Instructables

Pizza Stone Hack (And Why They Suck)*

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Practically everyone has one of these things. We've been made to believe that since professional wood fired pizza ovens are made with stone that we should have a stone to cook homemade or frozen pizzas on too. So we rushed out and bought them. And then wondered . . . where the hell do I keep this thing?

The answer that came back from the echo chamber was "in your oven".  But when you store these things in your oven you loose an oven rack. Or you have to heft this heavy thing in and out when you need the rack it sits on.

Finally, I've solved this problem. Actually I've been doing this for years, but have just now gotten around to writing it up for Instructables. I'll explain how to easily regain your oven rack . . . and why pizza stones suck.

* I feel the need to qualify the suck comment. Obviously from the picture my pizza stone is old and well used. Stones are much better than baking sheets . . . by miles. If your choice is to cook a pizza on a thin baking sheet or a thicker baking stone, then you'll be much happier with the stone.
 
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Step 1: Needed Things

Picture of Needed Things
Oven Stone (4).JPG
Oven Stone (5).JPG
Fire bricks are what pizza ovens are made of (at least the firebox part). They are a specially made brick very tolerant of the high temperatures in fireplaces and wood ovens. Perfect for use in a high temp environment like your oven.

---Fire bricks (sometimes sold individually at home improvement stores)
---A heavy hammer
---A brick chisel (a tile/brick saw would also work well if you happen to have access to one)

Step 2: Whack It Up

Picture of Whack It Up
Oven Stone (7).JPG
Oven Stone (8).JPG
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Measure the bricks and mark the size and number you'll need. Then whack them apart with the hammer and chisel. Obviously you'll want to wear safety glasses and place them on a firm surface like a sidewalk or other concrete slab to hammer them apart.
Tex Arcana8 months ago
stones are good for certain kinds of baking (cookies, biscuits, breads, fries, fish sticks), but not so great at pizzas, especially if you want the bottom crispy. For that, you want to put the pizza directly on the middle rack with nothing beneath it. Maximum crispiness, and maximum yumminess.
RikJamez1 year ago
     BTW, I forgot to mention the 1/4" Baking steel is priced @ $72, and the 1/2" is $110. A lot more than what I consider a good price for a flat piece of  ' seasoned ' cast iron, especially on a DIY site .
If you want to make your own pizza steel, Kimberly^ made an instructible on it. you can find it here : http://www.instructables.com/id/Gourmet-Pizza-Appliance-In-Your-Home/
So the baking STEEL is actually cast IRON?
No, it's steel.
mistyp1 year ago
Very interesting, thanks for posting this. I've been keeping mine in the drawer underneath the oven.
A pizza stone isn't really meant to char the crust as you put it, what it is meant to do is to crisp the crust. A properly maintained pizza stone will last you for ages just like cast iron. I've used my pizza stone for nearly 7 years & whenever it looks like the one that you showed there in your first pic, I just set the oven to do a self cleaning cycle which is a common feature for newer ovens, & the stone is back to it's original state. They are really good if you know how to use them properly.
You don't want the stone in it's original (clean) state in my opinion. The layer on top helps with crisping the crust.
From my experience when it's clean it crisps the crust better then when it's nasty.
Fair enough, make sure you don't clean it with soap though. Proper pizza stones are porous, and the soap will get in the pores and seep out into the pizza crust (which is often toxic).
I have never once used soap on it, all I've used is the heat of the ovens cleaning cycle & it is as good as new each time.
dlewisa (author)  sofiadragon19791 year ago
I have a friend whose pizza stone has turned completely black because they've never put it through the self clean cycle. I'll have to ask if he thinks that makes better pizza. Doubt it.
Yeah charcoal cooked pizza, w/out the benafit of the bbq grill lol. I would never eat off of that, but that's just me. I put mine throught the cleaning cycle once a year just like my oven, & everything runs better & also the temp in my oven is more even. All this talk of pizza has made me want one, I'll more then likely make one later lol.
Personally, I'd love to make a rack that has a stone build into it. That way, you can just pull out the entire rack when not using it and you still have the other two normal racks for whatever you need.
workislove1 year ago
Wow, thanks a lot, two great tips in one. I will check out both the fire brick and baking steel as soon as I get a chance!
chefsea1 year ago
Like this and just tweeted your ible to @BakingSteel
dlewisa (author)  chefsea1 year ago
Thank you, thank you vuuury much.
Does baking steel have special qualities not found in a steel sheet steel?...the recycling center will sell me a piece of 1/4" for much less than $72...an hour or so with a grinder and sander and done.
You need to find food grade steel, so that there are no unsafe compounds used. If the recycling center got it from a food oil drum or the like, you'll be all set. Just tell them what you are using it for and why it should be food grade and they can help you out.
Thanks for the heads up! Let the search begin! ( my wife hates it when I go to the recycle dealers...but I can't help it!)
dlewisa (author)  paganwonder1 year ago
Yeah, you could save a lot of money if you could find a 1/4", 3/8", or 1/2" piece of steel somewhere. Smooth it up with some sanding and season it like you would a cast iron skillet and you'd be set.
Thank you! I recently broke my stone and you have great idea for replacing it!
RikJamez1 year ago
    If Lodge can sell a 12" cast iron skillet for at most $50, there is no way a plain piece of flat cast iron, with NO details, should cost as much or more.
For making pizza, I'd far prefer one without details. Makes it easier for use with a peel.
dlewisa (author)  fungus amungus1 year ago
That little logo is only on one side, so you could turn it over. It's not really deep enough to give you any trouble with sticking though.
I was talking about the details in the Lodge Logic pan which has a raised edge. Also, looking at pics of it in action, many people get the pizza right inside the circle which makes me think that they put the pizza in and THEN puit it in the over.
AKDoug1 year ago
I prefer pizza stones, once you get them heated up they maintain the high temperature and cook the pizza more evenly. The key is you have to heat up the stone first, this means baking it for 10 or 20 minutes at the desired temperature, before even adding your pizza. I have a buddy that heats the stone at 500F for 30 minutes, then turns it down to 450 when he adds the pizza on a layer of corn meal, it comes out amazing.
dlewisa (author)  AKDoug1 year ago
I'd used my stone for years. Our oven heats to 550F, but it couldn't give the crust that the steel one did. Stones are still better than thin sheet pans by far.
AKDoug dlewisa1 year ago
Then I suppose you and I have different definitions of perfection when it comes to pizza crust. I do think I will go buy a firebrick this weekend though, this instructable is super nifty. I'll just leave the steel off of mine.
Two brilliant ideas in one 'ible! Thanks!
Whhhhhaaaaat? I have never heard of a pizza steel - that's awesome.
dlewisa (author)  jessyratfink1 year ago
Yeeeeeeaaaah! Neither had I until a month or two ago. Then I got one as a gift and I now feel bad for my old stone that is now feeling inadequate.
RikJamez1 year ago
Correct, it is steel.
The point I was trying to make, is that it cost more to forge details into a piece of cast iron than not to, and that that piece of flat steel without any details is priced at about twice the price of the lodge  cast-iron detailed piece.
We just leave our pizza stone in the oven. But we have a smaller stone that is perfect for the pots we use.When I do make pizza is use an oiled piece of foil on top of the stone. Never gets stained that way.