The History of The Baking Stone
The humble baking stone has made a revival in the modern kitchen, but did you know that this piece of cooking equipment has been used for centuries? Perhaps one of the oldest cooking techniques known to man, the history of the baking stone can be traced back as far as the Early Paleolithic Age, or between 45,000 and 9,000 years before the arrival of Christ. Archaeologists have found evidence that Stone Age man used stones for grinding starches into fine powder before using the stone to bake food on in a fire pit, the precursor to todayís modern ovens.
While baking stones are used most commonly to cook the perfect pizzas, it was first used to make flat breads which were eaten as a staple food. Flat breads became the forerunner to the modern pizza, providing a doughy base, which later would be covered with tasty toppings like tomatoes, fish, and much later along, the traditional margarita of mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and chopped herbs like basil.
Modern baking stones are usually round or rectangular in shape, although their ergonomic designs are more recent developments, as primitive man would have used irregularly shaped stones that could fit into the fire pit.
The Benefits of Using Pizza Stones
Baking stones are ideal for baking a pizza for a number of reasons. Its primary reason, and the reason that it was originally conceived by Stone Age man, was to prevent food from being burnt. Because the stone absorbs some of the heat, the edges and bottom of a pizza or flat bread donít get too much direct heat during the cooking process.
The Versatility of The Pizza Stone
Another of the great advantages of a pizza stone is its ability to absorb excess moisture during the cooking process, allowing for a crisper base. This is because it is made from natural stone that has absorptive properties. Using a baking tray can cause moisture to get trapped underneath a flatbread or pizza and make it soggy, and prevent it from cooking through evenly. Pizza stones take care of this problem while also ensuring that your pizza doesnít burn because of their superior thermal properties.
While baking stones are ideal for cooking flatbreads and pizzas, they can be used to cook virtually anything, especially foods that need to be crisped. If you want to keep your pizza stone in good condition and prevent it from becoming brittle or susceptible to cracking, you should oil it regularly and use a good quality non-stick spray each time you use it. Allow it to cool down before cleaning, and do not immerse a hot stone in water immediately after use, as the extreme change in temperature can cause it to crack or break.
Using Pizza Stones
Always put your baking stone on the lowest rack in the oven and allow it to warm up when you preheat your oven. You want to be using it at the same temperature as the oven, but for the stone to absorb some of the surface heat to prevent burns.