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Pizza stone
Posted: 05 June 2010 10:25 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi—

I made the focaccia from my last question and it worked out well with parchment! Now that I’ve done it with a pan, I want to try baking more bread with a pizza stone. I see a lot of bad reviews (smell, cracking, etc.). I don’t see a pizza stone that lots of people love, not even the one from Williams Sonoma. What do you think is the best pizza stone?

Tim

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Posted: 05 June 2010 10:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hmmm, I wonder if some of the bad reviews come from mis-handling of the stone.  If you allow pizza toppings, or oil from the bottom of any bread crust, to get on the stone, the oil stains, burns and smells bad.  Make sure your pizza dough edges are capable of holding in the pizza toppings and don’t oil the bottom of your crust.  Parchment also helps keep the stone clean.

Some people just let it stain, and don’t worry about the smell as the food burns off, but I’ve never been able to do that.

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Posted: 05 June 2010 10:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The chief complaint appears to be cracking. Today, I was in a store and a sample stone cracked in front of me!

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Posted: 05 June 2010 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Tim - 06 June 2010 01:25 AM

Hi—

I made the focaccia from my last question and it worked out well with parchment! Now that I’ve done it with a pan, I want to try baking more bread with a pizza stone. I see a lot of bad reviews (smell, cracking, etc.). I don’t see a pizza stone that lots of people love, not even the one from Williams Sonoma. What do you think is the best pizza stone?

Tim

I just bought this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Manufacturers-14-inch-16-inch-Pizza/dp/B000ORE0KA/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1275788902&sr=8-7

which didn’t have the cracking complaints.  However, there are only four reviews, so that might not be statistically significant.  It just came the other day and seems very solid.  I haven’t used it yet, but I will either tonight or tomorrw.

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Posted: 06 June 2010 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’ve had the williams sonoma one for around 10 years with no problems. I don’t bake directly on the stone though, either use foil or a thin pizza pan. I’m like Julie, and like to keep mine pristine smile

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Posted: 06 June 2010 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve cracked a pizza stone, but it was rather thin, I had gotten it at Trader Joe’s for next to no money. I now use a thicker one and have no problems, even though I don’t keep mine pristine. (That being said, I only bake bread on mine, no pizza)

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Posted: 06 June 2010 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That sounds great! I see that Peter Reinhart uses parchment on his too. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the stone, though, since I presume that the parchment puts a layer between the bread and the stone, which is supposed to make the crust crispy through absorption of moisture?

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Posted: 06 June 2010 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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For pizza, I use Rose’s method of pre-baking the crust (no toppings), being careful not to oil the bottom of the crust.  I let the shaped dough rise on parchment, then slide the parchment directly onto the stone (no pan), then after 1-2 minutes (just enough to set/solidify the crust), I slide out the parchment and continue baking the crust directly on the stone for another 3-4 minutes.  When I pull them out I check the bottom to see that they are lightly browned and crispy.

After that pre-baking, though, I never put them directly on the stone with toppings.  They go back on the parchment and then onto a sheet pan for the final bake.

I do the same with bread that calls for baking on a stone- rise and start baking on the parchment, then finish it on the bare stone.  Or if I’m busy with other things (like dinner), I’ll just leave it on the parchment, it still comes out pretty crispy and browned from the direct heat of the stone.

A large part of the effect of the stone comes from the faster transfer of heat that the solid stone provides.  The bottom cooks faster and to a higher temperature than the part of the bread that is only exposed to air.  Also, I think parchment is somewhat porous, so it still allows a little moisture to escape.

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Posted: 06 June 2010 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Tim - 06 June 2010 11:01 AM

which is supposed to make the crust crispy through absorption of moisture?

I find it hard to believe that anything at 550 degrees is going to absorb any moisture at all.  Perhaps the porosity allows it to escape more easily.

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Posted: 06 June 2010 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I think Charles has the right of it. It’s not that the stone absorbs moisture. It is rather that the stone retains heat because it has thermal mass. I find that all of my stones have developed patinas of burned ingredients over the years. Badge of honor. I have had varying luck with stones. Cheap ones that lasted years. Expensive ones that lasted days. My recommendation is buy the heaviest stone you can find. More thermal mass. Don’t believe the warranty. If you can, buy from a company that will be around to honor the warranty.

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Posted: 07 June 2010 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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my 2 cents.

I have the large round Pizza Stone from Pampered Chefs.  I’ve had it for about a decade and use it at least once a week (usually more often).  So, that’s approximately 520 uses and its still in wonderful shape.

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Posted: 08 June 2010 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Here is a website for an excellent pizza stone.  FibraMent brand.  What I liked about these people, they will cut the stone to fit your oven, so you can have the maximum baking area for your oven, not be stuck with the off the shelf size stones.  They are heavy and thick.  I love mine, and i know other bakers who love theirs as well.

http://www.bakingstone.com/

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Posted: 08 June 2010 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The FibraMent looks good and their website agrees with Charles. What more could we ask for? LOL

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Posted: 08 June 2010 06:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Gene - 08 June 2010 05:50 PM

their website agrees with Charles

Ha!  It does, and if I hadn’t just bought a new stone, I might have bought one of theirs solely based on their good sense.

Here’s another kitchen myth that really bugs me when I read it:  marble is always 17 (or whatever) degrees colder than room temperature.  Not possible.

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Posted: 08 June 2010 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Marble lined refrigerators. Save the planet.

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Posted: 06 November 2010 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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A TV chef recently said to just use an unglazed terracotta tile. Can’t see why it wouldn’t work and it would be cheap - just pop down to the hardware store!

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