One of the “benefits” of my sister-in-law changing the Secret Santa on my wife’s side of the family to Secret 3-item $50 price limit wish list fulfillment is I get stuff for Secret Santa that I actually want, even if it’s a pain in the ass to think of things I want. This year I got a pizza stone.

I complain about the stupid Secret Santa wishlisting mostly because it takes me forever to think of 3 items of $50 or less that I want some random in-law to buy for me, but hey at least this year I picked good stuff including the aforementioned pizza stone and also a nice Under Armour pullover.

A pizza stone is literally just a stone or tile or similar item that you put on your oven rack and let heat up really hot, to simulate real deck oven like a pizza joint would use.

My wife caught a bad cold the end of last week so we stayed in for New Year’s, which is fine because I kinda despise New Year’s Eve parties anyway. I took the opportunity to break out the pizza stone, but I didn’t want to make dough from scratch.

Fun fact: you can buy frozen pizza dough at most grocery stores that will give you a Real Pizza Experience with a little work. My local Hy-Vee grocery store had not one but three varieties of frozen pizza dough for the low low price of $1.99 each, so I bought one of each of them.

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The main things to set up the process of using a pizza stone and frozen dough are:

  1. Let the dough defrost for a sufficient amount of time.
  2. Place your pizza stone on the middle oven rack, preheat the oven to 500 (or whatever the maximum temperature setting is), and let the pizza stone hang out in there for a while.
  3. Locate any smoke detectors near your kitchen that tend to get set off by smoky cooking and place a fan underneath them.
  4. Assemble your pizza, ideally on a pizza peel, but you can also use a floured cutting board and spatulas to help move things along.
  5. Bake the pizza for about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Eat the pizza!

I used the garlic & herb dough, because why not? I got a jar of pizza sauce from some local company here in Madison. The toppings are roasted red peppers from a jar, sauteed mushrooms (fun fact #2: don’t put raw veggies on a pizza, cook them first, they’ll be better!), and black olives cut lengthwise because that’s prettier. I used my mad tyte knife skillz to chiffonade some basil which I topped the pizza with after taking it out of the oven.

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Overall I was happy with the results, including the crust which was pillowy on the inside but nice and crispy and crunchy on the bottom, as the pizza gods intended.

I also learned a couple things:

  1. This particular frozen dough rises a lot when baking. I only kneaded it because I didn’t want to try the pizzeria pizza dough toss, but it needs more stretching than I achieved with kneading.
  2. I used GoVeggie Vegan Mozzarella Shreds which melts surprisingly realistically but the taste and texture is a little weird. It didn’t entirely ruin the pizza but I will continue to research other cheese alternatives.

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It sure made for a purty picture though.