Kitchen essentials | pizza utensils

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Indy Lifestyle Online

If you want to get serious about making pizza at home, or just do better with supermarket specimens, three items need a place on your shopping list. The first (and most important) is a baking stone: an unglazed ceramic tile that mimics the effect of a traditional pizza oven. Porous and heat-retaining, it crisps up the pie's base as solid metal never can. Stones must be preheated for 20-30 minutes, but they shorten cooking times.

If you want to get serious about making pizza at home, or just do better with supermarket specimens, three items need a place on your shopping list. The first (and most important) is a baking stone: an unglazed ceramic tile that mimics the effect of a traditional pizza oven. Porous and heat-retaining, it crisps up the pie's base as solid metal never can. Stones must be preheated for 20-30 minutes, but they shorten cooking times.

Several companies sell round pizza stones; the one I have is called HotRox, and it's widely available for around £20. HotRox comes with a metal stand that serves in lieu of a trivet, but if you don't need a base, you can save money by buying an unglazed tile from a tile shop.

Item two: a pizza cutter like the ones used in Italian restaurants (pictured). When that crust goes crisp it will need something very sharp to slice through it. Your best knife would do fine - but after a few conversations with the baking stone, it would no longer be your best knife. The revolving blade on the pizza cutter does the job more easily, and costs just a few pounds whichever brand you buy.

Item three is a peel: a thin metal sheet attached to a long wooden handle used for sliding pie onto stone. This is vital if you're cooking home-made pizza, as rough handling will wreck the base.

With these three items, and a good recipe, you can make something 10 times better than anything at PizzaExpress. Not to mention 10 times cheaper. A good investment for anyone who smiles at a slice. RICHARD EHRLICH

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