Cast iron pans are ordinary in making recipes such as searing meat or steaks. However, because of their ability to retain heat, they have slowly become more famous in baking.
They are durable and can resist any amount of heat to cook any type of food. They are great at cooking in both direct and indirect heat without risking making cracks or breaking them.
Pizza stones are a more common type of cookware used in baking. They also do exceptionally well in retaining heat, making them perfect for baking pizzas and other goods.
They do have a breaking point and a limit on the temperature that they can handle. However, the results you get when cooking in them are unlike the ones you get from other cookware.
So let us see how well they can cook certain types of food, especially pizza, and what you can use them for. There, you will know how to use them properly and what you should get.
What Is A Cast Iron Pan?
Cast-iron pans or skillets are known for their ability to retain heat. It is one of the few metal cookware that can retain heat well, so they are great for different cooking styles.
They do not break, and you can use them in many types of cooking appliances. They can create searing surfaces for meat and sauteing food as well as other recipes.
Cast-iron pans are now used in baking because they are convenient, more common, and durable than pizza stones. They are also better options than pizza pans or metal pans.
Since they can retain heat, they can cook food at a higher temperature without actually burning the food’s surface. You cannot attain this with regular thin cooking pans.
These are the perfect baking companion if you do not have other options. They would not be my first choice, but I cannot say that they are bad when baking pizzas and bread.
What Is A Pizza Stone?
A pizza stone is a more common baking tool than a cast-iron. It is the basis of most pizza ovens when it comes to the baking surface, as they are the perfect heat-retainers for the job.
As you may know, you need a lot of heat when you bake. Pizza stones not only retain that amount of heat but are also able to redistribute it throughout the oven or cooking appliance.
They come in various shapes and sizes, which gives you the ability to make pizzas any way you want. They are usually made out of ceramic or clay to retain high temperatures properly.
Most pizza stones now are made out of cordierite as it is a stronger material. It has the same heat-retaining properties as ceramic, but they are more durable and resistant to breakage.
Because of the material used in making them, pizza stones are porous, which means that they can eliminate unnecessary moisture from the dough or the food you are cooking.
Companies figured that it costs a lot when producing the large brick ovens like those used back in the day. So we have pizza stones now as a recreation of the brick floors of ovens.
So even if you do not have a brick oven, you can still cook like how they did thousands of years ago with a more advanced oven and get that authentic result with the help of pizza stones.
How Do I Use Them?
When it comes to cooking pizzas, you need to have different steps to use, either a cast-iron pan or a pizza stone. They do function similarly, but they have different styles.
Cast-iron pizzas do not have to be preheated in the oven directly. Yes, you can do that, but it is better to use the stove first when cooking pizzas to make the crust crispier.
The most common technique of using cast-iron pans when cooking pizza is to brush the surface with a thin layer of oil. This is to prevent the dough from sticking to the cast-iron.
The oil also helps in cooking the dough before the toppings. It somehow fries the dough a little bit, so it comes out crispier than when you use metal pans in cooking the pizzas.
Pizza stones need preheating since they need a hot surface to cook the dough properly. So before or while preparing the pizza ingredients, you need to turn your pizza oven on.
You should preheat the pizza stone along with the oven. That way, it can gather a lot of heat, which also helps the oven produce a more evenly heated environment for cooking the pizzas.
Since the pizza stone can gather and distribute the heat, it helps make an oven spring. It is a simple phenomenon that helps the dough rise quicker, therefore, making it crispier.
How Well Do They Cook?
So after you have prepared the pizza ingredients, it is time for you to cook the pizza. With the Cast-iron pan, you will need a longer time as you have two cooking processes involved.
First, you will need to cook the pizza dough on the cast-iron over medium heat on the stove. That way, you let the pizza dough rise a little bit before putting the toppings on it.
This also helps make the dough more durable, which means that it will cook thicker toppings. This also preheats the cast-iron pan itself, so it does better in the oven.
Arranging the pizza also takes place in the cast-iron pan itself. You do not need to prepare the dough in a different workspace. Instead, you can shape it according to the pan’s shape.
As for the pizza stone, you need to wait for the oven to reach its maximum temperature. You will have to make sure that the pizza stone has heated up properly with a thermometer by that time.
So after putting your pizza ingredients together, you will have to transfer them to the pizza stone. Then just wait for it to cook; the cooking time will depend on your oven’s maximum temperature.
The result that you usually get with the cast-iron pan is a crispy and nicely browned crust. The toppings are great, but they do have some dryness in them because of the frying part.
As for the pizza stone, you get a perfectly cooked crust with a crispy outside and fluffy or airy inside. The toppings are also equally cooked, and the cheese melts over them.
Advantages Of A Pizza Stone
A pizza stone is one of the few cookware that can eliminate moisture from the dough. This is because of the porous nature, which also collects a lot of heat from the oven.
They can cook the pizza evenly. Because of their ability to help make the temperature inside the oven more even, the toppings of the pizza cook as fast as the crust.
Pizza stones also can make the crust crispy. It does not matter if the pizza has heavy toppings; the pizza stone can reduce moisture and make the crust crispy.
Despite heat up to very high temperatures, pizza stones do not necessarily fry the crust. So that means that it cooks the pizza throughout without burning the crust at the bottom.
Since pizza stones do not have stoppers on their edges, you can form or shape your pizza crust any way you want. You are not limited to just round or rectangular-shaped pizzas.
Advantages Of A Cast Iron Pan
Cast-iron pans do not need too much time to preheat in the oven. You can even do the preheating process on the stove while also cooking toppings such as sausages.
They have durable materials, so they do not crack or break. Even if you put them in different temperatures or drop them, cast-iron pans will not show any major damage.
They are also easier to handle compared to pizza stones since they have long handles. You can maneuver them easily as long as you wear a mitten to protect yourself from the hot surface.
Cast-iron pans can handle more heat than pizza stones. You can use them directly on the grill or over the stove as they can cook with direct heat and flames for other recipes.
Pizza stones can become brittle at some point. They cannot handle abrupt temperature changes as they might break from a phenomenon called thermal shock.
That is why they also do not do well with water. You cannot wash pizza stones with water, or else they will break when they heat up again, and they also absorb chemicals from soaps and such.
Cast-iron pans are durable. However, they are heavy, so they can damage the counter or the floor if you accidentally drop them. There are also other kinds of cast-iron pans that you should not use.
Some cast-iron pans go through the process of being enameled, and while they are good at cooking with searing temperatures, they do not do well when the temperature is over 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
How To Maintain Them
Pizza stones do not need cleaning with water. If you have a pizza oven that can reach a temperature of over 900 degrees Fahrenheit, then you can use it to clean the pizza stone.
Just leave the pizza stone in the pizza oven for an hour to burn off the food residuals. The pizza stone’s color will naturally change after a while, but it is a good sign that it is seasoned.
Cast-iron pans are easy to maintain and clean as you can wash them with water and soap, or other chemicals. You should always wash them after every use and brush a thin layer of oil on them.
Storing them is easy as well since you can put the cast-iron pizza in a small drawer. You can leave the pizza stone in the pizza oven to use it right away when you need to cook pizzas again.
It is hard to judge between these two cooking tools since they have different cooking and different results. Cast-iron pans are great not only for pizzas but also with other recipes.
Pizza stones are also able to cook other recipes, but they do have a limit. You cannot be used over direct fire since they will easily break.
When it comes down to cooking pizzas, I would still prefer pizza stones over the cast-iron pan. They cook the pizza with a crispy crust, and the toppings are always evenly cooked.
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