Review: The Pizza Grate
Making pizza at home can be a fun, if occasionally frustrating exercise. I’m not an accomplished baker – and so while I feel confident in choosing the right types and amounts of toppings, I’ve struggled to produce a crust that is better than that of even the most mundane corner pizza shop. And, with rare exception, the crust is the key to pizza success.
Home pizza makers face one built-in disadvantage – the oven typically gets no hotter than 500 or 550 degrees. Commercial pizza ovens begin at 600 degrees (gas types) and go up to 900 degrees or higher, allowing some pies to cook in 90 seconds. This high heat allows for all kinds of magic to take place both in the crust and in how the toppings meld to the crust.
Another hurdle is the cooking surface. Commercial ovens have a baking surface that is already hot when the pie goes into the oven. Home pie makers typically make their pies in round or rectangular pans which are room temp before entering the oven, or they use a pizza stone.
The pizza stone is a great advance. You can put it in your oven, let it pre-heat as your baking surface, and then insert the pie. The stone is sufficiently porous that excess moisture can escape. However, the stone is often the same size as your pizza, so it requires a lot of dexterity to get your pizza onto the hot stone for cooking. Some folks just put the pizza – in a pan – onto the stone. Others have had success with swapping quarry tiles for the stone, using up to four 12″ square tiles to get a big 2 feet by 2 feet baking surface.