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

how about firebrick in the oven?

From my google search, it seems firebrick can be a variety of different materials, from clay to silica (e.g. sand). My understanding is that firebrick is typically not very dense and is not meant to 'hold' heat (i.e. has a low heat content), while I think what you want for your pizza stone is something that holds a lot of heat, to stabilize the temp inside the oven.

"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

i've said this before.-- go out and find a studio potter or a classroom that does high fired pottery. then ask someone to creat a slab of stoneware about 1/4 inch thick and in the dimensions you are looking for and have them bisque it for you. you shold not have to pay much for this. i made my own in my pottery studio and use it all the time for baking jackal10's sourdough bread. works like a dream! i would volunteer to make it for people but i think the delivery cost would not make economically feasible.

good luck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

how about firebrick in the oven?

From my google search, it seems firebrick can be a variety of different materials, from clay to silica (e.g. sand). My understanding is that firebrick is typically not very dense and is not meant to 'hold' heat (i.e. has a low heat content), while I think what you want for your pizza stone is something that holds a lot of heat, to stabilize the temp inside the oven.

Firebrick is what's used in traditional wood burning ovens. If you've ever baked in one of those, you'll witness firsthand firebrick's ability to 'hold' heat, as the oven stays hot for hours after you finish heating it. When baking in a home oven with firebrick, the thermal mass is only a fraction of a wood burning oven, but the bricks stay hot for quite a while - much longer than any of the thin <1" pizza stones/quarry tiles people use.

GordonD, neither quarry tiles nor slabs of slate/marble are made for baking. All rocks have potential imperfections that could cause shards to break off when exposed to thermal duress. Soapstone, on the other hand, is extremely heat tolerant, but very very expensive.

The type of stone you choose is highly dependent on what kind of pizza you're striving for. If you want authentic Neopolitan pizza, then forget the stone and build an oven in your back yard. If you want thin crust NY style vulcan oven type of pizza, then you'll need lots of thermal mass (I recommend fire bricks). If thin crust pizza isn't your thing, then go with a a cheap pizza stone, as you don't need a lot of thermal mass for quick baking, as a thicker crust will require longer, lower temperatures to cook in the middle.

Regardless of what you choose, I think quarry tiles are a very poor choice (sorry Alton). Dough has water in it. Until that water evaporates, it's going to stay at 212 degrees. It may only be for a second or two, but you're talking about a quarry tile/slab of rock being preheated to 550, then plummeting down to 212 for a couple seconds (on the surface). That's a lot to expect of something that wasn't engineered for that purpose. Baking/pizza stones and fire bricks are made for this kind of treatment. You're not gauranteed that flaking/chiping won't occur, but your odds are a LOT better.

I wouldn't mess around here. If a piece of the quarry tile ends up in your crust and you don't find it in time, you're looking at some very expensive dental work. Believe me, I know. Fire bricks are not that much more expensive than quarry tile. Spend the extra dollar or two.

Edited by scott123 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to have firebricks, slightly more than an inch thick. They worked really well. However, they took so long to cool off that I really had to keep them in the oven all the time (I used my oven a lot, I am a bit lazy and these things were so heavy). They also took a long time to heat up. To cleen them, I would leave them in the oven on the self-clean cycle (once their weight just bent the grill during cleaning).

I now use untreated marble tiles, a bit thicker and heavier than quarry tiles. They work well, are more practical as they cool down faster and are lighter so I can take them out. My oven is no longer self clean so I don't put the breads directly on the stone (it puts too much flour in the oven). I just put the breads on parchment or aluminum paper.

When making pizza, a pizza stone works well. With breads or baguettes however, I find they are not large enough. With tiles (or bricks) it is easy to make them cover a larger area in the oven.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone knows what this stone is made of?

I could tell you for sure if I could see it closer. But if I had to guess from that picture, I'd guess it was granite, and that the black flecks are mica crystals. Check out this picture of El Capitan granite from Yosemite, and compare for yourself.

"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

Firebricks take so long to cool down because they have very poor thermal conductivity. I'm not a pizza expert but my understanding was that the point of a stone was that it had better conductivity than air so you get a properly cooked bottom.

PS: I am a guy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Firebricks take so long to cool down because they have very poor thermal conductivity. I'm not a pizza expert but my understanding was that the point of a stone was that it had better conductivity than air so you get a properly cooked bottom.

The idea of a stone in a regular home oven is that the stone actually has poor thermal conductivity and high thermal mass: think of it a storage vessel for heat. For thin crust pizza at home, you want the stone to be the driving force in cooking your pizza. After heat-up, when open the oven door and throw a pizza, the stone's resistance to conducting heat quickly and it's thermal mass allow it to resist a drop in temperature. So, if the stone was 500degF before opening the door, it will drop to only, say 490degF by the time you close the door again. The oven racks and the air temperature may have fallen by nearly 100degF. So, now, the crust will sit comfortably over a 490degF heat reservoir that has plenty of driving force to provide heat and quickly turn the moisture in the dough to steam very quickly. Result is a crisp crust.

Keep in mind, also, that because the stones are poor thermal conductors, you want to heat them in the oven for a long time prior to baking (usually an hour). If not, you will not have filled the thermal reservoir, per se, and the performance will suffer.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stephen is right. The contained energy in the preheated stone is the primary source for cooking the pizza. Although the oven provides some convective/radiative heat, the lion's share is conductive heat stored in the stone. That intense heat from below gives your crust excellent oven spring, cooks the crust quickly so it doesn't dry it out and bubbles the cheese rather than browning the top.

The thicker the stone, the more thermal mass. The more thermal mass, the greater the thermal reservior, the more contained heat you have to cook with.

A thick enough stone pre-heated sufficiently should store enough energy in it to bake a pizza all by itself. In other words, you could turn the oven off when you put the pizza in and the pizza would still cook.

If you're a real pizza fanatic like myself, you build yourself not just a ceramic hearth, but a ceramic ceiling as well, to recreate the qualities of a Vulcan pizza oven. That gives you stored heat from below and above.

Edited by scott123 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're a real pizza fanatic like myself, you build yourself not just a ceramic hearth, but a ceramic ceiling as well, to recreate the qualities of a Vulcan pizza oven. That gives you stored heat from below and above.

Is this just a matter of putting in two stones, one on each rack, letting them come up to temperature and then sliding the pizza onto the stone on the lower rack? Or is there more to it than that? I have thought of trying this approach but I haven't yet because I only have one stone.

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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.

Bakerboy, I live in N.E. Pa and have been looking for a piece of soapstone to make a griddle for my gas stove. Should you have an insight of where I can get one please let me know.

Polack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone knows what this stone is made of?

I could tell you for sure if I could see it closer. But if I had to guess from that picture, I'd guess it was granite, and that the black flecks are mica crystals. Check out this picture of El Capitan granite from Yosemite, and compare for yourself.

From memory it looks very close to the "pierrade" we had at home. Do you think it

would make a good pizza stone?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone knows what this stone is made of?

I could tell you for sure if I could see it closer. But if I had to guess from that picture, I'd guess it was granite, and that the black flecks are mica crystals. Check out this picture of El Capitan granite from Yosemite, and compare for yourself.

From memory it looks very close to the "pierrade" we had at home. Do you think it

would make a good pizza stone?

I really don't have enough experience with pizza stones to say one way or the other. Sorry! I've only used a commercial pizza stone made of cordierite. But I would assume that the relevant properties of granite are similar enough to other stones that it could be used as a pizza stone.

"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

So then why bother cooking directly on the stone? Obviously, thermal mass is important but if that's all the stone is providing then just keep the stone on the bottom rack and put the pizza anywhere you like.

Besides, I find that a stone adds a trival amounts of thermal mass for something as small as a pizza. With modern ovens, as long as you allow the walls to pre-heat, very little heat is lost. Using my oven thermometer, opening and closing the door drops the temp by about 10C, with a stone, it drops 5 - 7C. Neither of which will be disaterous to a pizza.

Big roasts and other large, cold things do benifit from the stone though.

PS: I am a guy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone tried a HearthKit? Kinda pricey, but it looks like it should retain lots of heat. Though the double pizza stone idea is much less expensive....

I had a HearthKit and it worked just fine but I then got a different oven.

The plumber who installed my new oven wanted the old one with the HearthKit, which wouldn't fit in my new one so I traded it for the labor.

It did great bread and also wonderful for casseroles, roasts, etc., maintained heat in the oven perfectly.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're a real pizza fanatic like myself, you build yourself not just a ceramic hearth, but a ceramic ceiling as well, to recreate the qualities of a Vulcan pizza oven. That gives you stored heat from below and above.

Is this just a matter of putting in two stones, one on each rack, letting them come up to temperature and then sliding the pizza onto the stone on the lower rack? Or is there more to it than that? I have thought of trying this approach but I haven't yet because I only have one stone.

That's it precisely. Although I'm very anti-quarry tile for hearth baking, for the ceiling quarry tile work fine, as they aren't exposed to the same type of thermal shock as the hearth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So then why bother cooking directly on the stone? Obviously, thermal mass is important but if that's all the stone is providing then just keep the stone on the bottom rack and put the pizza anywhere you like.

Besides, I find that a stone adds a trival amounts of thermal mass for something as small as a pizza. With modern ovens, as long as you allow the walls to pre-heat, very little heat is lost. Using my oven thermometer, opening and closing the door drops the temp by about 10C, with a stone, it drops 5 - 7C. Neither of which will be disaterous to a pizza.

Big roasts and other large, cold things do benifit from the stone though.

Pizza stones are for conductive baking - direct transfer of heat. Think of the difference between holding your hand 2" above a red hot element and holding your hand on the element itself. That's the difference between convective/radiative heat and conductive. Thin crust pizzas need very intense heat or they'll cook too long and get dry rather than moist/puffy/chewy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a timely thread here as I have just picked up a 1/2 inch thick marble tabletop...

gallery_16643_1028_4669.jpg

...that I thought I could clean up and use for a pizza stone. It is 14 inches wide. My questions to those who might be in-the-know are:

1) Will the holes screw things up?

2) With what agent should I clean the surface?

3) One side seems shiny (shown) and the other side is rough/unfinished.

I think the shiny side is just finely polished. I don't detect a chemical surface. The other side is rougher and unpolished. I took some dough out of the freezer last night so I'm game to try tsomething tonight. The Pizza Stone. Give It To me thread from RichardK was very helpful. I read the whole bloody thing so I'm having Pizza with or without this thing...

Any thoughts?

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Exactly, since firebricks are such poor conductors of heat, I'm guessing they would work worse than ceramics.

A poor conductor can conduct heat very effectively if there's heat already in it. Because of it's poor conductivity, it takes forever for firebricks/ceramics to get blazing hot, but once they do, they stay blazing hot and transfer that heat quite effectively to items in contact with it.

I baked pizzas for many years on aluminum cookie sheets, always wondering why my pizzas were never as good as what pizzerias produce. The lack of a baking stone was the reason. Aluminum is a great conductor - it doesn't store heat like fire brick or ceramics do. Without the stored heat of a stone and direct contact of the dough with the stone, you're talking 12+ minutes for a pizza - too long.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is it about soapstone that makes it uniquely suitable for baking? Did you try marble at some point, and if so, what was the problem? I was kind of hoping Johnny would experiment and let us know how it worked.

"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

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...