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seeking baking stone...

Not typically a baker, I am ready to try baking bread and am seeking a baking stone.
I really like the King Arthur one, the cooks illustrated recommendation sells me on it, but I really hate to spend $50+ on something I am not sure that I will use often.
I've read previous threads on this topic, and I don't really care to go the hardware store tile route.
Has anyone seen any good bargains out there or have any recommendations?
Or should I just splurge?
Thanks much.

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  1. I like this stone from Bed-Bath and Beyond. http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...&

    The pampered chef baking stone is very popular.

    1. I like the fibrament stones. They can cut to order if you really want a specific size. I say splurge. Leave the stone in your oven no matter what kind you get. It helps maintain a nice even temperature over a nice even surface.

      http://www.bakingstone.com/

      5 Replies
      1. re: Squirrels

        In terms of leaving the stone in the oven, you took the words out of my fingers. American ovens tend to have exposed elements that do not help with cooking. It is also easier to clean the stone than the bottom of the oven.

        And although it is not recommended I leave mine in when self-cleaning the oven. Turns the drips to dust. Heat the oven up to max first, leave for 20 mins, then put in self clean mode.

        1. re: Paulustrious

          this is interesting... so you leave the stone in the over no matter what you are cooking? Just put baking dishes, etc, right in with it/on top of it?
          Besides plus of having even heat, the thought of not needing to locate a new storage space is very appealing!

          1. re: jccooks

            Yep - I tend to have the stone on the bottom rack and then place most of my cooking items on a rack directly above the stone, but you got the idea.

            1. re: jccooks

              No - I don't put anything heavy on it - casseroles etc. They are always placed on another rack. I will cook directly on top of it, not just pizzas, but anything else that will take the stored heat from the stone. You can also cover it with a silicon mat and bake directly on it provided you have a pile to get it in and out. But I am happy to put a baking rack on the stone and cook other things on that.

              The stone evens out the temperature of the oven, especially a convection one and opening and closing the oven cause smaller temperature fluctuations.

              It originally came about because I am from the UK and all the ovensI had there have the heating element 'hidden' so there is no direct radiant heat. I was finding the American ovens were causing me problems. I would be transferring things from the stove top to a tray in a warm oven. If I left the door open so the temperature dropped then the lower element came on full heating hte lower tray far higher then the temperature of the oven. I solved this by buying large pizza stones that completely cover the elements in my ovens.

              Being able to cook pizzas was a bonus. And if you turn your oven up to max, let the stone heat up for 30 minutes it makes a reasonable attempt at naan. You can chuck most flat breads on it to either cook or warm up.

              I don't wash mine, just scrape it and/or frazzle it. They suck in moisture and take a long time to dry out. They are also very delicate and easy to break, so storing them is an issue.

              1. re: jccooks

                I keep mine in the oven at all times. It really does help stabilize the heat. But I really do not recommend placing baking dishes directly on top of it. I place mine on the bottom surface of the oven cavity to keep it out of the way. I find that placing baking dish directly on the surface changes the way things cook. You can really notice the difference with sheets of cookies where it seems to alter the convection around the pan, increase the baking time, and produce less crisp cookies. At least, that's my experience.

          2. Yes, I DID hear you say you don't want to go the hardware store tile route. . .

            After several years of successful baking on quarry tiles, I decided to upgrade to a cordierite baking stone. Now that I have it, I'm sorry I bought it. The tiles were better! I've thought of getting the fibrament stone, but I really wonder how much improvement that would be.

            1. Consider the Emile Henry Flame tagine. You can use it to bake fabulous bread and also for tagines and braises.

              Here's the bread I baked in mine. http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...
              Of all the devices I've used for bread baking, this is the most effective and simplest to use.

              1. Consider buying two stones (for creating two layers of tiles). It creates a much more even distribution of heat and also helps retain heat when you have to open the oven often. This is especially helpful if you have a gas oven since they cycle on and off as the temperature changes.

                I keep a rack on the top with tiles and a rack lower down with tiles and do place my pots and pans directly on the stone.
                I do not ever remove the tiles and I do keep them in when using the self-cleaning cycle on my oven.

                1. These are all great and appreciated suggestions. I think you've all convinced me to go with a better quality stone and that it will get much use. I love the idea of keeping it on the oven, and I look forward to becoming a baker (slowly but surely I am certain).
                  Now just to decide which to purchase... so far I have my eye on the fibreament and king arthur.
                  Thanks all!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jccooks

                    Just an FYI - I'm not sure if you want to spend TOO much money on a stone - I've cracked at least 4 in the past 15 years.

                    1. re: sebetti

                      I'll absolutely agree with that. There is little difference between expensive and cheap. And they all shatter equally well when dropped. After all its just a piece of unglazed clay.

                      A simple (but large) unglazed terracotta tile will suffice. I have one really heavy one which stores a lot of heat that I use to prove bread / make yoghurt. It came from a garden centre.

                      1. re: Paulustrious

                        Fibrament stones come with a 10 year warranty.

                        1. re: Squirrels

                          just ordered the fibrament... its really not much more expensive than other options out there, and I like the fact that its thicker and has the warranty. Now I am impatient to start baking!

                    2. re: jccooks

                      Just be sure the stone fits in your oven!