The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Granite versus Marble Pastry Board

Tatoosh's picture
Tatoosh

Granite versus Marble Pastry Board

While hunting bricks for a baking stone, I noticed some very nicely poslished stone slabs. They were fairly thick, at least one inch, perhaps a bit more.  I was told they were granite.  So I am curious if I had a 24 inch by 18 inch piece cut, would it work as a viable pastry board?  I understand that many bakers prefer to use wooden boards/tables for preparing their bread doughs, but that chilled marble is commonly used for pastry dough.  Since pastry dough is NOT available where I live in the Philppines, making it myself is the single alternative if I want some.  I have never made it before and I have been watching tutorials on youtube along with reading here and elsewhere for a better idea on what I should be doing. If a good cool stone would increase the chances of success for a good pastry dough, I'll work it into the budget down the road. I have a small-ish freezer I can use to chill the stone.  But would grainte suffice?   Marble is available in large squares, but not nearly so thick as the granite slabs I found. They are rather thin marble tiles, about 24 x 24 inches, commonly used on headstones here,  Which would be the better alternative?


Tatoosh

lumos's picture
lumos

Yes, it does. In fact I've been using what's marketed as 'granite chopping board' (30cmx40cmx1.5cm) here in UK as my pastry/breadmaking board for some years very happily. (though I must say I've never tried chilling it in a freezer. It's England, you know, it's cold enough.:p)


When I used to live in Japan, where I originally come from, I didn't have a marble or granite pastry board then, so I used to put pastry in a fridge for 20-30 minutes (or 10 minutes in a freezer)or so everytime I felt pastry was becoming too warm and soft or between each procedure to cool it down when I had to make pastry in warmer months. It took extra time, but it did work.


Also, I mentioned this on another thread earlier today, but I even used to use it as baking stone for a while (after removing rubber pads on the bottom) with successful result.  Richard Bertinet also recommends using granite or marble board for breadmaking.

spacey's picture
spacey

I'm not much of a pastry baker, but I've read/heard that the density of a good smooth stone surface helps with pastries because it helps to prevent the fats in pastries from melting while they're being worked.  It should definitely help in a hot climate.


If you're really ambitious, you could try to get your supplier to route out some of the stone from the bottom of your slab, and run some plastic or copper tubing through the bottom.  That would allow you to buy a small water pump, and circulate ice water through the stone to keep it cool while you're working.  This would be similar to underfloor heating, or perhaps more similar to cooling a gaming computer.  Water cooling kits for computers may provide you with the parts you need with respect to a good, powerful, pump.


-Peter

clazar123's picture
clazar123

That could weigh anywhere from 40-70 pounds,depending on the thickness and type of granite. Rhat is quite a bit to put in the refrigerator and then throw onto the countertop.

Tatoosh's picture
Tatoosh

I had not considered the weight of the stone, but it well might be too heavy to handle, particularly for my 98 pound wife.  Luckily where I live, the temperatures are much more "temperate" than the lowlands, which are quite toasty.  Here in Baguio, at 5000 feet altitute, we run mid to low 70's in the day and mid sixties in the evening most of the year.  It can get colder at night in the winter and hotter in the day during the summer.  But not horribly.


I love the idea of routing pipes and running chilled water in the stone, particularly if I was down where it runs in the 90's during the day and drops to a cool high 80's at night.  If I set up house down there, I will seriously consider that!


I will see if they have a 1/2  inch granite top that won't be such a challenge to move. And thank you for your ideas.  Much appreciated!


Tatoosh

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I think the marble would be better  ...and I'd guess the reasons why are granite a) is harder to polish smooth [at least it was:-] and b) is porous enough that in its natural state it will absorb some things (think "rancid oil" flavor).


My principal reference is the Crane Estate Great House in northern Massachusetts. It was entirely custom-built for a very very rich family who lived there in the first half of the twentieth century. (How rich? There were at least 20-30 "servants" for the four family members. One of the custom built showers had separate taps for fresh water and salt water. etc.) The point of all that is they could afford anything they wanted. Also, since so many quarries in New Hampshire ("the Granite state") are so close, they could have very easily obtained granite if they wanted it.


Their kitchen had a separate room just for making breads and pastries, with giant pull-out bins of flour under the work surfaces, one of the very first air conitioning units anywhere, sinks and refrigerators and proofing cupboards, and marble benchtop surfaces. The house is now a museum, and all the movable furnishings are gone. But everything that was built in is still there (for example the flour bins and the countertops).


(My guess is if you choose to try polished granite anyway [probably because a decent thickness of marble isn't readily available to you], you should seal it with some non-toxic food-safe material that soaks into the pores yet also forms a hard surface  ...maybe some kind of wax. At least sealing it will be easier than if it were a baking stone since you don't have to worry about high temperatures or frequent large abrupt temperature changes.)

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Well a little Googling shows me what I opined above was dead wrong.


First, apparently marble was preferred in the past because there was no reasonable way to polish granite smooth enough. But now that it's easy to obtain polished granite, it's actually preferred.


Second, the porosity of both marble and granite (and any other stone) varies much more than I realized, so much so that you should test each stone and treat it individually. On average (like the "average" family has 2.4 kids, are you the .4?) granite is actually less porous than marble, although individual variations will usually swamp out the "average rule of thumb".


And third, because of the popularity of granite countertops, food-safe stone sealers are readily available commercially; there's no need to "invent" or "repurpose" something.