The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Baking stone alternatives

algebread's picture

Baking stone alternatives

I've never made baguettes and was thinking about giving them a try; however, I usually bake my loaves in a pot, which will not fit a baguette. While I'm willing to get a baking stone if I decide to make baguettes regularly, I would rather not commit to storing one until I know for sure that I will use it regularly.

Q1: In the meantime, are there good make-shift alternatives to baking stones?

I thought a stack of a few preheated aluminum sheet pans might somehow act like a baking steel? Or if I put a single thin sheet pan on top of a couple of preheated upside-down cast iron frying pans?


Using a pot means that steam generation is also not usually a concern of mine. Given that I don't have ready access to lava rocks, I was going to use either a cast iron pan with ice or Sylvia's wet towel method.

Q2: Is the amount of steam generated by these methods noticably different? Also any other suggestions for steam generation are welcome.

Thank you!

idaveindy's picture

Re: "make-do".  Yes, any thermal mass you can put under the baking sheet/cookie sheet.  But if there is not uniform contact between the cooking surface and the "things" under it, you'll get hot spots and cool spots.  The sheet pan, or cookie sheet, by itself might work.  

user "alfanso", is the baguette king around here. So check out his posts.


More stuff:

1a.  I've seen cordierite pizza stones in the US $10 to $14 range at my local Aldi, Big Lots, and Tuesday Morning stores. I have 2 of them.  about 1/4" thick.

1b. I bought a large " travertine tile" at a home improvement store.  But it has all sorts of "fills" filling in the natural void spots.  I am unsure if the fill material outgases anything.  Used it only once, with parchment paper on it. Cost under US $5.   Travertine tile was mentioned several times in youtube videos, but I don't know if I should trust its safety, as far as giving off fumes.

1c. I bought a 24" by 12" black granite floor tile, no fills, one side polished, the other smooth but not polished.  Under $5 at a flooring specialty store.  I need to cut this down with the cutting wheel of an angle grinder in order for it to fit in the oven.  Have not done so yet.  Will cut off 2 "strips" to make 2"x10" pieces, and re-arrange the 3  pieces into an overall 20"x14" surface.  As long as there are no fills, it should not outgas, or so I reckon. It's supposed to be natural granite, not synthetic.

2. I use an ancient beat up aluminum roasting pan, about 18" by 10" by 1.5" deep when I steam.  And pour in 1 cup (approx 118 ml) of boiling water.  The water is all converted to steam fairly quickly.  

algebread's picture

Thank you for the many suggestions---the floor tiles are a great idea that I will look into once it is safe to go out again (seems like one can get them in more sizes than baking stones as well).

Paging through alfanso's many loaves was a big part of the reason I wanted to give some baguettes a try.

idaveindy's picture

I don't want to leave you with the impression that "floor tiles" will work.  They won't.  They will off-gas and poison you.

What I bought, and still intend to use (but haven't yet) is a piece of granite that was sold as floor tile, in a flooring store. And just as important, there are "no fills."  Granite or marble with "fills" will poison you as the epoxy filling off-gasses when it is heated.

Any tiles with glazing or not cut from natural stone or made with food-safe clay, will make you very sick, and could kill you.  Porcelain type tiles from a home-improvement store are a definite no-no for baking.

Fortunately, I contacted a couple manufacturers before heating up some of my test purchases. ;-)  

The _only_ items above that I regularly bake on are the $10/$14 cordierite pizza baking stones.  (The travertine was tested only once, and I'm iffy about it.  The granite one has not even been tested.) 

algebread's picture

Got it! I'll do my best to avoid poisoning myself, probably by just using something intended for food.

Thank you

dablues's picture

I have a regular baking stone and steel baking stone, and I use the steel more than the heavier one, and works well for me.

MTloaf's picture

A lot depends on how well your oven seals up. A gas range vents too much and so does a convection oven. An overturned sheet pan will work for a stone but the mass of a real stone does help. The key is to keep the humidity high for 7 or 8 minutes. I have been pouring boiling water in a sheet pan on the top rack of the oven and getting a blast of steam when the oven door is opened after 10 minutes. YRMV

algebread's picture

My impression is that my oven is fairly well-vented, but pouring boiling water into a pan seems like a nice low-effort thing to try on a first go, so maybe I will give that a shot.