The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking stones

drmike's picture

Baking stones

I became interested in using a baking stone after burning the bottom of a challah I baked recently on a non-stick cookie sheet.  Stones are widely available online at relatively high prices.  I found a 16" x 16" x 3/8" piece of marble for less than $10 at a local granite/marble yard that I plan to try today.  It has a smooth and rough side.  Which side should I use?


Janknitz's picture

What to tell you about the marble--you want to check and make sure it's not going to explode in your oven.

The trick to a nicely browned bottom on a challah is to "make" your own "air pan" by layering two baking sheets, one on top of the other.  Challah often has a sweetener like honey, that's why it has a tendency to burn on the bottom (also if it's too low in the oven or the heat is not even).  By "sandwiching" a layer of air between two baking sheets, you get some insulation and a more steady heat, and the bottom will brown as nicely as the rest of the challah but be less likely to burn. 

jcking's picture

You may want to save the marble for your counter work. I've played around with a few different masonary type stones as a thermal mass in the floor of my gas oven. All it takes is a drop or two of water and they crack. I just left the latest one there crack and all. The pizza stone holds up. Take Jan's advice for the pans and you'll do fine.

If you're baking other items that may require a stone; cosider this. Even if the price is high if you use it enough, with minimal care it can last for years equalling a few cents per bake.


drmike's picture

Thanks, everybody, for your helpful comments.  I'm having almost as much fun on this blog as actually baking bread!


fminparis's picture

At Home Depot or Lowes or similar you can buy 6 inch unglazed tiles for pennies.  If they are too large for your oven, they will cut them down for you (I use three regular 6 inch and 3 cut down to 4 inch making an 18 inch x 16 inch stone. Just set them on a rack touching. Be sure they are UNglazed.  

Chuck's picture

Even though Home Depot is a chain, their stores are not quite identical. Unfortunately Quarry Tiles are one of the items that they source locally and so can be very different at stores in different areas of the country: sometimes they're what bakers want   ...but other times they're "sealed" or "non-stain" or sometimes even "plastic".  And most of the clerks don't know  ...and the ones that do have been instructed not to tell you (apparently because of "liability" issues in claiming it's okay for oven use when it's not officially certified "food safe":-). If it looks funky like something on your grandparents' old patio, and nothing nearby says anything at all about "stain-resistant" or "sealed", it's what you want; othewise just leave. Those unglazed tiles were a great idea when nothing else was available when Julia Child first mentioned them decades ago, and they still are if they're sold invidually at a low price and are in stock  ...but much of the time these days it's actually cheaper and easier to just buy a "pizza stone" from any kitchen store.

richkaimd's picture

I purchased unglazed red 6" X 6" refractory tiles several years ago at Home Depot.  I've since looked there for more only to be told that they only appear in an HD if the local store get requests.

I've loved them so far.  And they're so cheap.  I've broken far too many pizza stones to even think of buying another.


simpleman's picture


I am new this forum and have found this website very interesting and informative. I've baked breads for 2+ years, consider myself a novice to this craft and am still eager to learn more.

About the baking stone, on many occasions I have thought of getting myself a baking stone because my bread come out a failure. But when I make a success on my next trial, my confidence returns and the thought of getting a baking stone disappear.

Based on my own experience with baking, my suggestion is don't rush yourself to get any baking tools, eps those fancy ones. Think of how those people in the past made those beautiful breads without the tools that we have today. You probably already have all the tools you need, namely, flour, oven, water. What you need is patience, notes on each trial, your analytical skill, and patience.

Your bread got burned on the bottom probably you placed the bread to close to the bottome of the oven or the temp of the oven was too high. Try to play with your oven to seek a different result. The only time you need to get a baking stone is when you've exhausted all possible ways to correct your failure and you're 100% sure a baking stone is the only remedy, then that's when you need to get a baking stone.

Once again, a reminder, see your baking as a way of enjoying life, an opportunity to explore your own creativity ability and potential. More tools don't give you a better bread. It's you who can give the bread its beauty and character.

Good luck

mrfrost's picture

Agreed. Research. Take your time.

There are probably about 10 threads here, at least, on the topic of stones, tiles, etc. Seems to be covered, over and over.

Use the search box here, and welcome.

Laddavan's picture

drmike....I used the smooth side of granite stone to bake my bread about 4 years, it still good. I put my oven grill first then put my granite stone on it. My bread turn out really nice. I don't use baking stone if in the ingredient got milk, oil, or butter in it.

drmike's picture

I baked another Challah recently using my "air pan" baking sheet and reduced the oven temp to 350º.  The result was a perfect loaf.  As one of you suggested, I think I'll hold off on getting a baking stone and use my marble for rolling out dough.

Thanks for all your helpful comments.