Ready to start your holiday candy making? Don’t take another step until you get out your trusty marble pastry board. If you’ve been making candy and pastry all these years without one, you’ve been missing out.
The science behind this simple technology has endured for centuries as a necessity of pastry and candy making. But are they really a necessity today?
What makes marble boards so great?
Traditionally, marble boards were necessary equipment for pastry and candy making. Some people claim they get by just fine without them, but others say that life changed for the better after getting one.
Marble provides a cool, flat, and smooth surface that is ideal for many pastry and candy recipes. You can also warm up the slab to work with chocolate. The idea here is that the stone holds a temperature longer than other materials and that makes it a great work space for the discerning baker or candy maker.
Does granite work just as well?
Marble and granite are very different stones. However, they both get the job done for pastry and candy making. Both hold their temperature well. Both provide a smooth, flat surface.
Where they differ, however, is in their physical structure. Granite is famous for its durability and resistance to staining. Over time, if you use your marble consistently, you may develop a patina or seasoning because some moisture from the candy is absorbed into the stone. Granite’s tight crystalline structure is less inclined to absorb moisture. Both will be damaged by contact with acids, even mild acids like wine or tomato. Consider sealing your marble or granite board with food-safe stone sealer. This will protect it from much of the wear and tear especially if you keep it maintained.
What can I use a marble slab for besides candy?
For pastry work, if you chill a marble slab in your fridge, it keeps dough from sticking or becoming too warm and difficult to work with. Marble and granite are a staple for toffee and fudge recipes. It is also used in some chocolate tempering techniques.
You’ve seen those marble slab creameries that mix ice cream on a cold stone slab? Recreate that experience at home with your own marble slab.
Where can I get a marble or granite board?
Marble pastry boards are readily available from kitchen supply stores and online. Granite is a bit harder to find, but not impossible. Prices run the gambit from under $20 to well over $100.
You can also stop by your local home center and find a large marble or granite tile. If you’re looking for a custom size, shape, or color, try looking for countertop slab remnants. Or you can stop by a stone center and have one custom cut to your specifications.
What size and shape is best?
Bare minimum, your granite or marble pastry board should be large enough to roll out a pie crust. 16 x 20 is usually considered a good size. Rectangular or square shapes give you the space you need to work plus a little extra.
If you want to be able to put your stone slab in the refrigerator, check the measurements on the interior of your fridge to make sure your board will fit. If you want a larger board that won’t fit into your fridge, you can just place ice packs on the surface to cool the stone.
Can I use my marble or granite countertops?
A whole kitchen full of stone countertops might seem like a baker or candy maker’s dream come true, but not so fast. You might not want to use your countertops as direct work surfaces. Stone can absorb some moisture and might also be prone to scratching and chipping. Sealing your stone countertops can help protect from damage if they are maintained regularly.
It is a better idea to collect remnants from the installation of your countertops than use them directly for baking and candy making. A large section is cut out of your countertops to make room for your sink. Ask your installer ahead of time to try to preserve as much of this section as possible so you can use it as your pastry board.