Whether you prefer to use a baking stone or Baking Steel, preheating your baking surface is crucial to making great pizza. For optimal preheating, I recommend placing your baking surface in the center of your oven rack approximately 8 inches from the top heating coils. Preheat the oven to 550°F (288°C); or if your oven will not reach 550°F, use the highest temperature available on your unit. When preheating a baking stone use the bake function on your oven, where the heat comes from the bottom of the oven and not the broil.
A fully heated baking surface will create a crisp crust with the perfect golden color. It is important to remember that the preheat signal on your oven is not a reliable indicator that you are ready to start baking your pizza. Due to the density of the material in a baking stone or Baking Steel, it will take longer for the surface to reach the desired temperature. If the surface does not reach a temperature over 400°F it will not be hot enough to properly transfer heat to to the crust and will not cook the bottom to the desired golden brown color. Under heating your baking surface will result in a denser crust with a pale coloration and may even cause the dough to stick to the baking surface. Below are suggested total preheating times to help you ensure a hot baking surface.
Preheating Times *
Baking Steel 1/4″ thickness: 60 minutes
Baking Steel 1/2″ thickness: 90 minutes
Baking Stone 1/2″ or thinner: 45 minutes
Baking Stone 5/8″ or thicker: 60 minutes
* These times are based on your oven air temperature reaching 550°F within the first 20 minutes. I have noticed that due to a lack of insulation, some economy ovens can take longer to reach the set temperature. If has been an issue for you in the past, use an oven thermometer to see how long it takes for your oven’s internal temperature to reach 550°F. If your oven takes 30 minutes to reach 550°F, then increase your preheat time by 10 minutes.
Cooking Multiple Pizza
When you bake pizza on a baking stone, the pizza will absorb some of the heat from the stone. Once the stone has been removed from the oven, it will need a few minutes to fully heat back to the desired temperature. To ensure consistent results, once a pizza has finished cooking and has been removed from the stone, close the oven door and wait 5 minutes before cooking another pizza.
After Baking – Keep Your Stone In The Oven
Once you are finished baking, turn the oven off and leave the stone inside, allowing several hours for the stone to cool completely. Do not attempt to remove the stone right away. Attempting to move a hot stone is dangerous due to the heat and weight. At such high temperatures oven mitts are only effective for a few seconds at protecting your hands from burns. When it comes to storing your stone when not in use there is actually no need to remove the a baking stone or baking steel from the oven. Leaving the stone in the oven is safe for the stone and also tends to create a more stable temperature in the oven, such as when opening the door or the normal cycle of the oven heating mechanism, due to the stored heat.