The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Changed baking stones, now having a crust issue! Help!

brewingbeerandbakingbread's picture
brewingbeerandb...

Changed baking stones, now having a crust issue! Help!

Hi! I've been bit by the baking bug. Specifically baking artisan bread using the no-knead method. I've had great results with a simple baking stone from Pampered Chef, but recently I thought I'd treat myself and upgrade to a more expensive, larger, thicker stone. This one to be exact. I've used it twice now and my bread has come out of the oven with a nice crust on top, but the bottom was mushy and underdone. The first time, I had preheated the stone in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes, which had been working with my Pampered Chef stone. The second time, I gave it a 40 minute preheat and it made no difference. I'm bummed because the stone was $50 and the store won't take back used items. The reviews on the website say it makes great bread, so I'm hoping there is some tweak that I'm not aware of that will help me love my new stone! Any advice would be appreciated. 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

And that's a thick stone there. Depending on your oven, could take an hour or so for it to preheat as thoroughly as the probably much thinner, and probably much less thermally capable(whatever that means)  PC stone.


What kind of oven? Gas, electric? Exposed or hidden baking element?


Probably should have done a little more research and got only a 1/2" or 5/8" stone. For me 5/8 is the sweet spot, with my oven. Only takes 30 min or so to get to about 450. 500 a little longer, but not doing pizza so much these days.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

to quote from the sales link - http://www.acemart.com/prod8235.html - given by the OP

Quote:
the pizza baking stone is 1/2" thick. Its molded feet provide better stability and give it a total height of 7/8"
mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Missed that. Thanks.


Guess some ovens are slower to preheat than others. I believe ovens with exposed elements are capable of preheating, stone included, than others. All set ups are subject to differences though.


I guess the reality is, however it long it takes...

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I would suggest that you preheat the stone for one hour at the oven's highest possible temperature.


Jeff

emmsf's picture
emmsf

I think that's exactly right.  Preheat for at least an hour, at a very high temp.  I have gotten in the habit of simply beginning to preheat at  the same time I begin the final proof, since that's usually at least an hour, and even longer won't hurt.

emmsf's picture
emmsf

If you are a fan of  Alton Brown you may have noticed that one of his favorite kitchen toys is a little lazer thermometer.  It looks like a small plastic gun, and you simply point it directly at any hard surface from a distance and it'll tell you that object's surface temperature.  Alton uses it to make sure frying pans are hot, which seems a little compulsive to me, but I still think the concept is great.  I have one (Bonjour sells an inexpensive culinary version) and it comes in handy for things just like this.

meetmike's picture
meetmike

Alton's a little intense for me, but I certainly respect his knowledge and commitment. Now you've got me wondering how I can slip this laser thermometer past She Whose Kitchen it Really Is. Any suggestions? And just how much exactly is that "inexpensive culinary version?" Mike in Maine

emmsf's picture
emmsf

Yes, Alton's a little intense!  But I have to admit, this is a pretty cool toy, uh, tool.  I think they cost maybe $80 +/-.  I got mine on Amazon, but they're around many places.  As for slipping it by She Who's Kitchen it Really Is, that could be a problem....  Maybe once she sees how much fun it is to test the temperature of anything and everything - the fridge, a preheated oven, a frying pan, scalding milk, the dog....

meetmike's picture
meetmike

...the husband! Still, gotta have a dream! By the way, inferring from you username that you, too, have found the indisputable link between homebrewing and homebaking. I am a recovering homebrewer and cider maker, tho the proliferation of relatively cheap and excellent microbrews, and whole grain brewing burnout, has my homebrewing gear and 50 cases of 22 oz bottles stored in a buddy's basement. Be fun to compare these hobbies with you and others. Mike in Maine

PeterS's picture
PeterS

Rosewill Laser Thermometer from Newegg. They had them on special for $20 & free shipping. Harbor Freight has a comparable one for $40 and they usually have a coupon out that will knock it down 20% or more; I think I've seen them on sale for $25 or thereabouts.


They are not the most accurate (usually within about 5F) at this price level, but are acceptably consistent. I played around with mine and calibrated it to my oven. For example, I now know that my tiles need an extra 20-30 minutes (not an hour) to equilibrate with the oven temp. It also tells me when my tiles have recovered after steaming them.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Re:  She whose kitchen it really is--hide the receipt and let her play with the gun, too ;o)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Get one on sale for under $20.  I love mine!  


 

meetmike's picture
meetmike

This is a new one for me. What's a spoon scale? Mike in Maine

emmsf's picture
emmsf

This is a new one to me too.  But if it means a new toy in the kitchen, I'm all for it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21015/tartine-book-how-much-tablespoon#comment-146758


Chuck, are you up to 3 hands now?  :)  I've never used more than one and this spoon can hang on a hook in my work area.  It also measures liquids which would be a mess on a flat pocket scale.   I will also measure the salt (last ingredient) turn it off and park the spoon on top of my dough bowl to remind me not to forget it.  Sometimes I forget to look at the dough and wonder "what's the salt doing there?"


I recently saw the spoon w/ two bowls on sale at Tchibo.  

Chuck's picture
Chuck

For measuring the "small" ingredients like yeast and salt, you need a second scale with a resolution of a tenth of a gram (0.1 gram).(Anything with this fine resolution has a rather small "max capacity". So unless you bake only one smallish loaf at a time, you'll need two scales.) Once you have a fine scale you can do everything with bakers percentages into grams  ...no more "teaspoons" even occasionally, and no more problems scaling recipes by inconvenient amounts like 2/3.


There are two possibilities, both simple and cheap and fairly new (so they're not well known.) In fact I don't believe either existed at all ten years ago, and even now neither is carried even by most kitchen stores, so it's pretty easy to overlook them or even misconclude they don't exist at all. They have more or less the same guts - the main difference is the "form factor". They are



  1. digital spoon

  2. pocket scale


Some people prefer one, others the other - I for example prefer the "pocket scale" form factor because I can work it with only one hand (rather than three:-).


Getting one for under $20 is pretty straightforward - if you really shop around you can probably get one for under $10! Many of them are manufactured in China and shipped a long ways. Why does it matter? Because the batteries are usually cocooned in very-tight-fitting virtually-transparent cellophane to keep them from going dead. You have to take the batteries out and remove the cellophane and put them back in (which means you have to know the cellophane is there) before the scale will work. But the directions are often in "Chinlish" and don't clearly tell you to look out for the cellophane if you don't already know.




Even with a fine scale, I still ran into one more problem scaling recipes up or down: eggs. 1 egg or 2 eggs is straightforward, but things like 1.65 eggs are weird. My solution: use a liquid like "eggbeaters" rather than whole eggs. The carton keeps a long time in the refrigerator; it's easy to measure any amount; and it doesn't ever get all over my hands like real eggs sometimes do.

emmsf's picture
emmsf

I use a tiny electronic pocket scale for small measurements, but the spoon scale intrigues me.   However, I wonder - is it accurate?  Do you have to put it down to get an accurate weight or will it work well while being held?  Is it as precise as a pocket scale?  I tried to find info online, but there isn't much, and the only review on Amazon didn't like it....