I failed to explain in my previous post, sorry.
What I meant to say was, pre-heating the stone in the oven is fine, but handling it is quite difficult.
The main problems I encountered were ;
a. The stone (+ oven tray) is heavy and demands a delicate balancing or the stone is prone to slide off the oven tray when moving it from the oven to kitchen table for topping
b. When the pizza sheet is placed on the stone for topping, I have to do it very fast because the sheet starts to develop bubbles almost immediately,
c. Putting back the tray & stone into the oven is a delicate balancing act (a), with the high risk of allowing too much oven heat out because the oven door was open too long...
d. The stone itself absorbed lot of moisture which made the crust too dry (probably higher % of liquid will remedy the problem).
I agree with you though that one needs to think outside the comfort zone in order to develop!
Here's a picture of the stone I bought (sorry about the mess. some of the topping slided off the sheet during an attempt to use a different technique..it is impossible to get it off, the stone itself absorbs every juice it can get its surface on) :
N2D, thanks for clarifying about your difficulties with working with a pizza stone and for posting a picture of the stone. Now I understand your reluctance to using your pizza stone.
1) Your pizza stone is wayyy too clean looking.
Often times, a pizza stone is a reflection of the pizza maker. A "well seasoned" pizza maker should have a well seasonsed stone. That is the stone should be dark with remnant spotches of burnt oil and cheese. Pizza stones can be washed with warm water if you want but never wash it with soap or soapy water as it can absorb that soap. Just use a metal dough blade to scrape off the bits of burnt flour and cheese. So don't worry about a clean looking stone.
2) Put that metal handle somewhere up high or far away so you can't find it. It gives a false impression that you should be moving the stone about. You should not. Preheat the stone in the oven and when you are ready to bake, load the prepared pizza on a wooden peel quickly as to minimize the heat lost from the oven. Handling a hot stone is not only not recommended but can be dangerous.
I have welding gloves doubled up inside another pair of welding gloves for moving hot pizza stones about but again, it's not the routine or norm. Most ppl place the stone on desire rack, heat it up, load the pizza, bake, unload the pizza using a metal peel, never moving the stone back and forth.
For instructions on how to use a wooden peel or metal peel, you can probably fine a lot of videos on youtube for that.
About the stone absorbing moisture is a common characteristic and usually desireable. You don't want a stone trapping moisture under the pie but absorbing it to crisp up the skin. The bottom of the pizza will usually soften up again once it's out of the oven and cooling off before eating. You are right about increasing the hydration level to offset the stone absorbing moisture.