Pizza Tips FAQs

The Real Food Living FAQs and reprints are provided as information only. The comments contained in the FAQ are the opinions of our readers. Before making any radical changes in your diet, please talk with your personal health care provider.

Do you have a pizza stone or a pizza pan? Which one do you prefer?

A. The following is a compilation of various tester responses:

-We own three pizza pans with perforations: one with large holes, the other with small holes and one, a deep dish, with small holes, and we like the results just fine.

-King Arthur flour’s catalog and the Bosch catalog sell “tiles,” which come with a wire tray to hold the tiles. They say these are perfect for pizza and bread, but they are square, whereas my pizza stone is round.

-I have pizza pans with large holes. We’ve never had problems with it, always crispy on the bottom. One hint though – you need to stretch out the dough before you put it in the pan or else the dough will go through the holes, as you try to spread it out on the pan, making it much harder to remove once done. Mine is made by Rosco; they also make bread pans. I got mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I don’t remember how much it was but I do remember it was cheaper than the stones.

-I got my pizza stones at a Pampered Chef® party, but I have seen similar ones in the Lehman’s Non-Electric catalogue and maybe at Wal-Mart. The people at Lehman’s are very helpful. You could call and ask if these are the light, no pre-baking necessary stones.

-I have two steel pizza pans, the old-fashioned kind. They are not coated or non-stick, but I’ve used them so much they don’t need treating any more. My deep dish pizza pan comes with a clamp on the handle, such as the ones you see in restaurants; my regular pizza pan has a small lip on it. During the holidays, it is pressed into service as a cookie sheet, too. I use my deep dish pan to make granola. I got them both at garage sales.

What should I look for in a pizza stone?

A. Here are suggestions from RFD readers:

-Be sure to buy one that has its own rack or handles so that you can get your pizza out of the oven without smashing it.

– Don’t buy one that needs pre-heating. Then you have a hot stone, and you’re trying to spread dough and toppings on a hot tile. Ouch!

-The heavier they are, the harder they are to lift out of the oven. Sounds obvious, but my first pizza stone was so heavy I didn’t like using it. I love my new, lighter stone.

-I have a pizza stone, and it doesn’t have a wire rack to help get it out of the oven. We usually just pull our oven rack out and then slide the pizza off onto another pan for cutting and serving. Though it is really heavy.

-If you have one of those heavy stones that need pre-baking, store it in your oven and buy a pizza peel to use to slide the pizza on to the hot stone.

How do you season a pizza stone?

A. Check for the directions that come with the stone. If you don’t have them, try this: The first time you use a stone, wash it with plain warm water (no soap). Let the stone air dry and lightly spread olive oil or lecithin onto the stone. Smooth in with your hands; let it set about an hour then use. You shouldn’t need to do this more than once to season your stone.

Do you have to pre-heat a pizza stone? How do you use one?

A. It depends on the stone. The heavier stones often do require pre-heating, or they will crack. You need to look at the directions to see what the manufacturer says to do about pre-heating. Mine do not need to be pre-heated, so I roll my dough out on the stone, then I pop the stone in the oven to bake. Once done, I remove the stone and the cooked pizza to the counter when finished. This means no fiddling with messy pizza peels coming in or out.

To use a stone that needs preheating: roll out your crust, transfer it to the peel which is well dusted with corn meal or flour, perhaps rolling it out a little more to about 1/4″ thickness. Place the toppings while your stone is preheating in a 450 degree oven. The longer you preheat the stone, the crispier the crust. Then you open the oven door and do a little Italian-o maneuver by shaking your crust from the peel onto the stone. Make sure you’ve sprinkle your stone with corn meal before doing the shaking from peel to stone dance. The only problem I’ve had is when I didn’t dust the peel enough and the crust was kind of sticking; my shaking maneuver ended up with lots of mozzarella on the floor of the hot oven (not the most pleasant of aromas) and a crumpled pizza. I must say it was still delicious.

Does a stone have more than one use? I need to justify the expense.

A. I have made bread on my stone too. If you like French bread with that ultra thick and crunchy crust, a pizza stone works well to get a crusty baguette. I also bake rolls, cookies, and bagels on these stones.

Should I buy an unglazed stone or a glazed one?

A. There are no health concerns I am aware of when using unglazed stones, but there are some reported with using any glazed stone or tile, as some glazes contain lead. As long as the tile you are using is for making food, it should be safe. When in doubt, call the manufacturer. I wouldn’t make my own cooking tile because I couldn’t be sure that the ceramic medium used was food grade and safe, i.e. lead-free. If you have doubts, you could purchase a lead-testing kit and test your stone.

My pizza crust came out all soggy. What did I do wrong?

A. Well, let’s see… Did you pre-bake it before adding sauce and toppings? Was your tomato sauce too runny? Did you use too much sauce? Did you use a lot of fresh veggies, which add moisture, to the toppings? Was your oven hot enough? Did you use too much oil on your pan? Did you put on cornmeal to make the crust crisper?

My pizza crust came out like a GIANT pita pocket bread. Hubby called it “The Pita That Ate New York!” It was great for snacking on in little pieces, but we were counting on pizza. What did I do wrong?

A. The Pita that Ate New York! We love it! It sounds like something we would do. Here’s the Vickilynn secret: pierce the crust with a fork to prevent bubbling once it’s on the pan or stone.

What is the difference between regular crusts and foccacia?

A. Foccacia is a thicker bread than pizza crust. You can eat it either as bread, for sandwiches, dips, etc., or as a super-thick pizza crust. Below is a great recipe to try:

Whole Wheat Focaccia
by Vickilynn Haycraft

It’s also great made with Kamut!

Yield: 1 (10-12 inch) Focaccia 10 slices
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 25-30 minutes

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons SAF yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves minced fresh garlic

Place water, yeast, and honey in a mixing bowl; stir well. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well. Cover and let sponge for 10 minutes. Stir in salt, rosemary, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add enough additional flour to make a supple, moist dough; knead 10 minutes until the dough is springy.

Roll out to make a 10-12 inch circle. Place on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. Brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with garlic. Let rise for 10 minutes. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Sauté garlic in olive oil and spread evenly on Focaccia.

Per slice: 176 Calories; 6g Fat (29.7% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 216mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Can I freeze pizza dough? Baked or unbaked?

A. Sure you can freeze pizza dough. It works well either way, though baked crusts take up more room than dough. Place your frozen dough on the counter to thaw in the morning and let it come to room temperature while still wrapped. I find the dough that has been frozen and thawed has a nice yeasty smell and tastes somewhat like Sourdough. They will not be as light as made up fresh though still good. In her book, Once a Month Baking, Mary Carney suggests pre-baking pizza crusts. She says to bake them at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes, then cool and wrap. To use, remove the freezer, add toppings and bake – no defrosting.

I use my large, round, plastic containers for pre-baked pizza crusts. They are the size to carry cupcakes. I roll out my crust, carefully fitting the crust size to the Tupperware container I will store them in, bake them for about 8-10 minutes on my pizza stone, then cool and wrap them well before freezing. I can fit two crusts inside the container, which is enough to feed about eight hungry people in 20 minutes.

Does your pizza cheese get too brown for the amount of baking to get the crust brown?

A. I have to say that my pizzas do cook up a whole lot better since cooking on the stone. I pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes, take it out and place my toppings. Then I bake the pizza for about 10 minutes – my crusts are just right, with a golden brown top.

Any other make-ahead tips you can give me?

A. I try during the month, or as often as needed, to set aside a kitchen day to make and freeze certain items. One day I will make pizza dough. On a different day I will make sauce and freeze it in bags in the needed amount for pizza. I repeat my kitchen day to replenish the item when it is used. I can’t tell you how much hassle – and money! – this saves us.

13. One last request for recipes, please!

A. Here are 2 that we love:

Vickilynn’s Tried and True Pizza Crusts
by Vickilynn Haycraft

makes ANY of the following:

  • TWO 15 inch thin crust pizzas
  • TWO 12 inch thick crust pizzas
  • TWO 9 x 13 med-thin rectangular pizzas
  • FOUR 10 inch personal pizzas
  • SIX 8 inch thin personal pizzas
  • SIX 8 inch thin calzones
  • TWO dozen small breadsticks

Serving Size : 24

  • 1-1/2 cups water — warmed to 110 degrees
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt2 tablespoons gluten, wheat
  • 2 teaspoons yeast — SAF
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour — or Kamut
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

Place the first 7 ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. If using a mixer like a Kitchen Aid or a Bosch, slowly add enough additional flour (about 1-2 cups or more) until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Knead about 6-8 minutes until no longer sticky, but still moist and springy. If desired, let rise in covered Bosch bowl until doubled. Punch down and roll into shape. **If pressed for time, it is not necessary to let the dough rise, but the dough is better to work with if it rests before shaping.

For bread machine instructions; see Pauline’s comments below.

If making by hand, add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time mixing well after each addition until dough clings together and you can turn out on a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and springy about 10-12 minutes. If desired, let rise in a covered bowl until doubled. Punch down and roll into shape.

If you plan to freeze the dough, light spread with oil and place in a plastic freezer bag. To use, thaw dough, let come to room temperature and proceed as below.

Divide dough in half. If your stone does not need to be pre-heated, on a floured surface, roll your pizza dough out on your stone 1 inch wider than your stone or pan. Turn the extra inch over towards the center to form a crust and press down to seal.

Pierce lightly with a fork over the surface of the crust. Bake empty in a 500 degree oven for about 8 minutes from a cold oven and 450 for 5 minutes if oven is pre-heated. Take crust out, slide off stone and onto a cooling rack (or better yet, invest in a 2nd stone). Repeat with 2nd crust, rolling, and pre-baking and placing on cooling rack. When 2nd crust is cooling, take 1st crust and cover lightly with sauce (not too much or it will be runny) add your toppings and cheese if desired. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until the crust is brown and the toppings are cooked.

You can freeze the partially baked crust instead of topping it. After baking for 5-8 minutes, let crust cool completely, then wrap well with plastic wrap and freeze. To use, you can use simply top and bake or let crust thaw, then top and bake. Either way works!

FOR 8 CALZONES (hot pockets):

Fill (1/2 – 1 cup filling) calzones, fold over and seal. Pierce with a fork . Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Comments from recipe tester Pauline Sternick:
I used my bread machine on the regular dough cycle. I have a Zojirushi Traditional Loaf machine. For this recipe, I followed the recipe exactly using both optional ingredients (olive oil and gluten) and Kamut flour. The correct amount of flour for the bread machine was 4 cups.

It took me about 10 minutes to throw everything into the bread machine. 1 hour 50 minutes for the bread machine dough cycle and then about 15 minutes to roll out dough on pizza stones. I let the dough rest on the stones while I preheated the oven. About 5 minutes. Then cooked one at a time for 6 minutes each.

If making this in the bread machine, after you get the dough out of the bread machine and punch it down, over it (either with a damp towel, a little olive oil and a towel, or plastic wrap then a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes before shaping the crusts. The dough will be more pliable and easier to roll out if it rests before shaping.

Comments from recipe tester Nita Halstead:

I used my Bosch mixer with the standard white bowl with center post and dough hook. I followed the recipe exactly, measuring each ingredient precisely. I used SAF brand yeast and vital gluten as called for. It took exactly 3 1/2 cups total flour for a perfect dough that formed a mass and cleaned the sides completely. I let the Bosch knead for 6 minutes and I always let the dough rise once and punch it down before making my crusts.

We LOVE this pizza crust and I have found that even visitors who aren’t accustomed to whole foods or whole grain products love them too. Homemade pizza has become standard fare for us whenever we have company because they always love it.

Makes about 2 pounds of dough.

Per slice (crust only): 60 Calories; 1g Fat (9.3% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 42mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

NOTES : Also makes: 8 individual pizzas (8 inches) or individual calzones (8 inches)

Variations: We like adding minced garlic and dried herbs such as basil or oregano or Parmesan cheese in the dough.

If you prefer a thicker, “breadier” crust, let the dough rise on the stone after shaping until puffy, then pre-bake and finish as directed.

For thicker crust, roll out to only 12 inch pizza.

If you have 2 stones, you can piggy-back rolling, pre-baking and baking your pizzas!

This works better if you get the metal handles for the pizza stones, it is easier to grab and not squash the crust.

Fill (1/2 – 1 cup filling) calzones, fold over and seal. Pierce with a fork . Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Spinach Pizza Dough

by Cathy White

Yield: 2 large pizzas (16 slices)

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Baking Time: 15 minutes, divided

  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, undrained and uncooked
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Dissolve yeast in water, let stand 5 minutes. Combine rest of the ingredients and stir well. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Knead 5 to 8 times. Roll into desired size crusts. Place on pizza pan spread liquid lecithin / oil mixture. Bake 425 for 5 minutes. If freezing, let cool and wrap tightly in plastic. To bake, top with desired toppings and bake 10 minutes or until done.

Per serving (crust only): 89 Calories; 1g Fat (12.6% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 81mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

© 1995-2013 Vickilynn Haycraft and Real Food Living. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this review may be copied, stored or transmitted in any medium, for any reason without prior written permission of the author.

About Vickilynn Parnes

A student of health and nutrition for 40+ years, Vickilynn Parnes has over 30 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and radio talk show host, as well as being full-time mom to 5 children.