Sunday, April 24, 2011

Technique: Cooking Surfaces for Pizza (Part 5)

Go shopping for a new pizza stone, and you'll find a huge variety of surfaces, from metal to clay to natural stone to man-made composites.

If you were going solely by recommendations from respected testers, you might settle on the stone sold by King Arthur Flour.

The KA catalog quotes the review from Cook's Illustrated: "We tested 10 baking stones and came to prefer a fairly large one (16 by 14 inches is ideal) with smooth edges. The Baker's Catalogue Baking Stone's moderate weight and ample size make it our favorite."

The stone is a yellowish beige color, with a slightly mottled appearance and a smooth surface, It weighs 10 lbs. 4 3/4 ounces and stands 1 inch high. The stone itself is 1/2 inch thick, but it has feet and a thicker center section.

As with every other stone, I checked the temperature of the stone at 45 minutes (527 degrees); and one hour (549 degrees).

In 8 minutes, the pizza was nicely browned on the bottom, with a very crisp crust. The top was well-cooked as well.

The results were similar to the quarry tiles. The crust was just slightly crisper, and more mottled brown with slightly darker and lighter spots.

Despite the similarity in the overall result, this stone had several advantages over the quarry tiles. First, it's made for food use, so there's no need to worry about health issues..

Second, it's one piece, so there's no moving, shifting or adjusting. It goes into the oven and it stays in place. At first, I thought the legs were a little silly. Why not make it flat? But then I realized the the legs made it easier to grab the stone and get it in and out of the oven.

This stone sells for $54.95 from King Arthur Flour.