The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Introduction and Questions from a Beginner

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JenT's picture
JenT

Introduction and Questions from a Beginner

I've been lurking and browsing this site for a few weeks and thought it was time to introduce myself.  I've been baking for several years but only recently have begun concentrating on bread baking.  I only have the time to bake about one or two loaves a week so the learning process is slow going.  This site has been wonderful for me because everything I've done so far has been self taught and sometimes this can be very frustrating.  Thank you for all of the great advice, pictures, etc.

 I do have a few basic questions regarding equipment:

 1.  I currently do not own a baking stone but would like to acquire one.  I have a small electric oven.  Would the Fibrament rectangular baking stones be the best way to go.  I don't have a car so obtaining tiles or other heavy stones from a home improvement store would be difficult so I would like to order something online.

2.  I posted on the thread about Thermapens a question I had regarding its accuracy at gauging the temperature in the center of the loaf since it registers so quickly.  Am I better off buying a simple probe thermometer for taking the temperature of the bread?  I think I am having issues with underbaking.

That's it for now.  I appreciate in advance any responses.:-) 

Thanks,

Jen

sphealey's picture
sphealey

1) King Arthur have a small baking stone, 14-1/2" x 16-1/2", that you might want to look at. It is item # 5236. Or any small baking stone from a discount kitchen store.

2) Personally, I would say that the best option is to use the Thermapen and just practice getting into the right place in the loaf. I can usually eyeball how thick the loaf is and stick the probe in only that far. The Thermapen is a great instrument IMHO and makes obsolete every other kitchen temperature device I have ever used.

That's my $0.02.

sPh

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

An oven baking stone should be smaller than your oven shelf by at least one inch *on all sides* in order to allow for proper air circulation.

Once you know the size you need, the second thing to consider is the thickness of the stone. For home baking, a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch is good. The thicker the stone, the longer it will take to preheat but it will  retain heat well. Unfortunately, many ads give width and length but fail to tell you the thickness.

The  Fibrament rectangular baking stones, while pricey, have gotten uniformly high praise from users on this and other baking forums. They are 3/4" thick.

JenT's picture
JenT

Thanks for the comments.  I measured my oven rack and it is 22" x 16".  I was thinking that the medium sized (20" x 15") fibrament stone would be the right size but I wasn't sure.  I do like that the fibrament stones are 3/4" and have gotten high praise here. I don't mind paying a bit more for something that will last and is good quality.

 Another question:  Since my oven is electric and the coils are located on the bottom, I cannot place a pan there for adding hot water.  In Reinhart's book, he suggests that a pan can be placed on the top rack instead.  I tried this but was concerned about the top of my bread browning evenly since the pan was blocking the heating coils. Am I just being silly?  Do any of you place the pan for water on the top rack?

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I put the pan on the lowest shelf, and the stone on a shelf one level higher. That leaves the level of the stone about 40% of the height of the oven and seems to work fine as far as leaving enough room for the bread to expand and brown without burning at the top.

sPh

JenT's picture
JenT

I should also clarify that I only have three rack placements in my oven.  If I put the pan on the lowest rack and the stone the next rack up, my bread is VERY close to the top heating element.  Thus, my attempt at the top rack pan placement.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

How about punching holes in the corners of the pan and hanging it with S hooks under the shelf with the stone?  Mini Oven