Baking Bread on a Pizza Stone: Secret Artisan Baking at Home
The secret to the best homemade artisan style bread is baking the bread on a pizza stone. The second you put the bread dough on a hot pizza stone, it gets an immediate spring which rises the bread faster. The final result is a better risen bread with superior crust and smooth inside texture. Professional bakeries use the same technique with their deck ovens. The high heat is conducted from the stone to the bottom of the bread really quickly. If you get into a hot steam room, your body starts to get accustom to the high heat slowly. But if you sit on a hot stovetop by mistake then you start to scream. Hot pizza stone is actually creating the same effect on your bread. Too bad, it can’t scream!
Pizza stones absorb moisture and retain heat for long time. They are placed inside the oven and preheated before you start cooking on them. They come in many sizes but they usually have a round or rectangular shape. You should be careful when taking care of your pizza stone since it can get damaged easily. However, the new Thermarite pizza stones are extremely durable; you can even throw them into a large ice bucket right from the oven and they won’t crack. Easy to clean, and makes the perfect pizza and bread I have ever baked at home. If you want to water spray your bread before putting on a hot pizza stone then you need a Thermarite type stone.
What Does Stone Baked Bread Mean?
Stone baked bread means baking your bread dough on a preheated stone that is placed inside your oven. It indicates that the bread is crispier since bread baked on heated stones have crunchy crust and soft interior due to high heat they receive from the bottom during baking.
Do You Need A Baking Stone for Bread?
Bread baked on baking stone is much tastier and the crust develops far crispier. I feel like it is almost mandatory if you really want to make artisan quality bread at home. You need to infuse high heat to your bread and do it fast when you put it in the oven. This is to give extra rise before the crust is fully developed. If you are making a sandwich bread then you don’t need a baking stone. It is only helpful if you are after a crispy crust. It is pretty much like baking bread in a brick wall oven. You don’t need a baking stone for soft breads that are baked in pans.
Is A Baking Stone the Same as A Pizza Stone?
The baking stone is exactly the same as a pizza stone. It is porous and absorbs moisture so that your bread and pizza come out crispier. Sometimes, they are called pizza stone instead of baking stone to indicate as if they are made special for pizza making. However, both pizza and baking stone are referring to the same thing. It is a marketing technique to call it a pizza stone since there are far more people who cook pizza at home than making bread.
Pizza Stone Baked Bread Recipe
This recipe is great for baking on pizza stone. It makes Italian style bread with soft interior and delicious crust.
- 4 cups of wheat flour
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (you can substitute with any other oil as canola, avocado, etc.)
- 1 package active dry yeast (7 grams/0.25 oz)
- 1 ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt (or salt to taste)
- Preheat the pizza stone at 375°F for 45 minutes.
- Add dry yeast into warm water.
- Wait 3-4 minutes for it to get foamy. And then add the olive oil, milk and the sugar.
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
- And add them into the liquid mixture.
- Stir well with a spatula and start kneading either by hand or by a kitchen stand mixer.
- 8 minutes of kneading would be enough by the mixer. If kneading by hand then feel free to knead more if you like. You should check if the dough needs more water or flour during kneading. Add water or flour only with a teaspoon if it is really necessary. Too much flour or water might ruin your dough.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for an hour or until it is doubled in size.
- Take the dough out from the bowl and press down to deflate. Start folding the dough towards the center by pulling from the corners for about 3-4 minutes. You can lightly dust your work surface with flour.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts and form them into a ball shape.
- Let them rest for another 15 minutes.
- Gently roll both doughs by hand to form an Italian loaf form; the famous oblong shape.
- Dust a tray with wheat flour and place the doughs on it.
- Cover with paper towel and let them rest for half an hour.
- Score the bread doughs with a sharp knife and transfer them on to the heated pizza stone in the oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Let them cool for at least half an hour before you slice.
You can also replace 1 cup of wheat flour with 1 cup of whole wheat flour to add richness to your bread. It provides a distinct taste.
I am a big fan of baking bread on pizza stone. I can’t have the artisan quality at home without it. They are so convenient to create the brick wall oven effect for your homemade bread. You should be careful when selecting and using a pizza stone, since they are not all durable as advertised. Bread baked on pizza stone has superior crust characteristics and better texture inside out.