Pizza Stones – which creates the best crust?

I’ve been collecting pizza stones in order to recommend the best ones to you and because I have never met a piece of kitchen equipment I could resist. I have been surprised by some and disappointed by others. Here is my review…the stones are in random order.

1. Here is the workhorse of the group, 14-Inch by 16-Inch Baking Stone. I’ve owned it for well over 8 years and it always produces a great crust, as long as it is properly preheated. Because this stone is thicker than any of the rest it requires a 30-40 minute preheat to get a nice crisp crust on my breads and pizzas. (If I let it preheat for just 20 minutes it produces a pale and lackluster crust.) It is heavy weight so it is not prone to cracking and retains heat well and holds-up to temperatures of 550 degrees.

I also love the size since I tend to bake lots of loaves at once. I can fit about 3 boules or baguettes on here at the same time.

2. This is not a stone at all, but a disk of iron, Lodge Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan. I was introduced to this pan by my mother, who bought it after her thin round stone cracked. She decided to try the Lodge because it was indestructible. She loved it and now that I have one I love it too.

It is thinner than my heavy duty stone (above) so it preheats in 20 minutes and still creates a very crispy, caramel colored bottom crust. Because iron conducts heat well, but doesn’t retain heat for long, it cools off quicker. You can also stick this into a super hot oven, which is a NO NO for stone and ceramic pizza pans.

The only thing I don’t like about this pan is that it has a lip on it, which makes it more challenging to clean. With all my other stones I use a bench scraper to clean off any extra cornmeal or flour (see bottom of post for more info.) With the Lodge I have to carefully take it out of the oven and use a brush to clean it, which is a pain in the butt when I want to bake multiple breads or pizzas. But, this doesn’t stop me from using it often.

3. The PizzaQue is a stone made specifically for the grill, as long as your grill is large enough to handle the stone and base. I thought it was clever to have the stone sit up above the grates so that the flames wouldn’t hit it and the toppings would have a chance to cook before the bottom crust burned. It also has a built in thermometer, which I figured would be more accurate than the one on the outside of my grill. My assumptions were mostly wrong.

The stone, which sits on a thin metal frame, is so thick that it takes 30+ minutes to preheat in my grill. The built in thermometer is attached to the thin metal frame so it reads 700 degrees after just 10 minutes, which is not long enough for the actual stone to reach that temperature. I highly doubt this stone ever got to 700 degrees or the pizza would have been baked in less than 10 minutes.

This stone is wonderful when used in my home oven, but the frame is useless since it won’t fit in my oven. Wanted to love this, but don’t!

Update: I just read the glowing reviews on Amazon and decided to give it another shot. After a 35 minute preheat…I baked a pizza and it came out much better than I remembered from the first attempt. The bottom crust was crispy and the toppings were just caramelizing after 10 minutes, this is the benefit of having it sit up higher on the metal frame. Still not in love, since my Lodge (see above) does a nicer job and takes less time to preheat.

4. For those of you who are just getting started and want to try the bread/pizzas without investing in a pizza stone, I suggest using a heavy gauge baking pan. I like the industrial strength version, 18-by-13-by-1-Inch Jelly-Roll Pan or this non-stick dark sheet 12-by-17-Inch Rectangular Nonstick Jelly Roll Pan. You will not get as crisp a crust, but it is a great way to start out. Just preheat the pan and put the bread or pizza directly on the pan, no parchment or silpat to get the crispest crust. If you want to use parchment or Silpat (11-5/8-by-16-1/2-Inch Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat) be sure to remove it for the last few minutes of baking to crisp up the bottom crust. You can even remove the pan from the oven and crisp up the crust directly on the oven rack.

5. This was the most surprising to me of the bunch. I suspected that this Emile Henry Flame Top Pizza Stone was too pretty to be useful. I stand corrected, it produced a gorgeous crust and is really easy to clean. It also comes in several colors (This one is Figue). One thing that made me nervous was that this stone was glazed, which we have always avoided because we suspected that the porosity of the stone (its ability to absorb moisture away from the dough) was a key factor in a crisp crust. It turns out the intense, even heat is what seems to drive away the moisture in the bread, producing a great crust. I tested it at both 450 and 550 degrees.

This is the only stone I wash with water (see below for washing advice).

6. Here is my traveling Pizza Stone. It was about $10 (a few years ago) and I bought it to take with me when I taught classes where there was no stone. I also used it on the grill, just in case the intense flames would crack my more expensive stone. I’ve had this stone for a few years and so far it is holding up well to all temperatures. My mother on the other hand had the same one and it cracked after 2 years. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it drove her to the Lodge (see above).

To clean the flat stones: I use a Bench Scraper and just scrape off any excess flour, cornmeal or cheese that escapes the pizza. I don’t wash them with anything, but if you have to AVOID SOAP or your stone will taste of soap, just hot water and let it dry slowly in a very cool oven to avoid cracking.

7. I didn’t review Unglazed Terra Cotta Garden Tiles because I don’t own any, but I have baked on them successfully. They are very inexpensive, but thin and small. You will want to push several together in your oven. You tend to get much more flour or cornmeal on the bottom of your oven as a result, which can mean smoke when baking pizzas. You can find these at most Garden or Hardware stores.

8. I just have to mention that the only stone we have had numerous complaints about it cracking is the one made by Pampered Chef. I have never personally tried this stone, but it seems it is a bit fragile from what I hear. Anyone have an opinion? Update: there are lots of very good reviews in the comments (below) for this stone, along with a few not so glowing ones.

Which stone do you use and do you love it?

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294 thoughts on “Pizza Stones – which creates the best crust?

  1. I have a stone sort of cheap. But I love how clean it gets when I put in the oven when using the the self clean cycle. No cracking yet.

  2. I really like your book and method. I have been using it with my ww flour which I grind myself. Could you let me know how much your Master Recipe takes by weight, rather than measure. Thank you. Gina

    • Hi Gina,

      Are you using ABin5 or HBin5? The Master recipe in ABin5 doesn’t use any ww flour, so I am assuming you are using the one from HBin5. The weights are all on page 54. If this isn’t the recipe you are referring to let us know. Here is another post you may be interested in: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1165

      Enjoy, Zoë

  3. I had 3 successive Pampered Chef stones and they all cracked. I gave up. Not a fan.
    I bought a Hearthstone clay pan and it’s awesome.

    • Just adding my input to a great discussion. I have two (round) PC stones and one rectangular PC stone I’ve used over a period of about 8 years and have never had one break. I’ve not tried any of them on the grill. I’ve used them in the oven up to 500F. Thanks for the reviews, Zoe. And thanks all, for the replies. Helpful!

      • Karen: Yep, most of them do fine. But about 20% of them crack almost immediately– happened to me first time I used one (it was in the oven).

      • The best thing about getting a stone from Pampered Chef is that if you do get one that cracks in 2 years, your consultant will get you a brand new one. Pampered Chef was the first stone I was introduced to – within a year I’d replaced all of my aluminum pans & casserole dished with Pampered Chef stones. I cook alot – my 7 year old bar pan is black (I love roasting salmon, 450 for 22 min -brushed with teriyaki or BBQ sauce).

        Self-cleaning oven and dishwasher use was not recommended. Overloading frozen foods on the stones, stacking them hot out of the oven and accidently placing them on a hot burner; these things make stones crack.

      • Susan: If they offer a replacement warranty, that’s different. Still a bother though, and they do crack all the time. May have improved their manufacturing process?

  4. Thank you for the review of the various pizza stones. I couldn’t find the Lodge cast iron pizza pans in any of my local stores so I decided to try their 10 1/2″ round griddle I already had in the pantry. LOVE IT! A small loaf of bread fits perfectly in the pan, comes out with a super crusty crust. Clean up is a breeze, I just scrub with a little warm water and a nylon scrubber then apply a thin coat of peanut oil and back in the pantry it goes!

    Love the website, I’ve learned so much more and plan on visiting often!

  5. Just had to put my 2 cents worth in on the Pampered Chef stone. We’ve had the same one for several years. In fact it usually stays in our oven and gets heated up whenever we do our cooking. No cracking so far. Also, we have the stoneware large bowl and when my husband makes bread he puts this over the top of the pizza stone and bread. Says it’s his “brick oven” and the bread always turns out delicious!

  6. Nothing to do with the above post, but in your Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day, page 31, you say that if you don’t wash your boule container you have lazy sourdough. I haven’t washed my container in quite a few loaves and my bread tastes great. Is there a time when I should wash it? There’s been nothing wrong with the bread it produces, but I’m just worried something could happen. Thanks!

    • Kristin: No way to know how to answer. I rarely wash it unless I’ve used dairy or eggs in the dough. Haven’t had any trouble…

  7. I have a Pizza stone similar to the thick one you list # 1 above.

    I have had it for almost 12 years with great success. To clean it and bring it back to it’s original condition I simply keep it in my oven and turn on the self cleaning option. I have also placed a cast iron skillet on another grate, at the same time and it cleans it back to it’s original condition and ready to re-season.

    The stone will withstand the self cleaning temperature in my oven.

    Tom.

  8. Have had the round thick pizza stone, the Pampered Chef and a recently purchased Emile Henry.

    The Pampered Chef cracked, they replaced it; but I was wary and never used in again on the Grill.

    The thick round pizza stone worked very well, but with no handles it was had to remove from the grill and I usually waited until it cooled off before removing. I too used a scraper to clean.

    The Emile Henry is outstanding. I was wary at first when they said you could cut directly onto the stone and have no marks. Well it does not show any marks after using a pizza wheel or knife. Super easy to clean off with soap and water.

    The best thing about it is the handles and the ability to bring it to the table directly from the Gas Grill and place it on a cutting board and cut and serve.

    Going to try some of your bread recipes next.

  9. Wow … this thread is wonderful!! I just wanted to chime to say thanks for …
    ~ loads of info on this site
    ~ the delicious bread that’s in our future. I say “future” ever I since drooled while watching 1 of your demos I’ve been planning to try your recipes !

    I have a “just for dinner” bread m/c that makes smaller loaves in 45 minutes; but, I suspect it will take a back seat to my cast iron & stones! I want to bake my own regularly (not every other month!). Perhaps your method will inspire me to actually do it. I’m so tired of sifting through all of the unhealthy, HFCS-laden bread on shelves!

  10. I love cast iron! Some of you asked where to get it. I inherited a few Le Crueset enameled cast iron pieces; but, I needed a few non-enameled cast iron pots. Here’s what I did:
    ~ Garage Sales: Found medium & small skillets at yard sales that were in good shape. Used steel wool & soapy water to clean away traces of rust & reseasoned them. Cast iron lasts forever & can be passed down for generations.
    ~ Amazon.com – Amazon.com has great prices on cast iron. I saved on Lodge there. Bought large/deep skillet & a pre-seasoned reversible grill/griddle (fits over two eyes on the stove) & received my order within 3 days with free shipping. Imagine my shock when I found out that amazon’s policy of free shipping on orders of $25 or more of qualifying items applied to heavy cast iron! amazing!
    ~ Cracker Barrel has a wonderful selection of Lodge cast iron. I window-shopped there to decide which pieces I wanted; then I discovered the savings at amazon & purchased there.
    ~ Costco – found my Lodge pre-seasoned Dutch oven there for $25 a few years ago. Check out big-box stores as well as dept stores for specials on cookware … tis the season for cooking.

  11. Hi,
    I have had a PC stone for many years with no problems. I also have the thick rectangular stone, and the Lodge pizza “stone”. My rectangular stone and my Lodge pan just store in the oven. Great tip on leaving them in the oven when self-cleaning. I was told many years ago by a PC rep, that if your stone needed extra cleaning or if you baked something smelly one it (fish, etc..), that a good scouring with baking soda would take care of it. The baking soda absorbs any stray odors and gently cleans. I like trying all the different baking pans & now have my eye on the Emile Henry pizza stone, I have some of their other pieces and love them, so I’m excited to try that now!

  12. We’ve been baking pizza and bread for a very long time on a beautiful Italian floor tile. We were tiling floors and knew how strong porcelain floor tiles are and compared to a pizza stone, are a fraction of the price! We found a fairly thick 16 x 16 tile, washed it and have been using it for more than eight years. We were concerned the texture on the back of the tile (that helps the tile hold onto thin set) would leave marks on the loaves, but it does not. What I found most interesting was your comments about glaze. I’ve found that when using the glazed side to reheat pizza, it does make the crust more chewy, but we don’t heat the oven as hot nor as long as when baking.

    Anyway, we’ve been very satisfied with the results and the investment was minimal because the tile we chose was on clearance. It is probably a great way for someone who is just getting started and does not want to invest in a “nice” pizza stone to be able to cook on a stone oven.

  13. I also have used a Pampered Chef small round stone that I’ve had for years. I just recently purchased a rectangle PC stone for doing multiple loaves. When sliding loaves off the paddle I have had trouble with the loaves loosing shape or running into each other or off the edge of the stone. Any suggestions?

    • Barbara: If you use parchment, that solves the problem (instead of cornmeal or other grain). But it might be technique– place the tip of the peel where you want it to go and sharply pull it toward you, see if that helps.

      Or just use more cornmeal/grain. Jeff

  14. Has anyone ever tried the porclein fired ceramics at Lowe’s? The big 12 x 24′s. They look like they would be great for bagettes.

  15. I’ve been using a 16″ square unglazed tile I bought at Lowe’s for about $5 – and it works GREAT! Best of all, if it does ever crack, I won’t be upset about the cost of replacement. I can bake 4 loaves at one time on it. I still have a PC replacement stone from last summer – but haven’t even used it much because of the previous one’s cracking so early in the purchase.

  16. I had the Pampered Chef large round pizza stone with handles. As long as I placed my pizza or bread on it at room temperature, it was fine. The first time I tried preheating the stone and placing my room temp bread on it, it broke. I still need to replace it, but I won’t use it for bread baking again. I’m going to attempt to use my cast iron Lodge griddle instead.

  17. long equipment question…
    I’m a new convert, and I’ve really gone a little overboard. in the month since christmas I went from never baking bread to making never being without dough in the fridge. I’m a potter, so I made myself a gorgeous cloche and have been using it for a week. I’m moving to costa rica in a few months, so I’m hoarding all the equipment I might need so I can take it all with me, and I’m kind of confused about the transfer step in the breadmaking process.
    in the book, you recommend resting the bread on a pizza peel with lots of cornmeal for about 30 minutes, and then sliding that onto a pizza stone.
    I worry that in costa rica I wont have such easy access to cornmeal, also, I’ve been reading the website which says that longer resting times might be better, even a few hours. so, i worry about resting on the pizza peel for so long, since even just half an hour sometimes left me with a loaf stuck to the peel.
    so I’ve tried parchment paper and found that to be wonderful for transferring the loaf onto the stone. now I’m looking for some more reusable alternatives, since I expect that parchment paper is going to get pretty pricey at home.
    so, I’m looking into reusable parchment paper or silicone mats. and that’s where I’m a little stuck. have you tried silicone mats? how did it go?
    that crucial transfer is where I’m getting stuck. is there a better trick for resting the loaves for a few hours, would they stick with conrmeal, or should I keep going with parchment?
    thanks for the wonderful book, I feel truly accomplished and competent at a time when I could use it (writing a dissertation!), and it really reminds me of my mom and the mysterious powers of baking fresh bread
    –Jimena

  18. I am a Pampered Chef junkee and I think I own every stone they have ever made. Several of them are more than 15 years old, and still working just fine. The only ones I have broken over the years were my own fault; I set one on a hot stove top, and I dropped another one. Luckily they happened when I was still learning about the care of stones, and both were replaced by their 3 year warranty. I always wash them in soap & water, too. Once they are seasoned well, they don’t absorb the soap anymore.

    • DJ: Interesting– my stone says “never use soap”! I’d do whatever the manufacturer says, even if it seems that the well-seasoned stone isn’t absorbing.

      As for the durability of the PC brand– many people have complained, but some fraction have reported it doesn’t break. I just don’t know what to say, other than to refer people to our reader comments. Jeff

      • Stones to my understanding should NEVER be cleaned with soap/detergent. It strips the “seasoning” and does indeed cause a soapy taste. If you’ve gotten something baked hard to it and cannot scrape it off, you can soak the whole thing in hot water (NO detergent though)until it scrapes off easily. Additionally, if you’ve used a stone for meat, for example, and are worried about risk of bacteria, a good-quality stone should be “bake-able” up to 550F and that will kill any bacteria.

    • Hi John,

      My experience is that many, but not all, gas ovens allow some of the steam to be released while baking. This means that you don’t get as nice a crust and it is dull, not shiny. This seems particularly true with “professional-style” ovens.

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Hi Ruth,

      They are both wonderful, but we usually suggest the wooden one for people just starting with pizza baking. The thicker wood peel prevents the dough from sticking as much. But, once you are used to the process both will seem easy!

      Thanks, Zoë

  19. I’m SO Thrilled with my new “Artisan Bread..” book! I jumped right in, threw a batch into the fridge and baked an amazing loaf the next night for dinner (all while I threw together the steak and veggies!) But I have to share about my stone. I have used and told everyone I know about my amazing Pampered Chef rectangular baking stone for the last 10 or 15 years that I’ve owned it. BUT!!!! It SHATTERED in my oven when I baked my very first loaf of bread at 450. Yes, it’s likely that it might have had a crack from over a decade of use, it is only rated to 450 and no oven is perfect, and I did “misuse” it by placing a room temp dough on a very hot stone. I’m still going to replace it because it worked perfectly for many years of near daily use, but now I’m thinking about the Emile Henry version because it’s rated for the higher temps and I can grab it today at Sur La Table. Can’t bear to have this dough ruined by baking on something other than a stone! Thank You so much for the great cookbook!

    • Hi Holly,

      Sorry to hear about the stone! Sounds like you got lots of great baking out of it!

      So glad you enjoyed the bread!

      Thanks, Zoë

  20. I used to sell PC and am thinking the people that are having them break could be putting the stones in the oven while preheating and the top burner is on. The stones aren’t made for that, you can’t broil on them. #1 cause of breakage for them is thermal shock. I have had my stones for 12 years and the only one I broke was because I accidentally banged it on the counter. They don’t have any aftertaste, don’t smoke and heat evenly. I had one I bought at DAytons that took on odors of everything. That’s in a landfill.

  21. I came looking for your latest recommendations and just ordered the stone linked to on the Amazon ad. Of course that’s after I broke my second PC stone…and the last breakage had nothing to do with the quality of the stone…let’s leave it at I lost a nice heavy pottery coffee mug at the same time and try to put the gory details behind! ; )

    Jeff, I was thinking that early on you were recommending a stone from William Sonoma, I’m hoping the one from Amazon will work as well!

    I actually use a PC clay loaf pan or Staub dutch oven for my ABin5 bread these days, but do a pizza a few times a month using whatever dough I have in the fridge.

    BTW both my stones were at least 15 years old and much used! Well they became much used only after my first ABin5 book! You two have changed my cooking world!

    THANKS!

    • Hi LaJuana,

      Sorry to hear about your stone and the coffee mug! Williams-Sonoma used to have a lifetime guarantee on their stone, but they no longer make such a claim. The one on Amazon seems to be working really well for many, many of our readers.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  22. Thanks for the information especially the pictures. I was worried that my stone looked”dirty” but I see this is normal. Our first venture into pizza was a hoot. We didn’t get the peel set up correctly and when we tried to put the pizza in the oven with that quick jerk the toppings (sauce cheese and all slid and ended uphalf on the stoneand half on the crust. We scooped it back on as much as we could but you can imagine the mess. Also we failed to properly pre-heat the stone and so we got a very strange bread pizza soup. Oh well! Is there something we should do to try to get the sauce residue off the stone??

  23. I’ve just started using the HB in 5 and love it. I had a Pampered Chef round stone which just broke into 3 pieces. I’m still using it but it didn’t last more than 6 uses.
    I was wondering about the glazed pizza stone. If it works with a glaze, would any big glazed ceramic tile work? The product review says it is micro-crazed, but does that really matter? How could you find out if the glaze was safe for food? Any thoughts?

    • Hi Bernadette,

      As an amateur potter myself, I would be VERY careful about which glazes are being used. Many glazes are perfectly safe, but there are just as many that are not intended for food and can contain things like Lead. A little research or visit to a local professional potter may be worth it.

      Thanks, Zoë

  24. Just wanted to post a comment about Pampered Chef stoneware. It is designed to be super easy to use and therefore does not need to be preheated. I’ve used your method with the steam bath and Pampered Chef’s round stone and it didn’t break, but then I tried it without pre-heating and no steam and it turned out just as good. So I don’t want your followers to be afraid to use their Pampered Chef stones. Just don’t preheat and you’ll be fine! I’ve made so many variations of this bread on so many different SHAPES of Pampered Chef stones and they turn out great. And I kind of like that I can skip the preheating step.

    • L: Sounds like you’re happy with the crust result with a non-preheated stone– while I have not been, this is after all just a matter of taste. Jeff

  25. I just want to chime in with my 2cents. I always thought a stone is a stone and was very happy to use my PC Pizza Stone with handles and never gave a thought to it cracking when I started making ABin5. It didn’t and hasn’t even tho I’ve been baking nearly daily using this method ever since I cut the article out of my Mother Earth News mag. So, for me, the Pampered Chef Stone has been perfect and I’m so glad I had it! (I broke down and bought both books and am now looking forward to getting the pizza book soon!)

  26. Did you say that I can use my Lodge cast iron pizza thing without preheating it for both bread and pizza? I can put my pizza dough on it and place my sauce and cheese on the dough. Then slip it into my oven.

    Also, has anyone tried using a microwave oven with the convection option? Any problems?

    • Rick: I would not try that– the crust will be soft. Same for the microwave, though traditional convection works beautifully (lower the heat by 25 degrees). Jeff

  27. I love my Lodge cast iron pan! use it for almost everything…..bread,eggs,pancakes and now pizza !
    I have all three of your books and make very tasty breads ! At Christmas I made the braided raspberry brioche and people at our party went kabunkers…..

  28. I use the Lodge ‘double dutch’ cast iron oven. Upside down of course. This is flat on both halves so the ‘lid’ is really a skillet without a long handle and it becomes the bottom on which the bread lays. The ‘pot’ is placed on the top upside down and holds the moisture in like a earthenware pot oven. The interlock groves hold the cast iron pot and lid together for moisture retention (almost all cast iron skillet or pot lids have this groove).

    So, no stone to break and no need to make steam as the moisture held inside makes a wonderful crust.

    Just as ABI5 book suggests, I remove the bread from the pot after 2/3 the baking time and place bread directly in a lightweight aluminum pan for the last 1/3.

    Also, like in Zoe’s website video, I place the bread inside the baking pot (lid) on top of parchment paper in which I carry the bread and inside while baking.

    Procedure for change (wearing gloves): remove the pot (top) and place on counter to cool. Remove bread (lift parchment paper and bread out and place in any light cool aluminum pan). Remove the cast iron lid (bottom) from oven and place it on top the iron pot to cool. Set cool aluminum pan and bread back in oven for the final 1/3 baking.

    I thank Zoe’s website for the idea of using Lodge cast iron and Joe Mc Bue’s Amazon review of the Lodge Double Dutch oven which showed the procedure of his that I use.

  29. I just baked a baguette on this kind of a pan: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-AMB-14PP-Classic-Nonstick-Bakeware/dp/B0000D8CAO/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1329354013&sr=1-1

    It was delicious. I did not have to use a pizza peel as it could go straight into the oven without cracking under the high heat. I want to be a purist, though, and know that I’m getting the best results possible! Have you ever tried a pan like this, and did it deliver the results you wanted?

    • Hi Suzy,

      Our feeling is, if the bread turned out well then why not. We are always open to using new techniques and equipment. I have used a perforated baguette pan, which is very similar, but a different shape.

      Enjoy and happy baking! Zoë

  30. Hi! I’ve been making bread from your first book for a while and it’s been great. I just discovered today that you also have a pizza book now. I’m very excited about that and will be ordering it soon!

    Thanks for the review on the stones. I have used numerous PC stones over the last 15 years or so, and I’ve only had one break. It was in the oven about halfway through the cooking time. The others have held up well, but I’ve never tried them on the grill.

    I do have a questions about cooking pizzas: have you tried using a screen instead of a stone? I don’t have any experience making pizza (just eating it!) so I’m hoping to get a professional opinion. I know a lot of people and restaurants use pizza screens to cook and move the pizza. It seems easier than moving a fragile creation from the counter to a hot stone. But is that the only reason? Does the end product taste different? Thank you so much for all the info you’ve given so many of us!

    Cathy

    • Catherine: We haven’t tested the screens, but the idea of them is that there’s nothing insulating the pizza bottom from the oven heat, so that promotes crisping. They can be used with our without stones.

      Not so much a matter of taste as texture (crispness). Doubt it’s better than the stone strategy.

  31. I have 3 Pampered Chef pizza stones. My oldest one is thicker than the other 2, so I have been using it to bake bread on. I have only baked 4 loaves so far, but no problems. I plan on trying my cast iron dutch oven, a stoneware loaf pan (also Pampered Chef) and my large cast iron skillet or the lid turned upside down like I’ve seen my brother do. I would hate to crack my stone since I make a lot of pizza on it.

  32. Hi there,

    Just got your first and second books and am a bit confused about using the stone or not for some recipes such as brioche, challah, etc. The recipe says to use a brioche pan (for brioche) or cookie sheet (for challah), etc. but then it says “if you’re not using a stone, you can heat the oven for just 5 minutes.” Why would I be using a stone if my dough is going into a pan or on a cookie sheet? Are you suggesting that I place the pan or cookie sheet on the stone? I thought the stone was just for breads or pizzas.

    Appreciate your help in understanding this! Thanks much!

    Harriet

    • Harriet: Some of the folks who end up making bread very often decide to leave the stone in the oven all the time. It’s just a convenience. Then if it’s a loaf that’s done on a baking sheet (prefer the heavy gauge ones), you can either place it directly on the stone, or on a middle shelf (if you permanently placed the stone close to the bottom).

      But it doesn’t matter whether the stone’s in there for baking-sheet projects, it’s not necessary. But it doesn’t hurt anything.

  33. My PC stone broke baking the first loaf. I purchased a used broiler pan to use to put the water in, in case it warped, and it held up just fine; could I use the broiler pan top to bake my loaf on, if I place parchment paper under the loaf? I’m thinking it would stand up to the heat and the slits might help crisp the loaf on bottom.

    • Jan: We get that complaint about PC from lots of our Commenters here, so sorry to hear. The broiler pan should work, especially with parchment under.

      • Jeff, just a follow up; I tried baking the loaf on the broiler pan top, with parchment paper, and it worked just fine. I removed the paper during the last 1/3 of baking time. So a used broiler pan could be a cheap alternative to expensive baking stones, and no worries about cracking.

  34. Just found your site–love it. Great reviews of the stones. We’ve had lots of different ones crack. We have been using the back of our Lodge skillet. We do have the Pampered Chef stone loaf pan and use if for our sourdough bread and it works great, have had it for about 2 yrs.!

  35. I have the round pizza stone that I bought at Ross Dept store at a discount, maybe for $8, I think. It works great, no problems, easy cleanup, had it for two years so far, no cracking. I also like to use my french Fontignac Oval Cast Iron dutch oven to bake loaves in, it works great too.

  36. I have both the PizzaQue and the Lodge cast iron pizza pan. I purchased the PizzaQue first and found it heavy, hard to handle, and difficult to store. agree with you in that the Lodge pizza pan is great. It gets hot quickly and I can use it on my grill or in my oven. The Lodge enameled cast iron 6 QT dutch oven is also great to use for a nice crunchy crust. Thanks for all of you recipes and suggestions. You two are the BEST.

  37. hi guys- am trying to replace a borrowed pizza stone, and love the size and heft of #1 in your article. where might i find something like this? the ones i am finding are all .5 inch thick and look/feel quite fragile and insubstantial.

    thanks for the great post and site!

  38. Here’s one that’s not mentioned: the new-fangled baking steel. It’s great for baking neapolitan-style pizzas in four minutes (really!), but is it okay for breads that take 20-40 minutes to bake?

    Here are some links for your reference:

    What it’s all about: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/09/the-pizza-lab-the-baking-steel-delivers.html?ref=obinsite
    Steel vs. cast iron: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/10/the-pizza-lab-baking-steel-lodge-cast-iron-pizza.html
    To buy your own: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bakingsteel/baking-steel-create-the-crust-you-crave

    • Hi Nicole,

      The stone or steel only get as hot as the oven temperature, so it should work just as well for baking bread.

      Thanks for letting me know about this product, looks interesting! Zoë

      • Thanks, Zoe! My workhorse stone cracked last week (too much bread baking in this house since I got your book), so I’m in the market for something new. If I get a steel, I’ll be sure to post about how it works. Thanks again!

      • Zoe,

        I’m a bit obsessed with making pizza since purchasing your books. I purchased a baking steel and I absolutely love it for pizza. I put my stone on the top rack and the steel on the 2nd rack. The steel creates a nicely blistered crust and the heat from the stone on the top rack browns the top of the pizza very nicely. I have a double oven so I just leave the stone and the steel in the oven at all times – no need to store. Only con to the the steel is that it is heavy. The Lodge cast iron pizza pan is my 2nd favorite surface for getting a good pizza crust and a stone would be third. Thanks for the books and thanks for taking time to answer our questions.

        Bruce

  39. Tell me which to get: Emile Henry, Baker’s Catalog Stone which is rectangular, or something else. Round or rectangular Emile?

    Is one more vesatile than the other? pros cons?

    Thx.

  40. Thanks so much for the wonderful books. My family and friends really enjoy the bread and we almost never get store bread anymore!

    My question is about containers for storing the dough in…I couldn’t find an appropriate place to post, so I hope this works.

    I am looking for a recommendation of a non-plastic lidded container to store my dough in. I have been using a large stock pot, but want to return that pot to it’s usual use. It also takes up a lot of space in the fridge and you can’t stack anything on top of it. I want to avoid plastic because I’m worried about various chemicals and I often let the dough rest on a radiator in the winter when our house is fairly cold. I can’t find any large glass bowls with lids and very few metal ones, mostly with poor reviews. Any recommendations for specific products? Thanks you!!

    • Megan: Actually, my non-plastic option, like yours, is a stainless steel stockpot, which happens to be of a size that fits fine in my particular fridge. Hmm, anyone have product ideas? Anything made from a non-reactive substance is great– like crockery, glass, stainless.

  41. I’m thinking of trying the Yeasted Thansgiving Cornbread with Cranberries but I don’t own a 12 inch cast iron pan. I do have a 10 inch cast iron pan. Could I use this instead? Your recipe calls for the 12 inch with dough up to 1.5 inches deep.

    As another option – can this bread be made free form on a baking stone instead of in a pan?

    Thanks—need to move quickly on this.

  42. Zoe: any reason why someone couldn’t bake on the bottom side of the Lodge cast iron pan to avoid the problem with the lip?

    I can’t believe someone is manufacturing a large rectangular cast iron stone…apparently foodies somewhere on the internet were trying to lobby a new foundry (www.boroughfurnace.com)to take it on as a product…there seemed to be tons on interest. Doesn’t seem that they are making any yet however. Anyone else know of any sources of a rectangular cast iron “stone”?

    Kelly

    • whoops…that should have read: “I can’t believe someone ISN’T manufacturing a large rectangular cast iron stone”.

      Since I am back again to correct my typo, I forgot to say what I fan I am of your books and method. I am an engineer who has been able to keep my family of 5 in homemade bread and pizza for over a year since finding your books. If I can do it anyone can!

      • Hi Kelly,

        I completely agree and look forward to the rectangular cast iron baking stone. In the meantime, you can certainly use an overturned Lodge pan!

        So glad you’re enjoying all the bread!

        Cheers, Zoë

  43. I plan to make your Oatmeal Bread from your first book, but I don’t see what temp the milk should be before using. Straight out of the fridge, room temp, heated to certain temp?

  44. I read your post on baking stones, and it’s great! I bought a 14X16 stone recently and I am enjoying the results! But when I need to bake a smaller loaf, I use my smaller oven and a round Pyrex dish that has a cover. I pre-heat it for 30 min with the cover, that drop the dough inside, cover and bake for 30 min, then take the cover off, and bake for further 10-15 min, depending on the type of bread. turns out crunchy every time!

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