We’ll take any excuse to scoff pizza - but would the Stonebake Grill’s promise of authentic pizza in just a few minutes live up to our expectations, or were the results going to be more half than stone baked?
Measuring 35cm in diameter, sporting chunky dial controls and a robust feel, the Stonebake Grill looks every bit the kitchen professional; which is just as well because it’s going to take up a good chunk of your worktop. Great if you’re a pizza nut, but if space is short you might have to live without a toaster to make room.
With a simple hinge, two electric grill elements and a rotating 12-inch stone hot plate there’s nothing complicated about the grill. The timer and grill controls are clearly laid out and there are two safety lights showing when the grill is switched on.
To make either frozen, pre-baked base or fresh dough pizza, just pre-heat the grill for 10 minutes using the timer, then place the pizza on the stone plate and choose top or bottom (or both) heat, set the timer and close the lid. The hot stone rotates to ensure even cooking, and you can watch the cheese melt and base crisp through the viewing window.
Timings vary, but a frozen pizza will be ready in 8 minutes, while fresh dough and pre-baked take a little longer (10-15min) as you need to cook the base for a couple of minutes first before the topping. We didn’t follow the instructions first time out and ended up with crispy cheese and a soggy bottom.
Sadly you can’t just set and forget the grill - depending on the type of pizza and how you like it you’ll need to experiment with the heat settings before you get it just right, but it’s worth persevering. Upping the heat on the hot stone gave our bases an authentic pizzeria flavour - that included a couple of cheapos from the freezer - and thanks to the rotation, the toppings were cooked to perfection, and considerably better than our standard oven could manage.
A quick word of warning if you have small kids - the red metal casing gets very hot during cooking, and steam will billow out as you open it up. Nothing too dangerous if you’re careful, but worth remembering if there are little fingers about.
The grill also comes with a non-stick dish for cooking deep-pan pizzas as well as rustling up omelettes.
The secret to cooking a great pizza is all in the stone. It absorbs heat and distributes it giving you an even crispy base and without a doubt it’s the magic ingredient in the Stonebake grill. Once we got the hang of the controls we loved using it. The grill is super fast, more fun than an oven and the bases were consistently crispy and toppings evenly cooked. Watching a pizza slowly cook as it rotates is also oddly addictive.
The big question here though, is do you really need one? If you’re a Fiorentina fanatic the answer’s probably yes, but for casual use you might find it gathering dust at the back of the cupboard (assuming you have one big enough).
It works like a dream and is surprisingly flexible, but if you’re short on space and don’t have a spare £60 you could do worse than buying a traditional pizza stone, they cost around £30, and sticking with your old school oven.