Aaah, pizza stones! Home cooks swear by them, and rightfully so! They deliver a beautiful crisp bottom that a regular baking sheet, even the specialty ones, cannot deliver. But with so many options, which one do you buy? If you’re like me, you scour the internet for product reviews, and look at both the good and bad, sometimes reading, then overlooking some of the good and bad, since some people are just plain dumbos. When I look at reviews, I look for honest reviews, checking the ratio of good to bad, and try to find a common denominator of the bad, then I check other review sites for the same product, repeat the process, then make a decision. Sometimes, I do this same process for multiple products, so that if I can’t readily purchase my first choice, I have a backup plan. And sometimes, I’m just a complete moron, and I throw all of my well-spent research time out the window and succumb to impulse purchases.
If you read Pt. 1 of My Pizza Stone Journey, you know that I found out that you can just buy unglazed natural stone tile at the hardware store and use that as pizza stone. And you also know that my dumbass didn’t measure my oven, and bought a piece of Travertine tile that was too big to fit in said unmeasured oven. Great job, Boogs! So, don’t be like me. If you go that route, measure your oven, and be aware that the big name chain hardware stores typically don’t have a variety of sizes for Travertine, usually only carrying 12×12 or 18×18. My problem is that my stove can only fit something that’s about 16.5×22 inches. So, my option would be to buy a 12×12 piece of tile that would yield a perfect pizza FOR A TODDLER. You gotta think, if the max surface area is 12 inches by 12 inches, a pizza needs to fit within those parameters. I’m no toddler, friends; I’m a hefty man who likes to stay at home on Saturday nights and eat an entire large pizza by himself and pass out. I live a life of fantasy and mystery, as you can see.
Okay, enough about that! Onto the part where I’m a moron, so you can learn from my mistakes!
So, after feeling defeated from finding out my new pizza stone wasn’t going to work. I went back and did the aforementioned research, and found a particular pizza stone that came with a peel with great, honest reviews that was under $20. I felt like I won the lottery. I figured okay, it’s not as cheap as a piece of $5 tile, but it comes with a pizza peel that would normally cost more than $20 anyway– WHY NOT? The thing was, it wasn’t available anywhere within my city limits, because none of the Wal-Marts around me had it in stock, but a neighboring town about 20 minutes away did. I called and they told me they had 3-5 in their inventory, so I drove there! I walked around looking at every space in every aisle in the home kitchen area, scouring every nook and cranny. There was no associate working that section. I even went into other sections asking for help, and they said “oh, so and so will be right there to help you!” Well, so and so was at lunch. So, I went to another department and ask then to verify (AGAIN) that this item was indeed in stock and at that store. The dude from the electronics section looks at the SKU that I had pulled up on my phone from their website. He checks their computer, and a bunch off boop-boop-beeps later, he lets me know “Yep, we’ve got 3-5 in stock!”. I tell him I can’t find it, so he gives me a code to look for on the actual price tag stickers posted on the shelves that designates the area where this item should be. He said to find this particular code/number, and it’ll be in that area. So I go, and scour some mo’–NOTHING! Finally, someone saw me in desperation and called for the lady who works that section to come and help me. She arrives, I explain the sitch, and she comes at me with “Oh no, we no have that!”. I told her I was informed by an associate who looked it up in the system, that stated you should have 3-5 in stock. “No… we no have that. We only have this one (pointing to the metal pizza pans)”. I start explaining the code I was given to look for, but by that time, I had been at that store for almost two hours, I understood there was a definite language barrier, so I politely said “thank you for your help”, and I walked out.
Onto my researched 2nd choice! So, there I was at the Wal-Mart down the street from my house looking for a pizza stone that had decent to okay reviews, and they also didn’t have that one, but they did have one that I did not look up or research. So, I did some on-the-spot research and saw the first review was positive, and decided to buy it. I get home and do more research– come to find out this particular stone is notorious for cracking due to thermal shock. Thermal shock is damage that happens when a material is exposed to a drastic change in temperature. The worst part is that the company TELLS you not to preheat it. WHAT? So, you’re telling me the whole point of a pizza stone is thrown out the window with this product. Neat! After further research, some people have said they go ahead and preheat and haven’t had any issues. I had it for about a week, and I thought a I had a pretty good grasp on how to gradually preheat the oven for a prolonged period of time so the stone has time to adjust, also making sure my dough is at room temp, but sure enough, it cracked after a few uses. It could have been because my oven got too hot for it, since the instructions say that it can only withstand up to a temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Okay, I get it! The company definitely warns you about what will crack this stone, but all the things I want from a pizza could not be achieved with all of their limitations. All in all, it was a bad purchase on my part, specifically because I have ridiculous pizza goals. I’m trying to be able to replicate the type of pizzas that come out of a traditional wood-fired brick oven in my home kitchen. This particular stone may very well work, but only for those interested in a DiGiorno and Netflix type of night. I’m looking to crank up my oven as hot as it can get, throw a pizza on a blazing hot stone with homemade dough that will puff up at the crust edges that get a nice char on the air pockets, and end up with a nice crispy bottom, all within the confines of 2-5 minutes. A true dreamer’s dream.
Until then, I’ll just be a moron who bought a pizza stone on impulse that absolutely doesn’t work for what I need.
Stayed tuned for Pt. 3!