You probably think pizza stones are a big deal. You might even think it’s impossible to make pizza without one. Well, let’s look at the facts. Pizza stones are made of stone/ceramic. You place your uncooked pizza on the said stone, and then insert the stone into the oven. Voila, great pizza, right?
But let’s be real. Who has the time to sit around and preheat their pizza stone for a whole hour, which is the minimum recommended time?
Furthermore, why spend extra money on a burdensome, heavy item that you’ll only use every now and then?
And most importantly, why use a pizza stone at all when there are so many alternatives that yield just as good, if not better, results?
So today, let’s look at a few methods of baking a pizza without a pizza stone.
Method 1: Using A Rimless Baking Sheet
The most popular alternative to a pizza stone involves a readily available baking item: rimless baking sheets (note the difference, as a rimmed sheet will probably not give you the desired results). Here’s a step-by-step manual on how to go about making a pizza on a baking sheet.
Step 1: Get Your Dough On The Sheet
As you probably already agree, the best pizzas are round in shape. Accordingly, roll out your dough in a circular shape on your pastry board. At this stage, you should leave the pizza dough alone- toppings will come later.
Step 2: Prepare Your Baking Sheet
Now, take your rimless baking sheet. Sprinkle it with some flour or cornmeal; either will do, but this is a step you shouldn’t skip.
Step 3: Stab Your Pizza!
Next, take a fork and create little pricks all over your pizza. This will prevent dough bubbles from forming when the pizza is in the oven. After this is done, get some olive oil and brush that over your pizza. Although this step is optional, it can ensure a good base flavor for your pizza.
Step 4: Partially Bake Your Pizza Dough
For this step, the first thing you need to do is preheat your baking oven. 30 minutes at 450°F is usually a good enough preheat period and temperature. Then bake your pizza for 3 to 5 minutes.
Watch your pizza while it’s baking. At the end of 3 to 5 minutes, take a metal spatula and slide it under your pizza. You should be able to do this on all sides of the pizza with little difficulty, which means the pizza shouldn’t sag in the middle or stick to the sheet.
(Pro tip: metal spatulas work much better than plastic ones in this case.)
Use your spatula to gently take the pizza dough off the sheet. Then, deposit it directly onto the oven rack.
Then it’s time to start oven up again and give your pizza dough the proper baking it deserves. Another 3 to 5 minutes should do it. At this point, your par-baked pizza crust should be quite crispy, and the pizza itself is ready to receive its toppings.
Step 5: Topping Time
Now, slide out the pizza from the oven rack back onto the baking sheet. Make sure you use your metal spatula for this step.
This is where the fun stuff happens. Get that marinara sauce and mozzarella and your desired toppings and go to town! Build the pizza of your dreams. The world is your pizza oyster.
Step 6: Final Bake
Now that your par-baked pizza has been birthed anew with its toppings, it’s time to bake it for real. Put the sheet back into the oven and bake it in your usual preferred method of pizza-baking.
Method 2: Using Baking Pans
Now that we’ve discussed how to bake a pizza on a baking sheet, let’s talk about the second method. You guessed right; it involves baking pans!
Be warned, though, that you’ll have to do a fair bit of searching to find the perfect heavy baking pans for your pizza. Try to source a heavy baking pan that has a dark finish. You’ll want a crispy crust that will be able to accommodate all the sauce, cheese, and toppings.
Your best bet, in fact, is buying commercial pizza pans.
(Pro tip: you’re more likely to find this item online!)
Step 1: Preheat Your Oven As High As Possible
In the absence of a pizza stone, this is a very important step. Most people prefer to preheat their oven to 450 degrees F. Then, when you’re ready to put the pizza in the oven, turn it back to 425 degrees F.
Step 2: Brush Your Pan With Olive Oil First
Why is oil so important? Because it adds flavor and facilitates the crispiness of the crust. A baking pan will help you achieve this, whereas, with a pizza stone, you’re more likely to get a dry crust that is not as flavorsome.
So get in there with the olive oil. Begin with 1 to 2 tablespoons for a standard 14-inch pizza.
Step 3: Cheese Always Goes First
One common mistake is putting in the pizza toppings and cheese together. Never do this, especially when using a pan. Always put the cheese first. And on that note, avoid overloading your pizza with toppings.
Step 4: Look Out For Air Bubbles
When do bubbles usually form on the pizza? You’ll see it happening most with plain cheese pizzas, with additional ingredients that aren’t able to hold the dough down.
When your pizza is baking, check it every now and then. If you see any air bubbles developing, prick them with a sharp fork, as before. Once again, you can otherwise expect soft or sagging spots on your pizza where the bubbles have formed.
If you’ve been discouraged in your pizza making dreams by the lack of a pizza stone, well, now you know that there’s no reason to be!
Pizzas with soggy bottoms are the worst, yet they’re the most common when using a stone. There are so many ways to get the perfect pizza, as long as you have the right ideas and the right equipment.