Pizza stones are used to regulate the heat getting to the base of a pizza crust or bread. The hot surface makes the crust crispy without burning it. A pizza stone placed in your oven turns it into a miniature version of a stone pizza oven. Do not worry if you do not own a pizza stone. With a little ingenuity and thinking outside the pizza box you will have the same crisp crust results by using an alternative baking device.
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Terra Cotta or Ceramic Baking Tile
Use an unglazed terra cotta paver or ceramic baking tile instead of a pizza stone. Like the stone, these release the heat from the oven slowly to the base of the pizza, producing a crisp crust. Line the bottom of your oven or the lowest rack with these tiles and leave them in the oven so that the tiles heat and cool slowly. These regulate the heat inside of the oven, in the same way a pizza stone does.
Avoid substituting a frying pan for a pizza stone to initially bake a pizza, but for reheating a slice, it will yield a crisped crust and toppings just warmed through.
Turn a heavy baking tray upside down. This creates a flat surface which allows for the heat of the oven to directly reach the edges of the crust. If you had the baking tray right side up, the lip would block the crust from browning on the edge. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the upended baking tray, and sprinkle the parchment with cornmeal. The parchment paper prevents sticking, and the cornmeal helps to add flavour and absorb excess moisture from the bottom of the crust, preventing it from becoming soggy. Bake the pizza in an oven preheated to the highest setting for results most closely resembling a pizza baked in a stone pizza oven or with a pizza stone.
Cast Iron Pan
A cast iron pan can substitute for a pizza stone, if you treat it correctly. Cast iron, like pizza stones, should never be put into a hot oven. The metal needs to preheat slowly so it does not crack. Before cooking your pizza, preheat the grill on your oven. Place the cast iron skillet on top of a cold stone burner on your hob. Turn the burner onto high heat for 20 minutes to warm the metal of the cast iron. Use oven gloves to grasp the handle of the pan and flip it upside down as you slide it into the oven under the grill. Slide your prepared, uncooked pizza on top of the cast iron pan's bottom and broil it until the dough cooks and the cheese melts. Cast iron acts to hold and slowly release heat in the same way that a pizza stone does.
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