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Oct 26, 2010 10:04 AM

Baking Artisan Bread in 5 WITHOUT a baking stone?

I have everything I need to try this method out except for a baking stone and a pizza peel. I read somewhere you can use an inverted cookie sheet instead. Anyone know if this will yield acceptable results? Or any other tricks or substitutions? Thanks for any help! I should get a baking stone by the end of the year, so I don't mind not having "perfect" bread till then, just wanna try it out.

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  1. You can always try it.

    But I do think you want a really hot surface. I've used a cast iron flat pan that is made for pizza. It has worked great. (And it's actually easier to handle than a bulky pizza stone.) Have anything like that? Know probably not a common pan.

    1. The cast iron skillet method works very well. It's a little difficult to get the loaf squarely in the pan but using the parchment paper "sling" method helps in that regard.
      You can use a cookie sheet and there isn't any reason to "invert" the cookie sheet. Inverting it doesn't' change a thing unless you need to slide the dough onto it from a peel; and you don't have one so that's not an issue.
      You can do your final proof on parchment paper and, when the dough is ready for the oven, simply use the parchment paper as a "sling" and gently carry the raw dough to the cookie sheet and lay it in place.
      Just remember to place a rack low in the oven and have a pan with about half to 3/4 cup of hot water in it when you begin preheating your oven. the bread is loaded into the oven. Have your bread rack about midway in the oven cavity. You may hear a lot of nonsense about using ice cubes, ice chips, and other theories about steaming your oven environment. Remember that, in pure physics, water turns to steam at 212 degrees. Melting ice in an oven to create steam only delays the process.
      Best of luck and welcome to the bread baking vortex. It'll take over your life if you let it.
      Tricks? Well, not a trick per se. But it's worth including. I assume you'll be starting your bake at 500 degrees. Use a spray bottle and, every thirty seconds after the initial loading of the oven, open the door quickly and spray the walls with water, then close the door. When you've done that three times, allow the bread to bake at the 500 degree level for five minutes, then turn the oven down to 450 and finish the bake.
      One last point. When you do get your baking stone, unless you have it covered with parchment, never spray cold water into the oven (I wouldn't even spray hot water) because if it hits the stone you'll have two or more small stones where the large original once rested. Baking stones don't like the sudden shock of water that is colder than they are so the break up into pieces when you make that mistake.

      1 Reply
      1. re: todao

        Yes, the parchment sling method works great.

      2. Don't bother with the pizza stone but go to Home Depot or another store that sells tiles and get unglazed quarry tiles. I bought 9 but only need 6 for my oven, at about 40 cents a tile.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          I was wondering if you could do that. Are you certain they are actually food safe--no weird chemicals in the tile? It would be nice not to have to buy a pizza stone.

          1. re: Isolda

            You want to make sure it is not glazed because that might have lead so I asked to make sure. I've researched it and haven't found any dangers other than that. I do use parchment paper under everything so my food never touches the tiles. I leave them on the bottom rack of the oven all the time. They've been handy for spills above, too.

          2. re: chowser

            I've been using unglazed quarry tiles for years for my bread (usually baguettes). They work great, and are easier to store away when I'm not using them than some bulky, heavy pizza stone. No need to spend your money on the stone - chowser has it right.

            1. re: edwardspk

              I just leave mine at the bottom rack of the oven--they're great for spill overs, too.

            2. re: chowser

              Unglazed tiles are a great idea. Another suggestion is firebrick splits. I use the bricks on my charcoal grill for pizza, and also have baked bread on it. They hold heat very well, and I paid less than a buck apiece for them.

            3. I have been baking a few loaves a week using the Artisanal Bread in 5 minutes method for the past few months with no baking stone. I use the Bittman/Lahey baking method of baking in a covered preheated dutch oven rather than the stone/water in broiler pan method. I think my crust has been great and I don't risk steam burns with the water in the broiler pan. Also, I use a smallish round dutch oven and I think it helpds my boules keep their shape better. I do spritz a little water inside the dutch over right after I put the loaf into it and before I put the top on to help get more steam.

              It took some practice for me to get the loaf in there well so that I could actually keep my slashes at the top, but they're starting to consistently look pretty. But even the early attempts (some of which were folded on half or upside down) tasted good. I have found that being generous with the cornmeal really helps get the loaf in the oven. Oh, and I don't use a wooden baking peel. I found a large (maybe 7 inch) flat metal spatula at TJ Maxx which I use as my "peel" and that seems to work well and was much cheaper than a peel. It's just the right size for the boules I make.


              1. have you tried using a dutch oven?