A good friend of mine bakes the most amazing bread, and she uses a bread stone. I love eating bread, and have tried making it in the past with mixed success. So over the winter break, when I had time on my hands, I decided to buy a bread stone. I bought a round one, so I could use it for pizza as well. Today I used it for the first time while making a Challah braid.
Challah bread is just a rich egg bread that is braided before the second rise. It has a soft texture, golden crust and is slightly sweet. It also happens to be the first bread I successfully baked. I'll eventually branch out to different types of bread, but for now it's nice to stay in familiar territory.
Today I seasoned my bread stone, slowly (and I mean, slowly) brought my oven up to 375 with the stone already inside, and shaped the dough. I like to use my bread machine's dough cycle to do the hard work. Once it's ready to come out of the bread machine, I only have to shape it and let it sit for the second rise. Then it's ready to bake.
The only challenge thus far is how to transfer the bread from its rising surface onto the bread stone. I managed to do it without any damage to the loaf's shape, but it was a long and stressful process. I'll have to ask my friend for her secret.