Girls, I also suffer with my gas oven and have been thinking about a stone for a long time. I recently found such an article on the Internet. Everything is described very easily. From somewhere, I don't remember, if there is an author, I will be glad to say thank you!
A stone is a solid or type-setting stove on which bread is baked at home. The stone performs two main tasks - it evens out the temperature in the oven and gives off heat to the bread in the first minutes of baking. With the first moment, everything is clear - almost all of us have come across the fact that sometimes even not the cheapest ovens heat up unevenly and baked goods burn in one corner and underbake in another. The stone helps to smooth things like this, not always to the end, but it helps. The second, more important function that the stone performs is that in the first minutes of baking, it gives off its heat to a piece of dough, quickly warming up and allowing the yeast to work to its fullest and raise the dough for the last time before the crust sets. Yeast dies at 60 ° C, so that the bread does not break, the dough must reach this temperature before crusting. Correctly spaced bread will rise well if it is baked on a stone, and the cuts will open beautifully without breaking. The stone does not raise the oven temperature.
There are no big problems with stones in America, they are sold everywhere. I don't recommend the inexpensive (~ $ 15) stones sold at Target, etc.They are too subtle, and the general consensus is that they split very quickly. I'm not even talking about the fact that most of them are made in China, and over the past couple of years, only the lazy has not heard about the disregard of the local manufacturers for the elementary rules of safety and health of the consumer. I also do not recommend round stones - they are simply uncomfortable.
A good stone should be 1.5-2 cm thick and large enough to hold the maximum amount of bread, but at the same time there should be at least 2 cm between the stone and the walls of the oven.I would recommend a stone at least 45-50 cm wide. it is inconvenient to bake baguettes on a smaller stone, at least according to the recipes from this magazine. A stone thicker than two centimeters is a waste of time and money, because the thicker the stone, the longer it needs to be heated - expect about 30 minutes of heating per centimeter of thickness. A good stone of the right size for my oven (38x50x1.9 cm) costs about $ 70.
If you don’t feel like spending that much money on a stone, then in my opinion the next best option is the unglazed quarry tile. These tiles are sold at any Lowe's or Home Depot for about 40 cents for a 15x15cm half-inch thick tile, which means that for about $ 2.50 you can get a 30x45cm stone, which is enough for three baguettes or two medium-sized oblong loaves. Such tiles are easy to store, easy to remove from the oven while hot, and if necessary, it is not a pity to throw it away.
In Russia, things are a little more complicated. As far as I heard, stones are rarely found, as a rule, from sellers of "complete kitchen solutions" who have no problem asking 5 thousand rubles for a stone. There are a variety of home-grown solutions from the series "walked past the subway bought a piece of granite / marble from workers", but to be honest, I have no good reliable advice on what to do.
The steam serves to create a humid atmosphere in the oven during the first minutes of baking and to inhibit the formation of the crust. That is, stone and steam work together. The stone allows you to squeeze out the remnants of strength from the yeast as quickly as possible, and the steam at this time keeps the surface of the dough soft and elastic. In addition, steamed breads have a brighter, brighter, more attractive crust.
The standard way to get steam is to heat a cast-iron pan with a stone, and immediately after planting the bread, pour a glass of boiling water into it. Some people cover the pan with stones, this allows you to increase the thermal mass and, accordingly, the formation of steam. Actually, what I explain is that everyone was in the bath, everyone saw how it works. It is advisable to vary the amount of water so that it completely evaporates in 10-12 minutes, by this time the bread has risen, and we do not need extra steam.
Another option is to open the oven for the first few minutes every minute and sprinkle water on the walls. It's better than nothing, but much less effective.