Archive for the ‘Ask The Pan Handler’ Category

SidebySidePans

I love cake.  I particularly love cake on the day it’s baked, and fortunately, I love baking too.  My grandmother was a wonderful baker, and whenever I make a cake I feel her spirit in the kitchen with me.  Admittedly, sometimes her spirit is wondering what on earth I’m doing when I accidently swap teaspoons for tablespoons or burning the pecans when they’re meant to be lightly toasted, but it’s still there, cheering me on!

I was nervous when I started making skillet cakes.  My skillets were GREAT for searing meat, or frying eggs, but I wasn’t sure whether the non-stick surface would still work with baking cakes.  I also burned the first couple of muffin batches I made, so I was a bit worried about making a mess.

To get around this, I started using parchment paper (baking paper to some) sprayed with a little Pam to line the skillets.  I never had a problem with a sticking cake and there was minimal washing up!  The only downside is that the cakes were a little uneven, but that didn’t matter when you could cover them in icing!

After a while though I wanted to start making layer cakes, and for that you need a more consistent shape, so I decided to use the old fashioned method of rubbing butter on the inside of the pan, and then dusting with flour.  It took a little more attention getting it out of the pan, but it worked perfectly too!

So what should you use?   Frankly, it doesn’t matter – try both, and pick what works best for you!  Cast iron is nothing if not versatile!

 

Your cakes will taste great, regardless!

Orange Spiced Layer Cake

Griswold No. 22 Corn Bread Pan

Stephanie from the Pacific North West wanted to know more about this Griswold Corn Bread Pan.

This corn bread pan was one of Griswold’s most prolific baking pans.  Even though it has “Corn Bread Pan” inscribed on the underside, it is known as the “Griswold No. 22 Bread Stick Pan, pattern number 954” and was made in Erie, Pennsylvania from the 1880’s all the way up to the 1950’s.  According to the book ‘Griswold Muffin Pans’ by Jon B. Haussler (available from Amazon here) there are 15 (!!!!) known variations of this pan.

Stephanie’s pan is variation 12, which is one of the most common variations of this pan.  It’s one of the later iterations of the pan, and has the hanging holes (which started appearing in Variation 7) and the Griswold name inscribed on the underside (which started in Variation 10).

Whilst there are no particularly rare variations, many collectors have fun trying to hunt down them all.   These pans are pretty easy to find, in flea markets, antique stores or garage sales. We always have some of these (usually Variation 15, below) available on the site too.

Don’t think you’re limited to just making bread sticks in them – I made crab cakes in a bread stick pan during a fun competition that founder Mary had a couple of years ago.  She even wrote a blog post about it here (with recipe)!

All in all, this is a fun, accessible baking pan to have.

Happy Cooking, Stephanie!

 

Griswold No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet

Question: Bill C from Virginia wrote “I have a Griswold #11 or model 717 fry pan. It works good with gas but I want to use it on a flat surface electric stove. Can I grind down the ring on bottom side of pan without affecting function of pan?”

Anna’s Answer:  You can use pans with heat rings on electric stoves, so I’m wondering if the pan already has a significant wobble, or maybe some warpage.

Many vintage pans, particularly the larger ones, do have a small amount of movement.  This doesn’t preclude them from being used on all cooking surfaces, a pan doesn’t need to be pancake flat, but if it has a severe rock or it spins, or you can slide something bigger than a nickel under the side then it’s not going to be a good cooker on a flat cooking surface such as an electric stove or induction cooktop.  Of course, if you have raised burners such as with a gas range, or you want to use it in the oven or camping, you’ll be just fine.  Mary wrote a great blog on pan movement here.

Let’s say Bill’s pan does have a big wobble, and preheating the pan isn’t enough to compensate.  Bill can grind his heat ring down, but how flat the surface would be will depend on a combination of how evenly the heat ring is removed, and how flat the pan is otherwise, so Bill needs to be careful to stop at various times during the grinding process, and check how flat is pan is, and where the wobbles might be.  This way he can adjust until both the heat ring is removed, and the pan sits flat on his stove.

After all, once you’ve ground something off, you can’t put it back on again, so be very conservative in your approach!

It’s important to note that grinding the heat ring off a Griswold such as this will reduce its value, and its desirability as a collector’s item.  Generally, the Griswold #11’s are harder to find than the #10’s or #12’s, so personally I would acquire another pan, or another stove, before doing this.

It’s clear though that you want to use this pan, rather than have it for decoration, so if the value to you lies in its function, rather than its resale, then the change in value doesn’t matter.

Bill C – I hope you can let us know what you decide to do, and if you do grind the heat ring off, tell us how it went, and send a few photos!

 

PerfectWaffle

After the success of Round 1 of Waffle Testing, I was excited to get into Round 2, so without further ado, I’m going to quit my waffling and get into it!

The Batter

This batter was from well known chef Alton Brown and I found it on the Food Network, right here!  Like the last round, this recipe uses butter and not oil, but it also adds buttermilk, and mixes both whole wheat and all purpose flour.

Mix the dry ingredients first!

Once again, I made this first to give it time to sit, and once again, it came out really really thick.  Nevertheless, I let it sit, and moved onto heating my iron.

The Waffle Iron

For this round of testing, I used the super unique EC Simmons Keen Kutter Waffle Iron (No. 8).  It looks all innocent from the outside…

But once you open it up, you’ll know that your waffles will not look like all the other waffles out there!

There is no way I would have done waffle testing without using this waffle iron. It is just way too cool!

Let’s Cook!

With this pan, I did the identical  steps to the Griswold in Round 1.  I heated both sides for about 5 mins each on Medium – High, but it was immediately obvious that what worked the first time round wasn’t going to work in Round 2.  The pan was smoking!  The best time to put in the batter is when the pan is just beginning to smoke, but this was about to set off the smoke detectors. Clearly, the EC Simmons pan heats up faster than the Griswold.

I turned the pan down, and put in the batter.  It started cooking way to hard and fast, another indication of a too-hot pan. I took a picture as it was a clear example of what not to do!

A sign of a too hot pan

I reduced the cooking time down to 4 minutes, but I don’t think I reduced the heat enough for this (it was set at Medium), and the waffle ended up browner than I would have liked.

This pan not only heated up faster, but it produces a thinner waffle, so you’ll need to heat up on a lower temperature, and cook for less time to get a great waffle.

The taste, however, was fantastic!  Alton really hit the nail on the head with the flavor.  The waffle didn’t taste dense either, which I attribute to the thinner waffle size.

I tried adding some water too (a cup) and it became quite runny.  It impacted the cooking time (needing less) and it made the waffles almost too light to be able to cope with the toppings I had chosen for today (cottage cheese and blueberries).  In retrospect, Alton’s recipe was perfect the way it was written for this waffle iron.  When diluting batter, don’t do what I did and lump in a cup of water at a time, add it in 1/4 cup increments.  Learn from my mistakes!

Here’s a later waffle with the diluted batter.

And once again, nothing stuck to the paddles!  Clean up was going to be a breeze!

Lessons from Round 2

Use a really cool waffle iron, If your paddles are smoking like a chimney, they’re too hot.  Let them cool a little before pouring in the batter. You may need to play around with the heat time and temperature before you find the perfect setting, You may need to play around with the cooking time before you find the right time for your particular iron You’ll still need to flip the waffle iron to cook both sides of the waffle When diluting batter, add your water in increments and test. You may need to vary the density of your batter depending on your waffle toppings.

Yum!

In Round 3, we’re making Chocolate Waffles, and they will be awesome!

Happy Cooking!

Anna

s-l500

Malinda J. from Indiana wrote to Ask The Pan Handler and said:

“I was told this dutch oven is worthless b/c lid is warped. By pressing on the rim of the pan at various points, you can feel and see the movement, and listen for the clicking sounds that are tell-tale signs of warping.” Yes, it does move when you push on the lid a bit but I used it for years and years with no problem. Is this really a major issue? THANKS!”

Malinda attached these photos:

Malinda, your well-meaning (I presume) friend is incorrect. If you have used your Dutch oven for “years and years with no problem,” then it obviously is not “worthless.”

I suspect that there is not warpage to the lid, but perhaps the Dutch oven itself has some movement when pressing along the upper rim. This is not at all uncommon. It does not render a piece “worthless.” 

Interest in vintage cast iron cookware has soared since I began this business. There are many well-meaning people who put information out there that is incorrect, exaggerated, or “guesses” presented as fact. I suspect that is the case with the person who told you that your pan was “worthless.”

I recently wrote a blog post about warpage in cast iron skillets – you can find it here. I wrote this, in part, to try to dispel this widespread notion that pans must sit completely “flat” to be of use and value. That is not at all the case. The amount of movement might matter to you, however; it all depends on how you are using the pan. In your case, you love your set and it has worked wonderfully for you for years, so feel free to tell your doubting friend that you disagree and that they are incorrect. The set works for you, is a great cooker, and movement does not always equate to value. And even if a pan sits completely flat when placed upon a cold cooktop, it can have movement when heated. Moreover, even if it does sit flat, it could have an upward bow to the cooking surface. Ask yourself what kind of cooking you do – do you do some kind of precision cooking that requires that your pans have no differential in the cooking surface? If so, what kind of cooking, exactly, is that?

Thank you for your inquiry, Malinda. Now go enjoy that beautiful Griswold Dutch oven…I can almost smell the stews and roasts that you’ve made in it!