The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Granite countertop

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Granite countertop

It's time I replaced my old laminate countertops and everywhere I look, granite seems to be the material of choice.

I wanted some comments from people that have granite now..are you happy with it? Would you change to something else if you could? Does it still look 'nice' after a few years use? Is it nice to knead on ... :) Oh, and are the darker brown/black colours difficult to keep clean looking...

Thanks to anyone that responds!

wally's picture
wally

My kitchen countertops are granite and they work fine for my doughs and pastries.  You can buy cleaners/preservatives at most home improvement stores that will help it keep its luster and preserve its surface.  I use either The Daily Granite or Clean Encounters.  One caution: I don't treat my granite before messing with dough on it, and in fact, usually wipe it down first with soap and water.  One thing I like about granite is that it tends to be cool which is a huge benefit for pastry work.

Larry

rolls's picture
rolls

I agree, jackie go for granite! My kitchen is tiny, but we still went for granite, white with tiny specks of pebbles, gorgeous, I love it. I only have a small space to work with, but I love it for kneading and rolling out the dough. beautiful and cool as previously mentioned. And, nicer than marble in my opinion. The only thing I'd advise you to do, coz I regret not doing it myself. Is to ask for the extra piece where they cut it for the sink, that way you get an extra board for working on also :)

rolls's picture
rolls

just forgjot to mention, the guy who put it in for us said to just clean it with jiff. hope this helps

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I assume not PB!! just kidding...

Betty

clazar123's picture
clazar123

We replaced with granite several years ago and I really like it. It is a very impervious surface and nice for kneading using flour,water or oil.

Just make sure you get a granite that is smooth without small holes or irregular texture for flour or dough to get caught in.

An interesting possibility is to have a warmer built into a portion of the counter so you can raise dough there. I heard about this after I installed mine or I may have done it.

 

EvaB's picture
EvaB

just build a small proofing cabinet to fit the size you need, and heat it with an incandescent light bulb? I had many years ago a design for one, its 3 sides and the front opened down, you put the dough inside and turned on the light bulb, I think the dimensions were something along the lines of 18 x 18 x18 inches with a ceramic light holder installed in one side our of the way, You could line it, and a 40 or 60 watt bulb would be enough to heat the space decently.

Its possible that the instructions were in mother earth news. My friend who took a chef's course at the local college said they had a large cabinet for proofing the bakery students stuff, and it had shelves or shelf supports so you could re arrange the inside layers, and it was totally heated with a hundred watt bulb in the bottom of the cabinet.

It was freestanding and to the floor with a space at the bottom for the bulb. All made by the carpentry class.

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

The warmer sounds like a good idea...I'll have to google that since I've never heard of it before. Your post brought up another questions...over time does the Olive Oil (in the dough) leave a mark on the counter if you always knead in the same place ?

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

I have been kneading sourdough bread with olive oil on my granite every third day for six months, and no marks have resulted.  I clean mine by misting the surface with a solution of two squirts of dish soap mixed with two cups of warm water in a spray bottle, wipe until I feel no irregularities in the surface, then mist with plain water, the wipe with a clean rag, then dry with a cotton dishtowel. The installer says this works just as well as the store bought stuff.  The sealant, applied every year, is expensive at $70 a quart., but should last me several years even though I have an unbelievable number of square inches of granite counters here.

I really believe that granite countertops will enable folks enjoy their kitchens more, and return to the pastries, piecrusts and bread dough our ancestors made. (are you listening cookbook authors?)

One caution: be ready to sacrifice some glassware and china until you become acquainted with the higher level of care needed not to shatter your breakables.

EvaGal

pjaj's picture
pjaj

Over the years I've had laminate, tiles and Astrolite(?) a Corian lookalike, but in my latest kitchen, now nearly 5 years old, I installed real black granite with tiny flecks in it (trade name Cosmos or Galaxy). I'd never go back to anything else. In the UK it costs on a par with Corian, but it won't burn or stain like the composite or laminate surfaces, and there are few joins to trap particles,  unlike tiles. Maybe stainless steel would be even better, but to my mind it's too clinical for a domestic setting.

Although some would caution against putting very hot dishes straight on the surface I've never had any problem. You CAN chip it slightly if you hit it hard enough with a heavy cast iron casserole (oops!). Yes, in a way, black shows every bit of dirt, but that's what you want if you are doing food preparation directly on it.

It's cool, so ideal for pastry and dough (I had a piece of marble let into my old tile counter top). It's easy to keep clean. I use a proprietary cleaner once in a while, but for every day cleaning a splash of washing up liquid and a damp cloth suffices. After rinsing it can be buffed up with a piece of cotton towelling.

Before dough work I spray it with an anti-bacterial cleaner and rinse off well, then buff.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

They are black with brown tones and I've been working dough on them in the same spot for 10 months or so.  I see no evidence that dough has changed the appearance. 

I have preheated the countertop with pans of hot water for taking the chill out of cold dough right out of the fridge.....but I'm wierd that way.

Highly recommend it.

serenityhill's picture
serenityhill

There is an electric heating product available at home centers that is made to be attached directly to the underside of a floor of any type, with wiring then run to a wall-mounted controller where the temp is set.  I'm thinking this might make a good retrofit for a warming surface.  Whaddya think?

HTH

the crux of the biscuit, is the Apostrophe;<)

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

I've been living in an apartment with granite countertops in the kitchen for the past year. I love, love, LOVE them - especially for kneading dough. I hand knead most of the time, and the way it just comes off the surface is remarkable (well, maybe not in the beginning w/very wet doughs, but it's so much better than the formica in my last apt!)

My only lament is that i don't have more of it - my kitchen is tiny, and I need to dedicate some serious time in organization ideas so I don't fill up my counter space everyday.

Haven't made pastry or tempered chocolate, but I bet it would be great for both, too.

Can't do any better for beautiful look, also, IMO.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have some granite and some laminate.  The granite is sprinkled medium brown and looks as good as the day it went in.  Around the stove I can see no discoloring or yellowing or darker marks.  It was treated with a sealant of some kind and I rub a little mineral oil on it now and again to really shine it up.  It's easy to clean and is cold.  The section near the chimney warms up nicely when the furnace is on. 

The opposite side is laminate white with grey and tan shadows or streaks.  It's looking fine but has taken some damage from unsupervised knives.  My hubby wanted the whole kitchen granite but laminate is near the window and reflects light nicely into the kitchen.  A light colored stone would show spots so I opted for stone looking laminate.  I use it for my baking projects. 

The table is granite as well but I use the laminate more.  Hot baking sheets go onto the granit nicely and cool faster. I do have to be careful setting down stemware or glass bowls gently onto the table.  Stone has a certain depth to it and natural beauty where the laminate looks flat.  Folks like to stroke the stone table surface while they sit at the table.  Nobody strokes my laminate.

My laptop warms up the table where it stands and I have parked rising dough on the warm spot. I have also used the coolness of the stone to cool down hot metal pans of liquid by just setting them on the stone.  Don't do it with hot ceramics or hot glass.

That's all I can think of.

 

DonD's picture
DonD

I have an 'Absolute Black' Granite counter and absolutely love it. I do all my bread and pastry work on it and am very pleased with it.

Don

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

RIght On, Mini, laminate surfaces don't invite touch for some reason.

It's true, folks are always stroking my granite countertops and looking into the depths of the design for recognizable objects...bone fragment, leaf, garnet, crystal, snake skeleton....speculation abounds.  My daughter says the island surface looks like the photos of the planet Jupiter, but with different colors. Then again, maybe it's my lack of skill as a conversationalist that brings out these behaviors....:>)

EvaGal

hmcinorganic's picture
hmcinorganic

I have granite (check my recent blog post for a pic).  The speckley kind we have doesn't show any dirt, which is good and bad.  When we spill coffee beans, we can't find them.  Same for screws, nails, washers, small toys..... Its amazing how hard it is to find stuff unless you get down level with it and look across it.  I like working on it and don't clean it with anything special beyond normal cleaners.  I do seal it once every couple years, but not as often as I am supposed to.  I have noticed no staining and we put hot things on it right from the oven.

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

I have only recently been using my granite countertop for some of my loaf formation as I mainly use my hardwood island for that. I do like the granite and find that things don't stick as readily on it. When it was installed I was told it had to be sealed every year but I haven't been able to find a sealer locally to do that. I only wish I had one of those undercounter freezer units to make it cold so that I could make my own Cold Stone Creamery type ice cream!

hmcinorganic's picture
hmcinorganic

you can seal it yourself.  I buy sealant at Lowes or Home depot or something like that.  It comes in a 1/2 gallon container.  You spread it on, let it soak in for .... oh, 30 minutes?  and then wipe it down.  There is a "food grade" and a, I guess "not food grade" sealant.  I haven't done it in about 3 years, and while I am careful to wipe up most spills as soon as I can, I don't see any staining.

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Finally got my counters installed and I must say they are beautiful :)

Working the dough on them was much nicer than the old laminates...I asked for the sink cut out, as was suggested (thanks for that!) I put some little felt pads under the cut out and used that for my work surface..keeping the granite pristine for now :)

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

Congratulations!  I just use a dish soap/water mix in a spray bottle at the end of every day, with another spray bottle of clear water to rinse after the soapy wipe down. Best wishes with your new surface!

EVaGal

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

For those who don't have granite counters, a cheap(ish) solution is to buy two wood saw-horses at Home Depot/Lowe's and then a slab a granite.

Both places sell granite, but I find it's cheaper to go to a granite counter shop and ask for a remnant piece (a leftover piece).

They'll cut to shape if you need.

When you're done with the setup, put it in the garage or even outside.

A slab of granite is HEAVY, but it's not so backbreaking is you're careful about the size you buy.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Bagel dough loves granite almost as much as pastry does.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

 Leftover piece...

How much? ($)

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

It's been a while since I bought mine, but I think it was $4 per square foot, or $60 for a 3 x 5.

The nicer the granite, the more it'll cost, of course. The really beautiful granite gets way up there, $100+ per square foot. 

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

The words they used were remnant and remnant slab. Not sure if that'll help, but maybe.

shallots's picture
shallots

We've used the remnants ($35 per ton) to do a patio and to give my husband a 'paved' surface for one of the buildings he uses for his incomplete cars.  It's cheaper than marine grade plywood.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I love my granite counters, but one word of caution.

If you have glass or stoneware cups, dishes, bowls, etc., granite counters are the enemy. They break everything!

I've lost so many dishes and glasses on these counters that sometimes I regret putting them in.

 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

While we just put granite in our kitchen, quartz is the 'wave' of the future - that and other green products. Granite is extremely unfriendly to the earth. With that said, wiht our kitchen remodel, it came down to cost. Our contractor used to special in granite and got us a really good price. About half we would have paid for quartz and it's in one of the stronger granites.

All granites are not created equally. Some need more care than others. Basically, if it's cheap, it's lower quality or super common. But super expensive doesn't mean highest quality - could just mean it's rare/fancy.

This is the granite we got - I love it because it's not too dark (we had dark brown/black in our previous house and you could never see if it was clean or not), yet not so light to show every drop. http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.livingstonesindia.com/images/Gallery/Typhoon_Green.JPG&imgrefurl=http://www.livingstonesindia.com/vareties.html&h=681&w=1024&sz=154&tbnid=DgF8GQKJp9TWRM:&tbnh=100&tbnw=150&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dtyphoon%2Bgreen%2Bgranite&usg=__eOQ_s0slbpzzX2Y8e6HNeAHhMAc=&sa=X&ei=brdlTPmnLoK88gb33omWCA&ved=0CEEQ9QEwCQ

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Our granite is very similar to yours berryblondeboys ..it's called "ivory fantasy"...

As to the grade, I don't know...we walked through the factory and held up a piece of our cupboards against different slabs and decided the ivory fantasy was the nicest match. After we'd chosen we were given a small sample to take with us..which was really nothing like the slab we'd chosen. Anyone picking granite should really choose the slab...

davesmall's picture
davesmall

We recently renovated our kitchen and granite countertops are a big part of the makeover. 

Check out the results here:

http://gallery.me.com/davesmall#100042&view=grid&bgcolor=black&sel=6

Notice the apparent thickness of our countertop. Also note that the pattern appears to flow over the edge. This is because we asked the countertop contractor to do a 2.25 inch mitered edge. I learned of this from a magazine layout. It is far superior to any of the edge treatments offered by most fabricators. You have to find a fabricator who knows what a mitered edge is, and is competent to do it. That took a few phone calls and an additional $600 but well worth it. The mitered edge makes a huge difference.

I did not like the real dark granites. The trick is to look for one that has a lot of what they call 'movement' in it. Ask your granite sales person to show you slabs with a lot of movement.

Our selection was a granite named Yellow River. That's what you see in our photos.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

A truly beautiful kitchen. Nice job!

 

knud's picture
knud

I installed Silestone counter top, I was told that it was easier to care for than Granite, also you have a very large choice off colours, so far I have had no problems cleaning I use a razor type blade to get any stuff off the counter there might be stuck, then wash it down with a mild soapy water

 

Knud

rfedele's picture
rfedele

I'm a contractor and I can tell you that all granite is not equal. Some granite slabs have been treated with a resin which will prevent oils from penetrating. Some slabs do not get this treatment, just make sure your slabs have been treated by the manufacturer - not the fabricator. You may still want to use a sealer a few times a year for added protection. Other than that I can say that I love my gold granite countertops and do not see any signs of discoloration. I also make wine and have spilled grape juice and wine on my countertops with no ill effect.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

You're going to burst your loaf, patrick.

Here, have a baguette.

Nom, nom, nom.

[Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.]

{Giggles and runs behind the soda to watch patrick's head explode.}

ritav's picture
ritav

I have had granite counters for over 10 years and they are wonderful.  I do plenty of baking and cooking and have never had a problem.  The only decision you will have to make is color.  There are so many to choose from.

Regards,

Rita

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

When we got ours, it was suggested NOT to use Palmolive dish soap, sorry forgot the reason. The suggested dish soap was Ivory, both for the dishes and to use it diluted as a gentle cleanser.  The only con I find with my beautiful Juparana Bordeaux is the constant water spots around the sink spouts, a bit of a bother having to constantly clean that area between those three tight areas (soap, spigot, on/off handle and sprayer).

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

One recommendation that made a lot of sense when we chose and edge for the granite.  A full bullnose or almost totally rounded is not a great idea because if a liquid ever spills it will travel down into the drawer areas. We opted for a 1/2 pencil edge which looks finished enough.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

which was one year ago. Wonder why it popped up in my "recent post" notification...

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Some is more porous than others. I made sure it wouldn't and it doesn't have any tiny pinholes for flour and debris to get caught in.That was a requirement. Mine doesn't stain,either but I have a freind that fell in love with an off-white,crystally looking granite that sucks up everything. She has glass cutting boards,never puts anything warm/hot on it (told it could easily spall/chip) and never puts ANYTHING in direct contact in case it will leave a stain.Every day she needs to think about being very careful with it. Why get granite?

So like everything else-choose wisely.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

Sounds to me like she didn't get the right sealer put on it, or any sealer, its rock! If its chrystally its not likely granite, its a combo rock, with a chrystaline stucture which means it will of course crack along the lines of the chrystal.

If you are getting an expensive thing like granite counter tops, then it not the looks you want to have, its the durability. I certainly wouldn't have gotten anything with that type of looks for a kitchen anyway. I want to be able to use the counter top, not baby it!

I really need to replace the whole kitchen, counter, cupboards and all, but its going to be a long process since I don't like any of the stuff I've seen so far.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

If you need a lot of seams (I needed eight), then Corian (or an equivalent) can give you a clean look because the field seams really disappear when done right. And the comment about the ease with which you can break glass and ceramic on granite strikes a ringing note of truth.

Quartz has the same "seams" issue as granite but is much tougher and a uniform material so you are likely to have fewer quality issues. It is not really as hard as granite but you can't tell.