Making Woodfired Pizza With a Stone

Traditionally, pizzas are baked in woodfired pizza ovens. The pizzas baked in these ovens are widely considered to have the best flavor. They also have the beautifully browned and perfectly charred crusts that serious pizza lovers seek out. If you do not have your own woodfired oven in your backyard, there is still hope. One option is to get yourself a baking stone.

Why Use a Stone?

Sometimes called pizza stones, these stones have become popular with home cooks in recent years. You can use them to simulate a woodfired oven even when using a gas-fueled oven or grill. A stone can help you to get the mouth-watering, authentic flavors of a traditional woodfired pizza, but only if it is used correctly.

How Baking Stones Get the Same Results

You may be able to get your gas grill or oven very hot, but what about when you open the lid of the grill or the oven door? Once the lid or door is open, the heat will dissipate quickly and your pizza will not cook properly. The problem is compounded when you add cold food items. The ability to generate high temperature is not enough when making pizza. You will need a way to retain the heat. Heat retention requires mass, which may be added in the form of a baking stone. These stones are able to retain heat because of their density. The result of heat retention is a more consistent, soft crust and the leopard-skin charring that you would see when using a woodfired pizza oven.

Some Tips for Using a Stone

• Heat the stone along with the oven. When you place a cool stone in a hot oven or on a hot grill, you are asking for it to crack. Even if it does not crack, it may cook unevenly.

• The stones are unglazed, which means that they will absorb cooking oils. Prior to baking a pizza on your stone, you should always coat it lightly with olive oil to season it. It is not a good idea to use nonstick sprays as the sticky residue they leave will be difficult to remove.

• It is a good idea to invest in a pizza peel along with your stone. It will make placing and removing your pizza far easier. Note also that you can damage your pizza cutter or knives if you attempt to cut the pizza while it is still on the stone, you will need to remove it first.

• A stone may be cleaned by placing it in the oven, setting the temperature to 425 degrees and leaving it for about four hours.

Note that even with your pizza on a stone, it is still important to pay attention to what you are baking. Turning away for just a second could result in your pizza burning. That said, your stone can provide results similar to that of an old world woodfired pizza oven when it is used correctly.