The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Paving stone in oven?

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woefulbaker's picture
woefulbaker

Paving stone in oven?

Like others here, I'm sure, I saw an episode of Alton Brown's TV show recommending a 'quarry tile' for use as a baking stone. Having checked Homebase (DIY store) I found the following:

Standard Paving stone (materials unspecified - looks like reconstituted something or other)

Limestone Paving

Sandstone Paving (I get the feeling this would be a baaad choice)

Bricks (common garden variety)

Which (if any) would be the most suitable for placing in a (domestic) oven? 

StephenJ's picture
StephenJ

The usual recommendation is for *unglazed* red clay quarry tile. often available at tile stores. I bought a stone from one of the baking catalogs to save the trouble of looking for the tiles and making sure they fit, etc. I don't think the tile I purchased is that expensive to warrant other choices. I leave it in the oven and it is easy as a tray to remove if necessary.

bakerb's picture
bakerb

A long time ago before I began to make Alton's Very Basic Bread, I purchase an unglazed terra cotta drain dish (per his suggestion), I used it upsidedown (per his suggestion), it worked fine, but I was limited by the shape, so now I bought a baking stone, which works the same, but gives me more room...Beth 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

If there's a Home Depot in your area, they carry unglazed quarry tile A tile store probably would have them as well. A 14' x 16" baking stone runs about $40. Unlgazed quarry tiles are maybe a buck each, depending on the size.

suave's picture
suave

I was in Home Depot the other week so I checked - $1.32/sqft - that's 33 cents per 6x6 tile.

woefulbaker's picture
woefulbaker

Thanks.

Sounds like clay tile is the way to go. 

We have the equivalent of Home Depot in the UK (B&Q or Homebase) so I shall go looksee. 

I didn't see any clay tiles in Homebase when I was there this evening but they may just be out of stock.

 

JERSK's picture
JERSK

  Sandstone probably wouldn't be such a bad choice. Some baking stones are made of it. it depends on the finish.

Oldcampcook's picture
Oldcampcook

My Home Depot cut my tiles to size for me for 50 cents a cut.  So take your interior oven measurements with you.  I would allow some air circulation area on all sides.

I put the tiles in an old cookie (baking) sheet, so I can take them out easily any time I need to.

Bob

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I will just repeat my usual caution here. I worked for a number of years for a manufacturer of industrial and commercial refractory, and I am familiar with the manufacturing processes and materials that make up such. Based on that knowledge I personally would not cook food on any refractory material that does not have an MSDS stating that it is safe for contact with food. And I would think twice about using anything without an MSDS even for thermal mass.

sPh

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

and why is it important?

sphealey's picture
sphealey

A MSDS is a Material Safety Data Sheet. From Wikipedia:

==========

A material safety data sheet (MSDS) is a form containing data regarding the properties of a particular substance. An important component of product stewardship and workplace safety, it is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill handling procedures. The exact format of an MSDS can vary from source to source.

MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are a widely used system for cataloging information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. MSDS information may include instructions for the safe use and potential hazards associated with a particular material or product. MSDS can be found anywhere chemicals are being used.

There is also a duty to properly label substances on the basis of physico-chemical, health and/or environmental risk. Labels include hazard symbols such as the Saint Andrew's Cross (a black diagonal cross on an orange background which is used in the European Union to denote a harmful or irritant substance).

=========

The MSDS for the products made by my current employer (which are not refractories), for example, states that they are certified for home and commercial food use where appropriate.

sPh

suave's picture
suave

I general I agree with you - MSDS are dead useful, but I've seen how they are put together by my employer and in our case it is a mix of wishful thinking and educated guess, although what we make is never meant to go anywhere near food.

I do use quarry tiles, but always with parchment paper, and true sign of safety to me is the NSF seal. 

camochef's picture
camochef

Why make everything complicated, Wal-Mart has baking stones for around $7.00, as does farberware  stores. Personally, I've done away with the two I had in my oven and use either a cloche or stoneware long baker, both available from King Arthur's and a lot better than just a baking stone. They both allow you to soak the tops which then produces steam on your loafs the same way as if you steamed your gas oven, which can cause your hot baking stone to shatter!

camochef

LindyD's picture
LindyD

The cloche and long baker appear to be very nice tools, albeit pricey at $50 each. I personally prefer multi-taskers and the flat stones work well for a variety of breads and produce a nice pizza crust as well.

Camochef, can you get a few baguettes in the long baker or is it a one-loaf tool?

 

camochef's picture
camochef

LindyD,

  Sorry for taking so long to respond, have been down with the flu! The long baker is a one-loaf tool, but you can fit more than one at a time in the oven. Thus far,(about 4 years), they've held up for me, whereas the flat stones don't last very long before shattering. Have gone through a number of them, thus making the long baker and cloche actually cheaper! Add to that the fact that I've never burnt myself using them, and have recieved numerous burns trying to spray water into hot ovens,(which causes stones to shatter), and I'll forsake the "Multitaskers"

  I find I get a very nice pizza crust using air-pans in a very hot pre-heated oven, (must pre-heat for at least half-hour)!

  Good baking however you decide to go!

Camo

chez-jude's picture
chez-jude

At Home Depot, I purchased two 12x12 unglazed Saltillo tiles (.88 each). Having not premeasured, when I got home I discovered my oven was only 20" wide. So, thanks for the tip about having HD make a cut.

I went back and purchased six 6x6 (.44 each), and arranged them 2x3 and they've working beautifully.

I asked at the store whether they were safe for baking. They couldn't offer any info, so thank you for the warning to use parchment paper.

maxamilliankolbe's picture
maxamilliankolbe

I can't remember now the manufacturer of the tiles I purchased from Home Depot, but they were the 6x6 unglazed quarry tiles, and were something like .40 a piece.  I looked up the manufacturer online and got their phone number.  I gave them a call and asked them regarding the stones whether they were food safe.  They had me give them the product code (or some set of numbers) and they said they were food safe.  They seemed to know what they were talking about as well as seemed to have had more than a few calls with the same question.  If you want to make sure, find the manufacturer's information.  Home Depot's purchasing department should be able to hook you up with the number, I imagine, as well.

 

MK 

zhi.ann's picture
zhi.ann

I wanted to start baking good breads, so I'd planned to look around for a terra cotta type stone, but maybe that wouldn't be safe?? I live in a rural area in China so don't have access to baking equipment like baking stones, peels, that kind of thing, so I'm questioning my past consideration of buying that Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book that otherwise sounds like it would work so well...

 any tips?

siuflower's picture
siuflower

I think you can buy the traditional Chinese ceramic pot with wide opening and lid, try to get the big one about 5-6 quart size. Bake your bread with the lid on  and the result will very close to baking in a cast iron Dutch oven.  Try it and let me know how it come out.

Eli's picture
Eli

I read the ad located at the bottom of one of the pages here on TFL. Forno Bravo advertisement. Can you get the firestones at the local Lowe's or HDpt? I will look and post later. Hmmm.

w's picture
w

   I've tried unglazed quarry tile, they don't work that well and frequently break. A superior fix is split fire brick, the nominal dimensions are 4X8X1, actual dimensions slightly larger. This is what Wing and Scott use in the construction of their bread  ovens. They are excellent for holding and releasing heat. you must heat them up for 1 hour before placing bread in oven.   The "split" bricks are thinner and sharply cut, take up less room in your oven. They can be purchased at a Mason supply store, cost is about $1 each, my oven required 16 for top and bottom. I begin baking on parchment then remove paper half way through and go directly on stones, great crust and crumb. I make my dough really wet and sticky, add steam by wetting top of loaf and adding 6 ice cubes to tray on bottom of stove. Open oven only once in baking process to rotate loaf and remove parchment.    

josordoni's picture
josordoni

It's not so easy here in the UK. I've been searching for a nice oblong baking stone, but can't find one anywhere, online or off :(  Best I can find is a round pizza stone, but that isn't ideal as I like to make batards rather than boules. 

If anyone in the UK has found anything useful, please let me know!

 

dougal's picture
dougal

I have a square of granite from a tile shop.

I may go back and get another bit - another tile plus £1 for a cut - to make the baking surface the same size as the oven shelves. My thinking is that that should leave enough free space to the sides - the tile is just about right for front to back depth (same as the oven shelf).

Its Indian granite, cost under £4 IIRC and has been polished on one side. I use the rough one as the top.

Thinking about it, darker would have been better - to heat up faster. But its acquiring its own 'patina'. Thicker would be even better, but as it is, its better than the round £15 pizza stone I bought in a kitchenware shop a few years ago.

I've heard that thicker stuff can be obtained as offcuts from 'granite kitchen worktop' suppliers - and - don't laugh - monumental masons (grave headstone type people!)

Thicker would mean longer to heat, but also more 'power' after the bread hits it...

josordoni's picture
josordoni

Hi Dougal, you reckon that it doesn't matter it wasn't intended for food? 

dougal's picture
dougal

Its stone, and after its been washed down well, dried and then heated to the oven maximum for an hour, its going to be pretty sterile.

 

You don't want anything that has any sort of varnish or glaze on it. Plain stone should be fine.

 

The thing that would worry me greatly would be any sort of imitation or 'reconstituted' stone. That way lies cement dust and similar nasties that I don't want to be eating.

But a bit of real stone, without cracks or obvious weaknesses, should be fine.

If you'll pardon the geology, I'd say that any igneous or metamorphic rock should be fine - because they were made by heat that makes a bread oven look chilly. So, granite, marble, slate, fine. Not so sure about sedimentary rock, like limestone or sanstone since these were not heat-formed. They'd probably be dustier at the very least.  

Similarly while clay tiles should do the job very well, I'd be bothered that the manufacturer would be very tempted to 'improve' his product, with a bit of cement...

 

If you are dealing with a stonecutter, you could try asking him to smooth off ("profile"?) any sharp edges. Apart from being safer for you, it should also help to prevent the edge chipping.  

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

My "stone" is made of Cast Iron. :) It is your basic garden variety cast iron griddle that fits over two burners or goes inside your BBQ grill. It's less inexpensive than a baking stone, hold heat better than any baking stone and heats up faster to boot. Plus I never have to worry about it cracking or braking because I spilled some water on it.

dougal thanks for the marble/granite tip. I purchased my granite slab from a food supply store and it is basically my kneading "board". Didn't even occur to me that I can use it in the oven.

Rudy
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My TFL Blog Page

howy61's picture
howy61

Just bought 4 tiles at Lowes for $1.50 each. They do not use the term quarry tile. Try asking for unfinished mexican tile or Saltillo. HD had nothing and I tried several tile stores and no one appears to have anything larger than 12x12 any more.


Instead of an oven, I use a three burner NG grill which easily holds a temp of 600 F. Trust me, that extra 100 degrees makes all the difference for Pizza. Thin crust cooks in 4 minutes flat.


Whether using tiles or a stone, buying a small wooden pizza peel is even more important if you are going to do 2 pizza or more quickly and cook directly on the tile/stone with corn meal.


As to the split fire bricks, they are excellent for thermal mass and insulation. I lined the firebox of my smoker with them. However, I would not want to cook directly on them nor would I use "Pavers" since most of them are made of cement. Best to stay with good old fashion clay.