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For better results with a pizza stone....

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  • For better results with a pizza stone....

    Here's a baking tip that's about as simple as one could ask: instead of that bed of flour or corn meal you've been using to ease the slide of the pizza onto the baking stone, substitute a sheet of non-stick aluminum foil.

    A couple of advantages to this technique are obvious: you eliminate the chance that the pizza will stick to the peel (rather, you need to take a bit of care to keep it from sliding off at the wrong moment), as well as the inevitable mess and waste that dusting of powder creates.

    Not so obvious: it does rather a better job of baking the crust. From crusts with no visible browning on the bottom at all using the dusted-peel method, I went to crusts that were pretty decently browned -- using just this single change in technique.

    Now, I'm nothing resembling a professor of thermal physics, but it would seem that the reason this works so well is that the same layer of powder that lubricates the slide from peel to stone also places an all-too-effective layer of thermal insulation between the stone and the dough. This effect will only arise when using a consumer-grade oven, where you need to make best use of every bit of heat you have available; the much greater heat of a pro-grade oven will blow through that layer of insulation essentially as if it wasn't there.

    I can imagine this might sound a bit too good to be true, but if you're trying to get the best results you can with a home oven, I urge you to give it a try -- and leave the corn meal for the muffins where it belongs!