If you have recently purchased a pizza stone from your local home store or if you have received one as a gift, then you may be excited to make your own restaurant style pizza in your own oven. Once you start using the stone, you will realize that it allows you to create your pizza with a crispy crust that bakes evenly without a burnt bottom or soggy toppings. If you have never used a pizza stone though, then you may be confused about how it works. If this is the case, then keep reading to learn some tips that will help you work with your new kitchen tool.
Preheat The Stone And Your Dough
When you are ready to start using your pizza stone, you will need to place a cold one in a cold oven and allow it to heat up for some time. Many experienced cooks will allow the unglazed ceramic or masonry slab to heat up for about 45 minutes before the pizza is placed on it. This helps to prevent something called thermal shock that will fracture or crack the stone. Thermal shock occurs when the stone is stressed by a temperature that is far higher or lower than the materials that make up the stone. When the temperature extremes come into contact with the outside of the stone, it either expands or contracts quickly. This causes it to fracture since the thermal stress is greater than the strength of the baking slab.
Not only should you heat up your pizza stone before using it, but you should allow it to cool down slowly inside your oven once you turn it off. This means you should remove the finished pizza from the slab instead of removing the stone and the pizza when your pie is done. Also, make sure that your dough is allowed to warm up to room temperature before setting it on the slab. Handling the stone roughly can cause small fractures to show up too, so try to be gentle with it. Also, too much heat can lead to cracks. However, your convention oven probably will not create the type of heat that will lead to fractures, but a wood-fired oven can. This means that you should stick to the oven if you want to use your baking stone without ruining it.
Do Not Wash Your Stone
Most pizza stones come with scraping tools that allow you to remove bits of cheese, grease, and dough from the slab after you cook. While this tool may just seem like a nifty gadget that came with the stone, it is actually the only thing you should use to clean the slab. If you use soap and water to clean the stone, the porous surface will soak these things up. This will leave you with a sudsy baking slab that can transfer soap to your pizzas. When water seeps into the surface, it takes a great deal of time for it to evaporate. If you try to use the stone before the water fully releases, then it can crack in the oven.
To clean the stone, use your plastic scraper tool to force debris off it. Use firm pressure and scrape in long strips across the top. If the scraper does not work, then use a cleaning brush with vinyl or plastic bristles. If you notice stains on the surface, then sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on them. Allow the stone to absorb grease and other stains and then gently brush the soda off. To reduce stains and baked on debris in the future, cover the baking slab with a sprinkle of flour or cornmeal. This will keep the pizza from sticking or causing stains and it will add texture to your finished pie.