The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking on Stones

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Baking on Stones

Those of you who use baking stones for your free-form loaves, how do you transfer your risen loaf to the hot stone? I don't have a peel. Can parchment paper be used, or is the stone too hot for it?

Up to now I have been just putting the loaf on the stone to rise and then placing the cold stone with the loaf into the hot oven. I'm getting decent results, but I'd like the bottom crust a bit browner and I think I'd get more oven spring if the stone was hot.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm all in favor of parchment. I'm getting a little bit better with a peel, but 90% of the time I use parchment, and the 10% of the time I don't, I usually regret it. :^/

If you are worried about the parchment burning, you usually can pull the parchment out from under the loaf after 5 or 10 minutes, once the bottom of the loaf has dried out and started to form a crust, as long as you sprinkle some semolina flour or corn meal on it before placing the bread on it.

You'd definitely get more oven spring with a hot stone. If anything, I think a cold stone might reduce your rise (versus a baking sheet) because it absorbs so much of the heat in the oven for the first 10 or 15 minutes.

Altaf's picture
Altaf

I use a peel made of wood to trasfer the loaf to the oven. My first attempt with baking stone is illuastared in my bread blog (bread adventures). I heated the stone for 30 minutes, but that was not enougph...it need more heat.

SilverLion's picture
SilverLion

I use a peel dusted with corn meal/polenta. There is a trick, a little snap, to doing it, but it only take a few loaves to get the hang of it. For a stone, I use a kiln shelf, about 1" thick, and (I'm guessing now) 18"x14". They are available at pottery/ceramic supply stores. I heat the oven to 500F 45-60 minutes before baking. If "spritzing" is called for, I place a small cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks (the kind used in landscaping) in the oven as it preheats; after putting the bread in the oven I pour water on the rocks until the pan is full then quickly shut the door---no need to open the door again until the bread is done! 8-)

doronin's picture
doronin

How do you, guys, transfer your proofed loaf onto the dusted peel? Every time I try I damage the loaf...

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I have been using parchment paper with really good success. I shape my loaf as usual and then lay it on the parchment to proof. Slide the loaf, including the parchment, onto the hot stone. I have also just picked up the loaf using the extended ends of the parchment as a handle to transfer it to the stone. This only works with smaller loaves.

dstroy's picture
dstroy

Parchment paper is your friend!!!
Floyd used to swear up a blue streak during this process...especially when making pizzas, but he FINALLY gave in to the idea that using parchment paper does NOT in fact, make you any less manly, and your breads and pizzas are far less likely to end up looking squished as they tumble out onto the stone!
:-D
Since then, our 3 year old has had far fewer opportunities to learn new and embarrassing words from the accidents that inevitably occurred in the kitchen.

sonofYah's picture
sonofYah

I love parchment paper. Don't know what I'd do without it now.

Hordon

jmcbride's picture
jmcbride

Proof it on the peel which is sprinkled liberal with corn meal or semolina.

JM

Ben's picture
Ben

I learned about parchment before I started baking, so when I finally got into the craft, it was one of the first things I bought. I considered (and still do) a baker's staple.

Maybe I'm a little weird, or innately developing my peel skills, but I'll place some parchment on the peel to make transfers much easier.

Cheers!
-Ben

ryan's picture
ryan

I've found that the more my bread gets in contact with the stone the better the crust, and volume of my loaf. Professional bakers use the pelle and the only way effictively to do so is in conjuction with a banneton in my experience. When and only when you are ready, unmould the bread onto a lightly floured pelle (this can be wood, glass or cardboard...) and fire your bread. The only tricky part to this is to shove it in and pull it back so it lands evenly. Yes it does take practice but it is more worthwile than any other way. Parchment is evil... You'll see the difference it makes!

Happy Baking

Ryan

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I totally disagree that "parchment is evil." That is an obnoxious, snotty statement, and it completely clashes with the goal of this site, which is to try to encourage bakers of all levels. I'm telling you ahead of time, further comments with that tone will be deleted and users making them will be banned. There are plenty of other foodie sites out there for people who want to look down on amateurs; this will not become one of them.

All that said, I agree that you will get a better crust without parchment. Another trick is to keep the parchment under the loaf while first placing the loaf in the oven, but as soon as the bottom starts to get solid pull the parchment out. This does result in some moisture being trapped on the bottom of the loaf and perhaps a slightly inferior bottom crust, but that is much preferred to completely mangling the loaf while transferring it to the oven.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Another comment that came to me via email:

I use parchment to transfer "everything" to the oven. I have never had
any problem with it, in fact last time I made pizza I recycled the
paper for two pizzas (since the box was empty). I cook them on a hot
stone at 450.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Elagins@sbcglobal.net

For me, parchment is indispensable when I'm making really slack breads and/or proofing en couche. For breads like Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne, I simply line up three baguettes on a piece of spray-oiled and semolina-dusted parchment cut to fit my stone. For couche-proofed slack breads like ciabatta, I cut the parchment to the size of the risen loaf and then lay it on the couche. That way, when I transfer the dough to the peel, I don't have to worry about too much handling or inadvertent degassing.

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

I would like to ask for some help and feedback from the forum. We are planning some changes to our product.

Our product, the Super Peel, can pick up and move just about any form of dough without associated transfer problems, such as: degassing, sticking, misplacement, "shape change", etc. It is useful for breads and pizzas, and also other baking.

It works without extra cornmeal or flour or parchment for sliding.

We have sold over 3000 Super Peels over the past few years, including 1000 through The Baker's Catalogue. 100% of customer feedback varies from positive to elation!

Please take a look at the product www.superpeel.com. I would appreciate any feedback from any non-users, as to why you would or would not buy the product:

Interested or Not, and why.
Cost of product.... Would buy if $20.00 or $25.00 vs $34.00.
Don't understand how it works.
Don't believe it actually works as shown.
Would or would not care if it was made overseas.
Would or would not matter if it was made from rubberwood vs. maple, as long as quality is there.
Any and all other thoughts......

If anyone is intested, I will make some available at a reduced price for evaluation and comment.

Thanks in advance,

Pizzameister
(Gary)

Nita's picture
Nita

Gary, Thanks for responding so quickly to my e-mail this morning. I would also like to demo the SuperPeel as I have never baked a loaf of bread or transferred dough to a hot stone. This is why I'm researching what peel to buy, along with pro's and con's. I never realized that you can destroy a pizza, I just thought it would hop right onto that hot stone and make me look like a goddess when the oven beeped. I'm still at Intense@mn.rr.com . Thanks again.

naschol's picture
naschol

Gary,

If you still have some Super Peels available for testing, I would definitely be interested. I am going to be testing breads for an upcoming cookbook release and it would get a great workout!

You can reply to naschol at hotmail dot com.

Thanks.

Nancy

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Gary,

I am an owner of a Superpeel. Here's my feedback:

My wife brought it home as a gift for me, as I am an avid bread and pizza baker. I was dubious at first. It was pretty cool, working just as advertised. A little gimmicky, but nifty nonetheless. I used it for a few bread loaves and some pizza.

Then I tore the parchment while sliding the little pusher bar. I managed to get the loaf onto the stone, then tried to replace the paper. After about a half hour of folding, dropping, cursing, tearing another sheet, more folding, and more cursing, I finally managed to get it back together again. The next time I used it, I tore the paper again putting a loaf in the oven. The little pusher bar went right in the trash.

I now use it as a plain peel, and it performs admirably in that role. It's got a nice, big surface, and a good shape to it. It's also thinner than my other peel, making it easier to get pizza out of the oven.

-Joe

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Hi Joe,

I wasn't aware that there was a model of SuperPeel that came equipped with parchment paper. The one that I have, and I would imagine all recent SuperPeel purchasers have, is equipped with a fabric belt, quite impervious to tearing. I consider it to be among my most useful baking tools.

- Steve Brandt

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Joe,

Let me first say that I will very gladly send you a cloth belt kit and for your "Fake Super Peel". Just contact me off-line.

I am going to take a leap here, and assume that your wife must have bought you a "Kitchen Conveyor" We licensed this concept to a company in Oregon several years back and there were some problems, not the least of which was that I lost 3 years to their efforts. Their concern was that the user would not want to have to wash the cloth, thus the parchment paper belts. Bad idea, and wrong headed from the getgo. I detailed to them the reasons why paper was not the perferred belt medium for bread and pizza bakers, and even provided drawings of design changes that would need to be made to fix the tearing problem, if they insisted on it. I had gone through the very exact experiences you describe with all the tearing and fumbling. Unfortunately, all of my words and efforts fell on deaf ears. They had a string of bad business matters and we eventually parted ways. This was a very expensive exercise for both of us and it almost killed the product.

Fortunately, I got control of the product back at the end of 2002. When I approached Baker's Catalogue in early 2003 with the original version, which they had seen a few years prior, they wanted it, and featured it on their Nov 2003 Cover! They had always given the paper model the thumbs down, too.

I know that Sur La Table sold about 1000 of the "Kitchen Conveyors". Please cofirm where your wife bought it. I will make it right for you.

As an interesting side note, I am actually soon coming out with a new, lighter, and less expensive versions, which while it will come with the cloth belt, it will be designed to take parchment paper too and will not suffer from the problems you note.

Regards,

Gary Casper

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Gary,

Well, then let me apologize for reviewing the wrong product! I went to your website to verify that I had the right product, and it looked exactly the same. I didn't realize yours had a cloth belt.

Nice job making a product with potential actually work! And thank you also for your generous offer. It says a lot about the integrity of your company.

-Joe

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Joe,

Please contact me at sales@superpeel.com or gcasper@nycap.rr.com, so that I can get your address and ship you an upgrade. I think you will like the resulting product much better. Makes me wonder where the rest of these are out there - something I had not really thought much about previously.

Gary

Life lesson learned......My neighbor businessman told me long ago..."Whatever you do, do not give up control of your product." I did anyway, as it looked like the right thing to do at the time. At least I kept in place the means by which to regain control. But, boy it was painful watching the wheels coming off the wagon, while being totally helpless to do anything about it. When it is someone else's money which is on the line, you can have been the very best of friends, but they are only going to do it their way!

dhedrick's picture
dhedrick

Gary,
I would be very interested in trying your super peel - they have gotten some great reviews on here. If you could e-mail me at themodifiedmind@hotmail.com, I would love to discuss with you further. I'll look forward to hearing from you soon.

~ Dale

KWeiss's picture
KWeiss

You can use parchment paper and the backside of a cookie sheet to slide your freeform loaf onto your stone. I use a peel and just flour it to make sure the loaf slides onto the stone, but used the parchment paper/cookie sheet method before I got the peel.

The parchment paper will brown, but after you load your loaf or loaves, spritz with water for the steam effect. I find that this keeps the paper from burning up. It just browns darkly. Hope this helps.

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

I use parchment and the backside of a heavy duty sheet pan to slide bread and pizza onto stones. But after about 5-10 min, the bread sets up enough that I can slide the parchment paper out from under the bread (it is hardly charred at that point). Then, the bread is in direct contact with the stone for the remainder of baking.

Kitchen Witch's picture
Kitchen Witch

Great product, but there is no way you can reach into the back of a bread oven (brick ) to push the little bar down. I'm not sure how you would do it but a peel that you could just give a twitch to to roll the belt and a good long handle would make it indespenible. Maybe have some sort of bar that would sung the belt that you could release just before firing the bread into the oven. Just my thoughts.

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Thank you for the comment.

I understand exactly and appreciate what you are saying. It is all very doable and has been on the burner (albeit it a back one) for quite some time. Other things take up most available time and it would also add to the cost of the product. So, it just has not risen to the top of the to do list - not yet anyway. As more and more people are building and using backyard ovens, maybe there will be more interest. Anyone wishing to chime in please do.

As far as the current model of the Super Peel goes, your hand holding the little bar never has to enter the oven, of course as you say, unless you want to place something in the back of a brick oven. Your hand stays at the outer portion and only the blade of the peel goes in. This might not seem intuitive, but that is how it works. A closer look at some of the videos will show this.

Someone also mentioned that it seemed that maybe it was necessary to pull the oven rack out. It is not. I do that mostly to get a better view of where I am placing a pizza - actually I think my oven light has been out for a long time, and it is dark in there.

Like everything else in life there are compromises. We have had to make some here, too. If a strong enough demand develops for a long handled version of the Super Peel, we will make one. Thanks for all the feeback.

Pizzameister

wolf's picture
wolf

I've have a similar concern as kitchen Witch, which has been holding me back from buying the superpeel; which is having to stick one hand into the oven to release the dough. There's not a lot of extra room in my oven, and I'm just concerned with keeping my delivery hand clear of all things hot. Has anyone else used this product in a tight oven like mine (15"H x 16"W x 16"D) with satisfying results?

It does seem like it could solve some consistant issues I have. For instance, today (well, yesterday now) my daughter and I were making french batards. Getting them from the couche to the peel has always been troublesome, and this time was particularly difficult ... I guess what I'm looking for is reassurance through "pros and cons" type reviews from users (like "user reviews" on amazon.com or a community like this one) instead of a few (impressive) testimonials like you have on your site.

Wolf

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

A Google search for "superpeel" will harvest a lot of unbiased customer commments about the product from other sites, forums, etc. I would never claim that it is will suited for all situations, but your needs seem appropriate.

I know that the testimonials on my site seem "stacked", but I can honestly tell you that after selling thousands of these over the last couple years and I am not aware of a single unhappy customer. I believe that speaks volumes.

The product seems relatively pricey. I of course realize this. But, that is the price of of a product made entirely in the US these days. Most customers recognize the value of what they are purchasing and the extra $10-$15 over the price of a standard peel is forgotten pretty quickly once they receive and use it. Material cost to produce this product is about $17 per unit, and I lose a few bucks on average on what I charge for shipping. Unfortunately the raw material cost of the maple I use will not go down further regardless of volume. I know the price is high, but I have also gradually come to also know that it is priced very fairly.

You can try the product risk free. If you do decide to purchase one, I am pretty sure you will be glad you did. If you are not happy with it, just return it for a refund.

Pizzameister

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Pizzameister, what are you trying to do, ruin the American business model? Who ever heard of an American company being fair, honest and open with its customers? :)
- Steve

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Thanks Steve,

And, who would think that I am actually trying to have some fun with all of this. I think I need to review my fun/benefit analysis numbers. Oh yeah, and I guess your comment further exposes just how very little I really know about "business" matters. Ain't that the truth!

Gary

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Sourdoughlady to go back to your original question - if the stone was hot - YES!! the oven spring would be much improved. However you get the dough to the stone - a hot stone will amaze you!!

Andrew