Monday, June 06, 2011

Bob Hurt's Granite Baking Stone

I thought you might like to see the baking stone I often use for producing those fabulous loaves of sourdough bread in my kitchen.  It consists of a granite slab with slightly beveled edges and curved corners, highly polished on one side, and rough and porous on the other.  I bake on the shiny side because it turns loose of loaves easily and I can use a stove top razor scraper to clean it.

The stone measures 14 x 15 x 1.25 inches and weighs 25.3 pounds.  The granite has a density of 166.5 pounds per cubic foot.  It can easily withstand 2000 degrees F temperatures, and so it can remain in the oven during  cleaning cycle.

I preheat the oven to 450F with the stone in it, polished side up.  Then I sprinkle cornmeal on the surface of the stone and immediately dump the boule or baguette dough onto the mealed surface, and shut the door.  In 15 minutes I open the door, pull out the rack, and paint the loaves with milk or milk and beaten egg wash, sprinkle on seeds, repaint, push in the rack, and shut the door.  The stone holds the heat well and helps return the oven to heat.  Sometimes, for a crunchy crust with no wash, I put a pan of water on the bottom shelf  before the preheat to create steam, and I don't open the door during baking, except toward the end to check temperature.  At 20 minutes I reduce the heat to 400 F.

Loaves bake in 25 minutes (small loaves or slender baguettes), 35 minutes (boules), or 45 minutes (large loaves).  Just before they seem ready, I insert  digital baking thermometer probe into the loaf and shut the door.  At 190F I remove the loaves and let them cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before cutting into a loaf.

You can use this stone out of the oven for working candy.  You may cool it first in the refrigerator.  I suggest using the bottom shelf because you need a strong shelf that won't crack under the stone's weight.  Remember that a cold stone will start to "sweat" (condense moisture on its surface) in a warm, humid kitchen.

I bought two stones like this from a local marble and granite retailer.  They had an odd shape.  So,  I gave one to my buddy Jim in exchange for squaring it off and beveling the edges with his masonry saw.  Looks nice and professional, doesn't it?  Jim always does good work.

If you want me to make one of these for you, expect to spend some money.  But look at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a comparable stone and you won't find it. Their flimsy 15" round pizza stone costs $30.  This kind of granite costs about $60 per square foot, and my stone contains nearly 1.5 square feet.  Email me if you have an interest.
Bob Hurt, Concerned Bob Hurt        My Blog
2460 Persian Drive #70
Clearwater, FL 33763
Email; Call: (727) 669-5511
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