The New Bakers Dozen
Baking Tiles

The The Bakers Dozen: Baking Tiles
By Chris on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 01:59 pm: Edit

I recently caught the last part of a baking show the other day where the cook said that placing tiles from a hardware store in the oven really help make better bread or pizza.

I'd like to get some more info about this if anyone out there knows:

What kind of tiles should I use?
What kind should I NOT use?
Do I put the bread/pizza directly on the tiles?
What level in the oven should they be placed, i.e bottom, or middle?
Can I leave the tiles in the oven when I make other dishes such as casseroles?
Do I need to adjust the temperature/baking time?



By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 02:38 pm: Edit

I am assuming this is for home use? I believe you want unglazed terra cotta flooring tile.DO NOT use glazed tiles. I bought some from tile supplier for next to nothing. I'm sure I spent no more than 4 or 5 dollars on them. I haven't set them up in my new oven at home yet, but in my very old decrepit (gas) oven I did a double layer of extra heavy duty foil as sort of a tray and put them right on the floor of the oven. From what I've read, there needs to be an inch or two all around between the tiles and the oven walls for air circulation - measure before you go, they may be able to cut some tiles to give you a better fit. You're going to want the maximum surface area you can get for pizzas and long loaves.

Yes, you do put the pizza or bread right on the tiles, yes you can leave them there all the time, and as for cooking temps and times, you probably should get a book with recipes written for baking directly on tiles, but just for an example, I set my old oven at it's hottest, which said 550 F on the dial but was probably closer to 450 F when fully heated, due to the lack of insulation :-) I'm really glad I have a new oven now!

I would suggest the book "Bread Alone" by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik. It's really a fabulous book on bread making - I've used it a sort of a self study course and learned more than from any other source. At the very least check it out from the library to read the section on tiles in the oven!

Good luck!

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 07:34 pm: Edit

They were telling you to buy them at the hardware store because they are exactly what they sell in kitchen stores for alot more $$. I use them in the middle of my oven. When you place your raw dough on the hot tile it may stick very quickly not letting you position your item in the center as you wish. So I always use a layer of cornmeal under the crust so it won't stick to the pan you made it on or the tile. Although it will make a slight mess on the bottom of your oven because some bit's brush off the tile, so I lay foil underneath to catch it.

The tiles are easy to use, they give items a wonderful crisp crust I'm sure you'll like.

By judymontreal on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 07:39 pm: Edit

I use a large unglazed terra cotta tile at home for pizzas and some breads. Hey guess what? When you crank up the oven temp. to 500 the air pockets in the clay expand and crack the tile. I used to keep replacing them but gave up and now have a rather large terra cotta jigsaw puzzle in the bottom of my oven. But what the heck, it works. It does make a nice, crisp crust on pizza.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 07:42 pm: Edit

I forgot to say above - in case they didn't say on the show - that you'll need a "peel" to transfer your pizza or loaf onto the tiles. A rimless cookie sheet works well as a peel. Or you can get a real one at a restaurant equipment store, but the handles can be a little long for a home kitchen!

By judymontreal on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 07:50 pm: Edit

I should add that I made a peel to use for pizzas and bread. It was very expensive to buy the real thing so I just used 1/4-inch plywood and made my own. This is the plywood which has good wood on one side. I drew the shape I wanted, cut it out with a jigsaw (funny, -I've used that word twice tonight in my messages) and sanded the edges. I use it with cornmeal and the dough slides right off and lands on the tile exactly where I want it.
As M.S. would say, "It's a good thing".

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 07:55 pm: Edit

OOH, I just remembered something else - I remember reading that you should heat and cool the tiles a few times, starting at a moderate temperature and increasing it to "season" them. I did that and I haven't cracked any. But my oven probably never got up to 500 F anyway. judymontreal - did you do that and they cracked anyway?

By judymontreal on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 08:26 pm: Edit

No I didn't. I used them right away when they were new. Thank you for the tip.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 - 09:37 pm: Edit

I don't have a peel at home, that's why I use the middle shelf (You can pull it out). So far I've just used the back of any pan (so it doesn't have a lip to hang up on) with the cornmeal and haven't had any problems transfering dough. Just mentioning that incase Chris doesn't have a peel at first, once you like it (tile)you'll want to buy the peel.

I've only made thin breads & pizza on
tiles. How do you like them on more traditional breads? Do you stay with the orginal oven temp. ?

By judymontreal on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 05:21 am: Edit

I only use the tile for flat breads like nan and pita. I would like to use it for long French and Italian crusty loaves but the tile is not big enough. For those I use a baking sheet. Also I find that the tile is useful only at temps higher than 400F with shorter baking times. When I made a round sourdough, the bottom browned too soon before the rest of the loaf baked. It would be good for baguettes and other narrow long loaves but as I said, the tile is not wide enough.

By momoreg on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 08:32 am: Edit

I have a jigsaw puzzle on the bottom of my oven at home, too. I'm curious; do you have to season the tile every time you use it, or just once?

By danl on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 03:58 pm: Edit

Just thought I would add a little inf. from my exp. with tiles. What you are looking for are called quarry tiles which are dense high fired non glazed tile. Terra cotta has a tendency to crack because of the way it is formed ie density and rolling combined with low fire tech. When I started my shop I needed to simulate pizza oven so I started to get information from a very good local potter, what I found out was something I never thought about, that is how much heavy metals are in the clay of the tile used and does it leach into the food product?. Because this person had already been making wood bake ovens he had certified clay free of heavy metals that are harmfull so my stones are made from that clay. That is the intresting fact I found when having baking stones made for my ovens. These stones were hand rolled and made to deliver a nice even heat but it only works as good as my ovens.

By momoreg on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 04:48 pm: Edit

Where can we find quarry tiles?

By Daniel on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 05:08 pm: Edit

Momoreg, quarry tiles can be obtained at any good tile retailer. The tiles come in different sizes, ie 4x4 6x6 and 9x9 inches. Let me be clear about the stones I used, they were not commercial quarry tiles thse were custom made for me hence the ability to control the clay being used. I suggest quarry tiles because these are least likely to crack unlike terra cotta and give the desired result. One old company that made quarry tile was H&R Johnson from England standard stock at a tile company. Hope this helped.

By momoreg on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 06:18 pm: Edit

Yeah, thanks. Are you the Dan who wrote the excellent bread book?

By judymontreal on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 07:31 pm: Edit

I must be a real loser when it comes to tiles because the ones I had crack in the oven are quarry tiles. I have been calling them terra cotta by mistake. Mine are 16" x 16" x 1 1/2". Huge and very heavy. It may be my imagination, but the dough gets a faint but very pleasant earthy taste from them.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 07:48 pm: Edit

You know, now that you say it, I'm pretty sure mine are quarry tiles, too. They're quite a bit heavier than I would think terra cotta would be.
Mine are about 3"x6". It was an odd size the tile place had, but I figured they'd fit in my oven better. They are only about 3/8" thick. I wonder if the thickness and size of yours made a difference in it's expansion/contraction properties, making it more likely to break???

momoreg - I only "seasoned" mine the first time.

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, January 27, 2000 - 09:51 pm: Edit

i have tiles in one set of decks in my kitchen,i use this only for my version of fococcia. can you use these tiles in a convection over?

By judymontreal on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 04:53 am: Edit

Good point Ramodeo, maybe I will look around for smaller, thinner tiles.

By Daniel on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 11:23 am: Edit

Momoreg, I am not the person who wrote the excellent bread book, is that a review or a title? The quarry tile I was referring to were of the thinner type like the one Ramodeo is using. While the thick type fits the tech. definition of quarry tile the density and firing tech. is different producing a more fragile tile than the thinner type. (more reactive to hot and cold)


By Chris on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 12:49 pm: Edit

I just want to jump in here and say thanks to everyone for all the great information. I'm going out today to get some tiles as well as wood to make a peel with my jigsaw.


By momoreg on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 06:18 pm: Edit

I am referring to a bread baker in NY state named Dan Leader. I have the book in my collection; it's called 'Bread Alone'. It seemed like you were him, because in the book's intro., he describes how he painstakingly researched to find the perfect materials for a custom bread oven. Truly an inspiration. It made me consider becoming a bread baker instead of a pastry chef. That's just a fantasy, though. My bread baking is purely recreational, except for a few breakfast breads at work. Anyway, thanks for the tips.

By Daniel on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 07:25 pm: Edit

Momoreg, I think I read an article about this person. Is he the guy that had his oven shipped to him from France stones and all? I think his shop is near woodstock or somewhere close to that location . If this is the person please give me the location of his shop, if you know it, I would like to see his oven.


By momoreg on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 07:37 pm: Edit

I believe it's in Phoenicia, NY. I was there about 10 years ago. My college boyfriend worked there after we got out of school.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 07:48 pm: Edit

Daniel -
You've got to get the book! :-) The story of the oven is great! Yes that is the guy, according to the bio in the back of the book, he lives in Boiceville, NY and the bakery is on "a battered service road along route 28" two hours north of NYC, near Woodstock.

By momoreg on Friday, January 28, 2000 - 11:03 pm: Edit

Yup, Boiceville. I knew it was somewhere around there!

By Daniel on Saturday, January 29, 2000 - 12:32 pm: Edit

Thanks for the inf. and reco. of book. I will check out the book and visit his shop in up comming trip. Are there any other shops of intrest you can recomend in N.Y.C. and surrounding areas as far north as Boiceville.


By momoreg on Sunday, January 30, 2000 - 08:05 am: Edit

Have you been to Amy's Bread in the city? You should definitely check her place out. I don't know much about what else is out there in the Catskills, sorry.

By Daniel on Sunday, January 30, 2000 - 08:56 pm: Edit

Thanks Momoreg I will check out Amy's also. I have'nt been to N.Y.C. since Kochs' first term so I am looking foward to it. Thanks for the tips.


By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Tuesday, February 01, 2000 - 08:53 pm: Edit

I just stumbled upon a website - It's got maps and directions and everything! heeheehee =)

By Daniel on Wednesday, February 02, 2000 - 05:05 pm: Edit

Ramodeo, thanks so much for the site. I checked it out and know exactly where it is, organized tours? I did'nt think it was going to be such a large scale. Can't wait to see this oven.


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