I decided to take a break from recipes for day five of The Seven Days of Sourdough, and instead talk about my two favorite baking gadgets: a scale and a baking stone.
Granted, the baking stone is a little bit of a stretch of the traditional definition of gadget, but let’s define the term this way: An optional piece of equipment that greatly improves the enjoyment or result of whatever task said gadget is being used for.
My wife and I received our baking stone as a wedding present, and it’s easily one of our favorite gifts. I’ve tried baking pizzas with and without the stone, and a well-risen pizza crust (especially when laden with toppings) is practically impossible to get without this ceramic stone.
The same goes for artisan breads, like sourdough. The baking stone provides the direct heat necessary to make an acceptably crispy crust. The stone works simply enough – just preheat the oven until the stone absorbs enough heat. The general rule of thumb is to heat the stone for at least 45 minutes before cooking on it. These baking stones aren’t expensive – the typical price is around $40.
Each time I open my oven and feel heat radiating off my stone, I’m happy to have it.
The other must-have baking gadget certainly qualifies – it’s an electronic scale. In baking, it’s important to make precise measurements, and measuring by volume just doesn’t cut it – especially when it comes to flour. Depending on how light or packed the flour might be, your measurement might differ as much as a quarter cup. Now that I have my scale (even cheaper than the baking stone, at less than $20) I use it all the time, especially when dividing things into equal pieces. It was invaluable when making rolls or slider buns.
I also use it to make sure I’ve given my wife and myself equal portions of oatmeal each morning. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.