Baking stones, also called pizza stones, are ideal for making perfect pizza, bread and all sorts of other foods. The technique of cooking on them goes back to ancient times when people baked their bread on hot, flat stones in the fire; today’s pizza stone provides the same type of surface.
What Is So Great About Pizza Stones?
Since the ideal temperature for perfect pizza is about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, baking stones are the best choice because they are made from a material similar to that which lines the inside of kilns and brick ovens. This means they can easily withstand the high temperatures required for pizza making. Baking stones conduct heat well and distribute it evenly, and their surface is porous. These things enable the pizza dough to cook uniformly and form a crispy outer crust with a deliciously chewy center. Pizza stones are a snap to use and care for, and they require no special tools or cleansers. They become somewhat discolored over time; this actually makes them perform even better. They also make excellent warming trays in or out of the oven, as they retain heat very well.
How To Use a Pizza Stone
Using a pizza stone is surprisingly easy. The stone is placed in the oven to preheat without oils or coatings of any kind. Once the stone is hot, the assembled pizza is put on it for baking. The pizza can be put together on a pizza paddle, or “peel”, which is then used to transfer it into the oven. Sprinkling the surface of the peel with cornmeal or flour will ensure that the dough slides off easily onto the pizza stone. The stone itself should be non-stick, although sometimes they can be slightly sticky when new. The cornmeal should take care of this, and eventually the baking stone will form a natural non-stick surface through regular use. When the pizza has finished cooking, it can be removed with the peel. The stone should be allowed to cool completely, and then it should be rinsed with plain water and allowed to air dry. It does not need to be soaked or scrubbed and it should never be washed with dish soap.
More Than Pizza
Baking stones are ideal for making all sorts of breads, especially flatbreads such as chapati, focaccia, arepa, barbari and Armenian cracker bread. Homemade corn and flour tortillas can also be made on a baking stone, along with biscuits, dinner rolls and loaf breads. The Pampered Chef pizza stone is perfect for nachos as well; any cheese that drops onto the surface of the stone can be gently scraped off once it is cooled. That stone comes with a small plastic scraper for this purpose; Pampered Chef also sells a serving basket with handles for their round pizza stone to sit on. This works very well for the wide variety of hors d’oeuvres and finger foods which can be prepared and then safely served right on the hot baking stone.