Who doesn’t like to feast on some delicious pizza every now and then? I’ll tell you – none. Except those who are allergic, of course. But those who love pizza will even claim that it is the best dish ever created on Earth.
Since it’s the best dish ever, making a pizza from scratch usually requires a lot of time, which most people don’t have. The solution? Frozen pizza! But how to deal with the soggy crust and the weird taste that comes with them?
This is where a pizza stone will be of help. Keep reading to know how to turn a frozen pizza into a restaurant quality one with just the help of a pizza stone!
What Is A Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone is a circular cooking surface used for cooking pizzas, flatbread, and other food items. It is usually made from ceramic, stone, or sometimes even salt. The porous texture allows it to absorb heat and moisture from the food. Because of this property, pizza stones help to keep the crust of the pizza crispy.
Pizza stones can also prevent food from burning due to their poor heat conductibility. Therefore, it is a better alternative than other baking dishes.
They can be found in all kinds of sizes, so it is easy to find one for your oven. Due to these characteristics and the easy cleaning methods required for a pizza stone, they are quite popular.
The Method For Cooking Frozen Pizza With A Pizza Stone:
Cooking frozen pizza with a pizza stone instead of just placing it on the oven rack has quite a few advantages. Firstly, it will not let the crust get all soggy, as it will absorb the moisture from the pizza.
Secondly, it will absorb heat from the oven as well, resulting in a hotter cooking area that will help cook the pizza well until it is crisp.
However, just getting a frozen pizza out of the box and throwing it on a hot pizza stone will not result in a particularly tasty dish. So here we have provided a basic guideline. To get the best out of a frozen pizza, you need to follow the methods given below or tailor those according to your needs.
1. Preparing The Pizza
An important part of cooking the pizza is preparing the pizza. Without proper preparation, no amount of cooking can add taste to the pizza or prevent some kind of accident from happening. These following tips should be followed to prepare the pizza well for the future steps.
Understand The Temperatures
Placing an icy cold pizza on a fiery oven pizza stone might not really sound like a dangerous idea. But in reality, this causes a thermal shock, and might even break the pizza stone.
This mainly happens due to the rapid change in temperature. This change can damage the material to the extent that it needs to be thrown out. Therefore, to keep your pizza stone in good condition, you can follow one of the three steps:
Thaw The pizza
This is not really a hard process; all you have to do is leave the pizza outside for around 2 to 3 hours before cooking. Once the pizza reaches the normal temperature and the iciness melts, it is ready to be cooked.
However, this is not possible as frozen meals are rarely preplanned. You might get a sudden craving and not have the patience to wait for these many hours.
Or a sudden guest might arrive, causing you to hurriedly consider buying the pizza from a store, again not leaving the option for waiting such a long time. The other processes below might be more preferable in situations like these.
Microwaving The Pizza
Microwaving the pizza for a few minutes does the job of bringing up its temperature wonderfully. By doing this, you do not have to waste any time waiting around.
For pizzas with thin crusts, microwaving it for 6 to 8 minutes will work well. While it is heating up, preheat the pizza stone to the necessary temperature. After the pizza has been microwaved, use a pizza peel and place it on the hot stone. This will decrease the chance of any thermal shock.
Cook The Pizza For Some Time:
Some food experts say that microwaving a pizza can cause its taste and quality to go downhill. The best way of preventing this is to cook the pizza for some time on top of the oven rack, usually after the oven has been preheated.
After cooking it for some time, put the pizza on the oven stone. This method keeps the risks of thermal shock at bay while not affecting the taste in any way. However, remember that opening the oven midway of cooking will drop the temperature within, so it might require some extra minutes to be done properly.
Start With A Cold Stone:
The best way to reduce any chance of thermal shock is to start with a cold pizza stone. Therefore, there will be no change in temperature and no additional steps will need to be taken. This is also the method that most people prefer using due to its hassle-free nature.
Make Holes In The Crust
Although a pizza stone will do the work of preventing any sogginess, if you want some extra crisp on your crust, this is a little trick you can use. Making holes in the crust ensures that there is proper ventilation, and let goes of any extra moisture.
This simple step can be the difference between a restaurant quality pizza and a soggy one.
To do this, first, make sure that your pizza comes in a plastic wrap. If it does not, well just wrap cellophane around it.
Then lay the pizza face down on your working top, and carefully cut off the wrap that is covering the crust of the pizza. Using a knife or toothpicks, make several holes in the crust and proceed with the other steps as usual.
Even though the frozen pizzas might be a quick option to alleviate your hunger, they are not usually the tastiest options. Most frozen pizzas taste are either very bland or weirdly sweet. There is no gooey cheese melting off from the freshly baked dish, no golden brown crust, no mouthful of delicious meat.
So how to turn this lackluster pizza into a tasty option? You can do this by adding more toppings, cheese, and meat; whatever you feel goes well.
With the cheap price of a frozen pizza, you cannot really go wrong. And since you have the pizza stone, the added moisture of these items will not cause any problem at all. Here are some things you can do-
Brush Some Oil: Using a basting brush, apply some olive oil or some garlic infused oil over the pizza before cooking it. You can also use some chili oil if you want that fresh hint of chili. By brushing the pizza with oil, you will get that beautiful golden look on your pizza, along with some extra flavors.
Replace The Meat: Frozen pizzas usually come with rubber-like meat, which is at best, tasteless and oily. It causes you to think where the meat came from. Your best bet would be to strip off as much meat as you can and add some options from your kitchen.
You can shred some pieces of chicken on the top, or slice up some sausages. Seasoning the meat with a little bit of salt and pepper also works wonders to make the whole dish taste better.
Throw In Some Vegetables: Granted, vegetables are not everyone’s favorite, but if used along with cheese and meat and seasoned well, it can definitely elevate the quality of the dish.
Not to mention it is also a good way to get some vitamins in there and make you feel a little less guilty about consuming all those cheese and carbs.
You can’t really go wrong with vegetables. Whatever you have- tomatoes, peas, spinach, everything tastes good on a pizza. Fry some mushrooms, season some broccoli, add shreds of carrot, go crazy with olives and pepper!
Another upside of using vegetables is that you can always find them somewhere in your kitchen or your herb garden. Some vegetables often go to waste for not having any good use, so why not make the most of them?
Layer With More Cheese: A common trait of food lovers is that they believe you can never have enough cheese. Nothing beats the hot gooey creaminess of cheese on top of a pizza. But that is quite impossible to achieve simply by heating up a frozen pizza.
Therefore, take matters in your own hands and some more goldenness to your dish. Stuff some more mozzarella, or add some Italian cheese slices. If your frozen pizza has a weirdly sweet taste, you can take it up a notch by adding some salty cheese like parmesan cheese or blue cheese to cut down the saltiness.
Pour Some Sauce: You can always use a sauce as a remedy to tasteless food. Any kind of sauce – from hot sauces like sriracha to some normal tomato sauce, will add a kick of flavor to your dish. Even some normal tomato puree works well.
Crack An Egg: Eggs go well with everything. If you want that extra gooeyness on your pizza and don’t have that much cheese at home, or want the gooey taste of both, crack an egg on the pizza. But if you do this without using a pizza stone, things can get really soggy and bland.
To do this step, let the pizza cook for a minimum amount of time, and then take it out of the oven. Add an egg on top, and wait until the pizza looks well done. This will give you a runny soft yolk.
If you do not prefer that, add the egg earlier so it gets cooked properly. You can also add shreds of scrambled eggs on top of the pizza as a separate topping.
Skip Salt: Even though you might be tempted to sprinkle some more salt on your pizza along with all these different toppings, don’t. Even though these frozen pizzas lack a lot of things, salt is usually not one of them. Therefore, skip the salt.
Plus, all those additional toppings are likely to have amounts of salt in them that will balance out your pizza, even if it has a sweet taste. So extra salt is quite unnecessary to make it taste better.
2. The Cooking Part
Now comes the main part- cooking the pizza so that you can eat it up. Cooking the pizza also compromises of following some basic steps. The steps are as follows-
Use The Ridged Surface
A pizza stone usually has a flat surface and a ridged surface. Use the ridged surface while cooking, as that prevents any kind of thermal shock.
Use A Baking Sheet
Using a non-stick baking sheet will help to get the pizza off the pizza stone easily once it has been cooked.
Place the baking sheet on the stone first, then place the pizza in such a way that it is easy to pull the paper out later without touching the pizza. Arrange all the toppings on the top, and it will be all ready to be put in the oven.
Put It In The Oven
After you have positioned the pizza on the stone, place it in the oven. Choose the middle rack for cooking the pizza, to avoid direct heat from the top or bottom parts of the oven. The middle rack will give the pizza a nice, crispy but not burnt finish.
Set The Temperature To Max
Despite what it says on the instructions on top of the frozen pizza box, take this life-saving tip that cooks have sworn by. Heat the oven to the maximum temperature, which is usually 550 for ovens used in homes. This will let the pizza be cooked faster and ensure a crisp crust.
One downside of this is that you have to keep an eye on the pizza. It will usually take 8 to 10 minutes to cook. But the cooking time might vary, depending on whether you added extra toppings or took the pizza out of the oven midway.
Whatever may be the case, keep an eye on the pizza so it does not go past the best golden brown stage. The only thing worse than a bland pizza is an overcooked pizza.
Let It Cook
After all the steps have been accomplished all you have to do is wait for the golden goodness to be finished. You might need to take it out midway only to add some extra toppings. Take the pizza out once it has reached a golden brown color.
3. Post-Cooking Steps
Your job is usually not done after you have finished cooking the pizza. If you are not careful with the pizza stone, you might end up damaging it, or worse, hurting yourself. Therefore, you need to follow these steps after the pizza has been cooked.
Get The Stone Out With A Mitt:
The pizza stone is usually extremely hot after being in the oven at such a high temperature. Therefore, do not even think of taking it out with a dish towel, unless you want to give yourself a serious burn. With the help of your thick oven mitts, reach inside slowly, and take the whole pizza stone out.
Use Pizza Peels To Take It Out Of The Stone:
Cutting the pizza into slices on the stone might damage the materials of the stone. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the pizza from the stone first. Using pizza peels or a metal spatula, remove the pizza from the stone and put it on a plate. Do not touch the pizza or the stone with bare hands at any cost.
Wait Before Slicing:
Although it might seem tempting to dig into the pizza without a moment’s delay, doing so will only make the whole affair messy. If you do not wait until the cheese sets on the pizza, attempting to slice it will result in all the toppings coming off. Now you do not want that, do you?
In order to keep your pizza stone in good condition so that you can use it to cook many frozen pizzas in its lifetime, some cleaning steps need to be taken after each time it has been used.
Do Not Use Soap: The texture of the pizza stone is porous, meaning it traps moisture and small particles.
Using detergent or liquid soap on a pizza stone will backfire for this reason, as the detergent will get trapped in its surface. The taste might be passed down later to other food, and no one wants a dish tasting like soap, do they?
Do Not Dip It In Water: Keeping the stone in water causes the quality of its materials to deteriorate over time. Therefore, you should clean the stone with a thick bristled brush to dust off any particles and wipe softly with a damp cloth. That will clean the stone completely and no additional steps will be required.
So here it is, a complete guide to cooking frozen pizzas on a pizza stone. Next time you are feeling particularly hungry but not craving the soggy taste of a frozen pizza, you know exactly which equipment to use.
And if you have any questions for us, leave it in the comments section. Happy cooking!