Once you go stoneware, there’s no going back

This isn't a photo of mine, but the one I have looks just like it.

I adore my stoneware. After many termultous years using cookie sheets that eventually rusted, I’ve discovered the glory of a ceramic baking stone.

But let me back up.

My first experience with stoneware was with my clay bread pan. I obtained some sourdough starter at a workshop about canning through the Tarrant County Urban Homesteaders. I didn’t know anything about cooking with a live yeast culture until I got some and did a couple Google searches to read up about it.

My first couple attempts at sourdough bread were, eh, sub par. Everywhere I read about baking sourdough online, I was confronted with how wonderful stoneware was for baking bread. I knew I needed a loaf pan of some kind made of stone with a lid to help evenly heat/crisp the bread. Unfortunately, I was broke and could not afford even a $30 or $35 pan. So, to the thrift store I went and I found a gem — a German clay pan for about $3.

Thus began my love affair with cooking bread.

This photo is from the W&S website, but it's the same model as mine.

Recently, I traded a Chrismas gift I didn’t need for something I’d use all the time. I was able to pick out this ceramic pizza stone, which can be used for more than just pizza, with only a few extra bucks out of my own pocket. (I wouldn’t otherwise splurge on something this nice, at least not while the dude and I are trying to save for our wedding). I’m hoping my gifter won’t be too offended, because I adore this thing. I am getting a kitchen boner just thinking about it.

I used it to make biscuits from the last of my freshly milled whole wheat flour, which tasted amazing with fresh eggs I got from a neighbor and cooked sunny side up. He traded me a dozen eggs from his backyard chickens for a root cutting of a blackberry plant my mom has growing like crazy along her chainlink fence. Score and score. (More about my recent trading/bartering endeavors in another post, I think.)

Getting back to the point — stoneware — the only concern I have is that I’m going to break or ruin my lovelies. I read a couple of articles online about how high-fat baked goods aren’t good for the stone because the moisture/fat will be absorbed and cause smoking, burning and could lead to cracking. However, I’m not so hot about the idea of using tin foil or parchment paper to put between the cookies/biscuits/whatever and the stone.

I’d love to hear some advice about this, if anyone has any to offer.

2 comments

  1. I pulled out the directions from my pizza stone (still have them – imagine that) and as I remember about the only way you can break your stone is to drop it (ouch) or put the hot stone in water, or put something frozen on it too cook. I had a 4 pack of smaller stones I used for years in my oven and had recently given them to a neighbor (Brad) who used them out on the propane grill to cook a pizza. I think he was a little put off by the brown color of them but I assured him this was just seasoning.

    Again, my stone directions: season by cooking something high fat content (refrigerator rolls) or lightly spray with a vegetable oil, also sprinkle with corn meal so the food will not stick. Let completely cool before cleaning, soak in clear hot water to remove stuck on food – no soap, use a nylon pan scraper or spatula for the tough stuff, rinse and dry for storage.

    Now one step further into the clay pot world… using flower pots to cook/bake. Alton Brown from Food Network comes to mind. One video I found quickly is to make a ceramic cooker. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ka2kpzTAL8 I really think I am going to get this one going this spring.

    Let us know how it goes.

    • Good to know all that about baking stones. Clay pot idea = awesome. I think I remember you mentioning it to me once before. Let me know how that works out. =)

      I found an online copy of my stone’s care instructions. Here’s what it says, for any one else who is interested in knowing more:

      Use

      –Preheat the stone in the oven for maximum heat retention.
      –The stone may be left in the oven at all times. Repeated use will harden the stone further and improve its baking performance.
      –Always allow the stone to cool before removing from the oven.
      –Do not place pastry or cookies directly on the stone; the butter or fat content will cause the stone to smoke.

      Care
      –Prior to first use, wash the stone in plain water.
      –Allow the stone to cool completely after use. Brush off any residue and use a nylon pad (without soap) to remove any burnt bits.
      –Hand-wash with water only. Do not use soap or detergent.
      –To remove stains, make a paste of baking soda and water, apply with a brush and rinse off.

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