The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

15x20" Stone.. Anyone use it?

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theilff's picture
theilff

15x20" Stone.. Anyone use it?

Has anyone used this stone http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Pizza-Stone-15Wx20D-c106p5463.html for $54? Seems like a good deal, if its legit. I've been doing alot of reasearch and decided soapstone was out due to low porosity, quarry tile out cause of thickness, and pottery stoneware is probably out cause of inability to find any.

Love the forum, and I've been learing alot.

Thanks

-Mark

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Mark, be sure it will fit in your oven with space around the edges for heat circulation. I have what was sold as a pizza stone, sorry I can't remember the brand, and it measures 15"x15" and about 3/8" thick. Does a fine job for me even though it looks like heck since I accidently grabbed the oil spray instead of the water! No doubt the thicker one would hold the heat and if it will fit go for it, A.

JERSK's picture
JERSK

    I've gotten that type of stone for restaurant ovens. I'm not sure of the exact size, but I believe two of those cover a full size oven deck. that's the size of the ones I got any ways. It'll work fine if it fits in your home oven. If you can find quarry tile they should work fine and a lot cheaper. They are thinner, about 1/2" thick. This should be fine and take a lot less time to heat through. You can also cut them to fit your oven exactly. I've seen them priced from $1.00 to $3.00 apiece, but when I try to buy them they are out of stock and you need to order a case. The biggest disadvantage is they might move around and cause gaps. Central is a good company, but if you can get a Superior Restaurant catalog they always seem to have the same stuff a little cheaper. Central has better customer service, i.e. you may actually be able to talk to somebody to answer your questions.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

That one looks pretty nice.  Have you looked at the fibrament stones?  Pretty close in price and they have free shipping. I ordered one for home and several for a bakery I worked at--I'm quite happy with the quality.  I think mine is 15 x 20, but I'd have to check....

 

They have lots of sizes and they are super thick--3/4 inches. I just leave mine in the oven permanently.

 

http://www.bakingstone.com

 

 

theilff's picture
theilff

Thanks Everyone,

 All of your suggestions are wonderful and I'll have to think about this one some more before I make a final decision.  Thank you for conferming the company is a good one.  Fibrament and the company I posted above are about equal in price, and I did not realize Fibrament was free shipping.

 I bought Saltillio tiles a few weeks ago, and while they seemed to work well the darn things cracked within the week, so I'm afriad to use them.  What are the difference between what Saltillio is made of and what Floydm has on the top rack of his oven?  Are they more durable?  1/2 inch thick is plenty for me, and if they are durable I would be happy to use them.  I saw daltile quarry at a local home Depot but they were expensive for 6x6, and are not the same as what Floydm has.

 Thank you agian for all the input.

suave's picture
suave

The quarry tiles I bought from Home Depot were 38 cents each - $2.42 with tax for 12x18" coverage.  Took me a while to locate them in the store though.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Background: I once worked for a refractory company with industrial and commerical product lines. I know what goes into making some industrial and commerical refractories, although I cannot list those materials here due to confidentiality issues.

For any material you intend to cook food directly on, either buy it from a cooking equipment vendor or get a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Please.

sPh

History shows this post will generate some heated responses (no pun intended)...

turtlemom's picture
turtlemom

We use the quarry tiles, and they work great. The Ol' Curmudgeon has a whole blog post devoted to ovens and how to make a modern oven more like the huge, old ceramic/pottery-type wood-fired ovens.

He's very much the "miser," but not to the extent of inferior materials and tools. But he'll search stores, catalogs and the web for days to find the least expensive tool - or alternative. He got the 38 cent quarry tiles, he preheats the oven for about an hour, and sprays the tiles well just before putting the bread in. His Pain de Mie is fabulous, and his French sourdough is excellent, as is his San Francisco sourdough.

Cheerio!

The Turtlemom
My Blog:
http://turtlemom3.wordpress.com
The Ol' Curmudgeon's Blog:
http://mtriggs.wordpress.com/

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

Turtemom, your name sounds familiar... do you post on the Craigslist pets forum?

leemid's picture
leemid

I simply went to my local 'stone' store, where they do granite, marble, etc., countertops and asked if they had any scraps roughly the size of my oven. At first they said no, but when I explained I was making artisan bread, they changed their minds and gave me a 3/4" thick slab of black marble that was too long for $5. I bought a diamond blade for my circular saw for another project, used it to cut this marble to size and it makes great bread.

Problem is not using it makes great bread too. If I just put my SF sourdough batards on a thin shallow baking sheet, put it in the oven just after it reaches temperature, cook as if it were on the stone, it looks almost exactly like it came off the stone. True, there are very minor visible differences in the crust, but the crumb is just as fabulous, as is the oven spring. So I am having a hard time with the hour preheat of the stone. Even if I am doing multiple batches. I realize this is not the result some get... I can't answer that... don't know... just thought I'd stir the pot...

That's my story,

Lee

HogieWan's picture
HogieWan

The 15x20 stone from Central Restaurant Supply and the Fibrament are both about the same price (~$2 diff.). Which one is better? Has anyone used the one from Central?

HogieWan's picture
HogieWan

just wanted to bump this as I plan to buy a stone in the next few days and I'm having trouble deciding.  If no one has used the stone from Central, it may come down to a coin toss (and my wife really hates that)

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

a while ago. I purchased it ( 1 1/2 years ago..I think) and have been very happy with it too. It is on sale now at Amazon.com..so take a look , $29.99 and free shipping : http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000E1FDA/...

HogieWan's picture
HogieWan

I wanted to fill up my oven rack (with some space on the edges for circulation), and 15x20 is the perfect size. It would allow me to get some really long french loaves or a couple pizzas at once.

Grandma x 12's picture
Grandma x 12

Hi, y'all! Hope everyone had nice, safe holidays. I am a newbie bread baker.

By good fortune, some contractor left two oblong marble pieces, which he miscut I guess, outside the dumpster. Of course, frugal woman that I am, I put them in my car trunk very pleased w/my find. Almost pulled my back out too!

The dimensions are 15"x18"x3/4". My oven rack is 22" wide by 17" long...one should fit sideways.

According to Lee's post, I can use marble,yes?

Believe me, as heavy as that sucker is, once in the oven it stays!

Thanks for posting the restaurant supply names. Have y'all found it cheaper to shop local than online for pans? The online shipping charges are ghastly, as is everything else nowadays.

Thanks for your input.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I think it was breadnerd who first opened my eyes to the fact that you don't need a stone for most of your bakes. See the "Eye Opening Techniques" link on the front page of this site. If you haven't tried baking on a sheet pan in a just barely preheated oven, please do this BEFORE you decide on which stone you NEED. In my experience you only need a stone for thin crust pizza and pita bread.

Last night I tried an experiment with my stone and a Infra Red temp gauge I recently purchased. I turned the electric oven on to 450 degrees F and waited for the beep telling me the oven was up to temp.. 5 minutes after the beep I checked the stone temp and got 245 F. A scan of the oven wall read 445 F. I waited another 30 minutes and checked again to find the stone had warmed to 360 F. Another 10 minutes later my bread was ready to bake and the stone was 395 F so I loaded the oven after the oven had been running full blast for 55 minutes. When the first 10 minutes were up after steaming I checked again and the stone was 320 F between the loaves. It was starting to look like the stone would never recover to the higher temps., and it didn't.

The conclusion I come to is that the heat source in a home oven is to small to overcome the heat loss incurred by loading dough onto a 3/4 inch oven stone. A large deck style stone hearth oven has thick stones and a big gas pipe to quickly recover the lost BTU's from the baking surface. Wood fired ovens take hours to warm up and have so much thermal mass that they are less affected by cold dough and provide even baking temperatures. After all, several thousand pounds of brick and mortar will be hard to heat and equally hard to cool. I suggest that a 20 pound stone does not an earthen oven make.

With the cost of electric energy on the rise and the knowledge that somewhere there is fossil fuel being burned to provide the sparks, I'm starting to think I'll stop pretending that using a stone helps create better bread. IMHO!

Eric

leemid's picture
leemid

I have not used my stone for months because of the timing involved. I like to bake when the bread is ready, but I only bake on the weekends so deep experience is still years away. If I had time, I would learn much faster. What I have learned is that two batards side by side on a baking sheet (which is very dark in color and that helps) bake so close to what is done on a stone that I am satisfied. The differece as I see it is the area between the loaves is coolest in the oven, as your measurements indicate. So half way through the bake I turn the loaves and present the opposite sides of the loaves to each other. This looses a lot of heat, but works. The problem is that the cooler temps (between the loaves) allow the bread to expand longer (in time) than the rest of the loaf, busting out like it needed slashing there. Recall that the reason we put steam in the oven is to allow the crust to stay soft longer for oven spring to occur. In my case, I get sideways oven spring between the loaves. Not always, and not bad enough to throw out the bread or hand my head in shame.

Now, the temp issue is interesting to me. The analysis above assumes that the stone has to come up to the desired oven temp. I personally have no data to support this. It is possible in my mind that it is sufficient for home baking that the stone only improve heat transfer, not absolutely match the air temp. Having said that, obviously you would get better transfer from a hotter stone. But is it necessary? If the stone were actually 450F would it be too hot, all things considered? If the stone were a mere 400 or 425 and matched the oven temp, would the bread bake better? How in-depth was the testing for the particular recipe in determining the optimum baking temperature and would a pro baker use a different temp in a bulky brick oven? 

While bread baking is anything but a crap shoot, we often get remarkable results from remarkable screw-ups. Why is that? Are the bread gods with us? Everyone who thinks so raise your hand. That's what I thought. 

So for me, this whole experience has taught me that close attention to detail can help you get closer to success, or it could inhibit your progress. It helped me get closer. But at the same time, I am willing to go my own way when I experience success. So "every wind of doctrine" doesn't blow my sail. Yet I carefully listen to everything you all have to say.

To my friends and the general masses, thanks for all of your input.

That's my story,

Lee 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I actually always use a stone!  :)

Indoors--I'm on my third or so year with a fibrament and love it. Outdoors I have firebrick!  :)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Sorry breadnerd, I went back and checked and it was Da Crumb Bumb who got me started on the cold oven trail. How have you been and what are you baking these days?

Eric

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

remember that yes the stone should be at 450 if your baking at 450

the energy cost would go down once the stone and the oven are stable at 450 since the oven would only have to matain the temp.

most pro ovens are never turned off the temp is turned down for the cake baker to work durning the day and the temp is turned up for the bread if needed at night.

i worked as a baker for more years than i can remember and yes the stone shelf deck oven baked better bread

retired and loving it

sphealey's picture
sphealey

One caution here: back when I worked at a large power plant, one of my coworkers did his masters thesis on the performance of refractory coatings under specific boiler conditions. In order to do this he had to take temperature readings of the refractory and the boiler tubes it was protecting during a startup/shutdown cycle.

It turned out to be incredibly difficult to take accurate measurements of the temperature of the refractory. This boiler was 30 years old, all the design information was available to us, and our company had a _lot_ of experience in measuring temperature - and it turned out we really didn't know how to measure the temperature of refactory under these conditions (very common conditions in industrial work too). In the end he had to have a section of boiler tube made up with thermocouples pre-welded to the tube, have the thermocouples intended to measure the refractory temperature cast into a refractory coating in the machine shop, and then cut out a section of tube and have the carefully-prepared and instrumented section welded in place.

So I personally would be careful about trusting temperature measurements from the surface of a thick baking stone. It is unlikely that the emissivity coefficient of the stone is the same, or even close, to the fixed emissivity correction factor in a consumer-grade infrared thermometer (and even if you borrow an industrial grade IR unit with adjustable emissivity coefficient you would still have to measure the emissivity of the stone to be able to dial it in). And I know from firsthand experience that just touching a thermcouple or RTD probe (such as a Thermapen) to the surface of a thick piece of refractory will not give you a true temperature reading.

Were I to undertake a Cooking for Engineers type investiation I would drill holes into the stone from the bottom at depths of 25%, 50%, 75%, and 95% (or as close as I could get without breaking through) of the thickness then cement thermocouples (and they would have to be fine ones, which break easily) into those holes using a cement as close in composition to the stone as possible.

Or I would do what I did at Christmas which was set my oven to turn on at 450 deg.F at 3 AM. That way I knew my oven and stone were at full temperature when we started the day's baking and roastingl. If the oven is well-insulated this really should not waste much power and may save some as the stone moderates temperature swings.

sPh

leemid's picture
leemid

that we have a raft of experts to help moderate the concepts propogated by surmisers like me, and that is genuine, not snide. One of the great things about this blog is the depth and breadth (bread-th?) of experience and thinking.

Outstanding post!

Lee 

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Lots of good info here. I'd like to add that home ovens vary quite a bit in how fast they recover temperature, as they do in so many other things.

leemid's picture
leemid

It was time to compare the stone bread to baking sheet bread. I hadn't used the stone for months, as I said above, so since I was making 3 batches of SD over the weekend, I thought I'd compare. For the first two batches I used the stone and the difference was immediately evident. The bust-out on the sides of the loaves was gone and the color was even all down the sides. Of course no good deed will go unpunished, so while the bake was great, I had pushed the bulk ferment too quickly and lost the great taste. Good, but not great, bread.

Then yesterday I did another batch baked on a baking sheet. One loaf busted out on the side (not so bad tho), and the color is light at the midlines down the length of the loaves, half way between the tops and bottoms.

Is there a difference in taste between the two baking styles, or evidence in the crust or crumb other that what is mentioned above? No. So what does that tell me? When I can, and I am doing a lot of bread, I will use the stone. When it's just another baking weekend and I'm just making bread for the family, use the sheet. The other problem with the stone is that I am the only one in my family that can take the stone out of the oven and put it away. I can't do that until it cools so my children often discover that I have forgotten to do so when they turn on the heat without checking to see if the oven is empty. So the stone is too hot to remove but too cool to bake with and invariably I am not home when this happens.

That's my story,

Lee 

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

just leave the stone in the oven there is no harm in that. my stone never comes out.

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

Lee,

If you leave the stone on the bottom shelf of the oven, you may use the oven's other shelves like normal.  You may have to preheat the oven a little longer, but it works out in the end as the oven returns to desired temp faster after opening the door due to thermal mass.  I never take mine out of my downstairs oven. 

_______________________________________________________

Redundancy is your friend, so is redundancy

nosabe332's picture
nosabe332

sph, can you explain how infrared thermometers work? i figured one just points and shoots and gets the temperature of the object at which one is pointing.


what is a consumer grade infrared thermometer rated to measure? turkey and roasts, but not oven walls or stones?


can you explain how stone (which is an insulator) makes a good cooking surface, while a cast iron skillet (which is a conductor) also makes a good cooking surface? i think you mentioned before you were uncertain how a skillet would perform as a baking surface.


i confess i didn't pay careful attention in my heat transfer/thermodynamics classes.


 


also, thanks for your words of caution about cooking on tiles. i believe the difference in price between flooring tiles and cooking stones can only partially be attributed to marketing. most of that must come from manufacturing safety. is that a safe assumption?

Troy Larsen's picture
Troy Larsen

Metals transfer heat well - so they make good pots, skillets, etc.  Ceramics transfer heat slowly, so they come to temperature slowly, thus the long preheat to get a stone to temperature.  But, this same characteristic is your friend when the stone gets hot.  It takes a long time for the heat to transfer out.