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Chat Leftovers: Stones rock

The secret word today is "lunch." In today's paper we've given you two choices for your workday noontime meal. You can venture out to try your luck at the nearest federal government cafeteria -- but as we found while grazing through several of them, luck usually is not on the menu. Or you can make your own quick meal without having to depend on the break-room vending machine.

Whatever you do, make sure you're back at your computer screen by 1, in time for our Free Range chat. (You can chat and finish that RFP spreadsheet at the same time, right? Sure, boss.) We're thinking plenty of federal workers will want to dish about their cafeteria food.

But we also want you to ask questions -- plenty of them. How else will I have leftovers to answer next Wednesday morning? Here's one from last week's chat:

I’ve seen some recipes where it says to bake bread on a baking stone. Is that the same thing as a pizza stone (just in a different shape)? If so, what types of bread should I be doing on it? Obviously not quick breads, like banana, but is everything else fair game?

Ouch, this hurts my feelings. Clearly you missed my incisive blogpost on baking stones in June 2009.

The short answer is that yes, baking stones and pizza stones are the same thing. Most stones sold for pizzas are, as you'd expect, round. I did lots of research before buying mine and concluded that a rectangular model was the way to go: more versatile.

The kind of baking stone I ended up buying. That black stuff isn't grunge, by the way; it's a badge of honor. (AWMCO Inc.)

You're right; you don't want to dump a quickbread dough onto a baking stone. But the stone is good for all kinds of formed loaves, artisan breads, rustic breads, hearth breads, whatever you want to call them. Any yeast or sourdough bread that doesn't need a loaf pan or other pan to confine it to a specific shape is probably fair game. So are flatbreads, of course. I've read that some people even bake cookies on theirs (I haven't tried it). I have a favorite nectarine-raspberry crostata recipe that I plan to try on the stone; its free-form construction is perfectly suited to that kind of baking.

A stone is one of those pieces of kitchen equipment that starts out seeming a little like a frivolous splurge and ends up being an essential part of your baking life. I say: Go get one.

-- Jane Touzalin

By Jane Touzalin  |  July 14, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers  | Tags: Chat Leftovers, Free Range, Jane Touzalin  
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One of the secrets to my free-form galettes is the combination of a baking stone and heavy pizza pan, something I learned from Rose Levy Bernabaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. I use a deep dish pan from Chicago Metallic, but suppose that at a heavy baking sheet will work well too.

Following advice heard on an interview with Shirley O. Corriher (author of "Bakewise") on KCRW's Good Food, I keep my baking stones in the oven all of the time on the lowest shelf in the oven. I think they help all of my baked goods by reducing the temperature variation in the oven and giving an extra boost of heat to whatever I'm baking.

Posted by: meander510 | July 14, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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