Have you ever used a baking stone? Do you even know what a baking stone is? I didn’t know anything about them until after I met my husband and his mom suggested we get one since we were trying to cook more for ourselves.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first. After all, I had only ever used a cookie sheet in the oven before. Those stones were meant for just pizza at the fancy pizza places, right? Wrong. So wrong. So very wrong. Once I started using my baking stone I never went back! Seriously, unless I need a pan with sides on it, everything is cooked on the baking stone.
So what is a baking stone? A baking stone is often called a pizza stone as well. It’s a piece of either stone or ceramic that is used to mimic a stone oven by heating through to cook the bottom of your foods as well as the top.
1. Perfect Crusts
A baking stone is made so that it heats evenly, meaning the entire surface is warmed to cook your foods. Since they are also porous, a baking stone will absorb some of the moisture in your bread or dough meaning you will have a slightly crispier crust.
2. Easy to Use and Clean
If you have been using a regular cookie sheet, then a baking stone is not much different. Place your food directly on the stone, and put that in the oven and bake for the same amount of time. It often helps to heat the stone with the oven, then remove it to add your food and place it back in. Cleanup couldn’t be easier either as you don’t want to use soaps or detergents because, as a porous material, it will soak up the flavors of the soap. Designate a brush or scraper that is only for the stone, and use that with hot water to wipe it down, then let it air dry.
This is another option for a scraper that would work to clean the stone.
3. Lives in the Oven
Adding a baking stone to your kitchen does not mean you have to find space for something else. A baking stone can and should live on the bottom rack of your oven. Because of the way it holds and transfers heat, it can be on the bottom rack while you cook other foods and won’t mess up the baking process.
4. Withstand High Temperatures
Unlike some other pans, a baking stone is designed to withstand extremely high temperatures, some up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. A lot of bread recipes require an oven temperature of about 450 to 500 degrees which can be hard on other pans. I’ve also heard of a stone being used on a regular grill, but we haven’t tried that yet.
5. Decent Prices
As with almost any product, you get what you pay for. But there are some great options for baking stones under $30 that can be purchased on Amazon or other stores. Here are a few to get you started:
Rectangular vs. Circular
If you look at the products linked above, you’ll notice that the baking stones come in one of two shapes. The shape you need will depend on what you plan to primarily use the stone for. If you are looking for something just to cook pizza on, then a round stone may be better since that’s the shape of most pizzas. If you are wanting it to bake loaves of bread, cookies, biscuits, and anything else, then a rectangular is probably a better shape. I only have a rectangular one, and in the few instances that we have a circular frozen pizza to cook, it still fits well enough on the stone.
- Preheat the stone (unless you need to roll your dough out on it)
- Prevent thermal shock by heating or cooling the stone too quickly otherwise, it can crack
- Use parchment paper to transfer dough to a warm stone and for easy cleanup
- Consider a stone with a wire rack to make it easier to get in and out of the oven
- Clean with any soaps or detergents (unless you want to taste it in your food!)
- Worry about discoloration, it happens over time as the stone gets “seasoned”
- Leave the stone in the oven if you are running a self-cleaning cycle
- Let the stone hit your counters too hard or it could crack the stone or the countertops