Pizza is rarely considered a staple food source except among the most carefree college students who seem to always forget about their nutrition. It is even rarer to search for cooking appliances specifically for pizza, and here we mean appliances like pizza ovens.
One alternative that does not cross most people's minds is the pizza stone. By itself it does not cook a pizza. It must be combined with a wood-fired, electric, brick or outdoor oven. But many people have warmed up to the idea of using them because they provide a constant, even source of heat over the entire dough resulting in a crisp exterior, soft interior, a consistency that seems to be a secret of the great pizzerias.Picking The Best Pizza Stone
So suppose you are in a hurry and want to pick one out for the upcoming outdoor pool or patio party hosted at your house. Which would you pick? You will need to think about the surface area (as broader ones will hold a larger pizza for bigger parties), the thickness (thicker ones hold more heat but are harder to manage for cleaning and drying), the composition (denser ones also retain more heat but make it heavier), and of course the price. One thing that many people do not think about is that sometimes shattering occurs in the oven. If they are heated too quickly, retained moisture is unable to slowly bleed off and instead expands in the pores causing it to crack.Sizing
A basic consideration that continues to stymie pizza enthusiasts is that a large area is preferred but this makes it more difficult to fit into the oven. Also enthusiasts should note that the pizza will be slightly smaller than available cooking surface. So a 14" should only fit a 12" pizza. What about a diameter that barely fits into the width of the oven? The danger is that the stone will expand ever so slightly with the 500 degree in heat, so give yourself a leeway of about a quarter to half an inch for expansion effects. The larger size will also require a longer preheat time in the oven as there is more material to get warmed up before a pizza is plopped on.Old Stone Oven 14 x 16 inch Baking Stone (And Its Round Counterpart)
This is one of the top-selling, four star rectangular stones on Amazon with hundreds of satisfied customers. Customers generally loved the fact that the product arrived well-packed in several layers to minimize disappointment of receiving a shattered slab. The product exhibits good porosity that is vital to driving off damaging moisture during the heating process. Most people leave the product in the oven all the time and take it out only occasionally to scrape off old residue. It is also lauded for its thickness, leading to greater robustness to cracking and breaking that is common with thinner slabs. But most importantly, many many reviewers said that the pizza baked on this pizza stone was by far the best they had ever had, compared to using other ovens. You can find the Old Stone Oven 14 x 16 inch Baking Stone here. Although this company does not receive critical acclaim from professional food prepares, we feel that the strength of home user reviews means that its a real contender for the best pizza stone. The Amazon price is $37.90 making it a bit cheaper on a per square inch basis compared to the Fibrament product (reviewed below). Want a round one? Then take a look at the equally highly rated Round Old Stone 16-inch Oven Pizza Stone.Fibrament Custom-Sized Stone
Fibrament is a brand and company, but they do not sell products made of regular materials. Theirs is a proprietary blend of minerals that has won acclaim from professional pizza makers. For people worried about food safety, the website notes that their Fibrament's mineral composition is approved by government safety standards at NSF. Many people also swear by Fibrament for use in home ovens. Their website for home customers is at BakingStone. Go to the order page where the home line is displayed prominently near the top. Note that there are both round and rectangular, 3 sizes for each. The cheapest is the smallest, 13" in diameter at $43. The most expensive is the rectangular 18" x 24" at $90. All of them are 3/4" thick which is comfortable for holding and retains a lot of heat and emits it evenly. If none of these satisfy you, check out their page about Fibrament custom orders which tells you instructions for custom sizes. They will even accommodate unusually large sizes through a special e-mail request, which requires 24 hours to respond.
A pizza stone is smoothed stone made of terracotta or other clay material which permits even heating of pizzas for a crisp texture.
Use a pizza peel (paddle) to put item in or take them out of the large capacity oven.
An outdoor wood-fired oven is perfect for hot days when indoors cooking is unecessarily hot.