Baking on a stone

This newbie has a basic question. I reduced the water content in the Artisan Rye so it could be shaped and not spread all over the place as my prior loaves. The crust and crumb came out perfect but I do need to change my baking technique.

As I cracked my Romertopf placing cold dough in a preheated baker I am going to try and use my oven stone for its intended purpose with steam.

How does one know after shaping a dough ball whether it will hold its shape when placed in the hot oven? Is there a way of telling or is it luck of the draw? I let the dough ball set on the counter (proofed and warm) for a few minutes and it seemed to (almost) hold its shape but tossed it in my cracked Romertopf at the last minute as I didn’t want to lose it.

Appreciate your comments.

I don’t have a definitive answer and I am not sure there is one :), but I’ll add some thoughts and experience baking on a stone.

There are only 2 things I bake on a stone: ciabatta and a muffuletta bread, both which are supposed to be “flat-ish”. I use @Fermentada 's sourdough ciabatta or spelt ciabatta recipes from this site. The spelt does the slipper shape, my white sourdough heads for the sky. I’ve tried various things: oven temp, more flour on the shaping cloth …puffy ciabatta. As I was thinking about your question and my own issue, I got to thinking that maybe it is the extra amount of starter that is my issue and I’m going to try backing off starter amount next round.

Now, I don’t know that adding a higher % of starter will help a rye rise up on a stone. In my experience, rye (where rye is a good % of total flour amount) tends to need a pan or other vessel to support a rise and is likely not a good candidate for baking on a stone. But, if that was my only option, I think I would try a higher % of starter and see what happens.

If I wanted to bake a rye loaf on a stone, I’d add in a fair bit of flour with a lot of gluten. I just checked @Eric’s artisan rye recipe (I’ve never done that one) and it calls for 50/50 bread flour and whole rye flour. If I wanted to bake that bread on a stone without it spreading out too much, in addition to going dryer which you already did, I’d probably also change the recipe to something like 70/30 bread flour to rye flour. If that’s too much white flour for you, you might also try something like 50% bread flour, 25% whole rye, and 25% whole hard white (which has pretty good gluten development but a fairly neutral flavor profile).

Sorry to hear about your Romertopf cracking. I’ve been putting cold (straight from the fridge) dough into my pre-heated clay bakers (both my Romertopf and my Breadtopia one which I understand is made from the same clay) for years and never had any cracking. I’m knocking on the nearest wood over here.

Thanks for the input… If anyone will have an issue with a product (my clay baker) it will be me. Wonder how they bake rye in a bakery? They must use a stone.


With regards to the starter I did notice that Peter Reinhard actually adds commercial yeast to the final sourdough in rye recipes. Maybe to get the rise as he bakes directly on a stone.

Well, I think the deal with bakery ovens and baking on the oven surface … is that they are set to much higher temperatures. So similar to cooking something like Pita Bread in a very hot pan so that it “opens”, the high temp of bakery ovens is going to change how things happen.

@Fermentada talks about using the Uni wood fired oven for sourdough pizza at temp of 800F. The post is: here. I don’t know if she has baked bread in it.

Only baked some garlic knots in the Ooni as the pizza oven cooled – twisted and seasoned some of the unused pizza dough at a party. The garlic knots were a massive unexpected hit among the teens :slight_smile:

Here’s an all rye i did in a lodge combo cooker, so no real side support. I followed the proportions of the whole spelt recipe. It wasn’t a pancake but not tall either.

I have read that rye prefers sourdough’s acidity for fermentation. I’m guessing Reinhart adds the yeast for speed more than height or fermentation quality.

The first time I made Eric’s Artisan Rye I added a teaspoon of instant yeast to the final dough and it did seem to speed up the fermentation. I only had a 1/2" rise in the banneton and didn’t get any additional rise in the oven (except horizontally :rofl:). The second time I left out the instant yeast and basically had the same results except I did a cold proof to try and make the dough more manageable. That cracked my Romertopf.

My best results with Eric’s recipe has been to reduce the water by 50g and will do slightly more the next time. Although sticky it was manageable with floured hands and I think it will hold its shape without spreading on a hot stone.

I’m new to all this so each time is an experiment… just glad I can eat them HAHAHA!

Do you have a steaming plan for the oven? If you have a big roasting pan lid that would be possibly the easiest…

Just in case you need more advice … I know you might be a bit “gun shy” about putting cold dough on/in anything … BUT, the other thing that might get you up instead of out is refrigerating the dough after shaping and then plopping it on the hot stone/preheated oven. No warm up: frig to stone.

I had a stone crack, but that was my fault for trying to use it in my small top oven with the stone too close to the element. I replaced the stone with an Emile Henry “stone” which I’ve had no issue with so … baker beware :slight_smile:

1 Like

i rigged up a drip pan that seems to work well. Bottom pan gets hot and upper pan drips into it.

1 Like

Yep I am gun shy on the cold dough routine although it is much easier to work with. Only used my Romertopf a couple of times so that wound up being an expensive trial.

I have had some success baking on my pizza stone and using an inexpensive aluminum roasting pan. You can get the deep one, put it upside down over the loaf and it will cover your loaf and seal in the steam. I have reused the “disposable” pan many times to get my loaf to pop.

I love baking bread on my pizza stone! Usually I heat the stone along with the dome part of my cloche to 475°—takes at least 30 minutes. I raise my dough on a piece of parchment paper so I can easily slip it onto the pizza peel. Open the oven door, carefully remove the cloche, slide the raised bread dough (including the parchment) onto the pizza stone, carefully place the cloche dome over the bread and shut the oven door. Leave the temp setting at 475° for 20-25 minutes, then remove the cloche, turn down the oven to 375° for 10-15 more minutes. Use an insta-read thermometer to check internal temp (should be 200°). If I can figure out how to post a pic, I will! Happy bread baking!

1 Like

Try this, pick up a basket at goodwill, line it with parchment paper, do your last proof in that, than just pickup the parchment paper with the dough and place it on the stone, it will hold its shape much better and you can look for any shape basket you’d like. I use one long and one more rounded Once bread is cooked paper just falls away.

I found cooking on a stone with a inverted clay flower pot helps wet Doug hold a nice boule shape. I like the basket and parchment paper idea I’m going to try that as well

I use a square roasting pan over all my rolls and baguettes. In fact I let them rise on an oven liner, then when they are ready to go into the oven I spray the inside of the roaster with water and place it over the liner for about 10 minutes. After that the rolls are nicely risen and ready to be browned , takes about another 10 to 15 minutes. Oven temp is 425 on middle rack.

Can you please explain what an oven liner is? Thanks.