WFMW - Crackers and Pizza and Bread, oh my!

I have a confession. On my non-controversial cracker post, I lied. Well, maybe lie is too strong of a word, but I said I didn't have a pizza stone. And that was true when I wrote it. But between writing that and actually posting it, I got a pizza stone. I have been baking so much bread, pizza and crackers that I knew I would use it a lot, so I went ahead and splurged.

But I didn't spend $50 on a stone for King Arthur, or even $30 for a stone from Pampered Chef. Nope, I just headed to Home Depot and bought a few 6" unglazed quarry tiles. My oven is small so I only needed six tiles to cover my oven's one and only rack. I just washed them with a little baking soda and water, let them completely dry then laid them on top of the rack. The grand total - $2.67. And that includes the tax!

It was so simply and easy that my post seems kinda short so I thought I would share some of the information I found while swagbucking pizza stones.

Tips for treating your pizza stones right (both the real kinda and the made from tile type)

1) Preheat, preheat, preheat.
The whole point of the stone is to get things hot - getting the oven's temperature up, keeping it there, and allow the food to cook by conduction and not just radiated heat. So you have to let it get hot. Put your stone/tiles in there oven when it is cold, then turn it on. You will also want to increase your normal preheat time by a few minutes.

2) Don't remove it from the oven.
People often complain about their stone breaking. Now since it only cost $0.67 to replace a tile, it isn't as bad as if a stone breaks but it is easy problems to avoid. Breakage is most often caused by a quick and drastic temperature shift. The solution - don't remove the tiles/stone from the oven. That means you have to use a "peel" to transfer your bread or pizza to and from the stone. I just use a cookie sheet. Sprinkle on some flour or cornmeal before placing your dough on it and it will come. It does take a bit of practice to get it to work, but it's not awful. My first time I was nervous about letting all the heat escape and was too rushed. I bumped the tiles and pushed them apart, leaving a hole for my bread dough to drip through. But even then it baked firm before it completely fell. My loaf was odd shaped but still edible.

Another option is to use a sheet of parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet or cutting board, then sliding the dough and paper onto the stone. Taking it out is easier as it should be quite a bit firmer now that is has been baked.

Once the oven is cool, you can take out the stone or tiles if you want, but I just leave them in there all the time. My oven is really bad at retaining heat and keeping a constant temperature, so having the extra mass in their helps. I have made everything from casseroles to cookies on top of my tiles and it hasn't affected anything negatively. (It improved the cookies, before tiles my cookie baking time could vary from 8-16 minutes from batch to batch because of temperature fluctuations, now it is much more constant.)

3) Keep it clean.
Don't use soap to clean a stone. Most of the time, you don't really need to clean it. If you use cornmeal or flour, it will "burn" and leave a black ashy reside (don't let that scare you, it is so little that I've never even smelt it, so don't worry about stinking up your house or setting off your fire alarm although if I am making pizza at 500 I turn the fume hood on). That residue will come off if you wipe it with a dry cloth. There might be some stains but that just makes your oven look like an authentic baker uses it. And if it really needs to be cleaned, you can wash it with water, or water and baking soda but be sure to let it completely dry. It may take a while because the stone is porous and will have soaked up some water.

Pizza stones - they work for me!


  1. :D I got one for our wedding, and didn't really know what to do with it! Thanks!

  2. That is a great idea! I'm off to Lowe's! ;)

  3. Now that is some kind of awesome advice!! Thank you!