The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking pizza without my stone - worked better!

Smo's picture
Smo

Baking pizza without my stone - worked better!

So, I've tried several times to make pizza with my baking stone, never achieving much success.  I could never get the dough to be properly cooked on the inside without burning the rest (although I just read baltochef's thread and haven't tried the tip on room-temp ingredients yet).  I then moved to a camper in downeast Maine for the summer and didn't bring my stone.  Today, I tried to make pizza, and it turned out to be the best I've ever made!  Here was the baking technique:


 


I used Peter Reinhart's Napoletena recipe, but any one would work just fine.  The dough was very wet since it was 70% hydration and I used AP instead of bread flour.  I cooked the pizzas on parchment on a cookie sheet for 8 minutes, then took the cookie sheet out and put the pizzas (still on the parchment) back in the oven, directly on the rack.  I let them cook for another 5 minutes like that, then removed them to a wire rack for cooling.  The result was crispy, but not burnt, with a fully cooked airy crust.


 


I figure this worked out so well because of the odd oven design.  It's gas, with a single burner at the bottom of the oven.  So the pizza was never cooked with direct heat from above.  The cookie sheet then shielded the bottom, allowing for the pizza to get extra cooking time without either the toppings or crust burning during the first 8-minute segment.  Another thing I've noticed is that my crusts are always thicker than the ones in classic italian pizza, probably because I'm not very good at stretching them out thinly.  If I was able to do that I might've gotten better results with my stone.


 


Anyway, it's just something interesting for people to try - and a nice exercise in working with what you've got.

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Just out of curiosity, what procedure have you used to bake with your stone?  Certainly in my experience, baking a simple thin-crust pizza, I couldn't imagine the dough not cooking properly... what with the dough hitting a stone pre-heated to 550F. :)

rainwater's picture
rainwater

I use a baking stone which is pre heated to @550.  I use parchment paper because I don't have to flour the pizza slide.  This means less mess in the oven and absolutely no excess flour on the pizza.  I slide the parchment paper from underneath the pizza after about 2 minutes.....perfect bake everytime.... l LOVE my pizza dough formula!

jj1109's picture
jj1109

hot damn, that's a great idea. i had pizza last night and could have tried that! I'll definitely be removing the paper next time to see how it goes!

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

You and me both!  In fact, I bake all my breads that way... why bother with all the flouring and error-prone peal transfers when good ol' parchment means flawless transfers and loading every time?  Though, I've never bothered to go in and retrieve the parchment part-way through... I just leave it in there.  It turns pretty dark brown and gets quite brittle, but other than that, it works fine, and on the bright side, I don't lose any precious, precious heat (other than due to my compulsive peaking :) ).

noyeast's picture
noyeast

thermometer, I've found that the baking stone takes quite some time over and above the time the oven itself takes to get to get hot enough to create the advantage.


Still experiemnting, but looks like (in my oven) I need to set the temp to 270 C .  Once the oven is up to temp I must then leave it at this temp for a half hour minimum before the stone is right up there too.


I also use baking paper under the pizza for ease of transferral to the oven. Once the pizza is in there cooking, I reduce the oven temp to 200 C.  The pizza takes about 5-6 minutes.


 


I have found that Peter's Neopolitana dough has a shorter freezer life than expected.  Once frozen for longer than a week, the thawed dough does not puff up well.   However is seems to work fine up to this time in the freezer.


It is an excellent recipe though and the best I've come across.


EDIT: in retrospect I may have used to wet a dough mix.  I will try it slightly firmer and see if this extends the freezer life. 


Paul.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Reading this thread makes me want to speak up about baking on pans instead of stones in general. I'm with you FP. I have been using my stone less and less over the last few years. Parchment is so much easier and cleaner. I do like to use the stone for pizza to try and get the crispy crust of a NY style pizza pie.


One of the things that Bruce mentioned is not applying cold toppings to the pizza so it heats up quickly. I agree with that concept and take it a step further with the sauce. For the sauce, I use fire roasted chopped tomatoes, 1 large clove of fresh garlic (pressed), basil, oregano, 1 tsp sugar, salt to taste and olive oil. I use an immersion stick blender and blend until mostly chopped fine. THEN, Because I am using fresh garlic, I heat the sauce in the microwave just until I start to smell garlic. Usually that's about 30 seconds. I'll stop midway and stir for even heating. The warming releases the oil in the garlic and transforms the sauce into ambrosia. If you like a slightly thicker sauce, drain some of the top water off of the can when you first open it.


Eric

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"I'm with you FP. I have been using my stone less and less over the last few years. Parchment is so much easier and cleaner. I do like to use the stone for pizza to try and get the crispy crust of a NY style pizza pie."



Heh, actually, you've misunderstood.  I use parchment *on my stone*.  The parchment is used to make the loading more or less trivial, and the stone for getting that perfect, crispy, spot-brown bottom.

cake diva's picture
cake diva

I am going to Chicago and plan to cook pizza for my hosts.  They have a regular grill, somewhere in the price range of maybe $400-$500.  Can you give me tips on how to cook my pizza?  How long do I preheat the grill? Also, I'd rather not bring my marble slab with me.

allysnina's picture
allysnina

I've never had luck with a pizza stone either..It actually broke and I was not upset, lol. As I said in another thread, I have a pizza pan (16') round with the tiny holes, I pre bake in a hot oven for 5 or so minutes, remove from oven and add my toppings, then back in the oven for about 5 more minutes. End result, crispy, light golden crust. Love this method!!

noyeast's picture
noyeast

It seems to me that the stone should work better than no stone (it does for me ...now )


If your pizza is cooking too fast and the top seems to tell you its time to take the pizza out !  but the base is still soft, then surely your stone is either too cool or the oven is too hot.


Having a spotty brown crispy base at just the right time as your top is ready is simply all about the relationship between the stone temp and the ambient oven temp.  Its easier to acheive with a wood oven because the hot burning embers were once right there where the pizza is now cooking and so the floor of the wood oven is much hotter than the ambient cooking temp ( at least for a while).


 


Make sure your stone is real hot approx 260 C ( 500 f ) Once its at this temp its not going to change all that much over the next 5-6 minutes.


Then place your pizza in on to the stone using baking paper or whatever.  NOW, its up to you to control the ambient oven temp so that the top does not burn but is ready at the same time as your base.   Remember your stone is only going to cool very slightly over the time it takes your pizza to cook, so once the pizza is in there, control, control, control... that oven temp !


You can do this by turning down the temp dial so your thermostat will not keep trying to heat up the oven, even opening up the oven if necessary, which is something I now do.


 


If your top is ready and your base is not quite, then your oven was too hot.  You should open the door a little and slow down the cooking of the top.


Ideally, we should be pre-heating that stone even HOTTER, but I'm concious of leaving a blazing oven on for so long and using a lot of power in the process so I tend to limit the pre-heating to 260 C for 20 mins.


Now that I've said all that... if you prefer not to use the stone, of course its really up to you.


Just my thoughts.


Paul.


 


 

mattie405's picture
mattie405

In order for the stone to do it's job of quickly sealing the crust and driving out moisture in the bottom you need to get the stone blazing hot. It often takes much longer than just simply pre-heating the air in your oven. When you typically set your temp to 500 or more in your oven and the light says that it is ready, it is the air in the oven that is at that temp, not the stone. The stone will often be more than 100 or more degrees less than that air. In order to get my stone really hot and ready to make a great pizza I have learned to let the oven pre-heat at 550 for anywhere from 30-60 minutes, then I switch it over to the broil setting and leave the broiler blast the stone for a good 15 minutes to get the temp in the stone up there too. As I form the first pizza I turn the oven back to 550 bake and a pizza takes anywhere from 3-7 minutes to cook, depending on how hot the stone actually got. I have found that by placing my stone on a rack up higher to the broiler I can cut about half the pre-heat time off our pizza making, thus saving a little in energy costs and time. I should mention that we like and eat thin crust NY pizza and my dough is pretty high in hydration and stretched out really thin. With this method I can pretty much turn out a crispy light pizza in about 3 minutes, I'll try to post a pic of one I did earlier today.....we had pizza tonight for my birthday. Apparantly I can't get a photo to show up for some reason.