Household Heroes: The Baking Stone

Very often I find myself musing, “I use this thing ALL THE TIME…” about some object in our home.  Things that make life easier, or more fun, or cheaper.  For the next few Mondays, I’ll be spotlighting these household heroes and inviting them to take a bow – before they get back to work!

Household Heroes, Part 2: The Baking Stone

If you’ve never tried baking stones, you’re missing out!  I was given two large stones and one small stone as wedding gifts.  I wondered: Do I really need 3 of these?  Well guess what?  I use all 3 ALL THE TIME.

You can tell which ones get used the most – the large ones.  The darker they are, they better seasoned they are.  The little guy is well on his way, though.

If radishes are the workhorse of the garden, baking stones (or pizza stones as some call them) are the workhorse of the kitchen (not Mom).  Good ol’ cookie sheets have their  heyday, but there’s so many instances where baking stones work even better, I hardly ever use cookie sheets anymore.

What are some of these advantages, you ask?  Read on!

  • A baking stone heats up gradually with the oven in order to avoid heat shock and the destruction of the stone through cracking.  This means that by the time you place your food on the stone, the entire thing is piping hot, just as hot as the air in the oven, the baking process begins immediately, and the heat is distributed evenly.
  • A baking stone will not warp minutes into baking, as some cookie sheets will do, leaving you with warped bread or scones or whatever you’re making.  Stones produce even results.
  • Low maintenance!  Need I say more?  You actually don’t want to use soap on them, as this would strip the stone of the nice oils that have built up on it.  A well-used, well cared-for baking stone is DARK brown.  Washing it with very hot water, scraping off leftover food bits, and reheating it next time you need it is all it takes to sanitize a stone.  Works exactly the same as using a cast iron pot or skillet.
  • Stones are an investment in your future.  There is no point where you’ll say “Gee, this old thing is just too rusty or scratched up.”  The older it gets, the better it gets.  Just like cast iron.  Can you tell I’m a fan?  So yes, a baking stone will probably cost a pretty penny more than a cheap cookie sheet – but it will last infinitely longer.
  • Many foods come out better baked on a hot stone than they do on a cookie sheet.  May I suggest the following list?  Cookies, pizza, calzones, scones, bread, hamburger buns, granola bars, biscuits…  I could go on but I won’t.  So many foods benefit from the extra crisping, the heat from below. 
  • You get a little workout every time you lift a stone :-).  They’re heavier than cookie sheets.

So yes, I’m a fan.  I eventually fired my cookie sheets and started just using them to transport seedlings and dirt.  If I’m ever able, I’ll replace them with a couple of aluminum/stainless steel sheets.  But in the meantime, I wouldn’t trade my family of baking stones for any number of cookie sheets.  The stones have spoken.

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