Is it possible to make your own DIY baking stone to help oven spring your bread? Here's a guide on how to create a DIY baking stone and the best ones to buy. Hopefully you already know the importance of a baking stone, there's an article about oven spring on this site if you would like to know more.
I’m being beaten by a baking stone today! This was the week I was planning to record some baking videos. A chunky flour order was made, discovered the perfect dough mixer on eBay and prepared the filming studio.
But then, disaster struck.
First, the mixer is still not dispatched, it’s a second hand eBay purchase and the seller seems to need constant chasing... Dick. Second, and this is a big one. My baking stone completely shattered yesterday during a bake. Complete disaster!
Which means I need a new baking stone!
A proper one this time! Should I purchase one, or try and make my own? Here's my guide to the whole experience I went through.
What is a baking stone made from?
A baking stone should be made from a solid stone. The heat needs to be conducted and retained by the stone.
It also needs to be strong enough to withstand repetative "pastings" in the oven. Importantly, the stone has to be food safe as the stone comes in direct contact with the bread.
It's easy these days to pick up a baking stone from cooking stores, either online or in the high street.
Purchasing a baking stone
I took a look at the baking stones available on amazon. The reviews aren't good. Most seem to last a year with light use.
That's great for a light user, but I intend to use mine a lot. I also want a larger surface to fill my large oven, and a decent thickness that'll absorb plenty of heat.
This product doesn't seem to be available on amazon. It doesn't seem to be anywhere else in the world either! -I spent hours searching online!
Here's why I'm looking for these characteristics...
What a baking stone does
A baking stone is heated up in the oven before the bake, typically for 45-60 minutes.
Heat is absorbed into the stone and when the bread is placed into the oven, it intensifies the oven spring and the crust formation.
This causes a well risen, well formed bread. You can find out more about oven spring here.
Solid Stone DIY baking stone
Solid stone could be bought from a DIY store or builders merchants, it should be clean, not made from concrete, slate or granite.
Concrete is not healthy to use for food. Slate stones will work for a couple of bakes before shattering and granite often uses other chemicals in it's production.
Baked clay DIY baking stone
The fire clay or fire stone is new to me, its formed of clay and is doubled baked in a fire oven, it’s able to withstand high temperatures and is a complete block.
Tiled wood burning oven stone
If you fancy building your own wood or coal burning oven then you'l tile it using correctly select stones.
These are fixed together with mortar and you'll be able to bake away like a true artisan with one of these.
I've looked into building a small tile network to fit in my oven but once I've bought all the equipment, it's looking very expensive for a handful of tiles.
Fire clay oven stone
Could this be it? Numerous of websites recommend using a fire clay stone to bake bread on. And I've discovered a supplier too!
But the cost of one of these is around £130 so I'm wondering if I can drop the cost down. Could I pick one of these up from a builder merchant or a tile store online?
My research tells me that it's a no to this solution. If I want one then I'll have to cough up the dollar.
As I want to have the best possible home set up I decide I must get one, so went ahead and ordered one!
Why not use a sealed stone as a baking stone?
One thing important in a baking stone is that it cannot be a sealed stone. This is because lead is often used as part of the sealant.
There are those that don’t use it, but how to know which don’t, it's almost impossible to find out.
Unlike food, there aren't any ingredients lists for these products.
The results when baking with a fire clay baking stone
I found it really powerful that I could order a stone that was customised to fit my oven. I was also able to order a thicker stone, designed for bread baking apposed to pizza.
The thicker stone allows more heat to be absorbed from the oven and be transferred into the bread. This is helpful for longer baking times and bigger bread products.
But there is a down side to owning a thick stone.
The time it takes to heat up is around 2 hours at maximum heat!
But the bake quality is great, as good as a professional bread baking oven. Without buying a professional bread baking oven.
So if you are serious about your bread quality, and want something long lasting, go fire clay!
Can I use a stone from a builders yard as a baking stone?
Yes, but it's hard to find a safe stone that's suitable. I searched and found that it was impossible in my local builders merchants. So gave up. You might be able to find one, just check it's not got any chemicals added!
How to look after a baking stone
It's best to not get them wet, this is hard when splashing water in the oven to create steam. Try to avoid this as much as possible as it may shatter.
To clean, no chemicals should be used, they may come in contact with the bread. Just give it a scrape with a scrapper when cold.
Do this and avoid moving it when it's hot and it'll be golden!