Thread: Homemade Bread
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Old 02-22-2011, 07:05 PM   #184
levain
STILL Jim Williams
 
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Location: Providence, RI
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Thermal Mass

Quote:
Originally Posted by AngryScot View Post
so lets chat baking stones, do I got to the chef place and bust out 15-25 on a pizza stone or get an unglazed bit of tile (unglazed) from the hardware store?
if hardware store version what type of store am I looking for, or tile for that matter?
I'd hate to claim that I know a ton about this. Here's the thing though. You want thermal mass. You want alot of heat that transfers to and rises up through your bread. That is one of the reasons convection ovens don't work well for thick crusted bread. They pummel the bread with heat from all sides, rather than sending it through the bottom up.

My old oven was the best oven I ever used. Unfortunately, we outgrew it. The floor of the oven was 3" thick refractory concrete. There were lots of other reasons this oven was so amazing, but that was part of it.

When shopping for a stone for your oven, I would look for the thickest you can find. I've heard about home bakers using thick slabs of slate or granite as well.

Someone commented on not being happy with the stone, but I would bet that had to do with not getting steam in the oven, or not preheating enough. I doubt there are too many home ovens that even get hot enough. Add to that not preheating enough and you have problems! That stone is going to take at least 45min. to heat through. We bake our breads at 240C. and it never really cools down. Our stones are always hot! I would recommend giving your oven a solid hr. with the stone in their before baking.

As for steam, you may be able to rig something up similar to what my oven has. Quite simple design actually. There are U-shaped pieces of cast iron that run the length of the oven. Through the center is a long pipe with small holes drilled in it. When we hit the steam button, it shoots water onto the hot cast iron. Voila! Steam. That's it. Simple yet effective. I'm not suggesting you get a U-shaped cast iron bit. Maybe, a cast iron pan, then spray some water? Cast iron is great, because it's thick and has... THERMAL MASS!!! If you put a thin pan in your oven and tossed some water in there, you might get some steam, but it's gonna lose heat fast. The thick cast iron will retain somewhat.
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