Doing without a baking stone - basic questions
Since this is my first post here, I suppose I should introduce myself. The actual relevant bits of the post are below.
I've been lurking around for almost a year now, but especially in the last month I've been trying to expand my knowledge here. I've been toying with baking breads for almost two years now, but it was, until recently, not much of a serious hobby. I had limited success and I didn't much try to find out exactly what went wrong (as something often did!). Recently I've become much more interested in serious bread baking (hence the increase in visitations to this site): I splurged and purchased BBA and I'm determined to initially follow instructions and techniques very carefully so that I can learn what I've been doing wrong and become a better baker. That brings me to my questions:
I'm going off to school in about two months, so I'm reluctant to spend a lot of money on bread baking equipment. Without knowing where I'll be in a few years, shelling out for a stone hardly seems wise. So I am stoneless. However, I'm not quite sure on the best way to do without. I've heard of inverting a heavy baking sheet on an oven rack and using that as a stone, and I've also heard that you can just bake directly on a non-preheated heavy baking sheet. As well, I'm unclear about when it's appropriate to transfer loaves to the oven using parchment paper - I know it's oven-safe, but can it survive the 500 degree Fahrenheit temperatures for baguettes, pizza, and the like? Will it interfere with heat transfer to the loaves?
As my first foray into meticulous bread baking, I'm trying the French bread recipe from Bread Baker's Apprentice. I made the ferment last evening, and hopefully I'll be turning out some half sheet pan sized baguettes today.
Thanks for the help,