I've tried oven stones and baking steels, preheating them for the recommended one hour at my preferred temperature of 475°F/250°C. The stones were somewhat helpful, the baking steels a better choice, but I have recently made a great discovery: Preheating a cast iron pizza pan in the same way will give you a pizza crust that is just as perfectly browned and crisp. And it also works on the grill! It is so fantastic I no longer order pizza out. My 12 inch pizza crust, as shown in the above photo, is thin but with a bubbly rim. When I set the dough on top of the preheated pan, I can see through the oven window that it immediately starts to bake and bubble up just like in a beehive brick oven! I first stretch my dough on parchment and slide it onto the preheated pan. I bake it for 5 minutes and then remove the pizza by sliping a large metal pizza peel between the parchment and the pan so that the pizza is directly on the peel. After topping it, I slide the pizza back onto the cast iron pan and continue baking for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. In summer, rather than heating up the kitchen, I use my Weber 4 burner gas grill. I set the cast iron pizza pan on the grill and preheat it with all burners on high for 10 minutes at which point it is over 500°F/260° C. Then I open the lid, turn all 4 burners to medium, and allow the grill to cool for about 5 minutes to bring the surface of the pan to about 475°F/250°C. I slide the pizza onto the pan (be sure first to trim any overhanging parchment), lower the lid, and bake for exactly 3 minutes without opening it. I then remove the pizza pan to a rack, turn off the center 2 burners, and after topping the dough, set the pizza (without the parchment) in the center, directly on top of the grill grates. It takes about 9 minutes to finish baking the pizza, which becomes exceptionally crunchy with grill marks on the bottom. The Lodge cast iron pizza pan is 14 inches in diameter and also has the advantage of having handles which make it easy to remove from the oven or grill. Lodge Pro-Logic P14P3 Cast Iron Pizza Pan, Black, 14-inch The cast iron pizza pan is also the solution to achieving a crisp, nicely browned bottom crust on a pie. The photo below is a slice of cherry pie, inverted, so that you can see what a first rate job the pizza pan does. The pie was baked for 35 minutes with the pie pan set on the fully preheated pizza stone. I used my "Rose's Perfect Pie Plate" which is ceramic. The apple galette, which is like a dessert pizza, also works splendidly, when the pan is set on the preheated cast iron pizza pan, to get a crisp bottom crust!
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