I recently acquired a cooking stone. I knew it would help with my baking, but I didn't realize the difference it would make for my pizzas. Father of Food can make a fantastic pizza with any old cookie sheet from the grocery store, but I have always had trouble getting my dough crisp. I have a terrific cookie sheet, with two layers of metal separated by a thin chamber of air to even out the heat, which is terrific for cookies, but not pizza crust. I also have a pizza sheet with holes at the bottom, which is decent for crisping, but this sort of pizza pan has its problems. The dough gets stuck in the holes and you don't get the same coverage for cornmeal at the bottom a must have ingredient for me.
For Pizza, the stone is the only way to go.
Today, I made a variation on the dough I have been using lately for pizza, the calzone recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook .
I substituted ½ cup of flour with ½ cup of cornmeal and only used 2+1/2 cups of flour total. I should have added a bit more flour, because the dough came out a bit sticky. Nevertheless, the test pizza I made for lunch was still crispy and delicious. It was not pretty, as you can see, but the stone made it quite good.
If you get a stone, here are some tips for its care:
- One is not supposed to wash the stone with soap just water and a scraper. Anything you put on the stone can sink into its porous surface, and affect the flavor of your food.
- For the same reason, keep high fat foods (like cookies) off of the stone. You can put aluminum foil or a cookie sheet directly on the surface instead.
- Spots and discoloration can be scrubbed off with a scouring pad and a paste of baking soda and water.
- Keep the stone in the oven and it is supposed to even out the temperature of the oven. When I make cookies with the stone on the lower rack, they do come out more even.
- Heat up your stone in the oven as the oven pre-heats.
- Always use hot pads or oven mitts when touching your stone. It can retain heat for a long while after cooking.
- Do not submerge a hot stone in cold water or it will crack.
- To put your uncooked pizza or dough on the stone, use a pizza peel covered with cornmeal (to help the pizza slide off) and slide the dough on to the stone. I like to use the peel and a spatula to get the pizza back off of the stone.
It doubles as a cutting board and can be washed in the dishwasher.
If you make pizzas and breads, I highly recommend investing in a stone and peel.