Making Pizza With a Pizza Stone and Pizza Peel
Most of us love a good slice of pizza–delivery, homemade or frozen pizza. But as much as we want our homemade pizza to taste just like delivery, it's pretty challenging. That challenge is usually with the crust.
One way to ensure a really great pizza crust is to use a wood-burning brick oven that reaches a temperature of at least 600°F. Most conventional ovens don't operate at such high heat, so you have to do some workarounds. Fortunately, we have a really good one: you can transform your regular oven into a pizza oven by baking directly on a hot pizza stone and removing it with a pizza peel. Here's how to do it.
Pictured recipe: Brussels Sprouts & Pepperoni Pizza
Using a Pizza Stone
The unglazed clay surface absorbs and distributes heat evenly, producing a crispy crust, but this is how to do it correctly:
- Place a pizza stone in the oven on the lowest rack. Placing the stone in a cold oven is very important because if you put the cold stone into a hot oven, the stone will crack and break–it's called thermal shock.
- Allow at least 30 minutes for the stone to heat before you cook the pizza.
- Let the dough come to room temperature before baking. If cold dough is placed directly on a hot stone, the abrupt change in temperature may also cause the stone to crack.
Pro Tip: Because pizza stones are porous, they absorb odors. Avoid using soap to clean them. Wash with hot water and use baking soda to remove stubborn stains.
Pictured Recipe: Blue Cheese & Mushroom Pizza
Using a Pizza Peel
The best way to transfer a pizza to a stone is to use a paddle called a pizza peel–and it is much easier to slide a small pizza from a peel than to slide a large one. Here are a few tips:
- To use a peel for recipes that call for 12 ounces of dough, divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a 10-inch circle.
- Transfer one crust to a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel. Turn edges under to make a slight rim.
- Assemble the pizza, using half of the toppings. Make sure the dough slides easily on the peel; add more cornmeal if necessary.
- Open the oven door and set the tip of the pizza peel near the back of the stone.
- Pull the pizza peel toward you, letting the pizza slide onto the stone.
- Quickly close the door. Baking time for a pizza baked directly on a stone is shorter than for pan pizza: allow 8 to 10 minutes.
- Assemble the second pizza on the peel with the remaining dough and toppings while the first one bakes.
- Remove the pizza from the oven with a wide metal spatula to slide the pizza onto a pizza peel or pizza pan.
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