Baking stones are great for cooking a variety of foods including pizza, but without proper care, it's easy to break or damage them. If you're trying to learn how to use a pizza stone, follow these tips for both use and maintenance of the stone.
Preheating the Stone
Depending on where you purchase your baking stone, you may not need to preheat it. However, it will not damage the stone and it is usually a good idea. The best way to do this properly is to put it into the oven when it is at room-temperature and then preheat it. Afterwards, remove the stone and place the pizza or other food you're cooking on it. After you've done this, return the stone to the oven and bake according to the recipe.
If you're worried about cracking the pizza stone, you can avoid this by making sure that it doesn't change temperature rapidly. If you put a cold cooking stone in a hot oven, the high temperature change can cause it to crack. Similarly, if you remove it from the oven and put it into cold water, this can also cause stress on the baking stone. Avoid any rapid changes to keep it intact.
Caring for Your Pizza Stone
You can cook a variety of foods on your pizza stone including pizza, biscuits, breads, and cookies as well as many others. It's rare for foods to stick to it, but you should season it using a small amount of oil. When you first use the stone, cover the cooking surface with a small amount of vegetable oil. You can repeat this step every few times that you use the stone. Similar to cast iron, a light layer of oil seasons the stone and it will take on a deep brown tone over time. You do not have to cover it with oil on every use, but regularly seasoning helps to avoid sticking.
Cleaning Your Baking Stone
It may help to think of your baking stone as a sponge. It has a somewhat porous nature and will soak up what's baked on it. Cooking stones are actually molded sand which has been compacted under high pressure. For this reason, it's actually not recommended that you clean it with soap and water. The soap and anything else in the dish water goes into the stone. There are two basic ways to clean this simple baking device.
One of the first ways is to heat the stone itself at a high temperature in the oven, around 425 degrees, for a few minutes to bake off any of the food that's stuck on it. After the heating, scrape off the hardened food particles and season the stone. Then it will be ready to use again. The second method involves submerging the pizza stone in warm, plain water for about 20 minutes. This will work to saturate it in water. After soaking, lightly scrub it to remove any food particles and then place it on the counter to dry overnight. Remember once again, to season it before using.
Your baking stone can last for years if you take proper care of it, so make sure that you're following these steps!
Vic Alba operates a website about pizza stone use. If you would like more information, as well as more important tips then go to How to Use a Baking Stone