Know Your Equipment!

No two pans cook exactly the same way any more than no two ovens bake exactly the same way. This is why exact guidelines for recipes are so difficult to make precise. With one saucepan, for example, I need to have the cooktop on low heat while with another one it needs to be medium-low to achieve the same degree of simmering.I first discovered how non-stick coating changes the way in which a griddle cooks (or should I say griddles?) when I was making pancakes on my Farberware electric griddle some years ago. I should explain that I have two Farberware griddles and I treasure them. The first rectangular one I purchased over 30 years ago when I was a food stylist. It was the only device I could find that produced perfect, evenly browned pancakes. This is because it has an encased heating element running through the entire griddle. (Sadly these griddle are no longer being produced but can be found on ebay.) Some years later, I discovered that Farberware was producing round griddles with non-stick coating. I loved the idea of not having to add too much butter to the pancakes to keep them from sticking but I wished that it would come in the rectangular model, which it did not. So I called Farberware and asked them if they would be willing to make one for me. To my delight they said yes. When I use the nonstick model in Hope, NJ, I set it to the highest temperature, but one day, in New York, I used the model without the nonstick surface and set it to the same temperature. My first batch of pancakes burned and I realized that the nonstick coating was lowering the temperature of the griddle and that the griddle without the coating needed to be set at a lower temperature. This is no doubt why my Chicago Metallic cake pans with dark grey exterior and nonstick interior bake at the same rate as my uncoated lighter grey aluminum pans. The dark exterior speeds baking but the nonstick coating tempers it and slows it down. The lesson here is to learn the idiosyncrasies of your own pots, pans, and ovens and other equipment, and treasure them with care.