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I have an aluminum pizza pan with a perforated bottom. It looks like this:

enter image description here

Not long ago I purchased a pizza stone, which I got mainly because everyone raves about them. However, the results have been quite disappointing. The aluminum pizza pan consistently produces a thin, crispy crust. But the pizza stone produces a much thicker crust with a bread-like consistency -- not at all what I'm looking for. It's not soggy or anything, just thicker and more bread-like.

The dough recipe is straightforward: flour, water, salt, yeast, and a slow overnight rise. I make two pizzas from the recipe and do one on the stone and the other on the pan. The oven and stone are preheated to 550F/288C for 45 minutes before cooking. I do one pizza at a time, both on the top rack. So all the factors are exactly the same except the stone vs. pan.

Why does the stone produce this thicker, bread-like texture? Is there any way to counteract that or do I now own a heat sink and I should stick to using the pan?

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    A few things: (1) Are you preheating the stone? Most stones are meant to be preheated in the oven before cooking; if you don't do this, you may be less likely to get a crispy/firm bottom on crust. (2) If you are preheating, the main point of a stone is to get a better rise out of your crust. If it's too thick and bready for your taste, you'll either need to stretch the dough thinner or alter the recipe. (3) If the main issue is lack of crispness, you can also pull the stone out of the oven with the pizza on and leave it for a few minutes, which can firm the crust without burning the toppings. – Athanasius Jul 3 '14 at 1:52
  • @Athanasius (1) Yes, 45 minutes in the oven at 550/288. (2) How would I alter the recipe to get a thinner crust? (3) Not the issue. – Carey Gregory Jul 3 '14 at 2:44
  • Possible modifications: lower hydration (more flour, less water), maybe less yeast, put stone on lowest oven rack, thoroughly deflate dough before stretching (and/or roll out), stretch as thin as possible (my thin-crust is translucent before baking), consider baking blind at start (as user150153 suggests). Frankly, if I were you, I'd just invest in a second pan; the main benefit of a stone is creating a better rise. It's not really the ideal tool for thin, crispy pizza, which is often grilled or made on a pan (and sometimes moved once it has partially cooked onto a rack or even oven floor). – Athanasius Jul 3 '14 at 3:44
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    I have never seen one of those perforated trays. HOWEVER, I have a stone and get results similar to what you describe. I have mostly given up. If you pan works for you, go for it! – Megasaur Jul 3 '14 at 7:00
  • @Megasaur You can buy pans like that on amazon. You might want to give it a try. – Carey Gregory Jul 5 '14 at 4:37
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Your aluminum pan is allowing moisture to escape from the bottom and the top, whereas the stone does not, so the stone will have more rise. To use a stone, after much trial and error, I have to roll that dough out super thin, like 3-4 mm, prebake in the hot oven for 4-5 minutes, pull it out, add the toppings, then finish for another 6-7 minutes.

Also, different flours will bring a different gluten content, which are the sticky bonds that will allow you to roll it thinner without it contracting at every roll. I use 1/2 semolina flour and 1/2 plain flour, I can roll it thinner that way.

Be not dismayed, a breadier crust can be fantastic, you can load more stuff on it.

  • I don't want to load more stuff on it. I've found that less is more with pizza. I use 00 flour. Using a mix of semolina is something I've considered, but since the results I achieve in the perforated pan are exactly what I'm looking for, I'm reluctant to mess with the recipe. – Carey Gregory Jul 3 '14 at 2:47
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    @Carey - stones are (partly) used because they give better oven-spring, which is desirable in bread, but not what you're looking for in your pizza. You've got answers for "why" and "how to avoid", and a recommendation for "keep using the pan", but the question is now back to you! You say that the perforated pan produces exactly what you're looking for; what were you looking to improve in the first place? – hoc_age Jul 3 '14 at 12:05
  • @hoc_age Good question. I guess I was looking for an improvement over the pan, but I know now that's not going to happen. I don't bake much bread so maybe I'll buy a second pan and relegate the stone to being a heat sink in the bottom of the oven. – Carey Gregory Jul 3 '14 at 22:34
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    @Carey - just a flash in the metaphorical aluminum pan, eh? You could perhaps get thin and crispy with insane temperature - 700F ish - probably way more than a home oven. The stone might also be a good opportunity to try some recipes for other flatbreads -- pita, focaccia, ciabatta, naan, ... – hoc_age Jul 4 '14 at 2:16
  • @hoc_age Can't achieve 700F in the oven. The best I can do is maybe 600F by (ab)using the self-cleaning feature. – Carey Gregory Jul 4 '14 at 4:35
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Just thought of a couple other wacky thoughts that exceeded comment status...

ATK also had a recommendation to preheat the stone and bake pizza on a higher rack near the top of the oven. Probably marginally hotter there. They went one extra step in preheating: just before applying the pizza, they turned the oven to broil for an additional shot of intense heat for a few minutes of additional preheat; this might help your stone get hotter than the oven can go for a short time. Might be worth investigating. Note well! -- Be sure to switch back to bake before putting the pizza in!

Another ATK says thinner crust could be achieved by retarding the fermentation by proofing in the fridge for a few days, but you don't seem keen on changing the recipe/technique.

If you really don't want to use the stone, you could break it into a few pieces and use the resulting bricks to simulate a hearth. Place them on end (vertically) surrounding (same rack) what you're trying to bake. By preheating they will retain and radiate heat on the sides, more than you'll get out of your average oven. Books by Daniel Leader and Peter Reinhart discuss this home "hearth" baking.

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