Pizza stones, they work. When pre-heated properly, in blazing hot oven, they create a nice, crisp crust on the bottom of pizzas. Essentially, they start cooking the pizza from the bottom up. There’s no doubt about it, they’re great, unless you’re a moron like me, and buy cheap ones that are known to crack easily from thermal shock.
In my previous blog posts, I talked about using unglazed natural stone tile instead of buying an expensive stone, as well as how my next pizza stone purchase was foolish due to lack of research. Yep, my stone cracked. This is the next installment…
After my last stone cracked, I was on a mission to find a better one. Knowing my oven size, I made calls and visits to some of the well known hardware stores, and found that they didn’t have the sizes that would fit my oven and that their on-site equipment cannot be used to cut the larger natural stone tiles. Luckily, I was informed that local flooring and tile shops most likely CAN cut larger tiles, and better yet, may already have the sizes I need. So, I made calls, and sure enough they did, BUT due to scheduling conflicts, I was never able to make it to those stores before they closed up shop for the day. Mom and pop shops don’t have the same business hours as their big name competitors.
One day, while shopping at my local grocery store, I happened upon a pizza stone that had been out of stock in the warehouse for months. I had been eyeing this stone for a long time even before this blew into a complete obsession. It was an inexpensive one costing just shy of $9 (I KNOW, I KNOW). So, I decided to park my butt down and do a little on-the-spot research. I found that the same exact stone/brand/company was selling these on Amazon and other online retailers for $25 and up. The only problem was that there were no reviews. So I, being the moron that you all should know by now, decided to take yet another gamble. I figured, hey it’s nine bucks. If it sucks, whatever… that’s the price of a decent fast food meal anyway.
So I bought the damn thing, but here’s where I decided to do something a little different. I still had the broken stone in my oven. The broken one is cracked about 2-3 inches on one side, so it’s not completely broken into pieces. I found that the new stone fits perfectly on top of the other one. I decided to take YET ANOTHER gamble! I figured if the old stone isn’t completely broken, and the new one fits on top, they might be able to retain and conduct heat as an unstoppable team… OR they’ll both just crack and die.
Here’s what ELSE I did… I’ve been reading that many pizza stone users place two stones in the oven, one on a lower shelf, and one on a high shelf. This is supposedly to assist in keeping the heat centralized, so that the pizza gets evenly cooked on the bottom and on the top. So, I went to the hardware store and bought a cheap 12×12 natural stone tile for about $2, and put that badboy on the shelf right below the top heating element.
The combination of the stacked stones and the top stone has produced some of my best pizzas EVER, all within the span of about 6 minutes. I’ve found preheating the stones at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for about 90 mins, then putting the pizza on the lower shelf for 5 minutes, THEN cranking on the broiler and moving the pizza to the top stone for 1 minute produces a perfect at-home pizza. Traditional wood-fired brick ovens are so hot that they can cook a pizza anywhere from 1-2 minutes. Conventional home ovens need just a lil’ mo’ TIIIIIME, but can produce a pretty damn good pizza if the environment is right. Granted, all that stone takes quite a bit of time to get to temperature, but it’s totally worth it, especially for morons with ridiculous pizza goals like me.
Please note that when I refer to pizzas, I’m talking about homemade pizzas with fresh dough, and not the frozen variety. I have no idea the cook time for those. I made a decision a while back ago that I wouldn’t buy another frozen pizza unless I REEEEALLY didn’t have the time or energy to make it myself, mainly because with the price you pay for a frozen pizza, you can buy the ingredients and make several homemade ones.
Well, that’s pretty much my pizza stone journey. I have a fews other things up my sleeve that I may talk about later on, but as far as pizza stones go… I think I’m going to stick with this combination until they crack or until I have a big enough oven to fit my bigger piece of tile. Hopefully, any of this was helpful, and if it wasn’t, I hope you at least got a good chance to snicker and have a good laugh at my expense.
Moral of the story: Do your research and buy a good stone. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg. Make some pizzas, enjoy some pizzas, and don’t be a moron like me.