, cheese, or toppings on your pizza. The pizza will not stick as a result of this, but it will take longer to bake.

It’s possible that the pizza will stick to the pizza stone if you remove it from the oven before it’s done.

Because the water in the pizza must evaporate first before it can become crispy, overcrowding extends the baking time. In addition, more toppings will lead to the pizza absorbing more water.

Preheating Your Pizza Stone

Preheating the pizza stone is necessary for two reasons: it must be hot enough to bake the pizza and it must be brought up to temperature slowly to avoid breaking.

The first benefit of preheating the stone is that it takes a long time to heat up. Depending on how thick your pizza stone is, it might take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

If you have a thicker pizza stone, we recommend baking it for at least an hour.

The second reason is that placing the pizza stone in a hot oven increases the likelihood of it breaking.

Because most pizza stones are made of clay or ceramic, both of which are delicate materials, this is the case.

The most common cause of cracking is thermal stress. When the temperature of the pizza stone changes drastically, this happens.

There is a temperature difference of hundreds of degrees between the room and the pizza oven. As a consequence, you should place your pizza stone in a cold oven and gradually warm both of them up.

Preparing Your Pizza

You might think it’s tough to make authentic Neapolitan pizza at home. Anyone, however, can do it! All you’ll need is a hot oven and a little patience.

Other varieties of Neapolitan pizza dough exist, but this is the most common: room temperature direct fermentation dough. There are only four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast.

Naples is the birthplace of contemporary pizza and has a long history with it. Neapolitan pizza is a simple, balanced meal made with high-quality ingredients.

The crust is the most important part of a Neapolitan pizza, and its flavor develops over time and with care. The burnt crust of Neapolitan pizza comes from cooking it in a wood-fired oven.

In Naples, pizza has a lengthy history, dating back to the 18th century, when Neapolitans began placing tomatoes on their flatbreads.

At the time, pizza was considered ‘peasant food,’ and it was sold from carts in the city’s poorest areas. Their pizza has become famous all around the world.

Neapolitan pizzas are thin, round, and have a raised edge. The rim of the pizza puffs up and rises in the oven, becoming tall, crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside.

A unique consistency that can only be obtained by baking at a high temperature for a short amount of time.

Most people assume that Neapolitan pizza should be crispy, however, this is only true for the rim of the pie. Because the center is tender and juicy, it’s best eaten with a knife and fork.

Pizza Marinara and Pizza Margherita are the only two types of pizza, according to a Neapolitan.

Based on locally accessible ingredients in the Naples area, these are two classic Neapolitan pizza topping combinations.

Pizza Marinara is considered to be the world’s first pizza. Because it is made using easily accessible toppings, it was frequently enjoyed by poor sailors at sea.

A typical serving of Pizza Marinara requires the following toppings:

  • 70-100g of tomato sauce.
  • 5g of virgin olive oil.
  • 1-2 sliced cloves of garlic.
  • Dried oregano.

With its delicious, well-balanced toppings, Pizza Margherita is a classic recognized all over the globe and regarded by many to be the ultimate pizza.

To make a traditional Pizza Margherita, you will need the following:

  • 70-100g of tomato sauce.
  • 3-4 large basil leaves.
  • 80-100g of mozzarella cheese.
  • 5g of extra virgin olive oil.

You’ll need Italian Tipo 0 or Tipo 00 flour to produce real Neapolitan pizza.

Finely milled wheat flour with a medium-high protein level, Tipo 0 and 00 are manufactured in Italy. The most often used flour for baking pizza is Tipo 00 flour.

This is the case since Tipo 00 is the finest milled flour on the Italian flour scale, as well as the best wheat core flour.

Pizza must be baked in less than 90 seconds to be termed Neapolitan.

You can only obtain the right crust consistency by utilizing an extremely high temperature and a short baking time: crispy on the outside, light, and soft on the inside.

According to AVPN standards, Neapolitan pizza must be baked solely in a wood-fired oven at 905°F (485°C). The pizza must also be placed directly on the oven floor at around 800°F (430°C).

A smaller, portable pizza oven, which is both cheaper and more accessible, may provide a very similar result.

Making The Dough

Making Neapolitan pizza requires considerable planning because it takes 24 hours from start to finish.

The dough must first be prepared, which should be done at least 24 hours ahead of time.

Balling and ball fermentation should take place approximately 10 hours before pizza time. The stretching and baking are the final steps.

Start with cold water in a basin (approximately 65°F/18°C) to keep the dough from becoming too hot after mixing and kneading.

The reason we start with water rather than flour, as most recipes do, is that adding extra water later if the dough becomes too dry is far more difficult.

The dough is usually mixed by hand, although a wooden spoon or another cooking instrument can be used instead.

Using your hand, on the other hand, will give you a better feel for the dough with practice.

The salt must then be added to the water and dissolved. Pour in the salt and mix until it fully dissolves.

At a time, add approximately 10% of the flour, mixing it in with the water as you go. Make an effort to get a smooth, lump-free consistency.

You may then add your yeast and mix it in. The flour is added before the yeast because yeast does not like salt and you don’t want the salt concentration to be too high when the yeast is added.

Excessive salt concentrations might destroy the yeast. As a result, before adding the yeast, dilute the salty water.

Continue mixing in the flour until it’s completely mixed and a cohesive dough forms.

Place the dough on a work surface and start kneading it. You may knead the dough using a dough hook in a stand mixer at low speed, but I like to knead it by hand to get a better feel for it.

Knead for another 20-30 minutes, or until the dough is fairly smooth. To test whether the dough is done, gently press it down with one finger. If the dough is ready, it should spring back.

Another approach is to perform a “windowpane test.” Stretch a little piece of dough thin enough to allow light to pass through without ripping a hole in it.

Allow the dough to rest for 10-20 minutes. Then fold it a couple more times to get a lovely, silky dough ball. The dough has now progressed to the fermenting stage.

Store the dough in an airtight container or a bowl wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

There’s no need to add flour or oil to the dough or the container, and the dough shouldn’t be too sticky (due to its low moisture).

Allow the dough to rise for about 14 hours at room temperature overnight.

Balling is the process of cutting larger dough into smaller, pizza-size dough balls.

This will spread the yeast for further fermentation, as well as ensuring that the dough balls are properly relaxed, making them extensible and easy to stretch when the pizzas are ready to be baked.

Form the dough into 250g balls. Neapolitan pizzas are 11-12 inches in diameter and prepared using 250g dough balls.

To achieve this, you can use a dough scraper or just take off a piece of dough. I also recommend using a scale to weigh the dough balls.

Fold them over a few times to strain the gluten and keep the dough balls from getting too loose.

Place all of the dough balls in a lightly floured rising box once you’ve finished creating them.

You don’t want the dough balls to be too close together since they will flatten and spread out during the second leave.

Cover the dough box with a lid and let the dough balls ferment for about 10 hours at room temperature.

After 10 hours, the dough balls should have risen in volume, smoothed out, and spread. They’re all ready to make pizza at this point!

Making The Pizza

To begin, make a small pile of flour on your work surface.

Remove the pizza from the rising box using a dough scraper or pizza spatula. Adding a bit more flour to the mixture might help keep it from sticking.

To keep the dough from sticking together, place it in the flour you prepared and cover it. Remove any extra flour from the dough and place it on a clean surface to work with.

Make sure the dough ball is spherical (it may deflate when removed from the rising container) and start pushing the air out of it with flat hands, pressing with fingers and palms from the center to the edges.

The pizza foundation should be rotated and flipped a few times until it is round and flat.

Then, while holding the pizza in one hand and gently extending it with the other, spin the pie 13 times and continue until the pizza is 10-11 inches (25-27 cm) in diameter (80 percent of the final size of the pizza).

Finally, sift through the dough to get rid of any remaining flour. You don’t want the flour to burn in the hot oven.

Topping the pizza is the final process, and it can be broken down into three easy steps:

  • Sauce.
  • Cheese.
  • Toppings.

While we have included ingredients lists for both the Pizza Marinara and Pizza Margherita, feel free to experiment with your own ingredients as you see fit.

You can choose from a wide variety of sauces, cheese, and toppings until you find your perfect flavor!

After that, the pizza must be slid off the peel and onto the pizza stone. This might be nerve-wracking; if you make a mistake, the entire pizza will be ruined!

It isn’t tough at all. All you have to do is lay the peel on the stone’s back at a slight slant. Allow it to fall to the ground and quickly scurry out, leaving the pizza on the stone.

It’s a good idea to practice before using the pizza stone for the first time because practice makes perfect. You may accomplish this by slipping a wet cloth off the pizza peel.

Baking The Pizza

Baking The Pizza

Most ovens should bake a Neapolitan-style pizza in 5-6 minutes at the maximum temperature.

When the cheese has melted and the dough has begun to color, ideally somewhat burned, the pizza is ready.

Check the bottom of the pizza as well, by lifting it with your peel. The bottom should be crunchy and slightly browned as well.

You should reheat the pizza stone every two pizzas if you’re baking a lot of pizzas in a row.

The temperature of the stone lowers when you add a cold (room temperature) pizza, and it will no longer be hot enough to make more than two crispy pizzas in a succession.

Following that, each pizza will get somewhat less crispy. I recommend re-heating the stone for 10-15 minutes after you’ve made two pizzas.

Place each subsequent pizza on the other side of the pizza stone to prevent the stone from cooling.

So that the opposite side of the stone can re-heat while you’re cooking pizza. This, however, necessitates the use of a large pizza stone.

How To Clean And Maintain Your Pizza Stone

The most prevalent concern among pizza stone owners is the worry of the stone breaking. I’ve stated it before, but most pizza stones are made of clay or ceramic, both of which are delicate materials.

As a result, thermal stress cracking is more likely to occur. But if you avoid these errors, you’ll be OK!

Thermal shock can occur when there is a rapid change in temperature. If there is any weakness in the pizza stone, it may crack.

Thermal shocks can occur when a cold pizza stone is placed in a hot oven. If you take a hot pizza stone out of the oven, you can do the same thing.

This can also happen if you place cold food on the pizza stone. So you’re attempting to avoid large temperature fluctuations.

Allow the pizza stone to heat up with the oven before using it, and then cool down with it once you’re done.

If dropped, the stone can easily fracture due to its fragility. My pizza stone has also cracked as a consequence of me slamming it with my pizza peel too hard when loading off my pizza.

As a result, you must handle your pizza stone with caution, and you should avoid keeping it on top of anything heavy.

Most pizza stone manufacturers recommend that you season your stone without using any oil. This is due to the fact that, unlike a cast iron skillet, the stone does not need to be protected.

If the pizza stone is sufficiently heated, sticking should not be an issue.

How To Clean Your Pizza Stone

After you’ve completed baking the pizza, it’s time to clean the pizza stone. Everything gets caught on pizza stones, from pizza sauce to melted cheese and salami fat.

Dough and other larger things can also stick to the stone and burn.

Allowing the stone to cool completely before attempting to polish it is the first and most important step. I usually leave my pizza stone in the oven overnight because this can take a long time.

Cleaning a hot pizza stone is quite dangerous. You can easily break the stone and injure yourself as a result.

A pizza stone develops a patina over time, which means it darkens in color as it is used. Don’t worry about it; it’s quite natural and doesn’t mean you didn’t clean the stone well.

Any big parts should be scraped off with a pizza dough scraper or a spatula first. Larger pieces may require a bit more power, but be cautious not to overwork your stone or it will fracture.

When you put oil to a stone, it absorbs it and emits unpleasant odors and smoke. To prepare pizza stones, just wash them in warm water and dry them fully before using them.

It’s never a good idea to soak your pizza stone in water or use soap on it. Do not submerge it in running water in the sink. Never, ever, ever put it in the dishwasher!

Wipe away any excess water with a cloth or paper towel once the stone is clean and lovely. Allow the stone to air dry until it is completely dry.

Other Uses For A Pizza Stone

Despite the name, there are plenty of other uses for your pizza stone, other than just making pizza!

Put the dough aside and get out your pizza stone when you want roasted vegetables!

Simply coat them in a generous amount of oil and seasonings, then place them on the preheated stone and watch them sizzle—a magnificent char will result!

As you would with a baking sheet, you’ll want to stir them around now and again.

If you prefer something sweeter, you can make cookies on your pizza stone. Simply place the dough on a baking stone that has been oiled and baked.

Keep an eye on them because they might need to be cooked for a few minutes longer. Spread an entire batch of cookie dough across an oiled stone and bake it all at once for a giant cookie mound!

You can heat frozen things on a pizza stone, and it’s the perfect tool for the task because it absorbs those pesky ice crystals that other baking equipment can’t.

Keep in mind that preheating the stone can harm it owing to the quick temperature change when processing frozen goods.

Fill a soft tortilla with cheese, peppers, chicken, or whatever you like, flip it over, and bake for a few minutes on your prepared pizza stone to make restaurant-worthy quesadillas.

A crispy, crackly tortilla shell will be filled with warm, delicious toppings.

Who doesn’t like a good loaf of bread? You’ll get well-baked insides and a crispy, chewy exterior when you bake your bread on a pizza stone.

Pita bread benefits from being baked on a pizza stone since the puffy texture requires high heat.

How To Store A Pizza Stone

You’ll be relieved to find that you may keep the stone in the oven because it’s enormous and heavy to move.

Although there is some extra wear and tear, especially if you’re stacking heavy pans on top of it, the reduced movement is well worth it.

It will take a bit longer for your oven to heat up now that it has an object to heat up. It does have some advantages, such as keeping the temperature inside the stone more consistent and even.

If you open the oven door during cooking, heat will leave, but with the stone inside, the oven temperature will recover faster than it would without one.

Finally, leaving the stone in the oven allows the baking surface to season over time.

It is, in my opinion, the least intrusive and inconvenient way of verifying that your stone is in good working order.

I’ve seen many different (and weird) ways of flavoring a pizza stone, from bacon fat to butter to vegetable or flax oil.

Instead of spending extra money and time seasoning your stone, why not let your oven do the work for you?

How Long Should My Pizza Stone Last?

If there’s one thing that’s always subjected to harsh conditions, it’s your trusty pizza stone. Despite the wear and strain on your stone, it is a very long-lasting instrument that will survive for many years.

Pizza aficionados have even boasted about having used the same pizza stone for over ten years!

How Do I Know When To Clean My Pizza Stone?

Remember that heavier stains on your pizza stone are normal, and you don’t need to clean it too thoroughly.

A darker pizza stone is associated with more seasoning and better non-stick characteristics. Take pride in the stains on your clothes!

It’s conceivable that the moisture in your moldy pizza stone was too much. Because mold grows in the presence of moisture, you may not be adequately drying your pizza stone before storing it.

So, what options do you have? Make a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to get rid of the mold.

If you or someone else in your house washes your pizza stone with soap by accident, cover the entire baking surface with unrolled crescent rolls and bake as directed to remove the soapy residue.

When the rolls are done baking, remove them from the stone and discard them. The rolls should have absorbed most of the soapy flavor, ensuring that your next pizza does not taste like soap.

If your pizza stone has stubborn food residue on it, bake it for an hour at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the stone is hot, scraping off any leftover material will be easier because it will not be as crusted to the stone.

How Do I Keep My Pizza Stone From Cracking?

If you open your oven door and see a cracked pizza stone, your heart may break.

These lovely stone slabs might crack if not handled with care. Some of the most typical reasons for a pizza stone breaking are as follows:

  • Sudden temperature change.
  • Excessive moisture levels.
  • Over handling of the pizza stone.

A temperature shock can cause a cold stone to break when placed in a hot oven. Use caution while placing a frozen pizza or cold dough on a hot stone.

It’s important to remember that a considerable temperature differential can cause a crack. It’s not a good idea to put a frozen pizza on your stone.

Another way to give it a temperature shock is to place a hot pizza stone on a cold counter or stove.

Allow your pizza to cool slightly in the oven before removing it and placing it on a plate lined with a cloth.

Place a cold stone in a cold oven for a few minutes to warm up before adding the pizza. Transfer your pizza to the prepared stone using a pizza peel.

Excessive moisture, such as from water or oil, can damage and shatter the pizza stone. Double-check that the pizza stone is totally dry before putting it in the oven.

Overhandling seems like it can be a strange issue, this is a cooking implement after all.

However, before you begin cuddling with your pizza stone, keep in mind that excessive handling can lead it to deteriorate. It’s best to leave it in the oven to reduce handling.

Wrap your stone in foil when you’re not using it if you’re worried about other foods getting on it.