If you love pizza and you often try to make pizza at home, you may find it hard to replicate those pizzas found in pizzerias; this is because to get an incredible pizza, you need a perfect flat cooking surface and a really hot oven.
An average person may not have a super hot oven and a perfectly flat surface, so getting a pizza stone is the best option. The work of pizza stones is to conduct heat from the grill of your oven to your pizza for fast, even baking.
But the best pizza stones are quite expensive, and not everybody can get their hands on one. No need to worry. Other alternatives will get the job done and are not as expensive as the real deal. So please keep reading to understand the function of pizza stones are and how to substitute them.
What is a Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone is a flat circular or rectangular baking stone made from ceramic or rock that helps circulate heat evenly throughout the pizza dough. The idea behind pizza stones is to emulate the heat produced in a factory or industrial ovens. Industrial ovens can surpass over 900 degrees Fahrenheit heat levels, while home ovens are limited to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
This intense heat makes the pizza crust thinner and crisp, and it gives it a rich golden brown color different from the pale doughy and less flavored pizza made using household ovens. Pizza stones may vary in thickness, and the thickness affects the effectiveness of the stone, the thicker stones are more expensive, and they absorb more moisture resulting in a crispy bake.
Culinary uses for Pizza Stone
Using a pizza stone is essential if you want to up your pizza game at home, and it would give you that beautiful crispy crust you regularly see when you visit your favorite pizza joint. You don’t need to relegate your pizza stone to making pizzas only as they can also be used to make other baked foods like bread and can also be used for steak or veggies.
If you are new to pizza stones, then using one may not be so easy at first. You may need to preheat the stone for a faster bake. You may also need to keep a close eye on your pizza as it cooks, and always use a pizza peel to easily remove the pizza from the stone.
Below are some examples of goodies you can bake with pizza stones;
- English muffins
- Pita bread
- Baked potato chips
- Roast potatoes and veggies
- Toasted bread and sandwiches
- Seared meat
- Roast chicken
- Roast s’mores
- Pizza stone grilled chicken fajitas
- Pizza stone naan
Substitutes for Pizza Stone
Using a pizza stone is definitely helpful and would drastically improve your pizza game, but just like every household item, it will eventually get old and worn out. Without proper maintenance, the stone may become challenging to use, you may notice some cracks, or even worse, it may completely break in half.
It would be a problem if you want to make pizza for the family but can’t get any suitable stone to make baking easier and more delicious. Well, you can use some alternatives until you get a new pizza stone. Unfortunately, most of these substitutes are easy to get access to.
1. Pizza Pan
If you don’t have a pizza stone or it recently cracked in half, then using a pizza pan should give you the same result or better. A pizza pan is a pan made specifically for baking pizza, and it is a cheaper, more convenient option to the pizza stone. The pan is made from aluminum, and stainless steel seamlessly transmits heat to your dough.
Some pans come with holes. This is the recommended type of pan because the holes allow air to pass through them, resulting in less moisture and a definite crispy crust. When substituting, do not preheat the pan; instead, place the raw dough and bake. The holes will allow airflow resulting in a faster bake.
Many pizza stones have ceramic surfaces that help conduct heat properly, and tiles are no exception. Tiles are pretty similar to pizza stones, and they get hot when you reheat them, and then you can place your dough. You probably have some of them lying around, so they would make an inexpensive alternative for pizza stones. You have to make sure the tiles you use are safe for cooking and don’t contain any harmful chemicals.
3. Pizza Steel
This may not be a common household item, but if you already have one, it can be the perfect substitute for a pizza stone. It is very similar to pizza stone but a little better because it is made from steel which we know conducts heat better than ceramic or rock.
Pizza steel might be on the pricy side, but if you own one, then it can last longer than a stone would. Steel is more durable and won’t break like ceramic
4. Baking Sheets
When looking for a substitute, you need to look for something that can conduct enough heat to make your pizza crispy. Even if it is not a traditional stone, you need to make your pizza less doughy.
A baking sheet is pretty common, and anyone who owns an oven certainly has one. They are lighter than pizza stones, and hence they don’t conduct heat the same way a pizza stone would, but if you have a thicker sheet, I suggest you use them because thicker sheets transmit heat better. So invert the baking sheets and place the dough to get a perfectly flat surface.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Should I oil my pizza stone?
It is not advisable to oil pizza stones. Instead, you can add some flour or cornmeal to aid removal. It would help if you also got a pizza peel though you may need some time to get used to it.
How should I clean my pizza stone?
First, you want to start by pouring a little amount of hot water on the surface, then scrub with a stone brush, next wipe off with a damp rag and allow to air-dry, finally wipe the surface once more with a clean rag.
Why do I need to preheat the stone before use?
You should preheat the pizza stone at a temperature of 500°F for about 15 minutes before placing your dough. The purpose of preheating is for the stone to retain as much heat as possible to give the crust a crispy texture. If it isn’t done correctly, you may end up with a sloppy, uncooked pizza.
If you struggle with making crisp, delicious pizzas, getting a pizza stone would improve your pizzas. In no time, you would notice significant changes. But if you don’t have a pizza stone at home, or you broke your stone, then some easy-to-find items can be used in place of a pizza stone to give you that crisp-looking pizza crust.