How do you use a pizza stone? You need directions if this is the first time you've ever tried using one. Or perhaps you've used it once or twice but it didn't come out the way you expect. Or worse yet, you used it and ended up shattering your new stone. Using one requires some extra care and effort both before the cooking process and after. The reward is the crispiest, tastiest pizza to ever come out of your oven.
Before starting, we emphasize strongly that in general one does NOT oil a pizza stone before baking. Now it's possible that the manufacturer of your particular product wants you to oil it up, but in our expereience application of oil is not needed and could even harm. It is not like a cast iron pan. Instead, regular use will help season it naturally.Preheating
Before baking the pizza you must go through the process of preheating, a process which means to expel all moisture from the mineral pores using the heat of your oven. The manufacturer likely has provided instructions on the optimal way to do it. If not, try checking with them by calling them up. The process should roughly be to start off the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and then slowly raising the temperature at regular increments at regular times until it reaches about 450 degrees. The entire process should take about 3 hours.Problem Of Not Preheating: A Soft, Chewy Pizza
If you do not preheat, the dough will be in contact with a cold surface for much of the heat up, which will lead to a softer, chewier crust. This is exactly what you're trying to avoid. So be sure to preheat the correct way! Some people have reported that they do not need to do a 3 hour preheat. This is possible and likely depends on the stone type. Your manufacturer will give the appropriate directions.Dangers Of Not Preheating
The risks of doing this too quickly, that is trying to complete the heating schedule under three hours, is that you will shatter your pizza stone. This is because trapped moisture is not given sufficient time to boil off, instead expanding within the pores and weakening the internal structure. Also do not add any sorts of oils or glazes to the outer surface. Only the natural oils in the pizza should touch the surface. Do not under any circumstances turn up the oven to 500 degrees from the very beginning. This will very likely lead to damage.Insert With Pizza Peel
After slow heating, the stone is now at a very high temperature and is not to be handled with ordinary kitchen gloves. Consider investing in a paddle. The technical word for a paddle is a "pizza peel". It is shaped like a shovel except with a flatter surface to hold the pizza and put into the oven onto the surface of the stone. The soft, round dough should be placed on the peel before insertion into the oven. One problem is that if you take a long time in making the pizza, covering with oil, putting on ingredients and cheese etc, the dough will likely stick to the peel. To combat sticking, coat the surface lightly with semolina or regular flour slightly. Too much flour leads to burning or an overly powdery bottom surface. If you do not have a pizza peel, just put the pizza on parchment paper and slide the entire thing into the oven. Because the stone is so hot, the thin slice of parchment paper won't really affect the cooking.Let Cool Naturally
When the pizza is done, it should be easy to take out of the oven. At this point you may leave the pizza stone in the oven and let it cool down naturally. Some people leave it in the oven all the time, taking care to cover it with foil so that baking does not lead to food residue falling onto it. Other people like to take it out. When you take it out, do not immerse it in cold water to cool down. Quick immersion leads to cracking. Basically the entire structure is expanded at the molecular level. Fast, uneven cooling leads to defects forming in the microstructure which is the major cause of cracking.Scrape or Use A Little Water Depending On Type
Put it on a non-conducting or heat-resistant surface and let it cool naturally over time. When it is back down to a reasonable temperature, use a spatula or other kitchen utensil to scrape the food scraps off the top. After, you may rinse it with cold water but under no circumstances should you subject it to soap or detergent. These will penetrate the pores of the material and give off a soapy smell or taste any time you use it. The verdict is mixed at this point and likely depends on your stone. Some people consider this the end of the cleaning process but others will let it run under water while scraping to ensure more of the material is taken off. But for authenticity, don't immerse or run it under water. Instead by leaving remnants of the food, you set in motion a mild form of "seasoning" that helps make the surface non-stick without even using any oil!
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.