In case you have a fetish for pizza, but cannot conjure up how you can keep up with the rising cost of ordering one from the bakery, consider investing in a baking stone and honing your home-baking skills. A baking stone? That's right. Hang in there. Well, a baking stone, or what is also commonly referred to as a pizza stone is simply a natural stone (such as granite or marble) with a flat surface on top. The stones are primarily used in preparing baked foods such as bread or pizza but are not limited to these foods. Moreover, these so-called stones can also be made from other materials such as cast iron, ceramic or steel.
By using a baking stone, you can still bake the same high quality of crispy and crunchy pizza, as you would obtain from the bakery across your block. That way, you can still keep your pizza costs low, while enjoying your gustatory delights. The usefulness of these simple, yet effective kitchen tools is a stark reminder that you don't have to own fanciful devices or break the bank in order to prepare special treats. When a simple tool such as a baking stone can offer such functionality, it's easy to understand why baking should not be a pricey affair.
Generally, a baking stone is most suitably designed to cook foods that are mostly prepared using flour (or dough if you like). The stones come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on the purpose for which they are intended. While some stones may be conventionally shaped-square, rectangular or circular, others may be oblong shaped and offer varying thickness and weight.
In case your oven has shallower spaces between racks, you may need to purchase round stones to allow for sufficient air circulation in the oven. Round shaped baking stones are ideal for preparing pizzas and cookie treats, while square ones or rectangular shaped ones can be used for preparing foccacia or other kinds of bread such as French baguettes, as the longer dimensions allow more room to play with. Conversely, oblong breads can be baked using the oblong-shaped stones. The cast-iron stone can be used to prepare grilled meat or roasting vegetables. Evidently, the differently shaped stones that also come in different sizes have varied uses. Moreover, the different materials used to make these stones have a bearing on how best they can be put to use.
An important consideration to make before adding a baking stone to your next shopping list is your oven's size- the inner baking compartment. Buying a stone that is bigger than your oven would mean having to discard or return it to the store as it would not serve its purpose. Again, if the stone is too big, it translates to smaller-sized portions, and high costs of running your oven. Once you understand the inner dimensions of your oven's cooking area, you can invest in the right-sized baking stone.
Overall, a stone may not be considered a replacement to the trays of oven racks. However, it offers some improvements, especially in its ability to absorb more heat, and in turn bake more rapidly and producing a crustier finish. Furthermore, given the many treats that you can prepare using baking stones, it is no wonder they have become a common feature of today's kitchens.