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America loves their pizza. On average American eat an average of 44 slice of pizza per year. However, pizza can be expensive. When you look into it, the cost to make pizza is actually quite low. What is expensive is the high heat output oven. One way to get around this is by using either a Pizza Pan or Stone. These devices helps you develop a extra crispy crust without a high end pizza oven.
What is a Pizza Pan and Stone
Most professional pizza oven bake pizza at 700 – 800 degree Fahrenheit. While our home oven will be lucky to even reach 500 degree. To overcome this, manufacturer have develop a thing known as a Pizza Stone. A Pizza Pan or Stone is a device designed to store heat. It helps the dough develop a stronger crust in an otherwise weak oven. Cheese also melt better and develop different flavor compound.
What to Look For
Generally, the thicker the pizza stone the better. You want it to be able to store enough heat in the presoak so that it can brown properly. Models with a easy to lift handle is ideal. Often time the slab is just that, a slab. So removing and maneuvering it while its hot is difficult.
Pizza Stone vs Pan
Pizza Stones and Pan comes in two different variety, ceramic and Steel. I personally prefer the steel model for a few reason. First, its much better at transferring heat. As it transmit heat to the dough, it causes more steam. This steam lifts the crust and gives it a more springy chew.
Ceramic is slower heating and as a result, can dry out your crust. The good thing about ceramic is that you have a higher room for error. Since its worse at transferring heat, burning the base is less likely. Sometimes with the Pizza Pan, the bottom of the pizza gets charred before the cheese have a time to melt.
How to Use
To use a pizza pan, start off by preheating it at 500 degree Fahrenheit. Leave it in around half an hour to get it up to temperature. Once heated, pop the pizza in the oven.
If you find that the bottom of the pizza is browning too fast, you can shorten cooking time via the broiler. This melts the cheese faster and gives it a more even bake. On the other hand, if you find that the cheese cook faster than the dough, you can set the stone at the mid section or lower part of the oven.
Cleaning is another thing you should take into account. Its much easier with the Pan model. Simple scrub should be more than enough to clean the stone. You should avoid soap as it can strip the seasoning and cause it to rust. This may seem like a hassle, you should see how it is to clean with the stone.
Stone are porous and care should be taken when washing it. Soap should be avoided as well since it can take in the flavor of the soap. Drying should be done thoroughly and quickly as it can crack and split if you’re not careful. I personally recommend a dusting and remove any gooey crud. Leave the stain by itself and just use it.
Best Pizza Pan and Stone
Below, you will find a list of some of the Best Pizza Pan and Stone. There are a few option to choose from, get one that best suits you.
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Baking Pizza Pan With Loop Handles (Best Overall)
Lodge is one of America oldest manufacturer of cast iron product. Their pizza pan is large, heavy and easy to use. Unlike other pizza pan, there is a huge handle. This handle makes it easy for you to maneuver and remove the pizza. The steel is also quite thick giving it enough performance to brown the pizza and rise the dough.
NerdChef Steel Stone – High-Performance Baking Surface for Pizza .50″ Thick – Ultimate (Best Alternative)
For the Best Performance, the .5 inch thick stone will store the most heat and give the best performance. It wont cool down like a ceramic stone and it will readily transfer heat to the pizza. There are notches so that you can easily remove it from the oven. However, it will be heavy. A full size handle would have been a better design.
The Companion Group PC0103 Square Stone Tile, Set of 4 (Best Pizza Stone)
For ceramic, outset pizza stone is the best choice. These are individual tiles for easy removable and set up. Once you are done baking, you can remove each of time individually and wash them individually. Washing these heavy ceramic tiles is a bit of a pain and often time difficult in the sink. Performance is also very similar to those single piece model.
There are many options for pizza stones and pan. In my opinion, the best option are those made of metal. Lodge is one of the best option to make pizza. You can make it without a peel and its heavy enough to brown the crust. However, the Nerd Chef is a good alternative if you want something more thick. For a easier to use model, a ceramic tile is a good alternative. They dont have the pitfall of the heavier pizza stone.
Looking for other cookware, check out our article on the Best Pan for Deep Frying.