New Here and I'm hoping someone here might be able to answer my question.
I just bought two 1 1/4" soapstone slabs cut just right to fit my home oven for bread and pizza making. Very excited. Couple questions. First, how many times should I run them through the oven before I begin baking food on them? Second, roughly how long will it take to heat these stones to 480?
Re: Soapstone Slab
Sorry that I didn't catch your question earlier but here is what I know. I had a 3cm piece that I used for more than a year and was very happy with, a few things changed for me and I wanted to investigate other options. The soapstone takes a while to heat, in my case about twice as long as an empty oven. My old oven was a good quality oven/range and the heating took about an hour to get to temp. Interesting a pizza steel took about an hour to get to temp at modernist cuisine. I think the soapstone will only heat so fast, so be patient. I also found that I was lowering the temp for bread by about 25F. The Pizza will be great and the bread will benefit as well from the stone. As long as the stone is relatively homogeneous, it'll last a long time. The changes that I went through were that I started baking my bread in a combo cooker as recommended in the book Tartine. The advantage is that the cooker contains the steam and allows the crust and loaves to develop spectacularly. I also needed to replace my range and I took the opportunity to significantly upgrade. The new range has better heating, more even heat range and better heat rebound after opening the door. I also went to a 1/4 inch plate of steel for pizza and a 1 inch piece of kiln shelf for bread that is not the right shape for the combo cooker. The kiln shelf stays in the oven almost always and adds additional heat stability to the oven. Sorry I'm rambling but I'm needed else where at the moment. I'll check back later to see if I can answer more questions.
Re: Soapstone Slab
You don't need to wait, use them right away. As for heat times, that depends on your oven. When I installed soapstone counters at my other home, I had enough remnants to make three pieces 14" x 14". We had a new, well made oven, and two slabs took around 45 minutes with the oven at 500*.
Keep in mind that soapstone stores and releases heat extremely well (the best of any stone)...that's why it's used in masonry heaters and wood stoves. When you are opening and closing the oven door and putting new pizza on the stone( takes about 6-8 minutes), it doesn't lose as much heat as a metal pan or regular refractory pizza stone. I'm mentioning this because once you are done baking, don't close up your oven with it still on the rack. I only did this once and my oven locked. It had a safety switch which does this when it senses an oven fire. Those two slabs stayed hot for a long time. When I could open the door, the stone was still very hot. So, when you are done using it, consider removing the slab out of the oven, and put it somewhere safe...it will stay hot to the touch for a while. And don't shock the stone with cold water or environment.
Re: Soapstone Slab
Well my soapstone slabs are 15" x 20" and 1 1/4" thick and take a good 2 hours to get to temp. They do crack to the heat as they probably have some moisture in them. They are very heavy so taking them out while hot is not in the cards. My oven doesn't do the lock thing and I just shut it down and remove the next morning when cool.
As I said they have done some fracturing so I'm devising a plan to keep them around longer. First thing I need to do is replace my stock oven racks with heavy duty racks that bare the weight of these stones a bit better. Next I will create some sort of frame for the stones and that should help keep them in one piece for a longer time. Suggested to me has been hose clamp, which is made of stainless steel (food safe) and I can wrap it around the width of the stone and clamp it. I'm also seeking a perferct pan to get some refractory cement and put them in. Don't really want to add the pan so I'm leaning towards the hose clamps.
I knew it was a gamble using these massive stones in my home oven. If I purchased again I'd be sure to get them no thicker than 1". I'm already lookin into kiln shelves to replace as they don't need drying and can withstand much higher heat that I intend to use. I'll keep using these though til they can't be used any longer. Then I'll make them two giant stepping stones in the yard.
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