The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

This may sound like stupid questions...

AngelaT's picture
AngelaT

This may sound like stupid questions...

I am just getting started with artisan style bread baking.  I have been using baking pans for my bread baking, I would like to switch over to a large baking stone or tiles.  Where does the bread raise if you use tiles or a stone?  You can't raise it on the pan.  Also, how do you get the bread from where you raised it, to the oven?  I've seen several pictures of bread loaves resting on towels, does this have any thing to do with my question?  How do you keep the bread from sticking to the towels?   Finally, I would like to find a good overall book for artisan bread baking.  Any suggestions?  I see several books mentioned on here, but which is the best one?

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== I have been using baking pans for my bread baking, I would like to switch over to a large baking stone or tiles.  Where does the bread raise if you use tiles or a stone?  You can't raise it on the pan. ===


Excellent questions.  Unfortunately I just put today's loaves in the oven or I would have snapped some pics ;-( 


In part this depends on how much water your dough has (hydration, wet, or slack are all terms that describe the wetness of the dough).  If it is not overly wet - say, Hamelman/King Arthur Vermont Sourdough recipe - and it will form a good skin when shaped, then I just let the loaves rise (proof) on a wooden peel sprinkled with coarse semolina.  I happen to have a big wooden peel because I make a lot of pizza, but a piece of maple plywood or an upside-down baking sheet work fine too.  The loaves will mostly support themselves as they rise; right at the end they might sag a bit but generally they "remember" how high they rose and go right back to that shape when you put them on the stone.


I use large spatulas for moving the risen loaves from the peel (or baking sheet) to the stone.  Again a nice dusting of coarse semolina on the peel under the dough/loaf really helps.


If the dough is too wet to support itself there are several options.  One is a banneton (goes by other names too), which is a coiled basket usually made of willow.  It is dusted with flour and the shaped loaf put in bottom-side-up; the basket provides support as it rises.  The difficulty comes in getting the risen loaf out of the basket without the dough sticking or deflating as you flip it rightside-up.


Other solutions include the floured towels you mention (usually made of untreated linen; known as couches) and open, hole-punched dough supporting pans (e.g. the Chicago Metallic baguette pans.


Hope that helps.  Possibly another Fresh Loaver has some pictures they can post.


sPh

diverpro94's picture
diverpro94

It might help to let your dough rise on a bread/pizza peel or in a proofing basket. I just dust my bread peel with corn meal before I put my dough on it. All you have to do is let it rise there then shoot it into the oven. If you are using a proofing basket  just turn it upside down and shoot onto the baking stone. I usually don't use a towl mainly because I am a hair-o-phobic. Here in Oklahoma the winter is very very very dry, so hair sticks to my towls because of all of the static. I use plastic wrap instead.

ejm's picture
ejm

If you don't have a peel yet, try putting a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom (as in upside-down) cookie tray. Lightly flour the parchment paper and place the shaped loaf onto the paper. Cover with a clean tea towel and then plastic grocery bags on top of the towel (or just plastic-wrap if you are a hair-o-phobe) til the bread is risen.


To stop the shaped loaf from sticking to the tea towel, I either dust it liberally with flour (rice, wheat, or potato) OR spray the tops liberally with water and scatter lots of sesame seeds overtop.


For baking, slip the risen loaf onto the hot stone. It's okay to let the parchment paper slip onto the stone as well. When you turn the bread around half way through baking (to allow for uneven oven heat), you can remove the parchment paper.


Hope that made sense!


-Elizabeth


 


edit:  For books, I'm particular fond of "The Italian Baker" by Carol Field, "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum, and "Artisan Baking Across America" by Maggie Glezer. Try getting them out of the public library first to see which ones you want on your shelves (I have all three....)

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

as I only occasionally bake directly on the stone, so I haven't invested in a peel or baskets or couches, I just proof my shaped loaves on a parchment-lined cooky sheet that is rimless on 3 sides.  I place the the whole thing in a large oven baking bag (turkey bag).  When they are ready to go in the oven, I carefully remove the bag, and slide the loaves from the cooky sheet onto the stones (unglazed quarry stones from Home Depot), parchment paper and all.  Steam is provided by a cast iron pan on the floor of the oven and a spray bottle.  It's a make-shift method that produces fine results for me.


I reuse the parchment and the baking bag.


 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I ran a poll asking the question, "If you could only have one bread book...". I think it's worth reading the replies. Here's the link.


A Poll: If you could only have one...

David G

AngelaT's picture
AngelaT

David~


I couldn't find your poll, is there another link?

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I didn't test the link. I don't know why it doesn't work, but it doesn't.


Try searching poll davidg618 in the search box on the left hand side of TFL home page. The first reply to the search should be the poll. I just tried it, and it worked.


David G

ejm's picture
ejm

I think (hope!) this link works:


A Poll: If you could only have one bread book...
(www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12680/poll-if-you-could-only-have-one)


-Elizabeth


 


(edit: oops!! Just noticed that Dwight Sharpe already posted the link)

AngelaT's picture
AngelaT

I checked out your "poll" it was very helpful.  I checked out 3 books at the library today, hopefully I will be able to figure out if one will work for me soon.  Thanks for all your help!!!

Chuck's picture
Chuck


... I have been using baking pans for my bread baking, I would like to switch over to a large baking stone or tiles. Where does the bread raise if you use tiles or a stone? You can't raise it on the pan. Also, how do you get the bread from where you raised it, to the oven?



My oven rack hosts four terra-cotta/quarry tiles. I put my pans away years ago and always bake directly on the stone now. Tiles cost a lot less than a single good thick baking stone; at first I was bummed, thinking the seams between the four tiles would make a difference, but my experience is it doesn't matter at all after all. It used to be you could get plain old raw terra-cotta/quarry tiles at any home store.; now you may need some help from a flooring store to avoid ones that aren't really so "raw" (most have some sort of filler, probably plastic, probably so they won't absorb stains so badly).


How do I do it? I use a couple other things besides my baking stone tiles (my personal opinion is it's too difficult without this little bit of additional equipment):



  • parchment paper

  • short-handled baking/pizza peel


While shaping the loaf, I put it on parchment paper (on my countertop). Then I cover the loaf so it won't dry out, pretty much the same as proofing in a pan. Sticking can be more of a problem because the cover isn't held away by the sides of the pan; so I use a large inverted plastic container as a cover. My loaves proof right on the parchment paper (I usually put rolled up tea towels under the edges of the parchment paper so the dough can't spread too far).


(An alternative method, especially good for ultra-high-hydration doughs which too often misbehave like "pancake batter", is to proof in some sort of non-stick shaped form [banneton, brotform, linen-lined basket, etc.]. Turn the proofed loaf out of the form onto the parchment paper, onto the peel, and into the oven.)


Bake right on the parchment paper. It's rated to a little over 450°F, which in practice sandwiched between the stone and the loaf means it's usable as hot as a home oven will go. I leave the paper in the whole time rather than open the oven to get it out. I'm careful though to discard it when setting the baked loaf on the cooling rack, as it would block cooling airflow bigtime.


(Granted this is a little less than "authentic" - Artisans a hundred years ago didn't have parchment paper to bake with - but it's sooo much easier.)


I buy boxed rolls of parchment paper from my regular grocery, which stocks it next to the waxed paper (I'm sure there are better cheaper ways, but this works).


I easily found and ordered my short-handled metal bread/pizza peel via the web. It was pretty cheap too (long-handled all-wood ones cost a fortune, but you don't need -or even want- one of them). I dust the peel with cornmeal, slip it under the parchment paper, and slide the whole thing -loaf and parchment paper- onto the stone in the oven. (In theory having parchment paper between the stone and the loaf mucks up the moisture content of the bottom crust, but in my experience it doesn't matter very much.)


Without pans to guide it, loaf shape matters more. Don't be disappinted if your loaves come out shaped somewhere between "unique" and "funky". You might find the forms mentioned above are the way to go for you (especially for ultra-high-hydration doughs). Ultimately you should be able to create a gluten "skin" on the loaf so it will hold its shape as it rises completely free-form. Although I haven't mastered the gluten "skin" yet, my results are good enough that I free-form proof all my loaves anyway.

wojo723's picture
wojo723

Here's a funny story.  When I wanted to start baking on a pizza stone I priced them and freaked out.  They were far too expensive, and I would never buy one.  So I asked around on different online baking sites if the type of quarry tiles found at Home Depot would be good.  One of the replies I got was that unfinished slate tile should work fine.  However I was warned that these were not quarried for food use so they could be contaminated with whatever leached into them in the process.  I was advised to soak them in water overnight, scrub them down, dry them in the sun for a few days, and put then in the oven on a very low heat.  After this huge process, I was told to start slowly increasing the heat to gently expel any leftover water.  So like an ass, I did all of this.  I was aware that wet stones explode when they're hot, so I took an extra long time to make sure these tiles were dry.  After about a week of sitting and drying in the sun, and two nights of sitting in my oven with the heat from the pilot light, I turned on the stove.  Very low at first.  Slowly I ticked up the heat.  After about 4 hours of increasing the heat a few degrees at a time, I heard a funny squeak from the oven.  It sounded as if the tiles shifted on the wire rack.  I opened the oven door to investigate.  Everything looked fine.  And then there was a sound like a gunshot.  I jumped back and slammed the oven door.  There was a small scratch on my face from where a sliver of slate had sliced on its projectile ride past my stupidity.  The smell of hot dust filled the air.  I turned off the oven, pulled it away from the wall and disconnected the gas, and waited for it to cool.  When I opened it the next day the 1/4" slate tiles had expanded into three inch thick strata of jagged rock and dust.  Only because slate is layered as it is did I escape with my face.  The explosion expanded it vertically, thankfully.  Had the veins in the stone been aligned a different way, I probably would have been killed by hot flying jagged rock fragments to the eyes and jugular.  I cleaned out the oven and bought a pizza stone.


So, if you want to start baking with a peel and stone and want to get quarry tiles, make sure they can take heat and water.  Remember your breads have a lot of water in them and you need to use steam to get them to rise properly.  If your quarry tiles can't take hot, steamy environments, you will blow up your house and blast off your face.  Look for kiln cured, high temp, earthen tiles or fire bricks.  Do not use any rock of any kind.  Do not use tiles that have not been kiln cured, are not high temp, or that have some kind of finish to them.  Do not use just any tile.  A bathroom tile will pop at 425 too.  You might just be better off buying the real thing.  The right tool make the job.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Only a few years ago raw quarry tiles were still a much cheaper equivalent to a baking stone, but not any more.  The chain stores don't carry them any more; in fact the rumor is they're not made at all any more. You can still get tiles that work very well - for example: unglazed/unfilled/unsealed, true (not just the color) "terra cotta", probably manufactured in Mexico and called "Saltillo". But they're not so cheap  ...in fact with special ordering such very small quantities and paying shipping, the total cost might be about the same as a baking stone. Call around, if a floor store has some in stock you win, otherwise tiles are probably not worth it. Baking stone prices (and thicknesses) vary quite a bit; conserve your dollars by shopping around.


The tiles are what I have, not what I recommend for all newbies. Sorry about not being clearer.

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

...here in Eugene, Oregon.  Six inch tiles, 18 cents each, lined my oven with them for about $2, and they are great for bread and pizza.

Dave323's picture
Dave323

I had to hunt them down in three big box stores before I found them at a Lowe's just north of my home. Definitely describe them several ways to the store employees; unglazed quarry tiles; saltillo tiles; Mexican terra cotta.


They may be hard to find, but once you do they will be (I aplologize now for the upcoming bad pun) dirt cheap. (groan) In my neighbrhood, they were less than fifty cents apiece.


 


Next I'm going to experiment with a layer to bake on and another layer on the rack above to simulate the top and bottom of a real clay oven.

AngelaT's picture
AngelaT

I can't believe the overwhelming response to my "stupid question"  All of your responses have helped me tremendously. I am working on finding the tiles, my mom thinks that she has some unglazed tiles that are what I'm looking for, we'll see.  As far as the books, I've checked out "The Bread Bible" and a few others, WOW!  The Bread Bible, I will definitely have to purchase.  I have made some of the best "hearth bread" ever. As well as the quick breads have been really good too.  I think that having maneuvered around on here helped somewhat with understanding her book too.  Thanks guys, you are all amazing.  Keep being willing to share your thoughts and ideas, us 'newbies' really appreciate it.

celestica's picture
celestica

I got my pizza stone at Walmart for $11.00 and for rising breads I use some improvised methods because I want to avoid the expense of buying a banneton and having it shipped to me.


For baguettes or long loaves I use a long piece of parchment on a baking sheet.  To keep their form I use long objects placed in between them.  I have used bottles, wax paper / foil / clingfilm boxes or just the tubes inside, etc. 


For a big round loaf I use a mesh strainer or my bigger strainer with a linen tea towel inside.  Before placing bread inside rub generously with white flour, put bread on top, then lower into the form.  For both these rising places, wrap the whole thing in a big plastic bag, then you can overnight it in the fridge. 


For a peel, I use a large baking sheet with three sides.  It works great.  I always use parchment so it slides perfectly onto the hot stone. 


Good luck with your bread adventures!


 


 


 

AngelaT's picture
AngelaT

Okay,


I got "The Bread Bible" & "Crust & Crumb" at the library.  I can't wait to buy them both!! The Bread Bible was unbelievable.  I really appreciated everyones help with the book options.  You guys are great!!