TIPS - BAKING ISSUES & STONES
stones are fun to experiment with, but rarely needed in bread baking. I only use a baking
stone to stop the bottom from burning when making a large loaf that
requires extra baking time.
Baking stones are sometimes
misunderstood. Years ago, a friend of mine bought a pizza stone. The directions said to make the pizza on the stone and then put it in the
oven. That completely defeats the purpose of the stone. The whole idea of the
stone is to preheat the oven with the stone in the oven to get the stone hot.
The stone has mass and holds heat. Baking stones, pizza stones and oven bricks
all perform the same function. The theory is that you will get a better crust.
When using a baking stone, in
your home oven, you
are trying to simulate a brick oven. Stones are great, but you
can make "artisan" loaves in
your home oven without using a stone. You can get
a crusty loaf by varying the temperature at different stages of baking -
first hot, then normal, then leaving the bread in the oven at low heat to dry out.
When a loaf is finished baking it out gases hot vapors and wets itself. That is
why bread comes out of the oven crispy and then the crust seems to soften
as it sits for a while.
The only time I use a baking
stone is when I'm making a huge loaf. When the baking time is so long that the
bottoms would otherwise burn. The stone retards the cooking on the bottom of the
loaf. When I have bottom burning issues, I use a stone.
I make a seven pound loaf on a deep dish dark coated pizza pan.
It looks like something out of the middle ages. I bake the loaf for 52 minutes.
I use a stone to stop the bottom from burning because the loaf takes so long to
I also put a tin foil shield on top of the loaf, after 15 minutes, to stop the top
Even pizza does not require a
pizza/baking stone. I use a dark coated pizza pan. Pan color really makes a
difference. When making a loaf of sandwich bread I always use dark pans - never
the silver pans. If you use silver bread baking pans, the bottoms of the loaves
will not cook properly. I don't even own silver pans.
Position in the oven also
affects the bottom. If you want something darker on the bottom then lower it in the
oven, closer to the element in your electric oven. If you want less dark then raise
it in the oven. If you have top burning issues, cover with tin foil after the
loaves are browned to your liking.
Baking stones are great to
experiment with, but very rarely required in bread baking. You may discover
how to make your perfect loaf. I use mine only for bottom
burning issues due to extended baking times on large loaves.
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