Pitch Black Pizza Stone [Kitchen Tech]

After my pizza post I got talking with Brad about pizza stones, what mine looks like and how well it’s seasoned. The thing with pizza stones is that, while they don’t need to be seasoned and you can use them as is, it doesn’t really hurt to accelerate the process. As you use it, the stone takes on a natural non-stick patina just like your cast iron , and it’ll get darker and darker with age. I’ve had mine for about five years now, and as you can see in the picture it’s almost completely pitch black, again, just like cast iron.

In fact, it’s totally fine to leave your pizza stone in the oven. For those with “hot spots” in their oven this can really help out with distribution of heat. Hell even putting your stone through a cleaning cycle isn’t going to hurt it. These things are pretty much indestructible. (Unless you’re Elise. Luckily hers was still under warranty.)

Seasoning your pizza stone is a simple as putting down a layer of oil on it and tossing it in as your baking other things; no need to turn your oven on special. After a few times through it should look like the above, and you’ll never have an issue with pizza sticking.

PS. Don’t forget that you’re not limited to cooking pizza on a pizza stone. The even heat distribution is great for baking cookies, breads and any other food you’d usually put on a baking sheet. The more you use it, the better the patina formed!

Not bad charring for an electric oven [Kitchen Tech]

Made this last week when we had a gluten craving. It was short notice so no homemade dough, or even decent dough was available. Sadly, Price Chopper dough had to do.

The technique: You can read more detail about this here, but here’s the short and dirty version. A pizza stone is a must, and should be placed into your oven while cold. Or if you’re lucky to have a cast iron pan use that. Crank your oven to the max temperature (mine is 550). None of this 350 degree bullshit. Heat your pizza stone for at least an hour and make sure it’s at the highest rack with enough clearance for the pizza as it rises. Boom, you have pizza that looks like this. You’re welcome.

How it works: Cooking pizza at high temps can be tricky. I’ve tried placing dough directly on a 500+ degree grill and burnt the shit out of the dough before the cheese even cooked (sorry, Elise). That’s because the heat is directly applied to the bottom of the dough, and there’s all of the air above the pizza that’s at a much cooler temperature and pretty much screws the pooch on the whole ordeal. Cooking it slower at lower temp is fine but you’re not going to get this bubbling and charring as you’d get with the high heat. This leaves you with boring, flat pizza. Snore.

So the problem becomes how do you cook the pizza bottom and top at the same high heat at the same exact time? Well we’ve already established that directly heating the bottom of the pizza is the enemy of even cooking, so you’ll want to keep the pizza bottom protected from the radiant heat of the heating elements of the bottom of your oven by A) normalizing the temperature using preheated pizza stone B) placing it on the highest rack possible.

That covers the bottom, but what about the top? The top is cooked using indirect heat from air in your oven. Even though the air above the pizza is lower temperature than below, it has such little space to move it’s actually moving faster and transferring more heat than the air directly heat below the pizza. Ideally, this combo allows you to cook the pizza top and bottom at relatively the same time and temperature. It takes a few minutes longer than wood-fired being that you’re running at least a couple hundred degrees cooler, but since I don’t have that luxury (yet) this’ll have to do.