The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stone VS parchment paper on stone?

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Stone VS parchment paper on stone?

I getting ready to make my first pizza and have a question about using a stone vs parchment paper on stone. Is there a big difference?


I have an inexpensive stone I use for breads and I tried a store bought pizza directly on it and it stuck. Even my bagels stuck, so I use parchment paper and have no problems at all. But I wonder if the pizza crust won't be as good as it could be if I don't use the paper?


Another question I have, while I'm asking, I notice the gas in my oven seems to go off/on more often with the stone..possibly it's my imagination? I suppose I'm asking are there any possibly bad side effects to your oven using a stone?


Jackie.

jemar's picture
jemar

I use a stone to bake my pizzas on and have no trouble at all with it, whether I use parchment or not. I use the parchment to transfer the pizza into the oven, and as soon as the pizzabase is baked enough I pull the parchment away and finish the baking on the stone only. It never sticks and all I do is wipe it afterwards, I never wash it. The stone I use was bought as a pizza stone in a kitchen shop, it is round and was almost white when new but is now almost black! I also use it when making breads.

Grey's picture
Grey

I'll second that, Placing dough directly on the stone will usually cause it to stick, but putting it on parchment on the stone at least until it's partially cooked will prevent that, I haven't noticed a difference between removing the paper at that point and not, but it shouldn't hurt.


As for the gas turning on and off more often, The only explanation I can think of is that the stone is altering the temperature of the oven in an unexpected way, once the stone is properly heated, it will keep the temperature of the often high, and probably allow it to heat up faster, so the automatic switch for the heat might have it's assumptions thrown off about how fast it heats up.


But I dunno for sure about that :-\

dstroy's picture
dstroy

Parchment paper is your friend. :)


We have encountered a lot less swearing around here since Floyd started using the paper regularly with the pizza doughs. I dont think he's ever bothered to transfer it off the paper mid-bake, but honestly if it makes a difference it is not something we have ever noticed. It is also, hugely preferable to some of the squashed up mistakes that got yanked off the stone when the paper layer was missing, and it spared the kids from learning a few new choice words.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've had more than my share of squashed up mistakes too. I spray the parchment with Pam before putting the pizza on it. Using parchment paper also allows me to prepare a 2nd pizza while the 1st one is cooking. I'm a big fan of parchment paper.


--Pamela

jeb's picture
jeb

I'm also a fan of parchment paper for baking, but I'm also a penny pincher. I wish they'd develop a parchment that would take the 450 degree (and sometimes hotter) temps a bit better. I reuse the paper, and they don't last as long at bread baking temperatures.

davec's picture
davec

Try Reynolds Release foil.  It lasts for a lot more uses than parchment.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Moisture can escape through parchment.  It collects on foil.  Not sure that's a condition I would want with my pizza crust.

jemar's picture
jemar

I used to sprinkle corn meal/polenta on the parchment paper but recently found that it is not necessary, the paper comes away easily from the pizza base when it is cooked or half cooked. The main reason I pull the parchment paper away is because `I can then reuse it, it doesn't get so brittle and scorched. I'm all for saving a penny or two where i can!!

jstreed1476's picture
jstreed1476

I bake pizza at least once a week on my stone--mainly the recipe from the "Pizza Primer" link here. I've never once had it stick and I don't use anything on my makeshift peel (a wood cutting board, actually) other than a light dusting of flour and cornmeal.


Maybe it helps that the stone is at least 8 years old and has been used hundreds of times? The surface is quite slick.


I set my electric range to 550 at least 45 minutes before baking, so maybe the quick char somehow prevents sticking? But none of my breads have ever stuck, and I bake ciabatta or pugliese on it weekly, too, and they don't start at anything over 475.

ValerieSara's picture
ValerieSara

parchment paper all the way-you'll curse less.

rcrabtree's picture
rcrabtree

There is an art and technique to getting pizza off a peel.  I wish I had a blog or something to post a video of how I do it.  The parchment paper idea is great and can eliminate a lot of headache, but it is unnecessary.  The most important thing you need to make sure of before trying to load a pizza onto a stone is that the dough is not stuck to the peel (this goes without saying, right?).  Of course I flour my peel, but after I've assembled the pizza, I run a large floured spatula or my bench scraper around the edges of the pizza to at least make sure most of the dough is not stuck.


I use an aluminum pizza peel to load, and my wooden peel to unload (mostly so I can cut and serve it right from the peel).  The aluminum peel has a straight front which I think allows for better loading.


To load the pizza onto the stone, set the leading edge of the peel down onto the BACK of the stone, holding the peel at an angle of maybe 30 degrees.  Start to wiggle/vibrate the peel without actually moving it - the pizza should begin dancing down the peel.  Once the leading edge of the pizza actually touches the stone, continue wiggling, but draw the peel back.  Continue wiggling and drawing back until the entire pizza is on the stone.  YES, the pizza will stick to the stone, but it doesn't matter if you do it right, because the pizza is set down gently into it's final cooking position.  It took me many crumpled up messes to figure out the right technique.  Once you have it, the technique is easy, keeping the pizza from sticking to the peel continues to be my challenge.

AlanTheBreadGuy's picture
AlanTheBreadGuy

Parchment paper is God's gift to bakers everywhere.  I rarely bake anything without it.

jstreed1476's picture
jstreed1476

Saw a guy on an instructional video lift up the edge of his uncooked pizza to blow air under the dough. Tried it at home, which had two results:


1. Unsticking the dough


2. Giving my wife yet another thing to laugh about and mention in mixed company with respect to my obsession with bread :-)

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Thank you for all the responses.  I think everyone is agreed that cooking with or without parchment paper doesn't change the end result, but could be considered a waste of money, since the paper isn't cheap.


My pizza's are pretty loaded up so I will use the parchment paper (on a flat cookie sheet) for building and transferring - but I'm going to try and sneak it back out from under the pizza after 10 minutes ..see if I can reuse :)

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Parchment paper is not necessary for baking breads or pizzas on a stone..


The technique for using a peel is akin to snapping one's wrist to flick stones across a body of water so that they will repeatedly skip, to flicking a yo-yo up and down its string, to snapping a fly rod so as to arc the line back and forth over ones head, to snapping a bull whip to pop the tip so that it "snaps" thus breaking the sound barrier, to flipping foods in a skillet on top of a stove so as to mix them, etc..


One places the leading edge of the peel approximately where the baker wants the pizza or bread to finally rest when the peel is removed..With a sharp forward motion of the wrist and arm the peel is thrust into the oven , and almost simultaneously pulled quickly backwards out of the oven..This can be practiced with a cold oven, the baking stone, the peel, and something like the lid to a 5-gallon bucket..Better yet, give up a piece of pizza dough with no toppings on it that is equal to the heaviest pizza you would ever bake, plus several ounces..Bake it at 300F until it is completely dried out, and hard..Use this to practice loading and unloading a pizza on a stone with a peel in a cold oven..


Cold bread that is placed into a 500F plus temperature oven is going to IMMEDIATELY start to cook..The reason coarsely ground semolina or cornmeal is used under hearth breads is to allow the bread or pizza to rest slightly above the hot stone by the thickness of the cornmeal..In addition to providing a slightly non-stick surface for the pizza to bake on, this promotes a convection current of hot air to flow under the bread..Imaginine if you will that the cornmeal was represented by ball bearings, or marbles, with the dough resting on the upper surface of them..


Pizza doughs are lean, with no enrichments to promote sticking..Unless there are holes in the dough allowing the fillings to stick to the stone, pizza simply should not stick..If the stone is dirty with encrustations on it a pizza might possibly stick, but even then a series of quick, short back-and-forth thrusts under the pizza with the angled front edge of the peel should free things up..Similar to the way one would use a pancake turner to free something stuck to a skillet..


Using parchment paper to help load things into the oven is OK, but the paper should not be needed to actually bake pizza or breads on a stone..Humans have been baking breads on stone or clay surfaces for thousands of years without the use of modern parchment papers..Learn to do it without the parchment, it is just a crutch..

rcrabtree's picture
rcrabtree

 OK this video shows what I was talking about pretty well.  His dough behaves better than mine, and mine is wetter, so my pizza requires smaller, more numerous flicks than the one in the video.  This may also be the video jstreed was referencing; there is dough-blowing involved.


http://www.expertvillage.com/video/12164_homemade-pizza-oven.htm


My experience generally agrees with baltochef except for the comment about "the pizza should not stick" - my dough is really pretty wet (jeff varasano's recipe) and wet dough sticks to just about anything, including the peel and the stone.  It just happens sometimes, and the guy in the video alludes to this as well.

MommaT's picture
MommaT

Having just made pizza this evening (using a sourdough modification of the pizza crust recipe in Hamelmann's "Bread" - my standard pizza base) I can attest firmly that I have never ever had pizza stick to my baking stone.  I must admit that tonight I did consider building the pizza on a piece of parchment, simply due to the logistics of sharing my single peel with the loading and unloading of pizzas a plenty for the whole family.  


I used to have a lot of problems with the pizza sticking to the peel (especially when the 2 and 7 y.o. are in a build-your-own pizza mode).  Now we have a couple simple rules around here that have made things almost foolproof:




  • Only MommaT handles the crust.  Too many dough-twirling accidents (not usually recovered from well) and not enough dough.

  • The peel has a healthy dose of coarse cornmeal on it.  In fact, I always give the peel a little shake when there is ONLY the dough on it, to make sure it is 'loose' and will slide off easily.  The key here is to periodically remove the very brown cornmeal from your stone, if you are making multiple pizzas one after the other.  Else you can get a bit of burned buildup under your subsequent pizzas.  This takes a strong brush or, in my case, a paper towel and a healthy dose of confidence.  

  • The pizza ingredients are loaded on at the last minute.  Literally.  When I see the previous pizza is ~1 minute before coming out, the next pizza jock is called in to quickly load up their creation.

  • Not too many ingredients - I find if the pizza is overloaded, particularly with "wet" ingredients, it moves toward the tendency to stick (and the crust remains soggy in the middle).  Since I like fresh tomato and buffalo mozzarella slices, this has been difficult.  I now de-seed and drain the juice out of fresh tomato slices to try and minimize the wet-factor.

  • Ingredients are laid gingerly on the crust.  No little fingers are allowed to pushingredients down onto the pizza.   



When you load the pizza into the oven, you can use the immediate "stick" you get on the stone to your advantage.  If you drop the front inch or so of the pizza onto the stone, it kinda sticks for a second and you can use 'grip' to quickly pull the peel out from under the rest of the pizza while maintaining the position you wanted.  Sounds much more complicated than it is - try it, it works.


I've been making pizzas almost weekly with my two young kids at hand for a few months now and have had very few peel-stick incidents and never any stone-stickiness.


My last word of advice is wrt the balance between oven temp (I run mine at 500 and am sure to heat the stone for a good 45 min plus before baking the first pizza), crust thickness and cheese browning levels.  The thinner the crust, the more likely you are (at these high temps) to avoid over-browning the cheese.  I used to bake at 550, going with the philosophy that as hot as possible is best.  But I found that my crusts were not paper thin and as a result, I'd end up with burnt cheese or doughy crust.  These are not at all thick crusts, mind you...just not wafer-thin.  The result was I cranked back to 500 and tonight the pizzas came out perfect.  You may have to practice a bit to get the crust thickness/baking temp/timing bit down for your oven.  


Mmmmm!   Have fun practicing (and eating the spoils of your work!)


Cheers,


MommaT