Pizza is at once communal and deeply personal. Each pizza producing country has its own take on preparation and toppings, some of them personally affronting. You know South Korea is stuffing crusts with sweet potato casserole, right?
As pervasive as pizza is, it can seem impossible to get it right at home. It comes down to technique and temperature.
While technique takes time to perfect, you can solve your temperature problems if you learn how to use a pizza stone. This guide will get you started.
The Benefit of Cooking on Stone
While it’s going to be hard for you to produce the heat of an 800-degree pizza oven, you’ll get a similar effect if you cook pizza on a stone. Stones give off an even heat that is well dispersed and well maintained. They also blister and crisp up the crust by pulling the moisture out of it.
Types of Pizza Stones
Stone is a misnomer. Some of the best pizza stones made today are metal.
A baking steel looks kind of like a streamlined laptop and functions like a heavy duty cookie sheet. It conducts heat well and takes less time than stone to get blazing hot.
If you have a cast iron skillet, you’re ahead of the game and have the bonus option of cooking pizza on the stove. Iron gets hot fast and is easy to clean. A skillet also has that handy handle.
Pizza stones made of clay or stone are classic for a reason. They’re cheap, widely available, and they’re the best at moisture-wicking.
How to Use a Pizza Stone in the Oven
Put your pizza stone (or steel or iron) in the bottom rack of a cold oven. Starting cold keeps the stone from cracking. Set your temperature as high as it will go and preheat the stone.
It takes an hour to properly heat a clay stone, less for metal. If you’re not giving it at least 30 minutes, don’t even bother.
Assemble your pizza on a peel prepared with a dusting of cornmeal. The cornmeal keeps your dough from getting stuck on its way to the pizza stone and prevents it from heaving all your ingredients onto the oven floor.
Mmm, burnt cheese smell forever.
If you do end up with cooking odors as the result of a kitchen mishap get the windows open quick to help get the smell out. You can also break out the scented candles and an air purifier. For more tips and tricks about getting cooking smells out of your house, check out this article on Unhumid.
Most of the stuff they recommend is pretty common sense and your can probably think of it on your own.
Or you can bypass this altogether and just prepare your pizza on parchment paper.
How to Use a Pizza Stone on the Grill
Using a pizza stone on the grill is comparable to the oven method. Starting with a cold grill, preheat the stone. Once it hits 600 degrees, turn off the bottom burners, using the ambient heat from the side burners to cook the pizza.
Allow the stone to cool with the grill. You can actually store your pizza stone on the grill or in the oven, which can help even out hot spots with your regular cooking.
Do You Knead Pizza Peace of Mind?
Try cooking with a pizza stone. Once you know how to use a pizza stone, it’s hard to go back to sheet pan pizza.
You may not be able to match restaurant pizza, but you’ll come pretty darn close.