The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking/Pizza Stones

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Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Baking/Pizza Stones

I would really appreciate the Low-Down on this very critical piece of equipment:

Which stones are best? Fibrament,Superstone, Hearthstone, Soapstone, generic...
What causes breakage?
Putting a stone above your loaf.
Plus anything else on the subject would be much appreciated.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I went through two of the ultra-cheap (10-15 dollar) pizza stones from Target or wherever. They each shattered with little apparent shock after only a week or two's use. I then tried cheap ceramic floor tiles from Home Depot, which also broke after a month or two of use. Finally I spend a bit more and bought this baking stone online. It definitely helps retain heat and has proven to be quite durable. My only wish was that it was 2 or 3 inches longer so that I could strech my loaves out a little longer.

I have no experience with the different types of stones, and I haven't experimented with two stones yet, so I'm no help for you there.

This reminders me that I keep meaning to hit the ceramics supply shop because I hear the kiln tiles you can get there are cheap and work great for baking.

qahtan's picture
qahtan

I bought my two stones at Corning factory outlet, so far
no problems, had them about 2 years......qahtan

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Today my baking stone arrived via the link above. The box weighed a ton & free shipping saved me bundle. It was very well boxed & protected.
My old round pizza stone looks pretty puny compared to the Old Stone Oven. I have more room to work with too.

I really appreciate all the good advice here.

I still want to try the Flower Pot Cloche and adding tiles or another stone above my deck.

hohoho55555's picture
hohoho55555

I am trying to give a holiday gift to a bread/pizza lover -- and trying to follow a recommendation from Cooks Illustrated’s Baker’s Dozen gift list:

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I have the lighter stone and am very happy with it. I don't think I'd pay twice as much for a different one unless I *knew* it was going to deliver considerably better results.

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Buy the lighter one. And buy it from Amazon. Baker's Catalogue stone is 1/2 inch (I checked their catalogue), so it is not the "deluxe stone". The difference in shipping weight may be accounted for by the fact that BC says their stone is 14.5" X 16.5". It may or may not be a different stone, but it is the same essentially for a lot more money. Typically, Baker's Catalogue is 50% higher priced than what you can find the same product for elsewhere. Pampered Chef is even higher than that.

Pizzameister

Ricardo's picture
Ricardo

I use cheap ceramic floor tiles for about a year same tiles no problems at all
Most pople just turn the oven too high for the tiles to take on the heat
One must bear in mind to slowly turn the oven and heat it up to the righ baking level take about a hour or hour and a half

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

I went to my local Home Depot to try and get some unglazed tiles and the
fellow in the flooring dept. couldn't figure out what to order from his monolithic book. I was hoping to get enough tile to go with a 2 Deck set up. If anyone knows of the # of their tile perhaps from the box it came from I would really appreciate the info.

whitedaisy's picture
whitedaisy

I love my Pampered Chef baking stones. They cost a lot, but I think of them as an investment in my "best baking self" :o) Pampered Chef has all kind of stoneware. I use the flat pizza stone for most loaves. The mini loaf pan makes 4 loaves that are perfect for dinner at my house. And the rectangle baker makes great rolls (and cakes too)

ed minturn's picture
ed minturn

I just ordered the pizza stones for myself and family. They tell my to not preheat them and then place a pizza or bread on them as they may crack. Any thoughts on this.   thank you,  ed

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

That defeats the whole purpose!


Anyway, so what if they crack? I have a cracked one. The two pieces fit together nearly seamlessly, and I can still bake on it.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The stone I'm using is from Pampered Chef and (thus far) has done just fine even when preheated to 550 dF empty, then having moist, cool dough plopped on it.  YMMV.


Paul

ed minturn's picture
ed minturn

I have used my PS stone a few times but have not tried preheating it and then placing the dough on it. Will it really improve how the bread cooks by doing it the preheated way. thanks, ed

Jane from Wales's picture
Jane from Wales

I read all the comments above about baking stones, thinking that was something I couldn't afford at the moment when, reading some of your suggestions about substitutes, I had a brainwave. Living in the heart of Snowdonia, slate is the local building material - and of course Welsh slate is the best you can get if you will allow a little local pride! The builders have left quite a few nice slabs around and I have carried inside one that is a nice rectangle, the right size to fit the Rayburn main oven and about 2in. thick. My only worry is whether it would object to being heated. (I should certainly take the advice above of doing this gently and slowly) Unfortunately I just don't know the physics of it. Anyway I shall try it out soon and report back.

pigrew's picture
pigrew

I'm not sure how great slate would be. I've read that it is best to have a stone that is porous. I'd like to hear how it works for you. Could you do a comparative study? For pizza, I set the oven to be as hot as it can be (around 250 C). For bread, 160-220 C (or so) depending on the type. Try to heat it up slowly, maybe 50 degrees per hour at first.

qahtan's picture
qahtan

Are there any nasties in slate, you know like lead or???????
I have never heard of any baking ever being done on slate and do you think it would tolerate the temprature, as it's not like clay
that goes in kiln. ?????? qahtan

pigrew's picture
pigrew

It would really depend on what sort of slate it is, but I really would not expect it to leach any bad chemicals into the bread. If it is heated up slowly, I'm sure that slate will tolerate the temperature. But, it possibly would crack if it is heated more quickly. There is a possibility that it would build a tolerance to temperature change after being heated up a few times.

zuponicafe's picture
zuponicafe

I've only been on this site 1/2 hour & I allready love it! I have a $4.99 stone I got over a year ago & haven't had any problems. I just crank the oven to 500 let it heat up & plop on a pizza and in 8-10 minutes I have a yummy pie. I leave the stone in everytime I use the oven too, out of sheer laziness, unless I need to use the bottom shelf (it's a tiny apt. size stove). I'm sure after a few months of this site tho I shall redifine my slovenly cooking techniques! :o)

hotbred's picture
hotbred

You guys wont believe !! Any kind of bricks U know kelly bricks? the bread or pizza will come out of the oven with the name of the brick co on it once in a while no matter U can leave the brick in the oven Chickens beef fish all cook great on it too, leave it in forever it wont hurt anything! Please put a pan under your fish chicken & beef .Or u will have a mess . think about it! An old cookie sheet , bricks ontop, to hold in place, The cookie sheet is so u can put cornmeal on bricks, & cookie sheet to catch meal that slips down inbetween bricks Got from BREAD ALONE hotbred!!! Get them in a building lot. YOU KNOW!!!!!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Here's another idea:

Unglazed ceramic tiles. 12 inch by 12 inch, almost a full inch thick. These babies are HEAVY and seriously retain heat.

The cost?

99 cents each at Home Depot.

I had to ask for help to find them, but the cost can't be beat. I splurged and spent 5 bucks more for a carbide grit hacksaw blade so I could cut the tiles to fit my oven, as two of them are too wide to fit.

As the picture shows one of them is a tad chipped, but at 99 cents each I can easy afford to get another when I need to.

Keith's picture
Keith

Slate is a porous stone. Not nearly as porous as most baking stones, but I think it woud work just fine. Bricks work just fine and are easy to replace once they get too grungy.

Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

I've used unglazed quarry tiles on the bottom rack in the my oven for over 15 years. Six tiles give me a large enough surface for my pizza and free-form loaves. I leave the tiles in the oven all the time. They are a little darkend from use, but clean up easily. I simply scrape any spill-overs with a metal spatula and wipe (when cool) with a damp sponge. In all that time, only one has cracked and was replaced for under $1. I bake my pizza at 500 degrees and do high heat roasted chicken at 450 degrees.

Kitchen Witch's picture
Kitchen Witch

Well as luck would have it I have 3 large pizza stones (expensive ones at that), and soon I will try an experiment with the 3 of them in the oven, one on top, one on the bottom and one inbetween, and see what happens.

kenaparsons's picture
kenaparsons

I've just posted a picture of my solution to the pizza stone on the gallery page. Blue slate paver from a gardern store for under $3. I chose a 22lb., 1 inch thick stone that fit my oven. Have been using it for 2 years now and works like nothing I've tried before. It handles 500F+ temperatures, a lot of surface moisture, and retains heat for a long time.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

You can also use iron or soft steel - any metal supplier should be able to cut you a piece, quarter inch thick. Not porous, of course - but then, nor is the bottom of an oven and that works too!

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Don't spray them with water when they're 500 degrees :D Luckily it was a cheapo $15 model that I just had on the floor of my oven to help even out temperature fluctuations.

I recently purchased a Fibrament stone, and am quite happy with it. It was worth the extra money to me to not have to deal with loose smaller stones, and not have to drive an hour to find a store that stocked larger quarry stones. I seem to live in a quarry stone-free area of NJ.

It's a massive 3/4" thick, came with free shipping and a 10-year warranty. Works for me! Bakingstone.com

-Joe

titus's picture
titus

Pizza stones aren't available here on the continent and are too expensive and heavy to mail order.

I see that our local equivalent of Home Depot has bricks on sale this weekend.

So, my question is:

If you are using just plain bricks, you can leave them on the oven floor all the time and just put the bread/pizza on them directly or in their pans?

Also,do you have to make any kind of adjustments to oven temp etc, when baking other things like muffins, cakes, etc if the bricks are staying on the oven floor?

Thanks for any info and guidance.

ryan's picture
ryan

this is what I used until I purchased a stone. yes alittle warping but still bakeable and can be sprayed with water, as well who doesn't have a metal baking sheet?

happy baking,
ryan

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

I bought my 16X16X1 kiln shelf about two years ago from Sheffield Pottery for 35 dollars plus shipping (which as I recall was around $15.)  It retains the heat really well and has held up with no cracking or splitting.  They offer all shapes and sizes on the web, and I thought their customer service was first rate.


 


 

Aprea's picture
Aprea

but could someone tell me what a kiln shelf is - is it a clay shelf to replace your oven rack"


 

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

A kiln shelf is what potters use inside their ovens to fire clay.  Here is a link. To peruse the different sizes and prices, just put "kiln shelf" in the search box.


http://www.sheffield-pottery.com/Kiln_Shelves_s/110.htm


 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Background: I worked for 5 years for one of world's larger manufacturers of refractory.  I am familiar with the materials used to make industrial refractory, and also the separation we maintained between the manufacturing lines for industrial products and for medical/laboratory products.


With that knowledge, I personally would not use any refractory for cooking which does not have either (1) an NSF mark (2) a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) freely available from the manufacturer.


sPh

monzy's picture
monzy

sPh,


That is great advice.


Do you have any insight into the non-refractory natural materials s/a slate, marble, terracotta?


What do you use?


g

loydb's picture
loydb

I moved my relatively-thin pizza stone up to the top shelf, and installed a 1/2" thick Fibrament stone on the bottom shelf. I get great heat from the pair, and the Fibrament holds heat forever.


 


 

CanuckJim's picture
CanuckJim

All,


I've advised a lot of people over the years about baking stones, and it might be of use to get out of the marketing/price/quality tangle.  In the larger metropolitan areas, it's quite likely there is a refractory supplier who works with the foundry, pottery, kiln, metallurgy industries.  In all likelihood, they will carry "refractory tiles," read giant firebricks, in a variety of sizes (1' x 1', 2' x 2', etc.) and thicknesses (1", 2", 3", etc.).  The supplier I use in Toronto will even take custom orders for special shapes.  It's worth checking out: the price will probably be good, the quality is there, and they don't crack.


 


Jim

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

I took a similar route today in procuring a slab of marble for my baking.  I didn't want to pay a fortune for shipping on line, so I went to a ceramic tile place in town where we had purchased our kitchen and bathroom flooring two years earlier.  I explained what I wanted and the man gave me an 18 x 18 x .5 piece of marble that is perfect for my needs.  He offered me a choice of granite, stone or marble, and I chose the marble.  He said it was a sample of some stock they no longer carried, and he charged me nothing. 

cmckinley's picture
cmckinley

I buy unglazed tiles from home depot for about 2 bucks..they work great.  Haven't had any problems with them breaking..you can line your entire oven with them and keep them in there all the time

mredwood's picture
mredwood

Slate is porous and withstands heat. When I had to purchase a wood stove the envy of all who burned wood for heat was Vermont Castings stoves that were topped with slate. 


Mariah