The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stainless steel plate to replace baking stone

whw's picture
whw

Stainless steel plate to replace baking stone

Can I use a stainless steel plate to replace the baking stone for the oven?


I can get access to black granite stone. I can it custom cut to the size I need (about 16 inches x 14 inches). HOWEVER, one piece of that granite will be very heavy. My granite supplier says at least 10kg. And I need 2 such stones to bake 2 loaves at a time. So total weight will be around 20kg. I am worred that 20kg will be too much a strain on the side rails that hold up the metal racks (I plan to place the granite pieces on top of the oven racks). Anybody has a similar issue/problem?


As a substitute, I am thinking of using 3-4mm thick stainless steel plates. These should be lighter to some extent.


What are your thoughts and feedback on this? Do you think it will be ok for the loaves?


Currently, my oven comes with a metal tray. I basically invert/turn upside down that tray and bake my loaves on top of that. And for the 2nd loaf, I have a cookie tray that I turn upside down and bake on top of that. The problem is that neither fully maximise the space of the oven. Also, the cookie trap warps and bends when I spray water into the oven to create steam.


Since I am currently using metal as my baking base, I thought that a 3-4mm thick steel plate will do the job as well, minus the warping when spraying the oven. And I can custom cut the steel plates so that it fits the racks perfectly and maximises my baking area (which will allow me to bake longer baguettes!)


Thanks in advance,
whw

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Rest the plate on the rack because like a stone, it is important to be at least an inch away from all the side walls and the door.  Parchment combined works well.  It does need to be pre-heated.


I called it a Stainless stone.


Excerpt  June 22, 2006  (Archives in Mini's blog)



Today I will test out my new stainless stone. Now I know some of you will think it's not "earthy" but steel doesn't come from outer space and this particular plate was fashoned with lots of TLC. I bake with baking paper because of the fantastic non-stick lift I get.   As the bread lifts, it also separates from paper and "stone" so I think the major point of the stone is to give that continous concentrated heat right there at the bottom center of the loaf.



I had used this in my mini oven in China a few years back.


Mini

davenbill@aolo.com's picture
davenbill@aolo.com

Go for it! I just saw a pizza set this weekend with a steel baking stone at a kitchen store.  DO NOT use plates of other metals as they will warp at the higher temps

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

What about cast aluminum plates? They are quite common and cheap here.


Generally they are quite thick (3-4 mm), thus they should heat very fast and retain heat long enough for our  purpose. Moreover they are much lighter than stainless steel.


I always feared to use baking  paper on the stone because I thought it would pick fire easily, but if you say it's safe I'm relieved.

tomsbread's picture
tomsbread

There's a pizza stone alternative from Unox made of cast aluminum called Fakiro. The bottom of the plate is an array of studs like a Fakir's bed of nails, hence the name.The studs are probably to increase the surface area at the bottom of the plate and bring the plate to temp faster.


http://www.google.com.sg/images?q=fakiro%20pizza%20unox%20image&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=SBu&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&s...


I have been using this since Feb this year and it works quite well. The problem with granite is that it takes a longer  time to preheat and it may crack. All the granite slabs I used before cracked badly and with all that talk about radiation, I thought Aluminum might be the lesser devil. I had no issues with burnt bottoms and the preheat time was around 30 mins.


After getting the Fakiro, I thought just about any Aluminum plate of about 5mm should do the job. The studs probably contribute only a marginal improvement to the thermal efficiency.


 


 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

30 minutes seem a lot of time for aluminum, to me. Fakiro's page reads 3 minutes. Did you mispell your digit?

tomsbread's picture
tomsbread

Given the properties of Aluminum, that's probably true but when I mentioned preheat, I meant the time it took for the oven to be ready for loading. I am using a Unox oven with three 40x60 tray capacity. My oven has a single forced convection heater with no top or bottom grill so it takes a longer time than those that radiate heat directly onto the Fakiro.

midwest baker's picture
midwest baker

My 14 x 16 x 3/4 inch stone weighs 10.8 lbs, I calculate the density to be 1.8 g/cm3.


The density of SS is 7.9. Granite has a density of 2.8.


According to my calcs, the stainless steel plate of the same dimensions as a baking stone but 4 mm thick would weight a little less than 10 lbs. Therefore you're not really saving much weight going with stainless over a baking stone. I assume this is SS all the way through. (That's got to be very expensive)


Granite  has a density of 2.8.  Granite of the same dimensions and thickness as a baking stone would weigh about 17 lbs. It would be very heavy to lift in and out of the oven.


I see no problem baking on SS. I don't know about granite. Could it crack and break in the oven? Maybe someone else has some experience with that.


If you have a cheap source for the SS plate, go for it. Otherwise just buy a baking stone.


Sorry about all the calcs. I'm an engineer and I just can't help myself. Therapy didn't help!


Mary


 


 


 


 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I did pretty much the same as you, thinking "why not just buy commercial baking stones?". Then I saw the poster was from Malaysia and figured they were not readily available there.

spacey's picture
spacey

Are you sure you're not confusing lbs and kilos?  The OP stated that each piece of granite is at least 10 *kilos*, while each piece of 4mm thick SS that you mention is 10 *lb*.


So the OP is talking about 22 *lbs* per plate, and 2 plates, so 4mm SS plates are a savings of 24 lb in total, or greater than 50%.


That said, I think the secondary benefit of a ceramic or stone bottom for baking is that they're flat and rigid.  SS, Aluminum, in fact most common metals, are very easy to bend, especially at high heat.  Sometimes you will get warping of a pan at high heat if it's made of a thick metal, or bonded metals that expand at different rates.

Crumbly Baker's picture
Crumbly Baker

Hi, I have a pizza baking stone that I bought from Germany, and I get on well enough with it, but I also have a steel plate about 3mm thick that I also use, and I also like!


I'm sorry I can't say which I prefer - but the steel one is easier to move about, and doesn't take up the same room.


The pizza stone is heavy, but has a nice 'earthy' feel to it.

whw's picture
whw

Thanks for all the feedback guys! I really do appreciate it. This forum is just great. I have learnt so much from here. The knowledge sharing is truly first class.


Mr Frost is spot on - I can't get my hands to baking stones here in Malaysia. And granite is way too heavy!


But with the affirmations from all you people that stainless steel plates are fine for baking bread, I will be going with that option.


And thanks Mini for the tip on giving at least 1 inch spacing all around. I believe that is needed for the air ventilation by the oven fan. I will need to reduce my plate size measurements slightly.


Cheers,
whw

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

I have not actually used a stainless "stone" unlike others here, but I worry about the conductance of metal versus other material. One reason stone and tile is good is that its conductance is low. That is, it gives up its heat slowly, helping the oven to maintain an even temperature and also imparting heat to the bread evenly. I would think from first principles that steel would give up too much heat too quickly.


I've noticed that when I bake on a steel sheet, the bottom of the loaf is often burned, whereas if I bake on parchment on top of the steel, it gets good and brown but doesn't burn. I think that is because the parchment slows the rate of trasnfer of heat to the loaf.


Jeremy

Chrissi's picture
Chrissi

Yes, this sounds like a very important point to me that others have been ignoring.  A stainless steel "stone" won't act like actual stone.  I use the bottom of my cast iron pan to bake bread on because I don't really have anything else suitable for the job - however, I notice that the bottoms of my loaves are often burned.  I'm sure a stone would do a bit better at that and not burn the bottoms like metal does.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

same with cast iron pots and frying pans.  Get it too hot and it will burn any food except water.  No need to start out with super high heat, start out lower.  


Mini

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

the next time I use my cast iron pot/plates.  I heat my oven to 250C but even with parchment paper lining,  my bread bottoms are burnt.  One question about the fan though, would it be better to bake the bread with the fan on or off  I'm never sure about this and it seems that with the fan on, the heat in the oven takes longer to reach a high temp. I normally pre-heat the oven with fan off and then turn the fan on half way through the baking. 

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

If you are reducing the oven temperature because you are using a highly conductive support, why use the highly conductive support? I don't get it. If you crank up the heat later to get a good crust, won't you burn the bottom anyway?


I'm really not understanding how a metal plate is anything like a stone, other than it being a supporting surface.


Jeremy

Occabeka's picture
Occabeka

Hi whw,


I am from your part of the world too. I have tried to order a Fibrament stone, but the company did not even reply to my e-mail.


I tried using black granite too, only to have it shatter in the oven. Must have raised the temperature too fast. Temperamental thing!


So now I am back to using an unglazed tile. Works fine.


Occa

Crumbly Baker's picture
Crumbly Baker

Just to say that I forgot that I did indeed burn the base of a loaf once, using the steel plate.


Perhaps more suitable for pizza where it's in for a much shorter length of time.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

a large cast iron griddle? You can get them for using on a gas or charcol grill, and I have one that I used on my gas cookstove over two burners, which has gone out to the grill. It would work like the stone, and probably do better than a piece of steel no matter if its does say stainless, I have had several stainless things not be so stainless, and some actually rusted, which means they weren't particularly good stainless steel. I would certainly not use any old steel chunk of flat iron, which who knows what it might be made from, and what it might off gas. But a cast iron griddle for cooking on, should be up to par.

midwest baker's picture
midwest baker

The stainless is should be very shiny, whereas cast iron is black. Black would make it burn much faster just as a black pan browns the bottom of baked goods too much. I would just give it a go and see what happens.


Mary

spacey's picture
spacey

I'm not sure how the color of the pan would affect the thermal tranasfer characteristics.  Can you explain how the color affects the thermal transfer to the food?

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Sort of the same principle as shiny cake pans taking longer to brown a cake than dark cake pans. Dark objects/materials absorb light(and heat) faster than shiny objects which to to reflect this energy.

spacey's picture
spacey

The thermal transfer here is through contact, not through some kind of radiation.  Doesn't that make a difference?  I'm still confused about the principle.


Is there a link to a study regarding cake pans made from the same materials with different colors having a different time to brown foods?  Does this hold in the context of a wok, a frying pan, a fryer (time to bring oil up to a specific heat?


 

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

there's a couple of material science properties that enter into the discussion.

the first is how much heat does a material "hold"?  aka "specific heat"
by definition (an oldie but goodie...) it takes one BTU of heat energy to raise one pound of water one Fahrenheit degree.  the specific heat of water is therefore:  1.0

materials with lower specific heat "store" less heat energy per mass than materials with higher specific heat values. 

(aside example)  if you've managed to splash yourself with molten sugar - the reason it makes for such a nasty burn it is holds about 3 times as much heat as water . . . not only is it 'hot' but it has a lot of heat energy stored per mass - all the more BTU's to burn you with . . . .

say what?  here's a practical example:
assume you have three 1/2 inch thick, 10 inch round plates of
aluminum
cast iron
stainless steel.

put all three round plates into an oven, heat to 350'F degrees - allow them to stay in the oven for 24 hours just to be sure they are all "at temperature"
remove the plates from the oven, crack an egg on the plate(s) to fry; when fried, remove egg, put on another egg to fry; how fast the egg fries is not the question - only how many eggs can the plate fry before it gets cold.

which plate will cook more eggs before it has cooled off so much it will not cook another egg?  alum, cast iron or steel?

hint:  it takes a specific amount of heat energy to warm up & fry one egg.
answer:  it's a toss up between cast iron and stainless steel; aluminum loses.
why?  although aluminum holds twice as much heat _per pound/kg_ than cast iron or stainless, it is only one-third as dense.  an aluminum plate of the same dimensions will weigh less than 1/3 that of cast iron/stainless steel - and how much heat it can hold, on a absolute basis, is related strictly to mass.  cast iron and steel have more total heat energy stored up to cook more eggs.

the other aspect mentioned is thermal conductivity - how "fast" does heat move through aluminum, cast iron or stainless steel?
conductivity to measured by how much heat energy moves through an area in a plane purpendicular to the direction of heat flow/travel.
Shirley, I jest!!  no, it's techie, but simple, as follows:
using the three plates described above - same diameter, same thickness - get a tall trivet, put a candle under the trivet, light candle.
place one of the plates on the trivet with the center right over the candle flame.
grab hold of the edge of the plate with you fingers.
time how long it takes until the edge of the plate is too hot to hold onto.
results:  the time to finger burn is longest with stainless steel - it is a poor conductor of heat.
cast iron will reach the finger burn time in about 1/6 the time of steel
aluminum will reach the finger burn time in about 1/17 the time of steel

so the old kitchen saying "cast iron heats slow but stays hot" is clear - the unit material science numbers are cute - but when was the last time you saw a stainless steel frying pan as thick as cast iron, or a stainless steel pan that weighed as much as cast iron?  (same size...)
Aluminum and cast iron can be 'close' in thickness, but even if equal in thickness aluminum does not have the same mass to hold/store heat energy.

so, adding one babble + one babble and getting two long babbles, with a little thought you can see why pizza stones / baking stones work so well.  they may heat up slowly, but they hold a lot of heat, releasing it slower (like in how long it takes to bake a loaf.)  when you plop a cold mass of dough on the stone, it does not "instantly" give up all its heat energy (and burn the bottom...) but releases it slower - more in concert with the need of making a good crust.

metal plates can work, can be made to work, can have work-arounds to impersonate "good working" - but there's a reason baking stones have been used for thousands of years.  one of those reasons is "metal wasn't yet invented" but if metal worked "better" why are all the high tech ultra-modern pizza ovens made with stone/refractory hearths and not stainless? . . . . .

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Which is also why fire-walking is not nearly as dangerous as it seems. But as nothing is getting baked on those coals, I'll just leave it at that and thank you dillbert for a very clear explanation. reminds me of school physics, and measuring conductance with long rods of different materials, to which we fixed small ball bearings with wax. Great fun!


Jeremy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

An interesting concept... what if this idea were enlarged and spread over a rack to bake bread on?  Tube bread?  U-bread?  Certainly not as heavy as metal or stone.  Wonder what it's made of.


LINK


Mini