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Greetings:

 

Here is an involved and highly technical discussion just in time for the holidays (just kidding of course). I am in the process of makiing some pizza stones for a few friends. I had a potter acquaintance visiting my studio the other day and the potter insisted that the pizza stones should have perforations but I always make mine solid. Have any of you made pizza stones perforated? It would appear to me that to mimic a woodfired oven you would want the greatest amount of thermal mass and if you perforate the stone the thermal mass would be diminished and make the stone less efficient. What do you think about perforations vs no perforations?

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Nice to see you're back, Charles. I just asked Marcia yesterday where you had gotten to...

Anyway, this is one of those questions where if YOU don't know the answer, with your background, the rest of us might not be much help.

The fun answer is for you to make one of each kind, and then try them out by baking pizzas, and then eating the experiments with a nice salad and a good bottle of wine. Then you'll get some answers, but they may not be about pizza stones!

I have a stone that is solid, about 3/8" thick and a foot in diameter. Frankly, I have always been disappointed with the results, the pizzas never come out crispy, despite preheating the stone, using high temp, etc. So I would be interested to see what a perforated stone would give you.

I think these things have to be really heavy, to soak up the heat, don't you? perhaps an inch thick or so, that might do it.

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I have a solid pizza stone and a thin metal perforated pizza pan. The pizza pan outdoes the solid stone every time for creating a crispy browned pizza crust. Have never tried to make a pizza stone myself, but if I did, I'd try the perforated kind simply because of the results I get with the commercial ones.

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The commercially made ones are solid, but there is also a pizza screen

that lets the heat through and claims to be faster.

 

So, does the stone get hotter than the ambient air in the oven?

A question for our thermal physicists or engineers.

 

 

If we could figure out how to get the stone hotter than ambient we could clean up and go live the life of liesure in a chateau in the South of France! Unfortunately we run smack dab into the laws of thermodynamics and nature does not like scofflaws. The comment was that the perforated stone would result in a crisper crust. I make my stones with a textured top and seem to get a fine crust, I was just curious to see if I was missing something. Now about that Chateau.....:)

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Nice to see you're back, Charles. I just asked Marcia yesterday where you had gotten to...

Anyway, this is one of those questions where if YOU don't know the answer, with your background, the rest of us might not be much help.

The fun answer is for you to make one of each kind, and then try them out by baking pizzas, and then eating the experiments with a nice salad and a good bottle of wine. Then you'll get some answers, but they may not be about pizza stones!

I have a stone that is solid, about 3/8" thick and a foot in diameter. Frankly, I have always been disappointed with the results, the pizzas never come out crispy, despite preheating the stone, using high temp, etc. So I would be interested to see what a perforated stone would give you.

I think these things have to be really heavy, to soak up the heat, don't you? perhaps an inch thick or so, that might do it.

 

 

Thanks for the warm welcome! I was out in the hinterlands beating the bushes for filthy lucre and got a chance to spend Thanksgiving with my Daughter in Orange County before returning to my shop in the soggy redwoods.

 

Well I have a technical answer and technically a solid stone wold hold more heat and give it up more uniformly. The other potter seemed to think that the crsuts would turn out crispier with the performated stone. I suspect that crispiness would be somewhat subjective and I don't think we have a durometer to measure crispiness.

 

Now I really lilke your idea of having a pizza stone shootout. That is attractive on so many levels: an excuse to eat good pizza, drink fine wine and share some cameraderie.

 

The pizza stones I make are usually textured and seem to generate a nice crust. what is your heat source, I prefer to use gas and I'm hoping to build a wood-fired oven this coming Spring. I use a small thinner stone in my toaster oven for the small 12 inch size frozen pizzas. the stones I make are usually about a half inch thick. Anyway I now have a perforated stone ready to be fired along with a variety of non-perforated standard ones. The visitin potter succeeded in perforating one but I remained obdurate for the rest.

 

So after I torch the batch I'll have to set up the shootout and then report on it. Now for the judgiing, which Geneva do you hail from the one a hemishpere away or the one in the middle of the Country? I'm goin to need some judges who have expertise in Pizza texture as well as the fruit of the vine :)

 

Best regards,

Charles

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IMHO a perforated pizza pan/stone works better for a crisp crust. Alays preheat the stone or pan to temp before placing the pizza. on it.

 

 

All right Pam S! We get a vote for a perforated pizza stone. This is getting interesting. Are you in proximity to participate in the above referenced Pizza Stone Shootout?

 

Regards,

Charles

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I have a solid pizza stone and a thin metal perforated pizza pan. The pizza pan outdoes the solid stone every time for creating a crispy browned pizza crust. Have never tried to make a pizza stone myself, but if I did, I'd try the perforated kind simply because of the results I get with the commercial ones.

 

 

Interesting comparison Mossyrock. I'm not sure how to reconcile the differences between the pizza stone and a perforated metal pan, the thermal transfer characteristics would be so different. What are the dimension of your pan and the size of the holes?

 

Regards,

Charles

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I volunteer to be one of the judges with expertise on pizza crust. Credentials include eating much Italian pizza in Northern and central Italy. Not a fan of Southern Italy crust. Charles, The textured surface for your stones is an interesting idea. I have been planning a pizza oven here too. We still have considerable wood from the Mesquite we lost from Hurricane Dolly.

Marcia

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Greetings:

 

Here is an involved and highly technical discussion just in time for the holidays (just kidding of course). I am in the process of makiing some pizza stones for a few friends. I had a potter acquaintance visiting my studio the other day and the potter insisted that the pizza stones should have perforations but I always make mine solid. Have any of you made pizza stones perforated? It would appear to me that to mimic a woodfired oven you would want the greatest amount of thermal mass and if you perforate the stone the thermal mass would be diminished and make the stone less efficient. What do you think about perforations vs no perforations?

 

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I'm new to pottery but love the idea of making pizza stones. Is there somewhere I can get instructions? Or is it as simple as rolling out a slab of clay ??? thick and firing? No glaze???? And must it be high fire or can it be low fire clay?

 

Thanks,

LindaL

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I'm new to pottery but love the idea of making pizza stones. Is there somewhere I can get instructions? Or is it as simple as rolling out a slab of clay ??? thick and firing? No glaze???? And must it be high fire or can it be low fire clay?

 

Thanks,

LindaL

 

 

Pizza stones are one of the simpler endeavors in pottery. I like to use sculpture mix, largely because I use a lot of sculpture mix and have a bunch on hand most times but also because it's grogged and puts up with repeated cycles of heating and cooling. I've seen round and square ones just plain flat dumb slabs from 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Not a particularly sophisticated items but I've had good results with them in my gas oven and even in my little toaster oven for the small frozen pizzas. Have fun!

 

Regards,

Charles

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I volunteer to be one of the judges with expertise on pizza crust. Credentials include eating much Italian pizza in Northern and central Italy. Not a fan of Southern Italy crust. Charles, The textured surface for your stones is an interesting idea. I have been planning a pizza oven here too. We still have considerable wood from the Mesquite we lost from Hurricane Dolly.

Marcia

 

 

Absolutely Marcia, you're on! I suspected you had the credentials especially with your international experience. Now we need to develop some objective criteria for evaluating what the best crust is. I started texturing the stones just for fun and my textures are pretty simple just rolled in designs about an 1/8th inch deep and the stones appeared to perform better, at least to my taste so I just kept doing it, I do a lot of freefrom textures and even use things like crocheted items I find here and there.

 

I have to admit that my interest in a wood fired oven extends a bit beyond just pizza making: they are great for meats also. I was amazed at the efficiency of wood fired ovens. I spent a couple of months a number of years ago traipsing through the jungles of the Yucatan and ran a cross a number of the ovens in daily use. One baker used it for commercial baking an a d small town and was able to bake all day on a couple of bundles of small branches. the bakes would actually plan on the decreasing temperatures by stagin his baked goods based on the temperature necessary for completing them. I had outstanding Birria in a few of the places I visited and that got me interested in building my own.

 

Best regards,

Charles

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Charles,

They have wonderful wood ovens in Spain. A friend cooked some roast leg of lamb in one and it was divine. In the pottery town where I lived in Spain, my house and neighborhood was built in the 13th century. The cooking facilities in the homes were propane burners and no ovens. On Tues. and Sat. the woman could bring pans of prepared food to the bakers to be baked. Nice system.

I think I see some potential of ovens along with Carolyn Dorr's idea for a food and pottery conference. We need a pizza oven and bread oven segment of that event.

In 1977 I think,,,NCECA was at Greeley , CO. and they built a "horno" bread oven. Some delicious bread was baked and we ate it on the spot.

"Horno" means kiln in Spanish....at least among the Spanish potters I knew in Spain.

 

In Uzbekistan, I took the overnight night train to Bukhara with some friends. Our host's mother was baking Nan when we arrived at 6 am. in a 4 ft.or so beehive oven with a fire in the bottom and flat bread slapped on the sides. She had a stack of bread about 2 ft. tall for all of us.

 

Would Mendicino be a good location for such a conference?

Marcia

 

 

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I have a solid pizza stone and a thin metal perforated pizza pan. The pizza pan outdoes the solid stone every time for creating a crispy browned pizza crust. Have never tried to make a pizza stone myself, but if I did, I'd try the perforated kind simply because of the results I get with the commercial ones.

 

 

mossyrock - i agree with your findings, but i dont think we should give up on the stones! the stone you probably have is commercial and burnished and thin! and after all, every good authentic pizza place has a stone oven, and the bottom of their ovens are all lined with clay/brick/stone somethings.

 

 

i love making pizza! i bought this great recipe book just on making pizza called American Pie, by Peter Reinhart, from which i learned a lot from. However, i learned the most from just making the dough and pizza and baking it in the oven.

 

my results:

 

i started using the commercial pizza stone my parents have at their house. i would preheat the oven to 500 deg. F. for 45mins and then put the raw pizza on there to cook. the pizzas would turn out great, but the crust wasnt always crispy on the outside and sometimes the dough was still a little raw on the inside, especially where there was a bit more sauce. so, to remedy, i would bake just the crust in the oven for about 3 minutes to partially bake them. then i would add the ingredients like sauce and cheese and whatever and then rebake. on the hot stone again. that turned out much better results.

 

i have also used the perforated metal pizza pans. these seemed to bring out the same in the pizza, maybe a slightly crispier crust, but nothing worth remembering apparently.

 

what i have learned about commercial pizza stones and pans:

 

clay stones -

commercial pizza stones like one my parents have are highly burnished on the surface. this makes it extremely difficult to have any moisture released from the dough through the bottom, thus making a crispy crust on the bottom very difficult to achieve. also, the commercial stones are usually very thin, almost always thinner than 1/2". you want something much thicker and porous than highly burnished thin stones.

 

metal pans -

my guess is that the perforations on the metal pans help a little more with moisture release, which is why you get those little darker crispier circles where the perforations are. they are also much cheaper and are great for budget spenders.

 

 

conclusions:

 

i have read many times over that the cheapest pizza stones you can buy are actually unglazed quarry tiles. just buy larger tiles and essentially tile your oven rack (without mortar, hopefully obvious). and also get the thick ones. thickness = better heat retention. you dont want to be losing heat from the oven. that also means quickly putting the pizza in and not opening it until it is done. :)

 

if you were to make a pizza stone, here is what i would do to remedy all the problems i have experienced with commercial products:

 

1. use a porous clay (no porcelains. use heavily grogged stuff like fireclays that react to heat changes well and wont crack under pressure)

 

2. make it THICK! im talking 1" or so! maybe more? i dont know for certain if you gain anything making thicker than 1" but make it thick enough where it will retain heat well and not lose it quickly, and where it will not crack so easily.

 

3. never ever ever burnish your clay or glaze it. that totally defeats the purpose of releasing moisture to get that crisp crust.

 

4. i have heard of clay pieces cracking if they are not evenly thick throughout the piece. i have no idea if this is absolutely essential, but if i were to make one, i would try to keep it even.

 

5. if you prefer not to make a pizza stone but rather buy one, i have considered using those thick clay kiln shelves. does anyone have an extra one to use in their oven to see if it works? id love to know if it does so i can buy one! that has been my plan for some time now!

 

there is my pizza advice!

 

your neighborhood pizzaiolo and potter,

phill

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The commercially made ones are solid, but there is also a pizza screen

that lets the heat through and claims to be faster.

 

So, does the stone get hotter than the ambient air in the oven?

A question for our thermal physicists or engineers.

 

 

If we could figure out how to get the stone hotter than ambient we could clean up and go live the life of liesure in a chateau in the South of France! Unfortunately we run smack dab into the laws of thermodynamics and nature does not like scofflaws. The comment was that the perforated stone would result in a crisper crust. I make my stones with a textured top and seem to get a fine crust, I was just curious to see if I was missing something. Now about that Chateau.....:)

 

 

i have a question about your textured top. doesnt it make getting the pizzas off a bit difficult?

 

if the texture you make is deep enough, you probably have the same thing going on with the perforations and i dont really see a big difference myself.

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Charles,

They have wonderful wood ovens in Spain. A friend cooked some roast leg of lamb in one and it was divine. In the pottery town where I lived in Spain, my house and neighborhood was built in the 13th century. The cooking facilities in the homes were propane burners and no ovens. On Tues. and Sat. the woman could bring pans of prepared food to the bakers to be baked. Nice system.

I think I see some potential of ovens along with Carolyn Dorr's idea for a food and pottery conference. We need a pizza oven and bread oven segment of that event.

In 1977 I think,,,NCECA was at Greeley , CO. and they built a "horno" bread oven. Some delicious bread was baked and we ate it on the spot.

"Horno" means kiln in Spanish....at least among the Spanish potters I knew in Spain.

 

In Uzbekistan, I took the overnight night train to Bukhara with some friends. Our host's mother was baking Nan when we arrived at 6 am. in a 4 ft.or so beehive oven with a fire in the bottom and flat bread slapped on the sides. She had a stack of bread about 2 ft. tall for all of us.

 

Would Mendicino be a good location for such a conference?

Marcia

 

 

 

 

Actually Mendocino wold be an excellent place for just such a conference. Horno is the generic term for oven in Spanish and is also used in Latin America. I got to know one of the bakers in the town of Peto in the Yucatan and I inquired about is oven in detail since he had recently built a new one. One of the features of the oven this particular baker buil is the use of salt for the bottom of the oven. He had a salt slab over 6 inches thick as the bottom of the oven and Salt has excellent thermal characteristics for jsut such an application. I was considering bilding one along those lines. The brother of the baker from Peto lives in the Mendocino area and I knwo hi uite well so I have been looking forward to enlisting his help in making my own oven.

 

Let me know how you envision such a conference. The mendocino coast is a unique area and one very suited for such activities. Our greatest drawback is access: we are about 4 hours away from the closest airports either in Eureka, San Francisco or Sacramento all of which are about equidistant to the Mendocino Coast. We do have airports at Little River which accommodates large jets but are not serviced by scheduled airlines. Ukiah has a larger airport with commuter service to San Francisco and Santa Rosa. The Mendocino area is a destination are for many in the US because of the Coast Redwoods and the ocean and its natural beauty. (www.gomendo.com)

 

Tthe conference sounds liek a great project, depending on how many people would need to be accommodated since we have mostly bed a breakfast inns and a few motels but nothing particularly large. We have a builsiness that has a large annual educational workshop every summer and they attract quite a few people that they place in various locations so it can be done. This particular business is the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. I have a farm on the river here and so some portions of the conference might be held there and that is where I plan on setting up my oven. My next door neighbor raises cattle, all natural, grass-fed so it cold be funn testing out the new oven!

 

Best regards,

Charles

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The commercially made ones are solid, but there is also a pizza screen

that lets the heat through and claims to be faster.

 

So, does the stone get hotter than the ambient air in the oven?

A question for our thermal physicists or engineers.

 

 

If we could figure out how to get the stone hotter than ambient we could clean up and go live the life of liesure in a chateau in the South of France! Unfortunately we run smack dab into the laws of thermodynamics and nature does not like scofflaws. The comment was that the perforated stone would result in a crisper crust. I make my stones with a textured top and seem to get a fine crust, I was just curious to see if I was missing something. Now about that Chateau.....smile.gif

 

 

i have a question about your textured top. doesnt it make getting the pizzas off a bit difficult?

 

if the texture you make is deep enough, you probably have the same thing going on with the perforations and i dont really see a big difference myself.

 

 

 

Hi Phil!

 

Welcome to the discussion. I think you make some great points. I have been known to bludgeon a topic to death by over considering it but here is my take. I have never had a problem with sticking on my stones and perhaps it is because they are textured and not burnished. Actually I get a really nice crunch crust on the bottom that I would describe as crunchy french bread type for about 3/16 of an inch.

 

I don't think that you can compare metal and clay pizza devices because of the huge difference in thermal transfer characteristics. Metal would actually have very little bearing on the heat transferred to the Pizza, probably being closer to having set the pizza on a metal tray or the oven bottom, but may have some bearing on the moisture content.

 

The texture versus perforations probably at first guess would also not be comparable but for different reasons. I'd have to build a mathematical model of the thermodynamics involved in the two but it would appear to me that because of radiated heat the textured top would more closely resemble a sold stone than it would a perforated one. I am not sure what difference wold occur between radiated and conducted heat, that might be an intersting test.

 

Regards,

Charles

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In a traditional wood-fired pizza oven, you spread the coals over the bottom of the oven to heat it up, then brush them to the side when you're ready to bake. Logically, if you want to do the same with a pizza stone in a electric or gas oven, you would over heat it (say preheat up to 450/500 degrees) and then turn it down to bake the pizza.

 

More importantly, if I'm making them, what clay should I use? I made a batch with Cassius Basalt clay becuase I thought the fine holes would suit a pizza stone, although other people here seem to think terracotta and a high grog clay is good. Any grounded opinions?

 

Thanks!

Kaytea

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