The Path To Pizza Enlightenment
Cheap Baking Stone
Cons: This wasn't the crispest crust, if that's what you're after, and many cheap stones are more prone to breaking than their more expensive counterparts.
Comments: For the occasional pizza-baker, a cheap stone could be a good buy. Cheap but can be fragile. Brand names performed better at higher price. Recommended with reservations.
Cons: This gave me the worst pizza of the entire series. An even slightly brown crust requires 12 minutes of cooking time compared to 8 minutes for the other surfaces (and that still may be doughy). With some tweaking of the recipe, method, and cooking time, it might result in a decent pizza. But for this test, it comes in at the bottom.
Comments:Save this one for serving pizza. Not Recommended.
Cons: No matter how careful you are, the stones shift around and need to be readjusted occasionally. Also, drips and spills can get through between the tiles and land on the oven floor. If you need to move your oven racks around, it's more annoying to deal with multiple small stones than one large one. Quarry tiles need to be tested for lead since they are not made as a food safe material.
Comments: These are a decent option for temporary use while you're shopping for a permanent stone. Good best buy. Recommended with reservations.
Double-Stacked Quarry Tiles
Cons: The same safety and shifting issues as the single tiles. Additionally, double stacks of tiles left in the oven are an inconvenience when shifting racks to accommodate other baking projects.
Comments: Nearly identical results to the single layer of tiles despite the increase in mass. In theory, dividing the tiles between upper and lower oven racks simulates the heat distribution of a brick or clay oven, but the results were nearly identical to the testing with a single level of quarry tiles. Buying extra for use as replacements is a good idea since these tiles aren't always available at home improvement centers. Recommended with reservations.
King Arthur Flour Baking Stone
Cons: Like any porous surface, it's not going to stay pretty for long when you start spilling things on it.
Comments: One of the better options of the series. No razzle-dazzle, but this is a workhorse of a stone. Recommended.
Emile Henry Baking Stone
Cons: While this was the crispest crust, some may find it a little too crisp.
Comments: This stone has a lot going for it, including coming in both round and rectangular shapes; a preference to consider before purchasing. Recommended.
Cons: The crust wasn't crisp at all. Some people have reported issues with the crust adhering to the screen during baking.
Comments: This falls under the better-than-nothing category. Since there is no surface, such a stone, to facilitate even heat distribution, pizzas cook very unevenly with very light and very dark areas on the crust. Screens are popular for reheating pizzas. Not recommended.
Pizza Screen on Baking Stone
Comments: This option avoids the pitfalls that accompany transferring a pizza off a peel and into the oven. The pizza can also be moved onto the stone, after the crust stiffens up, for direct baking on the stone. Not recommended.
Parchment Paper on Baking Stone
Cons: The pizza doesn't get quite as crisp as when cooked directly on a stone, but it's close.
Comments: Parchment acts as the perfect "training wheels" for learning how to move a pizza around. If it's a little clumsy, the pizza will still be fine. It also offers a barrier to overly crisp pies. Recommended with reservations.
Fibrament Baking Stone
Cons: There are dire warnings about getting the stone wet. That means cleaning is limited to scraping.
Comments: The water warnings associated with this stone limit its versatility—especially for bread baking that involved spritzing the loaves mid-bake. Recommended.
Lodge Cast-Iron Pizza Pan
Cons: Just like any cast iron piece, it has its own cleaning/seasoning rules. However, it's easier to clean than a porous stone.
Comments: The versatility of this one earns some bonus points. There's a certain romance to using a stone rather than metal, but this does the job. The lip, though seemingly a drawback, proved not to be. Recommended.
Cons: The metal ring isn't intended for oven use, so it will discolor if you put it in the oven with the stone. This stone has the highest price tag of the bunch.
Comments: While this stone gets the most char, that doesn't translate to the crispest pie. The utility of the metal ring on a hot stone is debatable, but it does give the stone a double duty function as a serving piece. And although not a part of this testing, a chilled soapstone would be handy for serving cold items. Recommended with reservations.