Ovens Like Cast Iron Too


Country Moon

Cast iron, the stand-by cookware of years ago, is being re-discovered by many cooks, and not just for frying taters either. Baking with cast iron lends some delectable results. Just like it puts a good sear on steaks, it does the same with baked goods. Those brownies come out with crispy edges and nice, gooey insides.

The main reason cast iron works so well in the oven is that it gets hotter than traditional baking sheets and has higher sides. It also retains heat better than other baking materials. On the flip side, its greatest downfall is that it does have hot spots and does not heat evenly. But, with a little cast iron savvy, it can become your oven’s best friend.

When using cast, it is critical to remember two basics; to preheat and to season. Cast is thicker and heavier than most other cookware so, naturally, it takes longer to heat but retains heat longer. If you add cold food to a cold pan, you will have food sticking. Thus, cast always needs pre-heated, whether you are using it on the stove top or in the oven. It will take a little practice, but once you get your timing right, cast will yield amazing results.

Seasoning is the biggest factor when using cast iron. It is probably the thing that also scares folks away from using it. This makes no difference if your cast iron is new or vintage. On this note, the consensus is that old is better. If you are fortunate, you have your grandparents’ skillets or if you are a fan of flea markets or yard sales, you can usually find vintage cast iron there.

The gold standard of cast is Griswold brand, that was manufactured in Erie, Pennsylvania from 1865 to 1957. Today, they are collector’s items. Lodge, the family-owned company that has been making cast iron in Tennessee for 123 years, is the only remaining company that makes the cookware today. Although their pieces come pre-seasoned, it is still best to do it yourself. Through the years, their formula has changed slightly, so if you find vintage, that is still the way to go.

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