Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category
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!
A hidden gem of vintage cast iron is the small pan. Everybody understands the need for a good sized skillet that you can cook for your family in, but sometimes people will look at their small pans, like their No. 3’s, and scratch their heads.
We did a whole lot of baking over many weeks to give you some ideas. Small pans are incredibly versatile, and once you’ve read this you’ll be brimming with ideas of how you can use yours. For this article, we used four Wagner #3 skillets. A Skillet Size Search will show you all our No. 3’s, right here.
We also took a lot of our inspiration from the 2017 edition of “Cast Iron Baking” magazine, which was written by Hoffman Media, the folks behind Southern Cast Iron and Taste of the South magazines. To get your own copy of Cast Iron Baking magazine, just click here, or to get a subscription to Southern Cast Iron, click here.
Firstly, the easy one – Eggs for one! If you’re making yourself one or two eggs, you don’t want a big 10″ or 12″ pan. These smaller pans are just perfect for when you’re frying up some breakfast just for yourself. They are small, light and take about 10 seconds to clean afterwards.
Second, Mac & Cheese! Whether it’s from a box, or made from scratch, mac & cheese is perfect for the #3. Best of all, you can serve it directly in the skillet. The one pictured was made using Cracker Barrel “Sharp Cheddar & Bacon”, and it was good.
Of course, there are also Desserts! You can bake mini skillet cakes in #3’s. We used this Strawberry Pound Cake recipe from the cover of the 2017 edition of “Cast Iron Baking” magazine.
We think that maybe the cakes are a little large for one person, but they are perfect for two! Our friend Bonnie was a taste tester and liked them so much she took all of the cakes home!
Please note that the recipe produced 4 x #3 skillets of cake, so adjust the quantities if you don’t have four #3 skillets.
Who doesn’t love a warm skillet cookie? This is something you can eat right out of the pan!
The recipe we used was from page 86 of the magazine, that we adapted from one big skillet, to 4 smaller ones. The recipe was perfect for either, but when cooking in the smaller skillets, take them out of the oven at the earlier end of the suggested cooking times. It tasted even better than it looked!
Cast Iron Baking also gave us permission to share the recipe, which is at the bottom of the page.
If you love the crusty edge pieces, then the smaller pans give you all that!
Cobblers are PERFECT for a single serving in the #3’s. We celebrated our first spring meal on the deck with a cobbler!
TipsAll the recipes produced 4 skillets of food The original baking times were perfect, just stick to the lower end of the recommended range The original cooking temperatures in the recipes were perfect.
Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
Reprinted with permission from Cast Iron Baking Magazine 20175 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened) 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1 large egg 0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 0.5 teaspoon kosher salt 1.5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels Vanilla Ice Cream – to serve
First Preheat oven to 350’F. Spray a 10″ cast-iron skillet (or four No. 3 skillets) with cooking spray
Second In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 – 4 mins, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add egg and vanilla, beating to combine.
Third In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add cream. Fold in chocolate morsels. Press dough into prepared skillet.
Last Bake until golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes (20 mins for No. 3 pans). Serve with ice cream.
Whilst there is a big following of comfort food amongst TPH followers, we still like to take our taste buds around the world. This excerpt below was part of a Washington Post Q&A with food writer Charlotte Druckman, the author of ‘Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for your Cast Iron Skillet’ (which you can find here on Amazon).
Q: Teriyaki hack in a cast iron skillet?
I noticed that Japanese restaurants with the best teriyaki seem to cut the vegetables, bread the tofu or meat, and pour house made teriyaki sauce over the cast iron plate. Then the plate is broiled until things are golden and sizzly. Could i recreate this at home with a 12″ cast iron skillet? Instead of cast iron plates? My main concern is that the cast iron is needed for the right caramelization, but cooking it this way may leave teriyaki very hard to remove from my skillet without tin foil or ramekins.
A: Charlotte Druckman
You have just warmed my heart because I love cast iron and know a lot more about it than I do Japanese cuisine, which I’m only just beginning to scratch the surface of. You can and should use the cast-iron skillet for this, YES. But, make sure it’s well-seasoned, because that will reduce your changes of sticky-gross teriyaki aftermath significantly. But what I think the real trick to this would be is adding the teriyaki at the very end. If you look at the tsukune recipe in my story, you’ll see that the chicken meatballs are made then set aside, and the glaze for them (not so unlike a teriyaki) is made in a few moments (2 to 3 minutes) in the already-hot skillet, and then the meatballs are just quickly coated in them, in the pan, at the last minute. That’s what I’d do here.
The full Q&A from the Washington Post can be found here.
Never being one to turn down something involving chocolate, I just happened to run across a recipe for chocolate waffles, which somehow made it into waffle testing! Unless you’re planning on going into diabetic shock, I would recommend that you save this for dessert rather than breakfast.
Mmmmm, chocolate chips. This batter was fun and easy to make, and it was inspired by our Valentine’s Day post. The recipe, from Joy the Baker, is here. It seemed thickish, but workable. As usual, I made this before heating the waffle iron.
The Cast Iron
In honor of both my love of chocolate, and Valentine’s Day, I used this lovely Antique Andresen Cast Iron Rosette Heart Waffle Iron. This particular iron has since been snapped up, but I will share that there is another in the restoration process, so if your heart longs for this heart design, it will have a second change. I substituted the base from my EC Simmons Waffle Iron from Round 2, as it was a better fit for my particular stove. The iron didn’t fit all that well into the temporary base, and it was a bit of a chore flipping it, so if you want to mix and match, try and stay within the same brand.
Wary of overcooking in Round 2, I heated the iron 4 minutes on either side. I didn’t have all the smoke from Round 2 when I opened it up to add batter, so things were looking good.
Somehow, I managed to overcook my first waffle again! Is anybody sensing a theme here? Still – the heart shaped waffles look pretty impressive.
I dialed down the heat to medium low and cooked the waffles for about 4 minutes per side, and they came out perfectly! Once again, we had no sticking problems in the pan. If you’re going to err, err on the side of overcooking rather than undercooking. It may be a little crispy, but it will come cleanly out of the waffle iron. If there is uncooked batter, there’s going to be a mess.
I served with whipped cream and strawberries. The recipe provided also gives you the option to make chocolate sauce, but we found it perfectly balanced with the chocolate chips in the waffles, the cream and the fruit.
Lessons – Round 3Don’t be afraid to branch out into different waffle flavors, Expect to sacrifice a few waffles to the learning curve. You may need to play with your temperature and cooking times to find what’s right for your iron, Spray Pam on your iron between waffles, Err on overcooking rather than undercooking
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 2Use 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.
In Round 3, we’re making Chocolate Waffles, and they will be awesome!