cracked pizza stone - whaaaat???!!!

pizza stone cracked tonight - thought those things were supposed to withstand HIGH heat (isn't that the point? so you can achieve a crispy crust?). a big side chunk of the stone just split off as i pulled out pie no. 1 ... am going to take that as a good omen. but seriously, i didn't even realize this was a possibility. my oven was cranked to 500 for an hour beforehand (with stone inside), and then at the end i upped the heat a tad by turning on the broiler. Has this ever happened to anyone else in food52land?

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26 Comments

AntoniaJames February 26, 2015
I use refractory kiln tiles from a pottery supply store - two long rectangles that I can stack easily to get out of the way, use only one if I want, etc. They're heavy but they will never break and they hold the heat like nobody's business. The two pieces together cost about 1/2 the cost of a stone from a kitchen store. I always use parchment when putting on and taking off the pizza, lavash crackers, or bread, or (get this!) biscuits, for convenience. ;o)
 
Aliwaks February 26, 2015
Happened to me I think it was because I washed it, there was nothing in the instructions that said don't wash so I thought I had the kind you could wash, then it cracked in half, no it is no more ( I tried using it anyway but when we moved we had a no broken stuff rule, anything broken and without true sentimental value got tossed)
 
Annie S. February 25, 2015
I have switched to a pizza steel after 30 years of using the stone. The steel is more versatile and my pizza is the best it has ever been. I heat the oven to 500 , put the pizza in and turn on the broiler. The hot steel cooks the crust and the broiler melts and browns the top. The whole process takes about 8 minutes. No more soggy tops ! I make Neopolitan style pizzas because that is what I grew up with in NY.
 
Tasha February 25, 2015
Does 00 flour make a big difference?
 
Jan W. February 25, 2015
No - you want a flour with a decent level of protein. Do not use soft wheat pastry flour because it doesn't have enough protein to form the gluten network for a good, elastic dough. 00 Flour is very fine and some brands claim to be specifically developed for pizza making, like Antimo Caputo, but you would get similar results with bread flour or all-purpose flour with enough protein, as long as you let the dough slow-ferment (pop in the fridge after proofing) for at least 24 hours.

00 flour tends to be the most common grade sold in Italian specialty grocers, but bakers also use type 0 and type 2 flour (called "buratto") for pizza making.
 
Jan W. January 28, 2015
I agree with the opinion it was most likely the broiler that did it. There really should be no reason to use a broiler for pizza if your oven actually reached 500F/260C. When I bake a pizza in my oven at 500F (although I suspect it exceeds that temperature), it cooks in less than 10 minutes with a very satisfactory level of crispiness. If you're not getting a crispy crust, it is possible that there's an issue with your dough, or maybe you used a sauce/added toppings with a bit more moisture. Also as I replied below, I used unglazed quarry tiles as a surface for baking.
 
Meaghan F. January 28, 2015
I've read numerous times that you can go to the local hardware store and get an unglazed paving stone to use for pizza, which is supposed to be cheaper and thicker than your average pizza stone. Has anyone actually tried this?
 
Jan W. January 28, 2015
Absolutely - I use some unglazed tiles (quarry tiles) from Home Depot to make a rectangular pizza (because I can't be bothered with circles and it's the favored method in Rome anyway). Cost was maybe $5 for 6 tiles, makes an 18 x 12" surface - could certainly put a circular pizza (carefully) on 9 tiles. My oven goes up to 500F. Nearly perfect pizza every time. Quarry tiles also don't absorb much water so you can wash them with water (although you are unlikely to remove stains, but they're so cheap it's unnecessary), just make sure they are dry before using again.
 
Meaghan F. January 29, 2015
Thank you Jan!
 
Sam1148 January 28, 2015
The stone sucks up moisture. You'd have to give it a long slow dry at 200 or so to drive that out--just a surface 'dry' won't get that out. And it might crack if you put in and raise to 500 too quickly.

Look at it this way, a stone is supposed to replicated a brick oven---would you swab down a wood burning brick oven floor because of some spilled food?
Clean the big stuff off with cycle of the self cleaning oven after slowly raising the temp before starting the self clean cycle.
 
Kristen W. January 28, 2015
Same thing happened to me as klron. I chalked it up to the stone having been purchased at Target, but reading this, maybe not. And Sam, why not wash a stone with water as long as you make sure it's dry when it goes in the oven?
 
klrcon January 28, 2015
This happened to me and there was no thermal shock - I left the stone in the oven to cool gradually after I removed the pizza and about an hour later there was a giant CRACK! and the thing split. I now use a cast iron griddle which works wonderfully well and is a lot cheaper than the average pizza steel, fyi.
 
Tasha January 27, 2015
Wait was is a silplat? I use a pizza stone. I have yet to mix in the 00 flour yet. Is it way better. Been looking for it.
 
Sam1148 January 28, 2015
Silplat is a nonstick silicone baking mat. It's oven safe up to 450. I wouldn't use to actually bake the pizza. But it's perfect for baking cookies, making Parmesan crisps, and roasting veggies.
What I use it for with pizza and breads is a surface to roll out the pizza dough--the nonstick quality makes moving the dough around very easy with no sticking.
 
Sam1148 January 27, 2015
I'm going to break with the crowd here. I've used pizza stone for years almost religiously.
Lately, I've been making oblong pizza. On the back side of a half sheet pan.
Two thing have changed me for that. Using Italian 00 Flour:
1 cup of 00, and 2 cups bread flour. 1 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 table spoon olive oil. 1 cup warm water...and 1 1/2 tsp yeast.

And the second thing is making rolling out the dough on a silplat mat on the back of the half sheet pan..then invert it and decorate it.

It works. Yeah a long 50 min preheat with a stone is great...but the above tech works great. Heat is heat. Another thing is letting the pizza cool a bit on a cooling rack to prevent soggy bottom. We hate soggy bottom pizza.
 
Sam1148 January 27, 2015
Ahh..I don't think I was clear there..the silplat I use to roll out the dough thin. It's a very nice surface. By 'invert' Just turn the silplat upside down to drop dough on the upside down sheet pan.

The post here make sure no one thinks you should put silpat in a 500 degree oven. It's only rated for about 450 and here I use it for rolling out stuff.
 
Meaghan F. January 27, 2015
This has happened to me multiple times, usually after about three months of regular use. I almost got a pizza steel but opted for a ceramic Emile Henry pizza stone that works great.
 
Sam1148 January 27, 2015
I was looking at the form factor of the Emile Henry.
It has handles integrated on each of the disk of the stone.

For my pizza making..I use a peel to deploy and retrieve the pizza. From the pictures of the Emile Henry..it would seem those handles would prevent ease of use with pizza peel.
Do you use a peel and is this true?

I have a Emile Henry Tagine I love. It's good stuff.

 
Meaghan F. January 28, 2015
The handles are actually one of the reasons I opted for the EH... I use a peel to get the pizza into the oven and onto the stone, but I then remove the entire stone from the oven when the pizza's done (this is a newish trick for me, so was not the cause of my earlier stones cracking) which allows the crust to continue to crisp while the cheese starts to set.
 
Sam1148 January 27, 2015
Oh...and NEVER clean your pizza stone with water. Just put it through a 'self clean cycle' in the oven, and scrap off burned cheeses. But don't scrub it...it's a pizza stone, it's supposed to look that way.
 
Sam1148 January 27, 2015
Mine split too. But was because I keep it in the oven and a some liquid got on it while it was hot. No problem, Just shove the halves together and it's still a pizza stone.
A lot of people keep their pizza stones in the oven on the lower rack in electric oven to act as a buffer to even out the heat.
The cracked stone is actually better for that because I can position the bits better. So, if I have something like a pie I can move those on the lower rack to cut down, or boost up some radiant heat from the lower element---making a bit of 'shade' for the pan.
 
helicopterina January 27, 2015
hadn't even thought of uniting the parts and continuing to use...hmmm. that might work, especially since the bigger piece is about 95% of the original. thank you!
 
petitbleu January 27, 2015
Oh yes. This has definitely happened to me. I was asking for it, as I had the broiler on. I've since switched to a pizza steel. You can broil that thing all day without having to worry about it busting, and it tends to produce better pizza than a stone anyway. It's heavy as all get-out, but worth it if you love making homemade pizza.
 
helicopterina January 27, 2015
Am sorely tempted. Thanks for the feedback and advice - already got my eye on a pizza steel on Amazon...
 
HalfPint January 27, 2015
They can 'withstand' high heat, but not thermal shock which occurs when there's an abrupt change in temperature. Sounds like that happened when you turned on the broiler.
 
HalfPint January 27, 2015
Wanted to add that this can happen with cast iron too.
 
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