The baking stone fad has ebbed and flowed over the years. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have one or once had one, but never used it. I’ve been offered several and mostly I say no thanks, not because I wouldn’t use it, but because I already have one. And I use it. Almost daily. Ok, not really daily, but it is a really handy thing to have. I’ll give you a few reasons.
The stone is usually sold as a pizza stone. Whether you make your own crust or open a frozen pre-made pie, the stone is great for baking pizza. It makes the crust nice and crusty. We do not make pizza often, but when we do I bake it on the stone and the crust is just as good as getting it from a brick oven pizza place (though without that nice smoky flavor from the wood fired ovens there).
Of course, I use my stone primarily for baking breads. Even bread baked in pans benefit from baking on a stone. The stone retains heat and transfers it to your dough to create that crusty crust that makes hearth breads so yummy. And if you have bread that has lost its crustiness, a few minutes on the baking stone will get that nice crust back for you. It will even make your biscuits out of a can or heat and serve rolls much better.
3. Oven Temperature
Many people complain of having trouble with hot spots or uneven oven temperatures. A baking stone will help that greatly. Once preheated, the stone will retain its heat for a long time, thereby keeping your oven at a more consistent temperature. If this is your particular trouble, I suggest keeping your stone in your oven at all times on the bottom rack. Bake anything you would not normally bake on a stone on a rack above it.
4. Beauty from Ugliness
Today I tried to make the same beautiful sourdough loaves I made last week. I must have done something wrong because the dough was wetter and it stuck to my proofing basket. It was really ugly when it went into the oven, but after a nice long bake on the stone, it doesn’t look half bad. In fact, it kinda looks like I might have done this on purpose. Umm, yeah, you’re right. The bread is still kinda ugly, but at least it’s nice and brown. So, even if your food tastes bad, the stone will make it look beautiful, sort of.
So, if you have a baking stone that you never use, you might want to consider getting it out and trying it again. Or, if you have a friend who has one and doesn’t want it, take it and try it. It is worth it for the crust alone.