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Baking stones and pan of water


Kim Shook
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My dad asked me a question that I had never thought about before and I realized that I really didn't know the answer. Regarding baking a crusty loaf of bread, he asked: "If you're using a stone does it help to also put a pan of water in the bottom of the stove, to develop more crust? That seems to defeat the idea of the stone." I have always used both the water in a pan and the stone, but is he right? Should I just use one or the other?

Thanks in advance!

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I use both, the steam in the early stages of baking help produce a crusty loaf. Commercial ovens quite often have a steam injection system that is used for the early stages of the baking.

Kind regards

Bill

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use both. The stone acts as a reservoir of heat and helps keep the oven hotter even after you open the oven, put the dough in, etc.

It also assures better browning of the bottom of the bread.

The water pan creates steam which softens the crust and allows for more oven spring and a better crust.

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You need a burst of superheated steam at the beginning of the bake. After about the first minute or two its pointless, even a disadvanatge. THe steam gelatanises the surface starch to give the crisp but thin crust.

Put an empty thick (e.g. cast iron) pan in the oven to pre-heat. Professional ovens have cast iron plates.

When you put in the dough throw a cup of water into the hot pan (care hot steam) and shut the door. The water evaporates instantly to give the burst of steam.

The stone does a different job, It acts as a heat reservoir, and gives good thermal contact to the bottom of the loaf. The bottom heat souffles the dough and helps the bread rise.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I agree with the stone + steam at the beginning combo. I only posted to add that if I'm looking for an even crisper crust, I'll prop the oven door open slightly with the back of a wooden spoon during the last 3-4 minutes to let any remaining steam escape.

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  • 4 weeks later...

One thing that I can't seem to control is the burning of the bottom my loaves. They start burning on the bottom long before they are done. Sourdough, ciabatta, white bread, they all seem to get small (about 1/2 inch diameter) burn spots from the direct contact w/ the stone. Is this a common thing?

To solve this I usually put the oven rack back in 1/2 way through and move them to the rack.

For my stone I am using a 2ft.^2 peice of natural stone i picked up from my local home depot.

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For my stone I am using a 2ft.^2 peice of natural stone i picked up from my local home depot.

Natural stone? What type of rock is it? If it isn't soapstone, I'd track down a more suitable material for baking.

Scott123 can you elaborate a bit? I want to get a tile from a local hardware store to bake my pizzas on, but am unsure of which are most suitable/least toxic(!). Sorry if i'm veering the original question off topic; I think there was an thread devoted to which tiles are best, but can't find it.

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One thing that I can't seem to control is the burning of the bottom my loaves. They start burning on the bottom long before they are done. Sourdough, ciabatta, white bread, they all seem to get small (about 1/2 inch diameter) burn spots from the direct contact w/ the stone. Is this a common thing?

To solve this I usually put the oven rack back in 1/2 way through and move them to the

This started happening to me when we got a new oven, and I finally figured out it was because the stone had to be in the upper third of our new oven or it got too hot. I kept it near the bottom of our old oven so there'd be more room, and it worked out fine, but our new oven was somehow different.

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When I bake bread in my small, electric oven (otherwise know as "my goddamned toy oven"), I bake it in the center. I have a square stone from the Baker's Catalogue and I only rarely take it out -- just when I have to move the racks around and the stone gets in the way, which has happened only a handful of times in five years.

I suppose the stone is actually sitting on the rack which would normally be considered the lower third of the oven, but the stone elevates the level to nearly the center.

Anyway, I bake a lot of bread, I preheat my oven at 550 degrees for at least an hour before I bake and then turn it down to roughly 475 to bake. The bread never burns. It bakes more quickly, but it never burns.

My loaves are almost exclusively sourdoughs, which many folks suggest work better with higher heat, but I bake one commercially-yeasted dough the same way with the same results.

I can't imagine baking without a stone. I suppose I might worry about burning if I didn't.

I guess that's all meant to strongly urge you to invest in a stone. And then simply leave it in the oven. There's really no reason to take it out, unless you need to shuffle stuff for space and it gets in the way.

Still, that's not to say you won't have to experiment with placement in your own oven.

[edited for clarification....]

Edited by devlin (log)
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One thing that I can't seem to control is the burning of the bottom my loaves. They start burning on the bottom long before they are done. Sourdough, ciabatta, white bread, they all seem to get small (about 1/2 inch diameter) burn spots from the direct contact w/ the stone. Is this a common thing?

To solve this I usually put the oven rack back in 1/2 way through and move them to the rack.

For my stone I am using a 2ft.^2 peice of natural stone i picked up from my local home depot.

Ed, is your stone quite wide? Where is the heat source in your oven? I'm wondering if it's blocking the circulation of heat in the oven...

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One thing that I can't seem to control is the burning of the bottom my loaves. They start burning on the bottom long before they are done. Sourdough, ciabatta, white bread, they all seem to get small (about 1/2 inch diameter) burn spots from the direct contact w/ the stone. Is this a common thing?

To solve this I usually put the oven rack back in 1/2 way through and move them to the rack.

For my stone I am using a 2ft.^2 peice of natural stone i picked up from my local home depot.

Ed, is your stone quite wide? Where is the heat source in your oven? I'm wondering if it's blocking the circulation of heat in the oven...

Actually I have the opposite problem even with a stone. The outside browns much quicker than the bottom. Can it be rectified by just lowering temperature and baking for longer or is there perhaps a better way?

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Normally you bake the bread directly on the stone. I've also used parchment paper between the loaf and stone (which I learned from pizza making) which helps avoid any accidents when sliding the loaf into the oven - you put the loaf on the parchment and slide the lot onto the stone.

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For my stone I am using a 2ft.^2 peice of natural stone i picked up from my local home depot.

Natural stone? What type of rock is it? If it isn't soapstone, I'd track down a more suitable material for baking.

The type of stone is Travertine. I bought it under the impression that any type of natural/unglazed stone is fine for oven use. Is there any reason why soapstone is the only suitable baking stone?

One thing that I can't seem to control is the burning of the bottom my loaves. They start burning on the bottom long before they are done. Sourdough, ciabatta, white bread, they all seem to get small (about 1/2 inch diameter) burn spots from the direct contact w/ the stone. Is this a common thing?

To solve this I usually put the oven rack back in 1/2 way through and move them to the rack.

For my stone I am using a 2ft.^2 peice of natural stone i picked up from my local home depot.

Ed, is your stone quite wide? Where is the heat source in your oven? I'm wondering if it's blocking the circulation of heat in the oven...

The stone is almost the exact size of my oven racks. Once loaded, there is little if any space arround it.

I have one of those old style gas oven's that you have to light with a match. The heat elemsent is underneath the oven in the broiler compartment.

I guess I thought that heat building up underneath the stone would be a good thing as this would lead to a hotter stone. I guess the only way to find out is to try using a smaller stone.

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The type of stone is Travertine. I bought it under the impression that any type of natural/unglazed stone is fine for oven use. Is there any reason why soapstone is the only suitable baking stone?

I wonder if the spotty burning would be due to uneven composition/coloration of the stone and different heat reflective/retention properties vs. say unglazed tile, which is uniform?

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