I hate to admit it, but I was one of those people who rushed out to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy an overpriced pizza stone when I finally learned about them. I didn't really take the time to figure out how to use it, I just kind of threw it in my oven and hoped for the best.
When I moved into my new place, I realized I had left my precious stone in my old oven! And to be honest, my pizzas were never really that great with the stone. So I decided to live without one, until I read an excerpt from Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for More Food" baking book. I love how he tackles topics in an easy to comprehend manner, and the pizza stone was no exception. I followed his advice, and went to Home Depot to purchase unglazed quarry (or ceramic) tiles. The ones I purchased were not as thick as I would have liked them to be, but they still worked quite well, and I managed to fit 4 small ones in my tiny metal box of an oven (seriously, the door won't even close when I put my sheet pans in it!). They cost me a grand total of $1.38, and at that price, I can stand to lose them a few more times.I put them on the second rack, and preheated the oven as high as it would go, as per Alton's instructions.
When it was hot enough, I slid my homemade pizza from the peel(that was dusted with cornmeal, of course) onto my new stone, and on the very bottom rack, I put a pan of hot water. This created steam that helped my pizza get a nice crust in the first few minutes of baking (*if you've ever made french or italian bread, I'm sure you've used this method as well). The result was a great pizza, perfectly crisp and crunchy on the bottom and nice and doughy like a good pan pizza on the top, and with such a high temp., it only took around 6 minutes to bake. I used ready made pizza dough from Trader Joe's (a steal at $1), Spicy Italian Sausage, mozzarella, and I made a sauce by blending sundried tomatoes, garlic and olives that were packed in olive oil. This was probably one of the best pizzas I have ever made/had, and it only cost around $5 to make.
Now I am obsessed with pizza making! The whole process took only 30 minutes, and using ready-made ingredients helped speed up the process. I am a fan of making everything from scratch, but after a long day of work, this was perfect and better than eating a frozen pizza.
I just wanted to share this with my fellow food lovers in case some of you have not had the pleasure of using a stone. It also helps to keep your stone in the oven all the time, especially if you have a small oven, because the extra weight helps keep your oven properly heated. My only question now is how the heck do you roll or toss the pizza dough into a nice, thin even pizza? I used Alton's method of tossing, which worked pretty well, but I ended up with dough that was really thin in the middle, and a little too thick on the edges. I may just need more practice. Any suggestions? What kind of unique toppings do you like to top your pizzas with?