Homemade pizza is a culinary treat that improves with specialised baking equipment. Quality pizza stones ensure even heating, a crisp crust and versatility in usage. Pizza stones are made from a variety of materials and come in many sizes. Use a minimum of 1 inch of space around the stone in your oven to allow air circulation, and always place in a cold oven or grill before preheating. Anywhere from 4.54 to 6.8 Kilogram, pizza stones range in thickness from 3/8 to 1 inch.
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Terra cotta and other clay tiles are very popular and easy to find. Be sure to rub a layer of cornmeal on the stone to prevent sticking. To clean, let the stone cool first, then use hot water and a plastic scrubbing pad. Avoid soap, which permeates the surface and changes the stone's texture. Stay away from glazed stones, which result in a mushy, droopy crust. Most glazes contains lead, which leaches into food during cooking and creates health problems.
Cordierite is a common pizza stone baking surface. Lead-free, it is sturdy and absorbs heat well. It is made of firebrick about a 1/2-inch thick. The material is frequently found in ceramics. Some manufacturers approve dishwasher use, while others frown upon it. Read package labels for details. Discolouration occurs after multiple uses and does not affect the safety or taste of the pizza stone. Well-used surfaces are less likely to stick.
Granite is harder to find, bakes faster than cordierite and should never go in the dishwasher. Granite's highest heat temperature of about 500° F is lower than that of cordierite. FibraMent is a trademark manufactured stone slab made for conventional and convection oven use and does not need regular cleaning. Clean both granite and FibraMent by wiping off with a dry cloth.
Keep in mind where your pizza stone will be used before purchasing it. Conventional electric and gas ovens are standard use, but read package labelling for adaptability to convection and toaster ovens. Buy a specially designed pizza stone for grilling. Gas grills run much higher in heat, and not all materials can withstand the temperature, resulting in cracked surfaces. After removing food, let your pizza stone cool completely before moving it, or leave it in the oven for next time.
Pizza stones come in two varieties, round and rectangular. Although there is no proven advantage of one over the other, personal taste dictates which kind the pizza chef must have. For those raised on round pizza, there is only one choice. Rectangular models, however, are more practical. They accommodate round pizzas as well as other baked goods, like bread and cookies, with no noticeable problems when every inch is not used.
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