Need Help Buying First Stone

Started by Joe Shmoe, January 01, 2022, 12:41:13 PM

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Joe Shmoe

I searched the site with no luck. I'm looking to buy a reasonably priced pizza stone. Not sure if I want 16" round or 14 x 16" rectangle. My oven goes to 550°. I don't know what to look for as far as quality. Thanks in advance for help.

02ebz06

#1
You get different opinions  Stone vs Steel.

Not sure what your definition of "reasonable" is, as we all have different "That's too much" thresholds.

I have a 3/4" x 16" x 16" Fibrament pizza stone (2 actually) that I have been happy with. I believe they will cut custom sizes if you require it.
You can get round or rectangle.
I use them in the kitchen oven now, but used them in my grill at higher temps than kitchen oven before I got a pizza oven.
Bruce here... My cooking toys --> Pizza Party Emizione, Pellet Grill, Pellet Smoker, Propane Griddle, Propane Grill

Pizza_Not_War

Owned many stones including Fibrament which is great. However steel is better for my needs. Heats faster and pizza bakes better.

If you are a diy type then eBay has cheap raw steel sellers or even cheaper local steel supply company. Otherwise look on Amazon for fully finished steels.

Joe Shmoe

Thanks for the quick answers. I checked Fibrament and then I checked into steel. It's a little more than I wanted to spend, but I think I found a steel that won't have me looking for something better in a couple of months and I shouldn't have to worry about it breaking. The size is 14 x 20 and it measures .4" thick. I don't have experience baking on stones, but I would think thicker than 1/4" is a must.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CG9TG3Q/?tag=pmak-20

02ebz06

#4
Quote from: Joe Shmoe on January 01, 2022, 04:29:56 PM
Thanks for the quick answers. I checked Fibrament and then I checked into steel. It's a little more than I wanted to spend, but I think I found a steel that won't have me looking for something better in a couple of months and I shouldn't have to worry about it breaking. The size is 14 x 20 and it measures .4" thick. I don't have experience baking on stones, but I would think thicker than 1/4" is a must.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CG9TG3Q/?tag=pmak-20

WOW, that thing weighs 30 pounds.  The will build up your muscles.   :-D
Bruce here... My cooking toys --> Pizza Party Emizione, Pellet Grill, Pellet Smoker, Propane Griddle, Propane Grill

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Gene in Acadiana

When I ditched the steel and went back to a stone a couple of years ago I went with a 16" by Cast Elegance. It's the best one I've baked on and the customer service is great if you have any issues. It's certainly not the cheapest option (around $50) but to me it's worth it for something I use often. If a circular 16" stone will fit in your oven, I'd go with that size over a 14"x20". Those extra two inches make a big difference.

Pizza_Not_War

Quote from: Joe Shmoe on January 01, 2022, 04:29:56 PM
Thanks for the quick answers. I checked Fibrament and then I checked into steel. It's a little more than I wanted to spend, but I think I found a steel that won't have me looking for something better in a couple of months and I shouldn't have to worry about it breaking. The size is 14 x 20 and it measures .4" thick. I don't have experience baking on stones, but I would think thicker than 1/4" is a must.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CG9TG3Q/?tag=pmak-20
READ reviews of that steel before buying.

Longs

#7
Quote from: Gene in Acadiana on January 01, 2022, 06:49:06 PM
When I ditched the steel and went back to a stone a couple of years ago I went with a 16" by Cast Elegance. It's the best one I've baked on and the customer service is great if you have any issues. It's certainly not the cheapest option (around $50) but to me it's worth it for something I use often. If a circular 16" stone will fit in your oven, I'd go with that size over a 14"x20". Those extra two inches make a big difference.

I used to buy the cheap department store pizza stones for my first 5 or 6 years.  I had to buy a new one every few years when they would crack while preheating even though I never washed them after the first time when they were new out of the box.   After going through 3 of them and all of them eventually breaking, I finally bit the bullet and in 2016 I went with a Cast Elegance rectangular stone and I still have it and ZERO issues with cracking.  I really like it and it usually just stays in my oven.  I am sure there are other stones equally as good but I can only vouch for the Cast Elegance stone as that it the only one I have.

I even had a 3/8" pizza steel for awhile but never got it dialed in to where I made better pizza than with the stone and that steel was so heavy it would really bend my oven rack down when sitting on it.  I gave my steel to one of my buddies and he uses it in some sort of "Rube Goldberg" setup on his outdoor gas grill. 

Lately I have been trying to perfect my Detroit pizzas so the stone has had little use in the past year but I am hoping to get it back into the pizza rotation soon.

nickyr

Cordierite is another popular stone material.

Some people on this forum like https://www.californiapizzastones.com/ a lot

My advice is you should absolutely get a rectangle. Circles have no benefits unless you're cooking in a circular grill. They just waste space. They're a smaller target to hit. And you can't cook a rectangular pizza on them. Or two loaves of bread.

Gene in Acadiana

Quote from: Longs on January 02, 2022, 10:33:10 AM
I even had a 3/8" pizza steel for awhile but never got it dialed in to where I made better pizza than with the stone and that steel was so heavy it would really bend my oven rack down when sitting on it.  I gave my steel to one of my buddies and he uses it in some sort of "Rube Goldberg" setup on his outdoor gas grill. 

I agree. I gave up using steel partially due to the hassle of moving it in and out of the oven but mainly because I find that a good stone produces a better, more evenly-baked crust, especially for New York style.

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Gene in Acadiana

Quote from: nickyr on January 02, 2022, 12:38:49 PM
Cordierite is another popular stone material.

Some people on this forum like https://www.californiapizzastones.com/ a lot

My advice is you should absolutely get a rectangle. Circles have no benefits unless you're cooking in a circular grill. They just waste space. They're a smaller target to hit. And you can't cook a rectangular pizza on them. Or two loaves of bread.

Yes, a rectangle will give you less wasted space, but if you want to be able to bake a 15" or 16" pie, a 14" x 16" won't cut it. He was trying to decide between a 16" circular stone or a 14" x 16." In this case, a 16" circular stone is much more versatile for pizza.

billg

Buy a Kiln shelf from a company like this:   https://www.axner.com/brent-kiln-shelf-cart.aspx.  I have the 1 inch 18x18 and it's awesome!!!!!

scott r

There are so many great suggestions in here.   

One thing to think about is thermal conductivity, and how that can help or hinder you in your particular oven or oven position.   I have a bunch of different stones and they all "give up the heat" slower or faster than others.  That ability to release heat really fast or really slowly into the bottom of your pizza is called thermal conductivity.   

My steel is the fastest, and the fibrament is the slowest at putting heat into the bottom of a pizza when set to the same temperature.   If I put my fibrament in the typical place that most pizza stones go, somewhere in the middle of the oven, it does the least browning to the bottom of my crust than any of my other stones or steels.  This doesnt make my favorite pizzas.   One day, however, I put it directly on my oven floor and preheated the oven only using the bottom under floor burner. When I did that I was able to get more than 650 degrees on the stone.  If I had done that same thing with my steel the bottom of the pizza would have imediately turned to charcoal, but with this low thermal conductivity fibrament it actually worked (as long as I kicked on top heat and or convection when I launched the pizza, or put a pizza screen under the pizza 1/2 way through the bake)

When using my steel I have my best luck using it as close to the top of the oven as possible.  Heat rises, and the top of your oven collects and radiates a lot of heat downward onto a pizza.  You need this when cooking with something with really high thermal conductivity (steel) or your bottoms will burn before your top finishes.   Another option is to use your steel in the middle of the oven, and set your oven to broil or convection or both part way through the bake.  When thinking about the weight of steels, dont feel like you have to get the 1/4 inch thick ones.  Im sure they are awesome, but my 1/8 inch thick steel heats up faster and if im not doing multiple pies in succession works really well.. probably just as well as a single pie on a 1/4 inch steel. 

I had a kiln shelf years ago that broke, and it was an awesome stone for a low price. That stone worked best for me in the middle of the oven, and didnt need any change in oven setting on launch or during bake to make an even pizza.  The only downside is that it didnt make pizzas as quickly as the steel or my fibrament on the oven floor do.   That fast baked pizza is a different style, and I like the options.   You can always turn down the oven with a steel or fibrment on the floor to get the kiln shelf type bakes. 

I would love to hear more info on the cast elegance stones and where their thermal conductivity lies when compared to the kiln shelf (which is probably made of cordierite)

nickyr

Quote from: Gene in Acadiana on January 02, 2022, 03:25:20 PM
Yes, a rectangle will give you less wasted space, but if you want to be able to bake a 15" or 16" pie, a 14" x 16" won't cut it. He was trying to decide between a 16" circular stone or a 14" x 16." In this case, a 16" circular stone is much more versatile for pizza.
Yeah but unless you're using a circular grill the chances of a 16 inch circular stone fitting and a 16x16 square not fitting are very small

Gene in Acadiana

Quote from: nickyr on January 03, 2022, 12:25:44 AM
Yeah but unless you're using a circular grill the chances of a 16 inch circular stone fitting and a 16x16 square not fitting are very small

Yes, a 16" square would be better than a 16" circular stone and would fit the oven with more surface area. But again, OP was deciding between a 16" circular and a 14" x 16" rectangular stone, not a 16" square.

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rkrider99

Quote from: billg on January 02, 2022, 09:50:26 PM
Buy a Kiln shelf from a company like this:   https://www.axner.com/brent-kiln-shelf-cart.aspx.  I have the 1 inch 18x18 and it's awesome!!!!!

The kiln shelves are hard to find on their site. Here is a link to the shelves https://www.axner.com/cordierite-shelf-18x18x1square.aspx

They have all kinds of shapes and sizes.


texmex

I still use my 3/4" thick 11.75" round cordierite kiln shelf purchased in 2011, it has been through direct flame, many spills, high hydration doughs, and years of great indoor oven use.
I also have a thinner 12×15 from old stone oven,  that I feared would break long ago, but still going strong, and a 15" round from pampered chef that my auntie gave me earlier this year, which had it's trial run this weekend with no issues.  I mostly leave them in my oven at all times, unless they are in the way, which is seldom.  I just put my baking pans right on the stone when baking other things.
Definitely go square if you can for a bigger footprint, and ease in launching.
Risa sin camisa, sinvergüenza.

Joe Shmoe

Thanks for all the replies. A lot of good info here to stop me from rushing out to get something for this week's pie. Better to take my time. I read every reply and follow thru.

02ebz06-By reasonable, I meant not super high end, if there is such a thing and overly large. When I posted, I guess I was thinking around $50, but after reading what's been posted so far, $100 would be fine. 16 x 16 seems to be a good size. Thanks for pointing out about 30 lbs! I weighted my 12" cast iron pan, it's 7 lbs. I guess you can say 30 lbs fits under "unreasonable"  :)

02ebz06, Gene in Acadiana, Longs, nickyr-I checked Fibrament, Cordierite  & Cast Elegance

Pizza_Not_War-I'm now open to steel, but if I go that way, I'd like fully finished.

Longs-The weight causing damage to an oven rack is a concern. I will probably store it on a rack too.

billg & rkrider99-Cordierite Shelf - 16"x16"x3/4" Square looks good.

scott r-Great info. I don't think I want to lay a stone on the bottom floor. Is that common? What stone that you've used had the best thermal conductivity?

To all- I think a 16 x 16 square would be best for me. I've been making 12" round pies but want to make closer to 14" pies when I get better handling dough. That size square will be a little easier for me to learn how to slide the pie on. I don't think I want to lay a stone or steel on the bottom floor. I do want a crispy, dark crust. (not black)

I get the feeling no matter what I choose (stone or steel), I'll end up with the other by March or April to mostly see for myself!

nickyr

Cool, just double check that your oven can fit a 16x16 stone! Not all ovens are at least 16 inches front to back

Jackitup

Cut a couple practice pieces of cardboard to the size of your oven, leaving about 1/2-3/4" gap all around for airflow. Make sure door closes right etc. Fit some loaf pans, pie pans to approximate what your cook will be like, measure and order. Thicker on a stone is a plus. I like Fibrament and they will custom cut to size pretty reasonable.....
Jon

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