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Baking Stone

g
gabby29 Jan 7, 2008 10:29 PM

I would like to purchase a baking stone. I am justifying this due to the abundant baking books I have and my desire for freshly baked bread. I am uncertain what type/brand would be sufficient for my needs. I have an electric oven, I don't know if this makes a difference or not. I do anticipate making pizza every now and again. But baking breads and other savory items are what I will be doing most of all. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

  1. k
    Kelli2006 Jan 8, 2008 10:13 AM

    You can get a nice baking stone via catalog/ internet from King Arthur, Chefs catalog among others, or in stores at Bed Bath and Beyond. I purchased my current stone at a Pampered Chef party.

    You can also buy terra cotta tiles at a home supply store, and place them on a 1/2 sheet pan.

    They work fine in both gas or electric ovens.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kelli2006
      w
      will47 Jan 8, 2008 06:31 PM

      Supposedly the one from King Arthur is top rated by CI. I am also interested in hearing about people's first hand experiences with various stones.

    2. Bat Guano Jan 8, 2008 10:42 AM

      I bought a 12" square marble floor tile from Home Depot, which works well for my needs, though it's obviously too small for a large pizza. It's lasted longer than the ceramic baking stone that I paid much more for, and which cracked when I heated it up too fast or too hot or something.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Bat Guano
        KaimukiMan Jan 19, 2009 02:47 PM

        look up stone in the yellow pages, they are likely to have a sink cut-out from a counter that they could trim to whatever size you want for a reasonable price if you want something bigger than the 12x12

        1. re: KaimukiMan
          Eric in NJ Jan 24, 2009 05:21 AM

          I don't know about that. Most counter stone is treated with silicone or something to seal it I don't know how that would react to high temps in an oven with food in contact.

          1. re: Eric in NJ
            KaimukiMan Jan 24, 2009 10:59 AM

            the sealing generally happens at the end of the process of making a counter, the sink insert is usually cut out before that step occurs.

            1. re: KaimukiMan
              Eric in NJ Feb 15, 2009 05:44 AM

              Kind of late getting back on this but you are right I didn't think about that.

          2. re: KaimukiMan
            Bat Guano Feb 19, 2009 11:48 AM

            Hey, good idea! Thanks.

        2. JoanN Jan 8, 2008 11:07 AM

          Here's what I'm coveting right now. Expensive, but it gets great reviews. I've gone through one stone and two sets of terra cotta tiles and am ready for something I'm hoping will last a little longer.

          http://www.bakingstone.com/

          4 Replies
          1. re: JoanN
            grampart Jan 10, 2008 04:44 AM

            I purchased one of the Fibrament stones (rectangular) about a year ago mostly for doing pizza. It may be a tad more expensive, but it's (by far) the best stone I've ever used.

            1. re: grampart
              ttriche Jan 14, 2008 11:30 AM

              Thanks for the empirical information (as in, your stone ain't blowed up) and the pointers, both of you (JoanN and grampart). Much appreciated.

            2. re: JoanN
              a
              archibam Oct 19, 2009 11:10 AM

              You can't expose this stone to flame. My favorite thing to do with pizza is throw the stone in the gas grill we have. Pizza in five minutes. Can't beat a grilled pizza. Hands down.

              1. re: archibam
                grampart Oct 19, 2009 11:33 AM

                You're correct in saying the Fibrament stone shouldn't be exposed to flame, but you can grill with it as long as you use the model made for this purpose.
                http://www.bakingstone.com/grilling.php

            3. alanbarnes Jan 8, 2008 12:59 PM

              I own a nice baking stone, but prefer to use a rack full of half-thickness fire bricks. They take a lot longer to heat up, but they also hold the heat better, so the results are closer to what you get from a brick oven. They're porous, so crusts come out right, and they don't deteriorate and crack like quarry tile.

              3 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes
                a
                aburkavage Jan 9, 2008 12:29 PM

                Where does one get fire bricks?

                1. re: aburkavage
                  k
                  Kelli2006 Jan 9, 2008 02:08 PM

                  I would look in your phone book under"masonry supplies" Masons who build chimneys will be able to get the firebrick that are required to construct the hearth.

                  1. re: Kelli2006
                    ttriche Jan 14, 2008 11:31 AM

                    Welding supply outfits can also supply firebrick, or at least aim you at someone who does.

              2. h
                Hungry Celeste Jan 8, 2008 01:29 PM

                I have an inexpensive round unglazed pizza stone, and it works great for baking bread. I can fit three medium loaves of ciabatta (say, 12 by 6), and it gives a great, crispy crust result.

                1. p
                  Pampatz Jan 8, 2008 02:15 PM

                  My baking stone cracked at high heat. Now a use the thin fire bricks and they work fine. Less expensive too.

                  1. financialdistrictresident Jan 8, 2008 03:18 PM

                    We used a round baking stone and made some excellent thin crust pizza over the weekend. I have also used unglazed quarry tiles (reddish in color). They are inexpensive and work well. If baking bread you need to heat them ahead of time in the oven. Not sure if you also need to spritz to create a steamy environment, I defer to hounds who are bread bakers. Depending on your oven you can keep them on the oven floor (might not be an option since your oven is electric) or stack them up and put them away when they are not in use.

                    1. sirregular Jan 8, 2008 03:59 PM

                      You can pick up a baking stone at pretty much any "Linens and Things" or "Bed Bath and Beyond" that will do the trick. They're not always the thickest, but they'll definitely hold heat well. For around $10, it's not going to break the bank, and it'll definitely make a difference on thicker pizza crusts.

                      A bit off-topic, but I'm a fan of thin pizza crusts and I generally make those in a thin pan, brushed with olive oil, pre-baking at 500F for 4-5 minutes to firm up the crust. It makes for a wonderful quattro formaggio if you then toss on a few pine nuts and some taleggio, parmesan, grana padana and a little provolone and put it on the middle rack under the broiler, until the cheese bubbles up.

                      My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

                      1. g
                        gabby29 Jan 8, 2008 04:02 PM

                        Will spritzing create a problem for an electric oven? Novel question I'm certain but I've only made bread in a gas oven in the past.

                        What's the highest temperature I can use with a stone to prevent cracking? Or is this only an issue if they aren't heated properly?

                        As for tiles/bricks/and the like, how many will I need and do I place the bread on top of these or place them in a sheet pan on the rack below?

                        I see the opinions are split, does anyone utilize both a stone and tiles? What items are best for either/both?

                        Thanks for all your help. You've given me lots to consider.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: gabby29
                          dave2 Jan 9, 2008 01:48 PM

                          I've been using the same pizza stone that I bought in the '80s thru a PBS show called the Pizza Gourmet. I bake pizza at least twice a week and bread (it will hold two large loaves) once a week. Here in the mountains we mostly have electirc ovens but I've also used it with gas and have always used a spray bottle with my bread. No cracks. Stone or tiles make sure you have enough space (about an inch) at the edges for heat to circulate and make sure you pre-heat. You can usually get the unglazed quary tiles at Home Depot if you get an interested employee and they will cut them for you if needed. Try a search at thefreshloaf.com for discussions on this, also pizzamaking.com (I think you have to register there).

                          We'd all like to hear how it works out, good luck!

                          1. re: dave2
                            h
                            Hungry Celeste Jan 10, 2008 06:38 AM

                            I LOVED the pizza gourmet. He was the antithesis of today's movie-star food personalities....

                          2. re: gabby29
                            r
                            renov8r Jan 9, 2008 01:59 PM

                            A rack full of tiles are a pain when you want to do something directly on them, they shift as they heat and are an extra hassle. The edges can sometimes break down a bit and shed a sandy material on the floor of the oven.
                            Each material has limits to how hot it can get, but more important is how slowly /quickly you try and heat / cool it. Thermal shock is the real enemy. Even room temp heavy/dense dough on a 400+ piece of anything that is not from NASA has the potential to shatter -- likewise trying to "speed up" the preheat by using BROIL is a giant mistake (don't ask my spouse about that...).

                            There are kits that allow you to line nearly the whole oven. While I think certain kinds of crusty bread would benefit from the extra radiant surfaces the pre-heat time would be extended and the potential for oven damage exists. Generally oven makers discourage placing a solid layer of material around the oven as it could trick the sensors into thinking the oven is under or overheated depending on where the sensor is in relation to the heat source. It makes sense to have an independent thermometer to rely on instead of the built in setting when using baking stones.

                            The greatest benefit seems to be when the baked item sits directly on the stone.

                            When it comes to spritzing the same consideration must be observed -- a heavy enough squirt is going to quickly cause cool and thermal stress, while quick light mists will be ok. Obviously you don't want the moisture to be directed to the heating element in an electric oven, but otherwise things should be OK -- afterall the electrical connections are generally waterproof enough to allow use of Easy-Off and similar watery cleaners.

                            1. re: renov8r
                              w
                              will47 Jan 9, 2008 05:17 PM

                              The author of "Bread Alone" and "Local Breads" suggests the Hearthkit, which is a little expensive at ~ $200, but seems kind of cool. Unfortunately, it is a little too big to fit in the main compartment of my oven.

                              Might be worth looking into for some, though.
                              http://www.hearthkitchen.com/

                              1. re: will47
                                financialdistrictresident Jan 14, 2008 09:26 AM

                                I measured the floor of my oven (gas). I kept the unglazed quarry tiles in the oven most of the time. I usually pre-heated up to 500. Never a problem. Might be a problem to get a pizza out of the oven if you don't have a pizza peel and don't want to move the tiles from the oven floor to the rack when making pizza. Don't remember the price difference between baking stone and unglzed quarry tiles.

                          3. lynnlato Jan 9, 2008 02:20 PM

                            I got mine several yrs ago from Pampered Chef - God how I despise those stupid home parties. UGH! This stone and a push up measuring cup thing are the only beneficial things I got out of those stupid parties. Oh, and a zester. :-)

                            1. g
                              gabby29 Jan 10, 2008 04:30 AM

                              Thank you all for the wonderful responses. I think I'm going to go with the stone from King Arthur's catalog. It is large and has been tested by CI which actually matters in this case. I considered the heart kit but it leaves little room in the oven for anything else and for my purposes that isn't practical. Although I do have an internal thermometer, what are your opinions on the digital ones that reside on the outside? Are they more accurate/beneficial particularly for those that bake frequently?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: gabby29
                                k
                                Kelli2006 Jan 10, 2008 10:52 AM

                                I think a digital internal thermo is more useful for roasting needs than for baking. I do check my breads internal temp before removing from the oven, but you can accurately guage by color and time for most baked goods.

                                1. re: Kelli2006
                                  h
                                  Hungry Celeste Jan 11, 2008 06:52 AM

                                  Not in my experience. A probe thermometer is crucial for breads, at least in my oven, and especially for breads baked in a loaf pan. It is hard to judge the interior doneness by the browning of the upper crust....stick in the probe thermo, and you'll instantly know if the interior temp has reached 205 (or 210, or whatever adjacent temp is appropriate for your particular loaf). Pain de mie/pullman loaves are esp hard for me to judge without a thermometer.

                                  I do agree that cookies, cakes, pies, other baked goods are easy to judge by color/time.

                              2. m
                                mateo21 Jan 11, 2008 08:48 AM

                                I use a big old piece of Penn. Blue-Stone... well, maybe slab is a better word for it. It just barely fits in a standard overn (leaves about 2 in gap all around) and is 1 1/4 in thick! It takes about an hour to really get up to temperature, but once it's there, it holds the temp. well. Another bonus -- it was free. I found at a local landscaping shop, apparently the stone had fallen and cracked in half, they didn't want it, but I did. :)

                                1. p
                                  Persistent Jan 19, 2009 06:01 AM

                                  We thought about purchasing a stone from the local yard shop but we ran into this article online. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-baking-stone.htm
                                  The author suggested that commercial stone has not been tested for safety and could contain high amounts of lead. It made us realize that random clay and stone products from commercial stores can contain high amounts of a number of contaminants. We are not geologists, so we just are not going to go there. Though the thought of a nice piece of granite is swell.

                                  We also thought about the fibrament stone. But a company who produces insulation, and then a baking stone(took some investigative googling to find out who AWMCO is online), and then won't tell you what the stone is made of(literally), and then gets safety approval from NSF International which is not an independant standard or government agency but a company(not-for-profit, but if you saw the paychecks, omg)... must I go on, eat what you want...
                                  Something to think about.

                                  We're going for the King Arthur one.
                                  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/d...
                                  Made of clay, by people who hold the original patent, approved by a large number of cooks(CI) and suggested by one wholesome monster flour and bread company... either the manufacturers are charmed, or its a great stone.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: Persistent
                                    p
                                    Persistent Jan 19, 2009 08:08 AM

                                    We continued searching, really wanted a granite stone, but they are rare. Granite and slate are full of imperfections that pop and crack, and it seems no one's willing to sell them. A Brazilian soapstone was the only stone in a food safe product we found sold.

                                    And then I thought back to my childhood in Saudi Arabia where we bought bread at markets where it has been made for thousands of years... in clay ovens. So it's back to King Arthur's.

                                    1. re: Persistent
                                      j
                                      Jack_ Jan 19, 2009 10:02 AM

                                      I curious about the granite and its ability to suck the moisture out of what you are baking the way clay would

                                    2. re: Persistent
                                      grampart Jan 19, 2009 01:33 PM

                                      I sent Mark at Fibrament a link to this thread. Here is his response to Persistent's "thoughts" about his product.

                                      Thank you for forwarding this email. I was not aware of the chowhound web site until today. This is one of the problems with the Internet. Anonymously, individuals can intentionally or unintentionally state incorrect information. I've been with AWMCO for 30 years. AWMCO has NEVER produced insulation.

                                      NSF International (National Sanitation Foundation) writes standards to protect food, water and consumer goods. They are the leader in this field and conduct regular audits at out Orland Park, IL facility. Our FibraMent Formula has been tested and approved by this respected organization for direct food contact. NSF has our patented formula on file. I'm sure you understand why we do not advertise or disclose our proprietary manufacturing process or ingredients.

                                      Mark

                                      1. re: grampart
                                        p
                                        Persistent Jan 24, 2009 04:25 AM

                                        Well, I am in a position to apologize, it seems there are two AWMCO's in Illinois.

                                        I don't wish any ill will towards AWMCO, but comments such as this, "I'm sure you understand why we do not advertise or disclose our proprietary manufacturing process or ingredients." should raise a certain alarm for a person of common sense.

                                        No Mark, we are completely baffled as to why you cannot disclose the manufacturing process and products your company uses to produce something that you suggest I should cook and eat off of. This is extremely baffling in light of the fact that your product is already patented.

                                        I will do my best in the following days to understand this product a little better.

                                        1. re: Persistent
                                          grampart Feb 14, 2009 09:21 AM

                                          Patent info for the baking stone.

                                          http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-P...

                                          1. re: grampart
                                            p
                                            Persistent Feb 14, 2009 11:27 AM

                                            Thanks so much for that, my search abilities must be weak as I didn't find anything as informative as that. Mortar and fiberglass have been used for a long time. I wonder why the company has issues openly disclosing this information?

                                            1. re: Persistent
                                              Zeldog Feb 14, 2009 03:11 PM

                                              They did openly disclose what's in it, in general terms, in the patent. They just don't want to tell you the exact formula or the manufacturing process. Is that sinister?

                                              And what if they had actually made insulation? You seem to think making insulation is somehow suspect, but using fiberglass is not. You do know that fiberglass is used for insulation, don't you?

                                              ps - thanks to grampart. I was wondering what Fibrament was. It happens I was thinking if I mixed fiberglass with cement it might make a good baking stone. I was going to call it Fiberment. Guess it's too late now.

                                              1. re: Zeldog
                                                p
                                                Persistent Feb 15, 2009 01:57 AM

                                                I do not think it is sinister of them at all. I think anytime information is withheld from me it is suspect - to be questioned. I think my fresh baked bread just doesn't sound as tasty coming off a glass reinforced sidewalk; I understand why they would not want people to think about the materials in their product. I am still curious as to why they felt more comfortable subdueing the information.

                                                I don't understand how you think a patent is open disclosure for a customer? And then to quote the company itself, "we do not advertise or disclose our proprietary manufacturing process or ingredients".

                                                And I never said that I was comfortable with Fibrament's product or had changed my views. I understand a great deal about fiberglass. I also understand a great deal about what people choose and do not choose to eat off of. I am skeptical of any dangerous materials that are processed and then deemed safe to eat off of. I am someone who pays attention to non-point sources of pollution. I was not going to discuss this earlier since people can make up their own minds, now that they are informed, as to what they choose to eat off of.

                                                I hope this clears up any questions you have about my previous posts.

                                    3. k
                                      konosur Apr 27, 2009 10:19 PM

                                      I don't know if this is relevant but I think you can the same stone from http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/d... at Williams-Sonoma.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: konosur
                                        h
                                        Hungry Celeste Apr 28, 2009 07:13 AM

                                        After breaking two Pampered Chef stones in five or six years (I use really high heat & occasionally use the stone on the grill), I bought the oblong baking stone from Williams Sonoma for around $40, simply because it has a lifetime guarantee. The package insert tells you to bring it back to the store and they'll replace it.

                                        For grilling, I bought the round grill stone from Big Green Egg, www.biggreenegg.com.

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