Using a baking stone when you cook can bring the baked goods you prepare to new heights. While baking stones are traditionally used for giving pizza crust a perfect, crisp bottom, you can also use them to bake breads, cookies, and other baked goods.
How to Use a Baking Stone
It's easy to use a baking stone.
- Place the stone on the middle rack in your oven and turn it on to your desired temperature as the oven preheats.
- Once the oven is up to temperature, allow the stone to heat in the oven for 20 minutes to allow the stone to come to temperature.
- Place your uncooked dough directly on the stone and bake as directed.
- Use a peel or large spatula to remove your food from the oven, leaving the stone in the oven to cool.
- If the food requires cooling, cool it on a wire rack.
- When the stone is completely cooled, remove it from the oven.
How to Clean a Baking Stone
The thing to understand about baking stones is that the surface is porous, so it will absorb anything you use to clean it, and it will absorb excess water if you submerge it. Therefore, you should never submerge the stone in water, nor should you oil it or use detergents, because the flavor will come out in the next thing you bake as it leeches out of the stone. Getting the stone wet also makes it more likely to break. Instead, use the following cleaning technique for your baking stone:
- Only clean a completely cooled stone.
- Use a scraper or silicon spatula to gently scrape off any baked on bits.
- Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away any leftover bits of stuff stick to the stone.
- For hard to remove spots, create a past of equal parts baking soda and water. Rub it into the spot only (not the whole stone) using a soft cloth and a circular motion. Wipe away with a dry cloth.
- Finally, use a damp (not wet) cloth to wipe the surface of the stone. Dry before reusing.
Storing Your Baking Stone
Always store your baking stone dry; allow it to dry completely before you put it away. Store it flat in a drawer or cupboard. Protect the surface by placing a towel over it or wrapping it in a towel if it will be with other objects that might chip it. You can also store your pizza stone in your oven to minimize moving it. Unless you are constantly heating up your oven to very hot temperatures, this is the safest way to protect your stone. You can always cook foods that don't need the stone on another rack. Do be sure to remove it if you use your oven's self-cleaning cycle, however.
Preventing Broken Baking Stones
Baking stones can be fragile. To prevent breakage:
- Never put a stone into a hot oven. Instead, put the stone in the oven and then turn it on to heat up.
- Never wash your stone in water (or the dishwasher). Only use the cleaning steps above, as moisture can cause a stone to crack.
- Warm pizza dough (and frozen pizza) to room temperature before placing it on a hot stone. Never place a frozen pizza directly on a baking stone.
- Always allow the stone to cool with the oven to prevent cracking - don't take it out hot.
- Don't drop it and use care when setting it on solid surfaces.
- Avoid extreme, rapid temperature fluctuations.
Benefits of Using a Baking Stone
Baking stones are made from a porous ceramic that stores heat and allows heat to be more evenly distributed. Likewise, because the stone is porous, it draws moisture from whatever is sitting on it, which results in crisper crusts. This is perfect for things like a crisp, chewy pizza crust, a loaf of focaccia bread, or even a nice chewy-crisp cookie.
Baking Stones Are for More Than Pizza
While baking stones can take pizza from good to great, they are also good for other baked goods that need a crispy bottom. As long as you care for it correctly, your baking stone can last a lifetime.