Suffering from pandemic anxiety, I, like many others, turned to my one effective form of therapy: baking. My heart was set on a fluffy set of brioche cinnamon rolls, but with everybody consumed with making bread, yeast was nowhere to be found. I dejectedly went home to replan. I pulled out my Food52 Genius Desserts cookbook and started looking for non-yeast baked goods. A completely gorgeous galette (page 215, if you’re wondering) reached out and said, BAKE ME!
My kitchen life changed that day. A little footnote to the recipe suggested something unorthodox—to bake the galette on a cold, parchment-covered pizza stone. It was the easiest, most beautiful galette I have ever made, a pseudo-pie of stunning plums and blackberries, bathed in brown butter and encrusted in golden pastry. Because a pizza stone is excellent at retaining heat, it provides a hot, even surface that’s superior to that of a regular baking sheet. And it’s not just good for galettes and, well, pizzas. My success inspired a frenzy of bread, roasted veggies, hand pies, flatbreads, and on and on.
When it comes to purchasing a stone, the landscape is vast. They’re made of everything from ceramic to cordierite to steel and can be rectangular, round, or square, with varying temperature thresholds and price points. My tool of choice is the Emile Henry 14″ Pizza Stone, which is glazed in black or red.
While I thought this quality would be counterintuitive to its moisture-reducing benefits, according to the packaging insert, this product is made from Burgundian clay and “micro-crazed”—according to the restaurant supply store KaTom, that means the glaze has tons of tiny cracks that absorb moisture, thereby contributing to a crispy crust. The proprietary glaze is designed to prevent chips or scratches, though I suggest moving your baked good to a cutting board before slicing in order to preserve the blade of your knife. And, the best part? It has handles, making it possible to transport, even with oven mitts on.
In addition to being easy to clean up, reliable, and sturdy, the Emile Henry stone is versatile. It can withstand up to 932°F heat and comes with a 10-year warranty, which made the decision to use it on the grill an easy one. I started with a galette, moved onto pizza and flatbread, and then went all out with a whole red snapper stuffed with herbs and lemon. I rubbed the fish with olive oil, but everything else I grilled straight on the stone, and it easily lifted off when finished.
Kitchen equipment comes and goes, but my love for this humble pizza stone is here to stay. Sometimes it pays to read the footnotes.
Carrie Honaker is an educator and freelance writer based in Panama City Beach, Florida.