The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tiles for Baking stones?

timtune's picture
timtune

Tiles for Baking stones?

Hi,

I heard that unglazed quarry tiles can be used to substitute for pizza baking stones.
Are unglazed quarry tiles granite tiles?
Can ceramic tiles be used instead? (though ceramic is more of a heat insulator)

Thx :)

manxman's picture
manxman

in sw france where i live most roofs are with half circular red terracota tiles same material as plant pots. I put one in oven to heat at same time as warming oven and use another lined with Ali foil to help form loaf. after rising transfer to hot tile and cook.
I have also cooked in flower pots as with Paul Hollywoods (100 great breads)pepper and onion flowerpot bread. That looks great for a BBQ.
manxman

Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

Manxman.... This is a great idea.  One tile works as a "couche", and the other hot tile would help maintain the shape while baking.  If I used parchment under the rising loaves, I could slide it into the red-hot oven tile?  I will look for some hard terracota roof tiles.  Interesting "substitution" for the baking stone that I normally use.

pizzameister's picture
pizzameister

Quarry tiles are genreally considered safe to bake on. The concern is with glazed tiles which may contain and may release lead in your oven - not a good thing!

Unglazed quarry tiles are thick and are made of fired clay, basically as it comes from the ground. Thus it has other things in it besides clay.

Ceramic tiles are generally thinner and but stronger. This is because they are made from "refined" clay in a powdered form. The end result is a more uniform tile, thus it is stronger.

Both types are made entirely from earth materials, and if unglazed, should be fine for baking on. Do not bake on glazed tiles!!!!! Particularly if from a foreign source. If in doubt contact the manufacturer.

Notable Exception: I am aware of one handmade baking stone on the market that is glazed. There likely are others.

See www.armchairworld.com for this crafty stone.

But one of the advantages of baking stones and quarry tiles is that they are unglazed and thus allow moisture to pass out of the bread bottom, for better crisping. So, at least for bread and pizza baking, I don't get the glazed stone thing.

Part time Pizzameister - Full time Geologist

timtune's picture
timtune

Oh. So quarry tiles are actually made with the same stuff as the terra cotta flower pots?

I guess i'll go ask my local tile shop about that. Hopefully they'd understand.... :)

Btw, how long does it take to heat up/ preheat a tile prior to baking?

drdobg's picture
drdobg

Generally allow an hour for the oven and tiles to heat fully.  Also ALWAYS put the tiles into a cold oven and heat with them in place.

Nancy's picture
Nancy

I've used unglazed quarry tiles for years in my oven--I just leave them there all the time. One or two a year might break, but at $1 or less each at home improvement stores, they're easy to replace. Much of the time I slide my bread in on parchment paper, but I've often baked directly on them with fine results.

Much cheaper than a larger, more "official" pizza stone or such, and I'd guess the results are similar.

Nancy

southern grits girl's picture
southern grits girl

When you say unglazed tiles, what do these look like, grey, brown, etc. size, thickness, can you get these at lowes? Thanks

mmorse757's picture
mmorse757

I am sure Lowe's has them.  I bought one at Home Depot.  Go to the isle that has tiles.  The one I liked was glazed but I purchased it anyway.  I just put the glazed side down and bake on the rough side.  Also, the tile was 16 x 16 inches.   Home Depot will cut it for you.  I needed two inches taken off of one side so that it would fit into my oven.

 

RiverWalker's picture
RiverWalker

I was just at lowes yesterday, and at least the lowes HERE did NOT have the unglazed tiles.  the guy knew what I meant when I asked, but didn't carry them. he could order them but that was like 11 square feet coverage of them, in 8" tiles. meh.

 

mike owens's picture
mike owens

look in the phone book for tile suppliers,  if you have a dal-tile nearby its garanteed they have em or call a tile installer, he'll know who is selling commercial tile in town. ive used them for years, they are great.  as a matter of fact if you look at the kitchen pics in bread bakers apprentice you can see them in peters oven. 

maryserv's picture
maryserv

Metropolitan Ceramics.  They are red tiles, almost like saltillo tiles.  Mine came in 6x6 size.  I bought a whole box at the suggestion of others who notes they were so inexpensive that if one breaks it could be immedicately replaced.  I've enjoyed using them.  They are unglazed and made in the U.S. 

Look under unglazed ceramic tiles if quarry is too hard to find.  Good luck!

Mary

Kitchen Witch's picture
Kitchen Witch

What about just using fire brick, it is expensive up here but then it has all ready been shipped. They are thick and if the ones in my wood stove are any indication very tough. Just a thought

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

If you have a potter's supplies near you, there are ceramic sheets to go into kilns on which pottery is fired . These are ceramic and made to withstand high heat and come in a variety of sizes.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

> If you have a potter's supplies near you, there are

> ceramic sheets to go into kilns on which pottery is fired .

 

Having worked for a company that made pottery firing supplies and firebrick, among other refractory products, I can report that they are not necessarily food safe. Since they are industrial products you should be able to get a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for them, but then again refractory producers don't usually do food safety testing except for certain food-oven liners.

 

I applaud the thrift and frugality that is displayed on this group, but I have also seen the results of long-term industrial poisoning and they are not pretty. Please do me a favor and buy a stone from a supplier that will provide a food-safe certification.

 

sPh

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Searching my local area for unglazed quarry tile, without luck. I finally broke down and bought a FibraMent stone. It's 17 1/2" x 14 3/8", a whopping 3/4" thick, and comes with a 10-year warranty and free shipping.
Well worth the $46, IMHO. I figure my time alone is worth that much.
Fibrament Homepage
-Joe

Darkstar's picture
Darkstar

I read all the opinions presented in this site and my head was sent twirling. I decided that after seeing the tremendous oven-spring a simple round loaf of wheat bread got on my pizza stone (now broken due to steam) I should look into a larger, more robust piece of masonry.

I couldn't wrap my brain around anything that wasn't a large slab (IE: quarry tiles, bricks, very small rocks) so my choices seemed to be kiln-bottoms or Firbrament. I'm pleased to say I placed my order on Fibrament's WWW site very early on a Thursday morning and received my stone mid-afternoon Friday using standard shipping. (keep in mind I work by O'Hare airport in Chicago and the Fibrament company is located on Chicago's south side but it still was GREAT turnaround)

After I seasoned the "stone" I whipped up my second attempt at FloydM's pain sur poolish and made two of the ugliest shaped loaves I've ever seen with some WONDERFUL oven spring, crust, and crumb. The ugly part was my fault as my dough stuck to my cutting board (AKA fake Peel) in spite of the corn meal I had sprinkled down to avoid such an outcome.

Bottom line, my oven fits the $66 stone and I consider it money well spent. My bread is turning out markedly better looking and I'm enjoying the "brick oven" feel without the expense of building out one.

 

This post and all my others are just my $.02. Thanks to the FreshLoaf community for turning me back on to a hobby that my mother started me on when I was a wee little lad with a tiny little loaf pan making bread with her.

gardenchef's picture
gardenchef

i wish i had known about this. I pruchase one from KAF though I don't believe it is as big $54. waiting to recieve it. If I have p[robelsm I'll def try this one.

kimn's picture
kimn

Joe, Thanks for the link. I just bought the same stone you have. I can't wait to get it! I've been using a round pizza stone (also 3/4" thick) for nearly 10 years. Great for boules, torpedo shaped breads but not so great for the baguettes.

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

So? Didja get it yet? :)

-Joe

kimn's picture
kimn

Got it.  It works like GREAT!  I made my favorite breads, pain au noix and olive baguettes.  I going to make potato, cheddar, chive torepdos from BBA.    

kimn's picture
kimn

Nope, not yet. I am hoping it will get here by the weekend. I have a nice starter going and want to make some sourdough baguettes.

MarionR's picture
MarionR

I have the unglazed red quarry tiles and have put them on the bottom rack in the oven. Should I be placing the bread directly on parchment paper on the tiles and cook the bread on the bottom shelf? Or, should I put the tiles on the center shelf and cook the bread there?

If I place the bread in a tin, should I put the tin directly on the tiles? And on what shelf should I be cooking the bread in the tin?

cognitivefun's picture
cognitivefun

I went to Home Depot here in the Washington DC USA area and they didn't know what a saltillo tile was. All they had was concrete and similar things.

 

I bought a big flat piece of slate and I am having it cut to fit the oven. I think that will hold the heat and doesn't have any manmade chemicals in it. 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Slate was used tradtitionally here in UK for old fashioned wood fired ovens in older houses - the floor is of slate, walls of brick. My dream is to have a thatched house with inglenook and faggot oven - which I would use, for bread.
So if its good enough to use slate in a traditional oven, it should be good enough for a modern one.
Andrew

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Some day I would love to do a complete Cooking for Engineers-style investigation of the whole question of baking surfaces. I have read many theories and tried some experiements myself, but I am not convinced that we amateur bakers really know what is going on when the dough hits the flat hot part.

 

But until then, my thought would be that cast iron has substantially different heat transfer properties than ceramic, and I suspect it would not work well. Plus you would be handling a huge chunk of cast iron.

 

King Arthur is now carrying a reasonably-priced 14x16 pizza stone in addition to the Hearthstone [1] and I am sure their customer service would talk to you about food safety. Why don't you look at that one?

 

sPh

 

[1] The Hearthstone works very well for me when I preheat it to 525 using the convect setting, but it is very large, heavy, and expensive.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

works superbly. In my last oven - which was larger than my present one - I used a Le Creuset crêpe pan which gave excellent results - super heat retention, even heat distribution and extremely good oven spring! I felt it was the nearest I'd get to an Aga cooker (http://www.aga-rayburn.co.uk/57.htm) which of course uses cast iron throughout its ovens.

Unfortunately it doesn't fit in my present oven and I've still to find a piece that fits with room for heat to circulate round one, but when I do... At present I'm using a pizza stone - good, but not as good.

So if you can find a piece of cast iron the right size, and about the thickness of a crêpe pan, grab it. You won't be dissappointed. (Probably mild steel would work well too.)

titus's picture
titus

Lodge has a cast iron pizza pan:

http://tinyurl.com/y47ywj

Cooky's picture
Cooky

It does need to be bone dry and needs to be warmed slowly and thoroughly before you take it up to high temp. Once you've done that, I've learned, it's pretty reliable, although not as tough as tiles.

 

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

neaton's picture
neaton

I made the Napoletana pizza dough from Peter Reinhart's "American Pie" book and it was the best thin crust, but not much oven spring in my electric oven without oven tiles.

Now that I am seriously looking at getting tiles for my oven do you remove them or leave them in for regular baking and cooking (cookies, pot roast, etc.)?

-Nancy

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I remove them, if for no other reason than it seems like it takes more time and energy to heat the oven when they are in there.

Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

I leave my tiles in the oven all the time, no matter what I'm cooking. They are pretty cheap at the home stores and I think I've only had to replace one in the last eight years. Be sure you leave a few inches of clearance on the sides for good air circulation in the oven.

Teresa

Laddavan's picture
Laddavan

Dear all

I used natural granite stone which letf over from house repair put in my oven, and sometimes I used ceramic tray that came with microwave oven too. Both work out good. I don't know if any dangerous chemical in it.

makebreadnet's picture
makebreadnet

Hey all,

I guess I'm still confused as to what is an acceptable (i.e. food grade, won't explode) alternative to the commercial pizza stones.

Will unglazed porcelain stones work?  Our local lowes has a big 18x18 porcelain tile, unglazed for a whopping $6.50.

Is this suitable?  Will it blow up in my oven?  Will I die if I bake on it?

Thanks!

Elagins's picture
Elagins

after all, people have been eating off porcelain (and chewing with it) for centuries. what i would be concerned about, however, it porcelain's low resistance to thermal shock, which means that if you're spraying loaves in the oven and some of that water hits hot porcelain, there's a higher likelihood of cracking than with other materials.

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I think your best bet is to read the manufacturer's spec sheet on the stone/tile.  It will tell you what chemical compounds were used in the manufacture of the product. 

You can then make a somewhat informed decision about the safety of the tile.

makebreadnet's picture
makebreadnet

 

Thanks for the note, LindyD.

I'm not sure what to look for.  This is what this specific tile lists.  What does that tell you?  Thanks!

Tile Type Porcelain
Water Absorption Impervious
Tile Finish Unglazed
Collection Roman Stone
Commercial/Residential Commercial/Residential
Color Family Browns / Tans
Length (Inches) 18.0
Wall / Floor

Wall & Floor

 

southern grits girl's picture
southern grits girl

Looking at Lowe's website they only list ungazed porcelain tiles, are these safe to use

Marykaren's picture
Marykaren

When I had a question about the tiles I wanted to buy, I called ther manufacture. They are American made and I had no problem finding a phone number

Sometimes I use a double layer of tiles to give me the extra thickness of the commercially available bread  ovens.

Mary Karen

RiverWalker's picture
RiverWalker

I just got home from doing errands, one of which was hitting up Lowes and Home Depot.

asking the guy at Lowes, he seemed to know *exactly* what I was referring to as "unglazed quarry tiles", and said that they did not carry that anymore. that they used to, but don't now.

he said he could special order it though, and showed me a page in his product catalog with it, and he called in and checked the price for it.  said they were something around 22 bucks for a box that'd cover 11 square feet.   pretty sure that was for 8" tiles. 

interestingly for my experience, *BOTH* people I talked to, knew exactly what it was, said they used to carry it, and that they didn't know why they didn't still carry it.  I explained what it was for, and neither said "oh no that sounds dangerous and/or poisonous!" in fact they both sounded like they had heard of that before, or at least like they thought it sounded reasonable.

 

so is this a correct summary of things?

All tiles need to be, at first, heated slowly to purge moisture from the inside of the tile,  spending some time heating it at lower, but incrementally higher temperatures working up to the desired temperatures.

"Unglazed Quarry Tile": (as in, the specific item of "quarry tile" that is unglazed) is the ideal, foodsafe and cheap.

"Slate": foodsafe(its pure cut stone, afterall, right?) but more fragile, and needs to be heated gradually at first, or when exposed to water (I assume not counting the water IN the bread?) to dry it out more meticulously/slowly than quarry tiles.  not as cheap. 

"Porcelain": PROBABLY foodsafe?  very vulnerable to damage from heat variation in use(such as water exposure) 

"Terra Cotta": BAD, not foodsafe.

anything "Glazed": BAD, not foodsafe.

is this right? 

 

 

 

RebelWithoutASauce's picture
RebelWithoutASauce

What is wrong with Terra Cotta?  I have seen ovens and cooking vessels made out of this.

 

Dan

RiverWalker's picture
RiverWalker

I thought someone said in one of these threads, that it could have lead or other non-foodsafe things, if its not a variety actually made for cooking?

I could totally be wrong on that point, thus part of asking, heh.

jpchisari's picture
jpchisari

I was in the tile industry (installations) for 20+yrs While I don't know the answer to this, and I doubt everyone would agree if this is a good idea. I will contend that tiles made for flooring and wall applications are in no way made with food production in mind. They are made to cover floor and walls. I've seen the Fibrament baking stones and plan on getting one soon. For the toime being I use a similar product I received from my father, when the large commercial bakery he worked for was refitting their ovens with baking stones surfaces. They work great, but have warped through the years. They're probably 20 yrs old.

 

John

bakerking's picture
bakerking

One item I rarely see people mention when it comes to baking stones is soapstone. It is a natural product, easy to cut to size. You can find good deals on tiles and slabs on the internet. It is safe- Iwould never use granite, not for health reasons but because I have seen granite split, crack and pop when heated. Soapstone holds heat very well and has been used a long time for fireplaces, woodstoves...

Steve

Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

I bought unglazed 6 x 6 inch tiles at Home Depot on sale for less than $2 each. They are a red color. I use them under a dutch oven for bread and then use a cloche next to that so I can do two loaves at a time. I have had good results with this method.

meadmaker's picture
meadmaker

I was just watching a Good Eats episode (Flat Breads) that had to do with pizza. In it, he describes using the quarry stone instead of an expensive pizza stone. I think it's called an unglazed saltillo tile (Terracotta). They run like a dollar at the hardware store. He used a 12" one.

He used the giant wooden pizza spatula (said they're cheap at a restaurant supply store) and did this.

Put the tile in a cold oven. Turn on the oven to highest temp and let it heat up for half an hour. Then using the wood spatula, he placed it directly on the tile.

He said the tile being porous is key; I think he said something about it absorbing water. He also said they can be left in the oven rather than having to remove it after use. He kept it on the bottom rack of the oven on top of another one, in fact.

paulm's picture
paulm

I am new to this website and wanted to take a moment thank Floyd and all of the other participants for their vast knowledge and willingness to share.  I have learned more in the last few weeks and am looking forward to continuing to explore this wonderful world of bread baking.

I have been using unglazed quarry tile for baking bread over the past several years with no detrimental affects.  I purchased them at Color Tile (a local tile distributor in the Chicago area) for $0.69 per 6" x 6" tile.  The salesperson knew exactly what I was looking for when I mentioned I needed tiles for lining an oven shelf.  I covered two shelves in my home quality electric range for les than $15.00.  This included having them cut several tiles so I could cover a larger area.  I used 3 1/2 tiles wide by 2 1/2 tiles deep for each shelf.  Just make sure ypu leave a gap of at lease 1-2" on all sides for air circulation.  I leave the tiles in all of the time (basically too lazy to take them out) at the price of it taking the oven a little longer to preheat.  The link below is part of the Julia Child's Master Chef series showing the making of baguettes.  They mention using quarry tiles at about 3 minutes 30 seconds into part I. 

http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/free/baguette.html

 

makebreadnet's picture
makebreadnet

Hey all,

I decided to google a masonry supply store nearby.  I live in a small city and feared there would be none close enough to warrant this venture, but I found one about 10 minutes away.  The guys were very easy to talk and I ended up getting a dozen firebricks that were half the thickness of normal brick (i know this is not uncommon, i just don't know the terminology).  They fit well in my oven and I did a test run this weekend with pizza and bread.  I'm very happy with the results.  I built a "house" or a square box out of the brick and got about a 12x18 cooking surface that is covered up.  The crust on the bread was fantastic - nice and thick and crispy.  The bread cooked faster than usual by about 10 minutes though it did take about 40 minutes for the oven to reach it's max temp.  The pizza crust also came out very good and was enjoyed by all.

12 bricks = $16 for me.  Your mileage may vary, but it's worth a shot.  Look up "masonry supply <your city name>" on google and give them a buzz!

Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

Whenyou built your little box in the oven did you build it right on the bottom of the oven?  Like, did you take out the oven shelves and just build the box?  Sounds very interesting.  Please give more information regarding the construction of the box.

makebreadnet's picture
makebreadnet

Hi Janice,

I put the bricks inside the oven with the racks still in it.  Not sure if that was the best approach but it was mine this first go around.

I'll try different configurations to see what results they produce but I think it was a good start. 

 

Here's the bread in the "box"...I accidentally moved the bricks when I was 'peeling' the bread in there.

 

Bread crust right out of the oven

Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

Perfect pictures.  thanks so much and the  bread looks terrific.  You have encouraged me to try this.

shallots's picture
shallots

A comment early in this thread called Granite a sedimentary rock, it isn't. Granite is formed under high temperature and pressure with a very slow cooling time. Most granites don't fracture easily.
Slates are rocks that were once sedimentary shales, that since then have been subjected to additional temperature and pressure; shales tend to break along cleavage planes-where the clays in them were deposited; slates can break along the orginal cleavage of the original shales as well as along secondary cleavage directions tied to the temperature and pressures applied to turn them into slates.
Thus, not all slates are alike and some are much more prone to shattering than others.
Soapstones are often massive but they cut/saw easily because of the fine micas in them. There is also asbestos in some of them.

Generalizations don't work when saying one granite is good and the other not. Likewise slates. Likewise soapstones.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

call me a curmudgeon, if you will (others have, by the way), but i've been following this thread for years and i'm just amazed at how much effort folks spend in pursuit of a great baking surface. yes, unglazed tiles work. yes, granite and soapstone work, marble may or may not work, no, slate doesn't work, of which more presently.

but the fact is, there are industrial materials available ... specifically cordierite and fibrament ... that have been have been deemed food safe by the FDA and engineered for high-temp applications. and they, most emphatically, work brilliantly.

one of the things that rarely gets discussed is thermal stability, i.e., what happens when you pour a cup or two of ice water on a stone that's been sitting in a 500F oven for a couple of hours. tile, marble and granite will crack, if not explode (slate will do that on its own, thanks to the air pockets). engineered stones don't crack: they remain stable to temps of 1000F plus for fibrament and 2000F plus for cordierite.

so why all of the running around? is it a matter of economics? yes, a good baking surface will cost more than a stack of tiles, a pile of bricks or a stone remnant at your local floor tile and countertop dealer. yet, folks here will think nothing of spending a couple of hundred (if not more) bucks on a new mixer -- which, by the way, is not a requisite to baking great bread -- while holding back on the extra 30, 40, 50 bucks it will cost to buy a great stone, which IS essential to producing great artisan loaves IMO.

now, admittedly, i'm in the business of selling baking stones, among other things, and i have a financial interest in what people buy and who they buy it from, but that said, a great stone -- whether you buy from me or someone else -- is an investment that's literally going to last several lifetimes (as long as you don't try to bounce it) and will help you bake great bread. plus, all the money you save by baking your own instead of buying (not to mention the nutritional and emotional satisfactions, but that's another story) will more than pay for the extra up front cost of the stone. 

anyway, that's my two cents, and that's my rant.

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

copyu's picture
copyu

it's known as the "Cry once" philosophy...you cry once when you shell out the big bucks for the 'quality' product.

However, the other buyers cry repeatedly, when the inferior product fails, or malfunctions and spoils a job, or needs replacement just when the budget won't stretch far enough to buy another 'cheapie'...<GRIN>

I think you made a good point.

Cheers 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

cheap is cheap

RiverWalker's picture
RiverWalker

while sometimes you get what you pay for,  other times you can get 80-90% of the functionality for 10% of the cost, and for some people its either 10% of the cost, or nothing, and the performance difference is nil, either because they are simply not that picky, or because they are inexperienced enough to not be able to see the difference if they had it.

I have no doubt the fancy modern baking stones perform better and last longer and are more durable, and when I get rich some day, get a fancy oven and so on, I'm sure I'll spend the money to get a high end, fancy stone that will work better than the cheap slab of rock that is far better than nothing, to go in the crappy oven that is my only option at the moment.  

is it bizzare that people who could EASILY afford a fancy expensive one, to spend the time and hassle with ultra-budget but ultimately, in the long run, inferior solutions? YES . and I'm sure there are people like that here too. 

there are times where its foolish NOT to get the high grade tool. there are others where ANY mostly-functional tool is a huge step up from no tool.

are you REALLY asserting that the new fancy stones make that huge of a difference to the hot-rocks that people have been cooking on for centuries?   yes, its better and more durable, but it seems a bit exaggerated that you NEED one of those expensive things to make bread that comes out great.

I would bet that there are many people here who would LOVE to get one of those fancy stones, but simply can't afford it, or do not consider the difference, even if they could make themselves afford it, to be worthwhile.  (which, I do not entirely blame them for, <10 bucks for something that works perfectly fine, for now, seems like far less than 50 bucks for good.  particularly if you expect to some time between now and "ever" to get a new oven or something that would merit a bigger investment!

and while you may or may not be intending the "for those who can afford it" without saying it outright,  IMO it doesn't show through.    I might not even doubt that you intend your point towards people who COULD easily afford it, but chose to be penny pinchers.  but you don't show that clearly, and your attitude about it has discouraged at least one person who might have bought (that, some day, or other things) from you, from doing so.

I think most regard it bad business to present a bad attitude in association with a store.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

my point is simply this ... and i believe i made it in my earlier post ... that all of those other materials will work ... i'm certainly not disputing that, nor am i suggesting that everyone needs to buy a quality stone in order to get great bread.

that said, i am still very much of the opinion that tools matter, and that people who have more than a passing commitment to bread baking -- like anyone who's passionate about a creative pastime -- ought to invest in the best tools they can afford -- no matter where they acquire them. in the case of baking stones, all the more because so many home ovens are "crappy," i.e., they lose heat quickly, heat unevenly and simply aren't designed for the kind of use we demand of them. this debate has been going on for years and i expect it will continue ad infinitum. 

as for my attitude discouraging "at least one person" from buying from The New York Bakers, i'm sorry that's the case. perhaps if i refrained from having a point of view and stating it, no one would be discouraged and then i could double or triple my prices to the point where they're comparable to those charged by other sellers of quality bread baking ingredients. 

as a baker and a businessman, i sell or recommend only what i believe in and use myself -- at prices that are much more within reach of those on limited budgets. for me, this is less about making money than it is about starting a business aimed at addressing my own and others' frustrations at not being able to find what we all need. 

i'm sorry my words have put you off and hope you'll recognize that people will do whatever they choose, and satisfy their own needs in ways that work best for them, regardless of what i or others think. 

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

RiverWalker's picture
RiverWalker

oh don't get me wrong. I appriciate that tools do matter.  I grew up with a dad that did woodworking, some metalworking, and NEVER that I can ever remember, took a family vehicle to a mechanic.   he bought Craftsman only tools for everything.

but, and this is sort of to the point Copyu is saying just below, (I think its below... crazy forum program...)  if someone is very tight on money, and they need to buy a drill bit for what is most likely a one-time project, or that would do "good enough" for 90% of the projects they are likely to see in the next 5 years,  unless they expect some of those projects to appriciate the difference, the buck-fifty drill bit will probably serve perfectly well as the $5-10 carbide one would.    it would be SILLY to buy the expensive one.  if you aren't really THAT broke, then it might be worth it out of philosophy of using only the best tools, or dignifying the project with quality tools, or whatever. but if thrift is your overwhelming concern...

I *AGREE* that the overall "answer" is that if you are "serious" and you can afford it, that the fancy stones may very well be completely worth it.   it may even be worth budgeting to save up for, if you expect to be doing bread baking over the long term, rather than a fleeting hobby.

it is just my opinion that you could have recognized that some people may not find the investment worthwhile, and/or simply not be able to afford it, better than you do.

I'm not saying that I definitely won't buy from you or anything,  just sayin that on this point, in my opinion, you could present a more positive representation in this matter.

 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

as i said at the beginning of that post, i've been called a curmudgeon more than once .... diplomacy simply isn't my strong suit (maybe it's my NYC DNA).

i think that we all ought to use the best we can afford -- afford being the operative term here. i also think, germane to your point, that for a baker a stone is hardly an occasional tool. for me, at least, it's something that's always in my oven (they, actually; i have 2) and is my primary baking surface.

i also recognize that finances are always an issue, especially in these tough times, which is one of the reasons i started NYB. i just got tired of paying what i consider exorbitant prices.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

The problem that I have is that many of these discussions turn on using tiles and other refractory materials purchased in garden centers, flooring departments, scrap bins, and other sources never intended for food preparation use.  Having worked for a number of years for one of the world's largest manufacturers of industrial refractory products I know that industrial refractories often contain, and can leach, materials which you do not want to ingest (or breath as vapors) under any circumstances.   And having worked for consumer products companies that sell to big-box stores I also know the tremendous pressure that the suppliers are under to meet the cost targets of the big-box "sourcing specialists".

Do I know for a fact that any of the tiles or "stone" you purchase in a garden center are industrial refractories purchased out of the scrap bin and "repurposed"?  No.  Do I know for a fact that manufacturers making synthetic stones intended for garden paths are taking shortcuts and using materials that are not exactly safe?  No.

Having, as noted, worked for both refractory manufacturers and big-box suppliers to I make damn sure that the ceramics my family uses to cook on are intended for food prep use at high temperature, if possible carry the NSF mark, and if at all possible are made in the US, Canada, or an EU country?  Yes, absolutely.

 

sPh

copyu's picture
copyu

but this issue is very "situational".

I have WAY too many hobbies and have learned all about quality and value the 'hard way'—through experience. In woodworking, a professional furniture-maker is likely to use certain drill bits almost every working day of his life and his specialties are likely to need only a few sizes. He buys the best ones, individually—he always chooses HSS over Carbon steel, or carbide over HSS, if available. As an amateur, I have no idea what I might be building for my own use, or for friends, over the next few years, so I spend the same money as the pro to buy a full set of the cheapest reasonably-good bits I can find. Many may never be used, but at least there's a tool available to do the job, when it really IS needed. Sometimes, you only need a tool once, or perhaps a dozen times on a single job. After you're finished, you can put that tool in a 'safe place' and it doesn't really matter if you never find it again.

In electronics, you can buy interchangeable audio-amp ICs for $1:40, or $4:95 or $8:50 or $35:00. According to data-sheets and experts, the most expensive ones will sound and perform (perhaps) 5% 'better' than the mid-priced ones and 25-30% better than the cheapest. Which to buy?     

liseling's picture
liseling

I was wondering if anyone can advise me. A friend recently gave me one of her baking stones, and I think it is quite old and has been used many times. I dont mind this at all, since I dont have to worry about 'breaking it in'. It doesnt say what brand it is anywhere on it or what it's made out of, but I'm pretty sure it's a commercial baking stone.

Anyway, having been used a lot already the top is darkened by many places where oil has stained it, etc. When I brought it home for the fist time and started preheating the oven with it inside, it started producing a lot of smoke and that burning oil smell. The room was pretty much filled with a smoky haze, actually. The oven hadn't even gotten up over 300 degrees or so when this started to happen. 

So my question is: what should I do about this smoking baking stone? Should I just heat it up and let it burn off as much of the stuff on there as possible and hope that eventually all of it will burn off and it will stop smoking?

liseling's picture
liseling

Well thanks for that input about my smoking baking stone. I'll have to heat it up one of these days and just live with the smoke for an hour or two (hopefully not longer)!  

ehanner's picture
ehanner

As a consumer, there are few assurances that the materials produced for a non food application are safe for contact with food. I haven't heard any reports that unglazed quarry tiles are unsafe for cooking on. They could be but I haven't ever heard of a single instance where the family was poisoned by clay tiles.

Tiles don't have much thermal mass anyway. From a performance standpoint, I would say if you don't want to spend for a high value stone like NY Bakers sells, get yourself a stack of parchment paper and bake on a sheet pan.

Eric

showme's picture
showme

Hi bakers. I spent whole day reading about different quarry tiles and was wondering if anybody might put on some pictures of the stones they use. Thanks up front!

copyu's picture
copyu

I'd also like to see what the famous 'quarry tiles', etc, look like...I knew what that meant in 'Australian English' when I lived in Australia. (I never even wondered whether Americans or Brits might have a different name for that same product!)

However, I live in another part of the world now...most of the stuff in hardware stores is imported, but they "localize" the names of the goods for sale and they don't always mention the country of origin. It can be very confusing.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Image of quarry tiles. Just an image I saved from somewhere. I don't use them, so don't know much about them, but it looks like they are six, 6 x 6" tiles arranged on oven shelf:

I think this is a typical color, but not necessarily the only color used.

 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

My first 15 x 3/8" "pizza" stone. Was fine for years, for just the occasional pizza. Heavy duty bread baking did it in in a matter of months:

My "real" 16 X 16 x 5/8" baking stone from NY Bakers:

copyu's picture
copyu

peckerdunne and mrfrost.

Your pics and links are much appreciated.

Brick-clay tiles...unglazed earthenware tiles...that's what 'quarry tiles' were, where I lived before. There were various sizes and finishes, though. Some had a polished surface, with very few 'inclusions' and were often used indoors; about 10-12" was a popular size for 'hacienda'-style homes.They required a fair bit of 'finishing' by the builder or homeowner after being laid.

Outdoors, the 6" were occasionally used on patios (but most people [DIYers, anyway] used 'solid brick' pavers...I seem to remember that pavers were a bit harder to lay flat, but worked out a bit cheaper...maybe because they saved concrete?)

Thanks again for the help!

Best,

copyu

maryserv's picture
maryserv

This photo could be of my own quarry tiles.  They are exactly like this.  A couple of names I've seen these as are UNGLAZED saltillo, ceramic, terracotta, and quarry.  The most important thing is that they are UNGLAZED. 

I bought a whole box of them, I think I paid $24 in case any of them break.  I do leave them in the oven all the time (not the box, just the ones I'm using :-P ). 

My trouble is that I would like to find a 3rd oven rack so I can try some different configurations and don't have to move the rack with the tiles so much.  I also use the iron-skillet on the last shelf with boiling water method for steaming.  Someday I'll get a large terracotta flower pot and make a cloche for the bread to self-steam.  They should be coming out with those things now that the weather is turning here. 

Good luck!  Mary

 

Andrew S's picture
Andrew S

Right then.

Quarry tiles are just a hewn and shaped piece of stone. as it is intended to go on the floor, the weight of a loaf is not going to distress it too much.

All other tiles are fired, teracota, ceramic, wall, floor.  They can ALL be used to provide solid, sustained heat to emulate a commercial bread oven to give great even colour and crust formation.  Have tried glazed, unglazed, teracota and stone

Put heavy, uneven weight on one suddenly and you will eventually break it.  Heat it up very, quickly and or unevenly, once again you are asking for trouble.  Cool them down very rapidly and or unevenely, youre running a risk.

I use a slab of granite right now, works a treat.  Granite a health risk?  get in touch with reality. Some cities have Thoousands and thousands of tons of the stuff in buildings.  How bothered about naked gas flames in your kitchcen? The chemical vapour coming from hot oil? Ever walked down a busy street or been stuck in traffic? Whats the distinctive smell at the fuel station every time you go to fill your car?

Find something that works for you and use it.  Enjoy making wonderful bread and home baked goods. The contented, happy feel good chemicals your body will release will do plenty to keep you healthy and live a bit longer.

Go bake and prosper.

From a time served baker who has never tired of pulling loaves from an oven

paulm's picture
paulm

Below are pics of the quarry tiles I have been using.  I only have two oven racks and have lined both of them.  I leave them in all of the time (too lazy to remove them) but that is at a cost of longer preheating times.

 

maryserv's picture
maryserv

Is this oven only to be used to bake flatter breads?  The small space inside seems like it could be very confining for a good amount of money.  I wasn't sure what your goal was.  Is it to be able to heat up hotter than the one you currently have? 

I'm sorry that I don't read Thai or I would be able to better understand what features this oven offers that you want.  Whether it "looks" professional or not, does not necessarily matter.  All that matters is that you get what you need to do the type of baking you want to do.  That is a lot of money (if you are talking USD) for a small oven, so I am not certain where those types of oven fall in the overall schemes of cooking appliances where you are. 

So, I would make sure that you are getting what you want that can be as flexible as you want it to be and it can do what you want it to do with minimal "drama". 

Good Luck!

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

If people are keen to investigate tiles rather than baking stones it might be worth looking into oven grade fire bricks of the type used to line the floors of wood burning ovens, that is if your oven can take the weight of them which can be 8lb per brick.  You won't find them down the garden centre in the UK - you would need to go to one of the specialist suppliers listed online. Posts in oven building forums suggest they are more widely available in masonry stores in the US, less widely available in Australia.

There are different grades - those for woodburning hearth stoves are not recommended for baking, furnace grade may be too high. Those for woodburning ovens are used for baking floors and are designed to withstand thermal shock. These are sometimes described as 'medium grade'. They cost upwards of £1.50/$1.20 per brick (although prices seem to vary widely) and can come in larger sizes.

There is a very interesting primer on the Forno Bravo woodburning oven forum on using fire bricka, clay and concrete on oven floors and some interesting discussions on sourcing fire bricks in the materials section http://www.fornobravo.com/pompeii_oven/brick_primer.html and http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f44/. Unfortunately clay/terracotta comes out as cheap but likely to crack and a relatively poor conductor of heat. Fire bricks have alumina in them and this has been raised as a concern earlier in this thread, however any aluminium in the brick should be extracted in the production process. As non-food-safe clays will contain whatever the original soil contains they could contain arsenic as this is widespread (British Geological Survey recently found it is 28,000 sites around Britain). For tiles then maybe it's a case of 'choose your poison'? Some woodfired bakeries bake on fire brick. However the brick lining woodburning hearth stoves are certainly not recommended. As for me I think I'll get a stone if I can find one to fit my small oven.

Anyway - happy and safe baking everyone - may your bread rise to meet you and your stone never blow up etc!   Daisy_A

coalpines's picture
coalpines

I have found that porcelin floor tiles hold up very well as opposed to ceramic floor tile which breaks after a short time. For $3 or $4 at home depot you cant go to far wrong.

wally's picture
wally

Are you using glazed or unglazed tiles?

Larry

wdlolies's picture
wdlolies

Hi,

Richard Bertinet suggests in his book "Dough" to use a simple granite stone from your local quarry - he swears that it will do the job.

Greetings from the Wicklow Mountains (Granite)

Wolfgang

Pop N Fresh's picture
Pop N Fresh

I really LOVE my hearth Kit.  Here a link:

http://www.hearth-oven.com/

I NEVER take it out of my oven!

Robert

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Tatoosh, it looks as if it was a well thought out job. Nice to here it has work well for you, as well.

Ron

SurebetVA's picture
SurebetVA

I have an inexpensive terra cotta planter saucer I recently bought from Home Depot that I tried out last night with good results.

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xkw/R-100543096/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

I also have a regular Baking Stone made by Best I got from Sur La Table that I have used for a couple of years.

 

http://www.surlatable.com/product/pizza-bread+baking+stone.do?keyword=baking+stone&sortby=ourPicks

Both are made in the US and I couldn't tell any difference - love the results from both.  Only difference is the flower pot saucer has a lip and is round and for most projects I think I prefer the flat square stone.  With the saucer I did keep all of the corn meal inside instead of brushing some off into my oven.  I imagine I could flip the saucer upside down if I didn't want to deal with getting my boules over the lip.

Both are about 1/2" to 5/8" thick.  Anyhow, if you want to try using a baking stone for the first time and have a home depot handy you can try the saucer and see the difference it makes in your bread.  I think it was $15 and is a lot better than the really thin pizza stones sold at Target or other discount stores.

 

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

I realize I'm jumping in kind of late here, but I know of at least one pizzeria whose oven deck contains asbestos. Asbestos is actually pretty safe to use as long as the particles aren't coming loose. And it's great for high-heat applications. So while I doubt you're going to find a pizza stone containing asbestos, as long as it's not friable it should be perfectly safe.

adm's picture
adm

As per the post above.....I got my 1.5" thick granite baking stone for free from a local supplier of granite kitchen worktops. Turns out, they have loads of offcuts from making the worktops and they were happy to cut it to the exact size to fit my oven and then bevel the edges. They wouldn't take any money for it either - seemed to just be happy to show off their expensive CNC saws.

Anyway - it works great for me. I just leave it an hour to heat up fully in the oven and then slide the dough onto it. Good oven spring and good crust. It's also good for an initial steam as well - I just spray some water onto it just prior to sliding the dough in. In fact, it just lives in the oven these days - the extra thermal mass seems to work well for most types of cooking.

twcinnh's picture
twcinnh

I just put 6 of the unglazed tiles (same as in the first picture in this post) on a sheet pan and stick them in the oven. Works great. Looked up a construction store which sold tiles and such and went in. As soon as I asked if they had unglazed quarry stones I could use for baking they knew exactly what I was looking for.

Regards, Tom C

PS  During my search people often paid $.50 each.  I paid $1.00 each.  So, I'm out $12.00 for my total purchase.  Usually I only use 6.