Stone just broke! What did I do wrong?

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Short answer:  Nothing.  We’ve found that stones do not last forever, though Jeff’s first one lasted through 11 years of daily baking. It seems clear that the 1/2-inch thick ones are very durable, and and some brands (not all) of the 1/4-inch thick stones are less so.

Incidentally, you can often use the broken pieces of the stone, depending on the size and shape of the fragments.

Alternatives to these ceramic stones include the newer cast-iron pizza “stones,” or even just a cast-iron skillet, which we’ve found work quite nicely.  Or try a Dutch Oven http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=552 or even the baking cloches http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=566, though our best guess is that cloches, being ceramic, are eventually going to break like the stones.  Iron, definitely not–these should never have a problem with cracking.

For a review of stones, click here. More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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95 thoughts on “Stone just broke! What did I do wrong?

  1. I just used (as in, two days ago) my big old work horse cast iron pan. It worked beautifully. I took away the paper as recommended and the bottom hardened up. My second loaf’s half gone and I have two balls of dough waiting in the fridge. Piece of piss as us Kiwis say.

    • I LOVE the recipes in ABin5!!!
      Has anyone here used the Fibrament stones? After having 3 Pampered Chef stones shatter on me while using ABin5 master recipe & the steam (the 1st 2 were several years old so I chalked it up to that, but when the brand new one did, I called the company and was told this is why it happened & doing so voided the warranty) my Husband surprised me with the Fibrament. Since steam is moisture & they say NOT to allow moisture on the stone, I’m curious about how to use the steam for the beautiful crust. I would greatly appriciate the wisdom of those already using it! I’m anxious to get back to baking :)
      Thank you for your time.

      • Hi Cathy,

        I have not used one, but perhaps one of our readers will give some advice. You may also want to contact the manufacturer and see what they advise.

        Thanks, Zoe

    • I want to bake your Gluten-Free Crusty Boule bread (EverydayCheapskate) in my Pampered Chef stone “dutch oven.” You say instructions for stone are on pg 237 of HBin5 – but this book has not been published yet. Help – what do I do with my stone??? Thanks!!

      • Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day was published in 2009 and is still available on Amazon and other booksellers. See the Amazon buy-link at http://bit.ly/3wYSSN
        That reference to page 237 talks about using a flat stone, but not the Dutch oven (covered cast-iron or ceramic pot), which you’ll find on page 28.

  2. For inexpensive pizza stones head down to your local pottery store and buy a new kiln shelf. Very thick and heavy duty and made from the same stuff the other pizza stones are. That being said I am lusting after the lodge cast iron one myself.

    -drew-

  3. Thanks for answering this! Unfortunately the folks at pampered chef insist that it is my fault (“thermal shock”) even though I preheated the stone in the oven, and they won’t replace it.

    But these comments are helpful, I will check into these other options.

    • My wife pointed out to me that PC stones all say not to preheat the stones. Therefore I took the advice of AB from GE and got an unglazed quarry tile (after measuring my oven to make sure it would fit) and have been using that and the bottom of an unglazed teracotta planter. Haven’t had one break yet but because both are cheaper than a baking stone, I do not care if they break.

      • John: PC’s the only company which makes this recommendation, which is why we don’t recommend the product. We think the result is much better on a pre-heated stone. the tiles also work though…

  4. For me, one of the most appealing things about the no-knead method is its minimalist approach. Even though the recipes include mixing methods for bread machines and stand mixers with dough hooks, a bowl and a wooden spoon are all that are really necessary, and I continue to have wonderful success with my old wooden spoon and a ceramic bowl passed down from my grandmother.

    I must admit that I was a bit dismayed when I got to the part in the recipes that indicated a stone was required. But after a bit of thought, I realized that I could use the same old cast iron skillet in which I have been making whole wheat pizza crust for years.

    I lightly oil the skillet and put it in the oven during the pre-heat. When I am ready to bake the bread, I lift out the skillet, sprinkle it with cornmeal, put the loaf or loaves or rolls into the skillet, and back into the oven it goes. Because it has a handle and is not an unwieldy stone, this is an easy step and the skillet doesn’t cool down and impede the baking process.

    I love making the magic that is bread from a wooden spoon, an old ceramic bowl, and a black iron skillet.

    Thanks for providing the basics, and the inspiration, for creating and developing this magic.

    –Catherine

  5. Unglazed quarry tiles (often branded Saltillo in the big box stores) can also be used and are quite inexpensive.

    I scrub them with baking soda and water before use and sometimes cut several pieces to fit exactly in the oven. Some will break right away. I suggest that you toss them and replace, because the ones that don’t break right away seem to last nearly forever.

    • Toby: Interesting. We just taught at a school where they swear by these and I don’t think they’ve ever had one break (though they don’t make much bread). Only problem is that they’re smaller and stuff falls between the joints unless you use parchment paper (which isn’t a bad option). Jeff

  6. I recently cracked my stone and I am almost positive it was due to the dough being too cold. It seems that some little hands turned the fridge to “Coldest”. So, make sure your fridge is set to the proper temp.

    • Hi Tim,

      Sorry to hear that! If you are looking to replace the stone you may consider the iron pizza pan. I have been using it recently and love it!

      Thanks for the tip! Zoë

  7. I am loving your gluten free boule and would like to try making pizza. When you use the iron pizza pan for a pizza, do you preheat it? Thanks!

    • Hi Mary,

      So glad you are enjoying the g-f boule, it makes great pizza! Yes, we do preheat the iron pizza pan.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. Hi, I’m Renate and I live in Italy (close to Bergamo). I bought everything I need to start baking your way (which seems great to me). But I can’t find gluten powder here. Anywhere. Is it possible for me to wash flour in order to make gluten myself and use that instead (if yes: how much should I use? And I assume I don’t have to boil/fry it first)?
    I’m desperately waiting for your help.

    • Renate: As far as I know, you can’t make your own vital wheat gluten, or gluten powder, or gluten flour. This is, again, to the best of my knowledge, an industrial process, not something you can re-create at home. It would involve removing the starch and non-gluten protein from white flour. “Washing,” “boiling,” or “frying” won’t accomplish that.

      Sorry I don’t have better news. Jeff

      • Seitan is a product from wheat flour and water that is basically just gluten- the starch gets rinsed off. I. Am not sure how it works to use this with bread baking, but check out __Cooking with Seitan__ by Barbara and Leonard Jacobs for the book, and how to get the gluten from flour.

  9. Amanda- the Pampered Chef stones are not supposed to be ‘preheated’. When you preheat and then put the cold dough on them, it was the source of the shock. It’s in the Use & Care.

  10. Bobbi: Wow, I didn’t know that. Given this, I would strongly recommend avoiding Pampered Chef stones. You can’t get a nice bottom crust without pre-heating the stone. Other brands appear to be much more durable, based on other readers experience.

    Jeff

  11. Hi guys, thanks for you answer (about ‘making’ glutens at home). But after reading this on internet:
    ‘When you run water over dough in this activity, you wash away most of these other substances, isolating the gluten in the dough. In the oven, the steam produced as the gluten heats up expands the ball. Finally, the gluten hardens, and you have a finished gluten ball.’

    I really thought it would be possible. But I don’t know how much to use and how long the dough can be stored this way.

    Do you think I can experiment with this (and let you know) or are you sure there’s no way this is gonna work? What would you do?
    thanks again,
    Renate

    • Renate: My first impression is that our dough would turn to soup if you ran water over it. But you never know. Have to say that I wouldn’t personally try it, but what have you got to lose? Let’s say, a half-batch? Quarter-batch? Maybe less? Jeff

  12. Hi Jeff,
    After a long long time of more searching on internet, I finally found a site that will send me the vital wheat gluten. In France. Now I can start by making your ‘normal’ recipe and experiment with ‘homewashed’ gluten (otherwise I don’t have any reference of what the dough should look like). If it works I will keep you posted. Thanks again:)

  13. I just wanted to share a recent bread baking experiment of mine involving cast iron. I have a small (4 quart) Nesco roaster, which I originally purchased with the idea of baking bread without heating up the big oven for just a small loaf. (We are only a two-person family, unless you count my dog, who never misses an opportunity to steal bread off the counter!) The Nesco worked ok, but, since it heats from the sides, it just didn’t measure up to the bread from the oven. Recently, I tried it again, but used a small cast iron casserole dish that fit perfectly into the Nesco and is just right for a small loaf. I put the loaf on parchment paper and dropped it in after preheating, adding some water for steam to the bottom of the roaster. The cast iron made all the difference in the world. Perhaps the top was still not quite as brown as an oven-baked loaf, but the texture and crust in general were great! Just thought I would share this option since we are finally (and happily!) looking at some warm months ahead.

    • Hi Sheryl,

      That is wonderful, I was just talking to someone about an alternative to using their full oven. I will pass along your experience with the cast iron in the Nesco.

      Thanks, Zoë

  14. I have a Kitchen Aid Mixer. In your recipe you mention using a paddle if using a mixer – Is that the same a dough hook that comes with the KitchenAid. Love your new book!
    Also, can vital wheat gluten be purchased in a grocery store? Thanks

    • Nina: The paddle works a little better with dough this wet. If you only have the hook, give it a try– all you need to do is get the liquids and flours to mix evenly and that’s it. If the hook doesn’t work well, you need to get the paddle.

      VWG, either the Bob’s Red Mill or Hodgson Mills product, is in many supermarkets, or here on our website at the Amazon store at left.

  15. Should all the steam water evaporate by the end of the baking time? Mine does. Is the one-cup measurement scientific in that more water would create too much steam?

    • Chris: In a well-preheated oven, the water will mostly be gone. If we were really scientific about this, we’d have you increase the water in the pan based on the volume of the oven– the larger the oven, the more steam’s needed to fill the space.

      The idea is to get a blast of steam at the beginning and then have it be gone by the end so the loaf can crisp up, hope that helps.

      We’ve never experienced a too-much-steam situation…

      Jeff

  16. Since partway through the baking time we slide the loaf off the cookie sheet and onto the oven rack, can we start by putting the cookie sheet on the oven rack and not use the stone?

    • Hi Sue,

      If you are using a cookie sheet it is not absolutely necessary to have the baking stone in the oven.

      Thanks, Zoe

  17. Enoyed your class in Stillwater. Wondering if you have a recipe for the rolls you made with the almond paste and berries? I have your second book and I didn t see it in there.

  18. It would be great if the artisan breadmakers would instruct us as to the best care of baking stones. For example, after baking, is it necessary to let the stone cool completely before removing it from the oven? My husband and son are convinced that this is so. I wonder if instead it is necessary to cool it to room temperature (which can happen outside the oven) before exposing it to any cooler liquid (such as water). Also, is it harmful to the stone to cut pizza while it is on the stone? Thank you!

    • Martha: I leave my stone in oven all the time, but I’m guessing you can pull out right away (wouldn’t put it in the fridge or other temperature shock like that.

      But I’d avoid getting it wet when hot. I clean it just by scraping w/dough scraper, generally not with water. Never soap.

      You might scratch the stone if you cut the pizza on one, but I doubt it would be a major injury to it. Jeff

  19. I just made my first loaf of bread using the Master Recipe: Boule. I noticed that the cup of water in the broiler pan had evaporated probably 10-15 minutes into the cooking. Is that normal or should I use more water? My Pampered Chef stone broke in two places halfway through the 30 minute cooking time so next time I will try using a cast iron flat pan.

  20. I’d like to know if it’s possible to bake 2-3 loafs of bread together on the same stone, since one loaf is pretty small and we devoured it today in one meal (it was my first time making the French Boule and it came out amazing). If yes, do I need to adjust the baking time? Thank you!

    • Hi Anna,

      No, you don’t need to adjust the baking time, unless the loaves are a bit bigger. Make sure they have plenty of space on the stone to grow. Go by the color of the crust, they should be nice and caramel colored.

      Enjoy! Zoë

    • Hi Pat,

      Yes, you need to preheat stones before baking bread or you will have an under-baked bottom crust and not enough rise to your loaves. I have this stone and love it!

      Thanks, Zoë

  21. Just FYI on the cloche… I’ve been using it several times a week for a few months now. The base just broke on mine. The bell-shaped lid is fine, so I will see if it will fit over one of my cast iron skillets. Love baking bread in the cloche; it comes out with perfect crust. These stone products just aren’t cut out for so much use! I also use my old camping cast-iron dutch oven. It makes fantastic bread, too.

    Thanks for all of your support and info on this site. Your book almost never is in the cabinet with the rest of the cookbooks. It’s out for work or for inspiriation! :)

    Cathy

  22. Okay, so my stone didn’t “break,” but it had a lot of metal flecks on it. From what I can figure, my pizza peel is scraping on the stone when I transfer bread.

    Has this happened to anyone else? I ordered a new stone because the metal was NOT coming off and I didn’t really feel comfortable eating something backed on top of metal flakes.

  23. About pouring water into the broiler pan when baking … one drop of water is all it took to crack my oven window! Now I just place 5-6 cups of hot tap water in the broiler pan before I begin the pre-heat, and all seems to work fine.

    • Mildred: I’m not aware of any health issues with any of the stones. Ceramic and iron don’t off any advantages over the other, as far as I know (not an expert in this area though). Jeff

  24. Ok, I just joined the ranks of those who have cracked a Pampered Chef pizza stone. I want to replace it, but since I don’t have a lot of spare income I’m looking for something that will really last. My concern about the Lodge Pro cast iron pan you list on Amazon is that it says it is “oven-safe to 400 degrees F.” Since your breads are cooked at a higher temp than that, I wanted to double check that it was safe. Thank you so much! I’m a first-time bread baker and my husband is over the moon that I can make such great bread on a regular basis.

  25. Just made my first attempt at your original recipe. It looks and smells great as it cools, but have resisted the temptation to cut into it. However, I did have a few beginners problems. First, maybe I didn’t use enough flour to dust the top before I pulled off the grapefruit-size piece and it stuck to my hands. Then maybe I didn’t use enough flour for the cloak, but the serrated knife stuck. Lastly, I added the cup of water to the broiler pan when I put the loaf in the pre-heated oven and the water all evaporated before the bread finished baking. Then when the timer sounded I opened the door and found that my Pampered Chef baking stone had cracked in half! Admittedly, I bought it used (nearly new looking) at a tag sale, so I don’t really know what it’s history was. Any way, I’m an old lady (71) who’s had much worse baking problems, so I’m not discouraged, but would like confirmation that my analysis of the beginners problems are close to accurate.

    Thanks, Nancy

  26. After 15 years of wonderful service, my PC round stone broke yesterday while baking a HBin5mins. bread. Thanks so much for your review of stones. I have decided on the Emile Henry pizza stone but don’t know whether to get the round or rectangular one. Any thoughts Jeff and Zoe?

  27. Hi there.

    We don’t have a pizza stone and was considering other alternatives that does not require preheating for a long time for a small boule. The cast iron pan seems like a great alternative. I was about to purchase it on Amazon.com and I noticed that it says max temp is 400 degrees and your basic boule requires it to be at 450. Is it just a precaution just like your advice on parchment paper? Thanks!

  28. Just got your book Artisan Bread in 5 minutes. I am very excited to start baking! I have been looking for a baking stone. Since I am on a budget I have decided to try the unglazed quarry tile. When reading (on eHow)how to use a tile instead of a baking stone it says that if I have a gas oven I should put it on the oven’s floor. That would be a problem cause where would I put the pan with the water? should I try and do put it on the middle rack and see how it turns out? also, it says that I need to preheat the tile for an hour before baking…that is way too much time. I dont think I could be able to that everyday (too much time and too much waste of gas on a daily basis), which is what I want to do. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Karla,

      I would put them in the middle and see how that goes. I have baked on them several times and always in the middle of the oven. The tiles tend to be a bit thinner than some of the heavy duty stones, which means they should heat up pretty quickly. I think they will be good to go after about 30 minutes of preheat.

      Thanks and enjoy the bread! Zoë

  29. Our family has been LOVING the bread! However, I just noticed my oven window glass has cracked. I didn’t notice dripping water on the glass, although possible, and some have suggested this was from steam. Has anyone else had this problem?

  30. I am ready to try making my first loaves from your 5 minute method, having just received my copy of “Healthy Bread . . .” and assembled the ingredients. I usually bake the pizza dough I buy ready-made on a pizza screen and the convection option of my oven. Will this work instead of a pizza stone? I don’t want to pre-heat 30 minutes every time I bake a loaf of bread.

    • Hi Noni,

      Give it a try and see how you like the result. You don’t have to have the stone, but it is the best way to get a great crust.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  31. I have not found this anywhere else, so am hoping there is enough life left in this thread to get an answer.

    I have been using ARTISAN BREAD… for some time now – and since I did not have a stone, did fine with cookie sheets – and later with my cast iron griddle. HOWEVER, my very nice boss looked at my Amazon Wish List and sent me a baking stone for Christmas (Let that be a warning to you – if you use your list to store stuff you might or might not want, be sure to clean it up once in a while!) and I have not had very good results since then.

    My problem is that I am consistently having overdone – barely shy of truly burnt – crusts (insides are fine) using the stone. Because my (electric) oven is not very good at achieving the set temperature, I use a thermometer in it to check that is correct. I believe I am following the book/recipe instructions correctly. Any thoughts on what might be going wrong here?

    Thanks,
    Kat

    • Hi Kat,

      Are you using convection heat? When you check the temperature with the thermometer, does it show that your oven is running hot? The stone will only reach the temperature of the oven, so it won’t make the oven any hotter to have it in there. Which bread are you baking?

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Boy you are FAST on the Replies! (Thank you).

        I am using the Light Whole Wheat Bread recipe. My oven is a standard electric. The problem is generally that the oven is running too cool and I generally set the temp for 5-10 degrees over what I want (digital only allows those increments) and monitor closely. However, for the bread, I have just set it to 450 as that setting gives me 450 with the stone in place.

        Yesterday – after I left my plea for help – I baked without burning by: putting the stone lower in the oven (barely enough room for the water pan underneath) and then setting it to 450 for the preheat and about 5 minutes in, dropping it to 385. The crust was not as the usual desired, but it was done to a nice brown and the interior was good too. I think I let it go about the called for time length.

        Since we are not generally finicky about crusts, I may stick with this for our own loaves (I never buy commercial bread anymore) if you have no insights as to what is happening.

      • Hi Kat,

        Glad you got a better result the last time. Sounds like you are you using an independent oven thermometer to determine the temperature?

        Thanks, Zoë

  32. Hi! I absolutely LOVE the idea of the books, and might purchase the healthy bread book. Before I buy I have a few quick questions…

    1. My mom is gluten free. Does gluten free dough store as long in the fridge?
    2. Is a “baking Stone” absolutely necessary for the recipes? Can’t I just use a cookie sheet with parchment paper?
    3. How extensive is the pizza chapter in the Healthy Breads book. What does the Pizza book that the chapter doesn’t?

    Thanks so much! Answer these questions, and I’m sold!

    • Hi Billy,

      The gluten-free doughs include some egg, so they store in the refrigerator, but not quite as long.

      You can use a cookie sheet, with or without parchment.

      The pizza book has many, many more details on achieving all kinds of pizzas. Thin or thick crust, grilled, flatbreads, gluten-free and so much more.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  33. Can I bake on a marble slab? I have one stoneware pan but having more than one would make cooking for six+ a lot easier!

    • Hi Sandra,

      This is a great question, I am not sure if marble can withstand the change in temperature without cracking??? This may be a question for the manufacturer. If you find out, please let me know!

      Thanks, Zoë

  34. We love both the Artisan Bread and Artisan Pizza books… We especially love using fresh mozerella chunks on the pizza! Delicious! I like the cast iron idea as my pizza stones keep breaking, too. Are there any recipe adaptions that we should use for the cast iron compared to the clay stone, or do all things remain the same… ?

  35. I didn’t use my 13″ PC stone (bought in 80′s) much and haven’t used it in several years. I put it in the oven, turned it to 550F & baked 3 small pizzas on it one at a time (I need a larger stone). The pizza came out great with a smokey flavor. I let the oven & stone cool afterwards. Sadly, (just when I find a great use for it) when I picked the cold stone up off of the oven rack it broke in 3 pieces.

    Question: One piece was too small to use for anything, but I discovered one of the pieces will fit in my toaster oven at an angle. The other piece is slightly too large – is it possible to trim or file it smaller? If so suggestions on how to do it?

    • Hi Shalom,

      I am sorry to hear about your PC stone, it is such a bummer. There must be a way to file it down, but I am not sure how. This may be a good question for someone at home depot??? If you invest in another baking surface, I recommend the Lodge cast iron “stone.”

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Thanks. I really need something bigger than the 13″ one that broke so I can cook at least 2 small pizzas at a time. I’m thinking of some unglazed tiles (lead free of course or maybe the steel stone I’ve seen.

      • Hi Shalom,

        The tiles are a great way to get lots of “stone” in your oven at a great price. The only downside is that bits of flour or other ingredients can fall through the cracks and cause your oven to smoke. Just be sure to clean out the oven of excess flour after baking.

        Cheers, Zoë

    • I know that this question is fairly old, but I’d think that a wet saw made for cutting tile would cut a baking stone.

      During various remodeling projects I’ve cut ceramic, porcelain, and granite tiles with mine.

  36. I’ve been baking from your new edition for the past few months and absolutely love the bread. I’ve converted numerous friends to the 5 minute approach. I am traveling to visit a friend this week and will bake bread for her. I don’t think she has a stone. If I bake the bread on a cookie sheet, do I preheat the sheet or just slide it in over the steam pan once the oven preheats? Thanks!

    • Hi Chris,

      So glad you are enjoying the bread and sharing with friends! I usually preheat the sheet for just a few minutes, since it is so thin. You don’t have to, but I figure any extra heat will give the best crust.

      Cheers and enjoy!

      • Thanks so much for your quick response Zoe! We’ll be enjoying your European Peasant loaves with family and friends all week!

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