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Stoneware & Ceramic & Porcelain! oh my!

hello,

i'm looking to buy some good bakeware intended to be kept long-term. i'm completely & thoroughly confused between products made of stoneware, ceramic, and porcelain (are they all actually the same raw material?)

if you can please extoll the virtues of any of these, and even make recommendations...i would be very grateful!

thank you

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  1. All three fall under the same umbrellas of "ceramics" or "pottery" but they are not the same. Ceramics also includes things that are not pottery.

    Porcelain clays are fired at very high temperatures and can fully vitrify. Stoneware clay can be vitrified enough to hold water; the clay matures at lower temperatures than porcelain. At the bottom end of firing temperatures, earthenware has to be glazed to be water tight. All of them are useful depending on what you want to do.

    Most of the porcelain I have in my kitchen is ramekins, but when I have a clay workspace again, I'm going to make some stoneware loaf pans and casseroles.

    1. I have porcelain pieces by Pillivuyt and Apilco, some of which are 30 and 40 years old, and look like they just came out of the box from the store despite constant use for everything from nice dinner parties to brownies for the kids.
      I can't say that for any pieces that I have had made of the stoneware, ceramic, or other materials. They have scratched and dulled with use, regardless of the care given to them. Even the Le Creuset or Emile Henry stonewear don't keep the sheen and lovely finish that porcelain does.
      I've bought old Apilco and Pillivuyt in antique shops and on eBay and they still looked beautiful. There's a reason why these companies have been in business for 100 or 200 years.
      There are now some less expensive porcelains at Sur La Table, etc, that are excellent, as well as some good quality ones made in China. Don't blow off the "made in China" on porcelain. After all, some of their export porcelain is still going strong after centuries and some people set their tables with it if they dare to use such expensive items for ordinary things.

      16 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        thanks for the replies, BeaN and MakingSense.

        are the baking dynamics the same for stoneware, ceramic, and porcelain? i.e. they all produce the same results?

        1. re: amrita

          No, the porcelain is thinner and lighter, so it does not retain heat as long, a plus if you are baking things like cakes, clafouti, custard-based things, etc. After you take them out of the oven, they will cook a bit more from the retained heat in the food, but you don't want them to keep cooking (or drying out) from the heat of the pan they were cooked in. You want something that cools off quickly. Glass/pyrex does the same thing.
          For casseroles, this isn't such a problem because they are less subject to drying out and overcooking. This and roasting, etc., are the only things that I use my few pieces of stoneware and ceramic for.

          1. re: MakingSense

            I have a lovely porcelain dish that it perfect for when I make lasagna. It's about 13inch X 10inch with side of about 3 inches deep. Would this dish make a decent pan to roast vegetables in?

            1. re: snax

              I prefer a dish or baking sheet with low sides for roasting vegetables.
              Part of roasting them is to evaporate a bit of their moisture to concentrate their flavor and caramelize the sugars in them.
              The high sides on your pan may hold in some of the moisture and could even create enough steam around the vegetables to make them mushy.

            2. re: MakingSense

              Hi, MakingSense

              I find your input very helprul. How do you think to use porcelain/stoneware for roasting?

              I read somewhere that IF either/or both porcelain/stoneware bakeware are used for roasting meat very OFTEN, they are going to crack as there is very little liquid staying in. It might depends on how high the temparature is, but I am just curious.

              I have some not so higher end porcelain/stoneware made in Portugal, but I really love them becuase they look so rustic and fit perfectly for my dishes for entertaining. I do not want to destroy them by using roasting. That is why I am not looking at a 9 x 13 tri-ply stainless of Al-clad bakeware for the small batch of meat roasting purpose.

              Thanks for your thoughts and inputs.

              1. re: hobbybaker

                I never use my porcelain for roasting. Usually a baking sheet or metal roasting pan. I use my 12" cast iron skillet for a small chicken or roast.
                Never thought about this before. There could well be a long-term problem because of the temperature variation and pan being pretty much empty.
                Better to be safe than sorry?

                1. re: MakingSense

                  Hi, MakingSense
                  Yes. better to be safe to my rustic stoneware from Portugal. Actually, I used a cheap Ikea stoneware before for whatever including a small roasting, and it craked after 9 years. Well, considering the price, it is OK. But, this time with my favorite stoneware, I do not want to take any risk. They are so beautiful.

                  I got your point using cast iron skillet. I can use my small lodge, or I can use my All-Clad SS skillet, too? With so many cookware and gadgets commercially available, I sometimes feel I need to be careful to buy new things, too. However, I am also interested in Aplico and Pillvuyt, too:) Never ending!! Anyway, thank you for your insight!

                2. re: hobbybaker

                  <<That is why I am not looking at a 9 x 13 >>

                  Is that what you meant? If not then I use this... http://www.amazon.com/Mario-Batali-9-...

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    Hi, Paulustrious,
                    Thanks your respouse. Sorry, my typo. it is "now" not "Not". I am considering AC SS tri-plybakeware 9x 13 below. I thought about batali and the similar pan of LC. However, they are too heavy and the side is a bit too high for me. How do you feel with it?

                    All-Clad:
                    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                    Mauviel: ( too expensive for me!
                    )http://www.cookware.com/asp/show_deta...

                    1. re: hobbybaker

                      It is heavy, about 13lbs. I like the height as this is a multi-use dish for me, having in its time been used for cottage pies, lasagnes, meatballs in tomato sauce, meat loaf, roasting meat, etc, as well as on the cook top for searing. The high sides help stop splatter. It doesn't have a lid but I use a Silpat as one if necessary. All in all, it has proved useful, and is attractive enough to serve at the table.

                      1. re: Paulustrious

                        I really like your idea to use Silpat! I have never thought about it and my silpat is kind of dormant now after cookie baking in December.
                        I think enamel cast iron pan is way to go if I do not mind the weight.

                        1. re: hobbybaker

                          In that case I had better say that I have two, a 'proper' Silpat and the thinner unreinforced silicon orangy-red cheapskate version. It works better in this role than the Silpat.

            3. re: MakingSense

              @MakingSense..... I am currently upgrading some of my bakeware, from metal, glass and corning, to something a bit nicer. I was thinking of switching to things like Emile Henry, Le Creuset or Chantal, but am intrigued by the finer lines of Pillivuyt, Apilco, Revol (from pics on the web).

              I haven't seen any of these pieces in person; are the company names on the bottoms? So I can know what I'm seeing if I look for used items?

              Thanks for advice -

              1. re: mtpaper

                Yes, the names are on the bottom. Stamped into them.
                I've bought some vintage pieces and they still looked wonderful. Some of the Pillivuyt and Apilco that I've had for 40 years still looks like new and has outlasted so much other stuff that looked OK new but didn't wear nearly as well.

              2. re: MakingSense

                FYI - as of Jan 2010, I've learned that these French porcelain pieces can be found at the clearance section of www.bridgekitchenware.com, and also that Bed Bath and Beyond's website has them - which means that we can use 20% off coupons.

                1. re: mtpaper

                  mtpaper, thanks for the info. I will definitely take a look.

              3. Where does stand in the ceramic cookware world? I haven't heard much.