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The Most Effective Alternatives To A Baking Stone

The Most Effective Alternatives To A Baking Stone

Whether you call it a baking stone or pizza stone, you might be putting off purchasing one since they can get pricey and they can be quite sizeable.

You’ve most likely had plenty of books, recipes, or videos recommend using a baking stone for bread or pizza, so it can become an annoyance if you haven’t got anything on hand that you can use instead.

Fortunately, there are cheaper options that you can use whilst deciding whether to purchase a baking stone.

If you can’t use a baking or pizza stone, here are some great alternatives that can do an excellent job as a substitute.

Baking Stone AlternativeBreadPizza
Baking SteelXX
Unglazed Terracotta TilesXX
Dutch OvenX
Cast Iron PanX
Thick Baking TrayXX
Fire BricksXX
A GrillX

So now you know what you can use instead of a stone, but I’m going through these options in more detail below.

It’s important that you know how to use these properly so you get the most effective results with them.

Baking Steel

A baking steel is arguably more effective than a baking stone when used in a home oven.

Since home ovens can’t get as hot as pizza or bread ovens, baking steels can be a great alternative as they conduct, maintain, and transfer heat more effectively than baking stones.

These steels make superb home pizza as they give great leopard spotting on the base.

If you’re baking bread on steel, you may face a problem with an overbrowned base. Since it can get so hot, bread that’s baked on it for long periods of time may burn.

One solution to this is to add a layer or two of parchment paper in between the bread and the stone as a way to reduce heat transfer slightly.

Whilst it’s certainly not an extremely cheap option, it’s something to consider if you’re worried about a baking stone cracking or if you want a very durable piece of cookware that does a good job for baking both bread and pizza.

Unglazed Terracotta Tiles

Using terracotta (quarry) tiles over a baking stone is considerably cheaper than buying a full stone.

You’ll just be out a few dollars after you find some decent ones at your local building or department store.

Both pizzas and bread can be baked on these and you’ll get a very similar result to what you’d get with a baking stone.

It’s important that you get completely unglazed tiles as any with glazing can transfer chemicals into your pizza or bread whilst baking. Always double-check that the tiles you’re buying are actually unglazed and safe to cook food on. It’s your responsibility to look out for your own health.

To bake with these tiles, you should give them a thorough cleaning before lining them up on your oven’s baking rack and heat them up as you would with any other baking stone. Try to make sure that there are no gaps between the stones so the dough can bake on it properly.

You may need 2, 4, or even 6 tiles depending on the size of them. Either way, they’re very cheap and are a great alternative.

Dutch Oven

A classic substitute to a baking stone when it comes to bread is a dutch oven.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s not really viable to bake pizza in a dutch oven. You’ll just be left with a mess.

A dutch oven maintains heat exceptionally well and can hold in steam, which allows for a nice oven spring. These two traits make it great for baking bread.

Dutch ovens need to be heated up similarly to a baking stone. They should be heated for an hour so they can get to the right temperature before you can then put your dough in, put the lid on, and allow it to bake.

The lid is what traps the steam and allows for a nice rise in the oven.

After a set period of time (depending on what bread you’re making and the size of it), you should take the lid off to allow for browning.

Once it’s baked, you should have a beautifully risen and crusty loaf of bread.

The downside to this method is that you’re constricted to baking round loaves. You don’t have the option to bake any kind of longer or wider bread in this way.

Cast Iron Pan

You can use a dutch oven for baking bread and a flat and wide cast iron pan for baking pizza.

Having a cast iron pan that’s at least 12″ wide will allow you to make some great pizza if you know the correct way to do it. A wider pan is always better for this method though.

Whilst it’s not quite as large as a baking stone, there are some workarounds that can give you a pizza that can be even better than what’s made on a stone.

You can bake pizza on a cast iron pan by either turning it over and using the bottom or by just using the top side.

There are two ways in which you can make a great pizza in a cast iron pan, so let’s talk about them:

The Oven Bake Method – Simple

  1. Preheat your oven to the highest it can go with the cast iron pan inside.
  2. After 45-60 minutes of preheating, assemble your pizza and quickly slide it onto the cast iron pan.
  3. Bake for 5-12 minutes or until baked through and to your desired color.

The Stove And Broiler Method – More Complicated

  1. Preheat the pan on the stove and turn your broiler on (both at medium-high heat).
  2. Shape the pizza dough to the width of the pan.
  3. Once the pan is preheated, carefully lay the dough onto it and add the sauce and toppings.
  4. Pull the pan just before the bottom crust gets to the color you want and put it under the grill for a few minutes until it’s cooked through and at your desired color.

My personal favorite is the stove and broiler method as I can make very tasty and aesthetic Neapolitan-style pizza.

Thick Baking Tray

Using a thick baking tray will work in a similar way to how a baking steel would.

Just like a steel, it would need to be preheated for a while before anything is slid onto it and allowed to bake.

So, both bread and pizza can be baked on a baking tray.

The problem with a baking tray is that since it’s likely to be less efficient at maintaining heat when compared to a stone or a steel.

Since it’s most likely thinner than a stone or steel, it won’t hold onto heat efficiently and it’ll transfer heat to its surroundings faster too.

This means that although it can get a decent bottom crust on your bread or pizza, it won’t be the best.

With that said, if you’re stuck for what to use, you can use a thick baking tray as a temporary alternative.

If you don’t own a very thick baking tray, you can stack multiple trays of the same size on top of each other for a similar result.

Fire Bricks

As the name suggests, these bricks are resistant to fire, meaning that they can withstand high heats without cracking easily. These types of bricks are made from clay.

You should avoid other bricks like concrete. These bricks don’t withstand heat well and will crack very easily.

These bricks are used to make solid woodfire ovens and there’s a good reason for that. They handle heat very well.

These bricks can handle rapid temperature changes as well as being able to maintain and transfer that heat efficiently.

Both bread and pizza can be baked on fire bricks.

To set this up for baking, you should make a flat layer on one of the baking racks in your oven so it makes a flat sheet of bricks. From here, you should preheat the oven for 60 minutes and bake everything as normal.

A Grill

This isn’t exactly a traditional method, but it’s an interesting and tasty alternative way to cook.

Making pizza on a grill will give you a completely different flavor and texture to an oven-baked pizza, but it’s worth trying out when you’ve got the grill fired up.

It’s great for when you’ve got friends or family over or even if you just want to treat the kids.

This method involves grilling the dough, adding the toppings, and serving. It’s very simple but very tasty.

It can be easy to mess up this kind of pizza if you don’t know what you’re doing, so here’s what you need to do.

As you’ll be able to see below, all you need to really do is roll the dough out so it’s very thin, apply a generous amount of oil and grill it until you get a nice char on each side. You can add a good amount of toppings so they can melt or cook through and you’ll be on your way to enjoying great pizza.

Here’s Why You Should Buy A Baking Stone

Now you know what you can use instead of a baking stone if you’re wanting to make bread or pizza, so you may be wondering why you should buy a baking stone with all these other great options.

I’ll mention now that both baking stones and steels are brilliant for making bread and pizza, but it’s down to you to choose which one you prefer. There are pros and cons to both and neither are going to bad.

With that said, let’s get into the reasons why it’s worth buying a baking stone:

It’s Useful For Cooking More Than Just Bread And Pizza

Baking stones can improve the cooking, roasting, and baking of plenty more than just bread and pizza. You can roast vegetables, make crispy quesadillas, or bake cookies with a crunchy base.

Over time, you’ll figure out how it improves the cooking of all kinds of different food.

If you do plan on cooking on it, it’s very easy to clean so there’s nothing to worry about there.

It Helps Maintain An Even Oven Temperature

Having a nice thick stone in your oven can be great for regulating the temperature.

Since these stones maintain their temperature so well, they’re ideal for minimizing any cold spots and slowing heat loss.

The thicker the stone, the more heat it will maintain, and the slower it will lose that heat, so it can be great when roasting or baking anything.

It’s Very Useful If You’re Baking A Lot Of Bread Or Pizza

Going from baking without a stone to using one will likely give you a noticeable difference (depending on what bread or pizza you’re baking).

The direct heat coming from the base of the bread will give the dough instant heat and therefore promote a faster a better rise. This allows for slightly taller loaves of bread as well as puffy pizza crusts and crispy bases.

The intense heat can give your pizza crust those lovely dark leopard spots that are associated with Neapolitan-style pizza.

This crust also does a lot to support the structure of the pizza, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any floppy slices.

With All That Said, Here’s What To Remember

A baking stone is great, but it’s only really for those that feel like they need to get a better bake.

If you’re already using an alternative to a baking stone and getting good results, there aren’t many other reasons to buy one.

Whilst it can be useful to own one, they can get quite expensive so you might prefer to just stick with things like fire bricks or terracotta tiles.

If you feel like your bread or pizza could do with some improvement still, you might want to invest some of your money into a high-quality baking stone that’s at least 1/2″ thick (roughly 13mm), but a thicker one could be better. You might find it better if you can get something that’s 1″ thick (roughly 25mm).