Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Baking / Pizza stones


vox
 Share

Recommended Posts

i'm about to start some serious adventures in bread baking.

with that in mind, i'm interested in getting baking stones for my oven. now, i've read from a few sources (nancy silverton being one) that you can use unglazed ceramic tiles.

what thickness should they be?

is ceramic different from clay?

will a hardware store be able to provide me with food-safe materials?

or am i just better off getting a pizza stone?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always use a pizza stone and I'm really happy with the results. I've tried unglazed tiles but the result was not as good, though I have to add that the tiles I was able to find were pretty thin. I'd imagine thickness is quite important for the tiles/stone to keep the temperature they've been heated to.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Six to nine unglazed tiles (less than a buck each at Home Depot) will be enough to cover the bottom rack of most ovens. There have been one or two extensive threads here discussing various materials that may perform better, but the effect from these cheap tiles is striking. You might want to try doing a search.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Check out this discussion on the

Pizza Peel Thread

slkinsey strongly recommends a 1" thick piee of soapstone as the best possible thign for home baking of bread or pizza but scroll to the middle fo the first page on that thread and check out scott123's idea. he suggest using fire brick, which is way cheap and available through (I think) masonry supply houses. It is very heavy and bulky bu the thermal mass is significant.

I was using a 1/2" thick pizza stone but passed that on to my brother and got a nice 3/4" thick stone at a local Italian imports store. It was about $30 - $35 and wel worth it. In addition to being usable on both sides (my previous stone could only be used on the top), it seems to work better due to the additional thermal mass.

Note of caution. leave it in the oven all the tiem and if you ever pul it out for any reason - wait until it's totally cooled off to room temp before doing so. My brother pulled out the stone with the bread onto a cooling racj rather than just using a peel to remove the bread. His stone promptly cracked across one corner due to the shock of the air temperature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just use the small quarry tiles from Home Depot. My oven is desperately small, and the extra size of a 1/2 or 3/4" stone (or fire bricks) would reduce my space considerably. I've found that they do make a big difference, though.

For example, yesterday, I was baking two loaves of bread. After 35 minutes (their expected baking times), they were golden on top, but pallid on the sides, so I popped them out of the loaf pans and onto the hot tiles. 5 minutes later, they were perfect. Just that extra heat held in the tiles did it.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used cheap tiles from Home Depot for years. I finally broke down and bought one of these from the Fibrament people because I was tired of messing around with broken tiles and it really did make a huge difference. My pizze cook in around 4 - 5 minutes, which they never did with quarry tiles.

regards,

trillium

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if youcan find a friendly potter, you can have them roll or throw a baking stone. i am into pottery and have made many baking stones round and square for friends and neighbors. i only bisque them to 1800 degrees F so they are still porous. i am making all of my sourdough breads on them-recipe courtesy of egullet cullinary class. the results are excellent look around and see who you can find. if they won;t do them for free i am sure it won't cost too much.

aliénor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used cheap tiles from Home Depot for years.  I finally broke down and bought one of these from the Fibrament people because I was tired of messing around with broken tiles and it really did make a huge difference.  My pizze cook in around 4 - 5 minutes, which they never did with quarry tiles.

regards,

trillium

Trillium, how long do you have to preheat this stone?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used cheap tiles from Home Depot for years.  I finally broke down and bought one of these from the Fibrament people because I was tired of messing around with broken tiles and it really did make a huge difference.  My pizze cook in around 4 - 5 minutes, which they never did with quarry tiles.

regards,

trillium

Trillium, how long do you have to preheat this stone?

I preheat it until a analog thermometer I place on the stone reads 550 F. That usually takes around an hour.

regards,

trillium

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been using unglazed quarry tiles for at least 15 years and have never broken one. The ones I have I got at a tile store and are 8"x8". The man cut several to fit my oven of the time. Don't spend alot of money on something. Remeber, your using a home oven and, if your like me, you've been cursed with some pretty lousey ones over the years! Good luck! You can get lots of advice about bread baking here so ask away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't realize that Fibrament sold to the public. That stuff is amazing and worth the money. It is like a food-safe version of industrial refractory and designed to survive pretty significant stresses due to temperature shocking. Depending on how serious you get with baking, you may want to get two (one to place the loaf on and one above) to increase the thermal mass of your home oven even more.

I would suggest that heating at least an hour for any stone or tile is wise. To realize the stone's benefit, you want the maximum thermal energy stored. To do this, you need the stone to be uniformly at temperature through to the core. For baking bread, the thermal mass stored in the stone will ensure that the oven temp recovers quickly after the door is opened. For thin crust pizza, you care a bit less about oven temp recovery and more about having a reservoir of thermal mass to keep the surface in contact with the crust very hot so it cooks quickly and doesn't get soggy.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah. I didn't want to get into any physics pissing contests, but this stuff acts differently then the tiles I was using. I'm pretty cheap when it comes to buying things, and I was totally annoyed that I waited so long to buy the Fibrament. I mostly bought it due to one guy that really loved it on rec.food.equipment and would rave about it any chance he got.

regards,

trillium

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't want to get into any physics pissing contests

Nerds like me never miss an opportunity to begin or continue (but never end) a good physics pissing contest.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yay, I finally got my tiles. They're Metropolitan Ceramics Mayflour Red quarry tiles. I was initially worried about the the Crystalline Silica in them, but I contacted Customer Service, and they said it was was fine for baking.

When cutting the tiles it will produce the dust, but it will not give any

dangerous chemicals when baking.  You may bake on it in an oven.  It will

not harm the tile because we fire it at such a high temperature.  You can

bake bread or pizza on it and it really makes a nice crust.  Enjoy!!!

Now I have a question on the placement of the tiles. Should I place them on the rack or floor of my oven? My racks are pretty flimsy, and I'm not too sure about how much it can support.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

The other night on "Good Eats," Alton Brown recommended skipping the Pizza stones sold in kitchen stores in favor of a much cheaper unglazed quarry stone from your local hardware store.

All such items at my local Home Depot were cut way too small to be of any use.

Then it occured to me, I live in a heavy quarrying area. I know they have a different composition, but would a hunk of marble or slate swiped from a local slag heap do the same sort of job?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The short answer is that anything that will increase the thermal mass of your oven without breaking into smithereens when heated is fair game. Oh, and it should be large enough (in total or in parts) to be able to cary a pizza crust or a loaf of bread.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your unimpressed with quarry tiles, and some that you find in the "home depots" are a bit thin for my likeing, try seeing if any of the quarrys in your area will cut you a piece of soapstone to fit your oven. its a bit more expensive but its usually sold in thicker pieces than quarry tile and i like that.

...and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce it tastes alot more like prunes than rhubarb does. groucho

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe you could rig something up with 4 or more smaller tiles on top of a baking sheet. You'd have to find some way to keep the surface level though.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The short answer is that anything that will increase the thermal mass of your oven without breaking into smithereens when heated is fair game.

So, does anybody know if marble or slate fits that bill? My chemistry/physics knowledge is a bit lacking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When procuring something like this that was intended for construction or some other purpose, I'd probably have some concerns about the possibility that it might have been treated in some way. I think I'd definitely scrub it well, and would probably soak it for at least 24 hours to see if anything would leach out.

As a former geology major (and if there are any real geologists in the group, by all means, jump in here), I can tell you that sometimes rock masses can be porous. And knowing that in some places, groundwater is contaminated, I'd wonder whether any of that contaminated groundwater might have run through those pores.

These concerns may be considerably overblown. I'd have to talk to a few local geologists to see what they would think.

Also, with a material like marble, it's possible ("possible" being the important term here) that a vein running through the slab could create a weak point, along which the slab might tend to break if it encountered certain types of shock. Again, a real geologist would have a far more valuable opinion of the likelihood of this, than mine. But such a break would be almost guaranteed to happen at a really bad time, causing maximum damage and injury. That's Murphy's law, and I feel comfortable stating it with certainty. :biggrin:

Meanwhile, a good pizza stone could be had for under $25.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a former geology major (and if there are any real geologists in the group, by all means, jump in here), I can tell you that sometimes rock masses can be porous.  And knowing that in some places, groundwater is contaminated, I'd wonder whether any of that contaminated groundwater might have run through those pores.

These concerns may be considerably overblown.  I'd have to talk to a few local geologists to see what they would think.

I don't have a degree in geology, but I have studied geology for several years on my own, and would not be much concerned about the this possibility. Slate and marble are both sedimentary metamorphic rocks -- slate is the metamorphosed version of shale and marble the metamorphosed version of limestone. Metamorphosed rocks have been exposed to high pressures and or temperatures, and thus have very little internal pore space left, and thus very little capacity to hold water. I find it highly unlikely that any small amont of water held in pore spaces in these rocks could present any kind of health risk.

EDIT to add that there are also very few places in the US were groundwater contamination is so bad that the small exposure you'd recieve from a pizza stone (probably >1ml) would produce an adverse effect.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

how about firebrick in the oven?

As a former geology major (and if there are any real geologists in the group, by all means, jump in here), I can tell you that sometimes rock masses can be porous.  And knowing that in some places, groundwater is contaminated, I'd wonder whether any of that contaminated groundwater might have run through those pores.

These concerns may be considerably overblown.  I'd have to talk to a few local geologists to see what they would think.

I don't have a degree in geology, but I have studied geology for several years on my own, and would not be much concerned about the this possibility. Slate and marble are both sedimentary metamorphic rocks -- slate is the metamorphosed version of shale and marble the metamorphosed version of limestone. Metamorphosed rocks have been exposed to high pressures and or temperatures, and thus have very little internal pore space left, and thus very little capacity to hold water. I find it highly unlikely that any small amont of water held in pore spaces in these rocks could present any kind of health risk.

EDIT to add that there are also very few places in the US were groundwater contamination is so bad that the small exposure you'd recieve from a pizza stone (probably >1ml) would produce an adverse effect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...