What is the best surface on which to bake bread?

A preheated baking stone or quarry tiles are ideal. Allow it or them to preheat for a minimum of 45 minutes. Stone retains heat, giving better oven spring or rise to the loaf, and absorbs moisture yielding a crisper crust. To avoid sprinkling flour or cornmeal on the stone, Silpain, or Silpat (both are silicone mats but Silpain is black and has little holes for breathing), or parchment, can be placed directly on the stone.