Baking bread on a baking stone...

Hi folks,

Just something I want to point out or make a comment.  Although I work in a bakery, I do bake at home because the bakery that I work for doesn't make the bread that I like to eat.  Anyway, I bake my breads on a stone...on a hearth kit to be exact.  Since my oven is bit wider, the hearth kit stone can easily accommodate 3 small loaves (boules) or 2 big loaves (boules).  I just recently purchased a laser thermometer.  The laser thermometer can only read the surface temperature of an object, and I used the laser thermometer to read the surface temperature of my baking stone.  I do preheat the stone for 1 hour as recommended.  

Out of curiousity and fun, I found out the surface temperature of my baking stone in the back is hotter than the surface temperature in the front.  I placed my loaves of bread on the back of the baking stone to take advantage of the high surface temperature and to get the oven spring.  After I took out my baked breads from the back of the stone, I read the surface temperature of the baking stone again, and I noticed the surface temperature of the front was higher than in the back...infact the front area of the stone was about the same surface temperature as the back before I loaded my breads in the first time.  When I loaded my second batch of bread, I placed them on the front of the stone and not the back area of the stone.  The surface temperature difference between the front and back was about 40 F.

A laser thermometer can be a useful tool to find the hot spots on a baking stone..even if you have a large baking stone to accommodate several breads.  I can certainly see this gadget becoming more useful if you have a brick oven, and you want to find out where the hot spots are on the surface of your baking area.
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bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2008 February 24
A pyrometer is a fine thing. Sometimes a little probable in handling. Differences of 40 degrees (up to 50) in homebaking ovens are possible between front bottom edge and back top edge, a lot of energy escapes through the front door ;) But on a stone? Do you have a fan powered oven or can you hook up such item? Please try a heat up staccato with fan and your stone will show well balanced temps. For your second batch..the temperature will always settle down were some dough consumes a little... :)
doughman 2008 February 25
Hi Bianchifan,

I knew there was a difference in temperature between the front area and back area of the baking stone, but I did not know how much until I used my laser thermometer to give the exact temperature readings.  I have an electric oven with no fan (it is not a convection oven).
Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 February 25

when oven doors are opened, especially if the door is the size of an entire wall of the oven. This is one of the limitations when using a domestic oven. You could probably improve its performance slightly by using two stones as more stored heat will compensate for opening the oven door. But bear in mind your electricity costs will rise!

The best bakes are in an oven that has 'solid heat' - where the baking chamber area to be heated is relatively smaller than the volume of the stones, bricks, or even steel which radiate the heat. It's much like a ballast or a heat sink in reverse.

You could try truning the bread around during the baking time, but not too much as you allow cool air in each time you open the door.

I can't understand you not making bread at work that you like? Ok, so you want something special but you've got access to a bakery. Talk to your production manager and see if he'll let you use the oven at the end of the bake. You could time it so the dough is ready to enter the oven at the appropreiate time. I'd even offer to pay for the ingredients if I used his. Most employers are happy to let dedicated apprentices or others who have a vested interest in the welfare of his business, dabble a bit on the side! You might be pleasantly surprised.

I hate buying bread when I'm on holidays, I hasten to add, I have no Scotish ancestry, I just prefer to eat my own, but that's not to say there isn't good bread to be had in the market.

Good luck with your endeavours. 


bianchifan's picture
bianchifan 2008 February 25
Ok, you can place the stone as near as possible at the heating element. Further on you may turn it once about 180°, then 90° and one more time 180°, the first period should last a bit longer than the rest. Heat up with max. temperature for about one hour, place stone at baking position and wait 5 - 10 minutes before starting the game. Nevertheless the isolation of front door isn#T VERY WELL. With proper isolation the heating can reduced or canceled after a quarter, the whole rest is driven by the stone.
doughman 2008 February 26

I don't make my own bread at work due to several reasons.  One is the hygiene of the workplace is not the best.  I'm not going to go into this just in case my boss is lurking here.  Another is that I have to make breads that my boss wants me to.  Although I do have free range to use the facility at the bakery, I just like to keep the working relationship between me and my boss avoid any favoritism.  I agree that using two stones or a thicker stone will improve performance and at the same time gobble up electricity.  I understand that the thermal dynamics of a home oven and a deck oven are very different.


I'll give that suggestion a try the next time I bake bread.

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