Cast-iron dishes- a must or a luxury
Posted: 14 November 2011 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi,

I’m relatively new to baking, and am currently discussing equipment options with a friend. My friend is adamant that cast-iron dishes such as those made by Le Creuset are the best and a must for serious bakers.
Money isn’t really the problem for me, but I am curious what other more experienced think about this.
Are cast-iron pots a must for baking or a luxury?

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Posted: 14 November 2011 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome!  What are you baking?  Most cakes, for example do just fine with a high quality aluminum pan (Magic Line)—which is still relatively inexpensive compared to Le Creuset.  I don’t own any Le Creuset products, but actually think they may be more useful for savory cooking rather than baking (braised dishes).  There are several people on the site who make do with minimal equipment and produce excellent results.  I would argue an oven thermometer, digital thermometer, digital scale, and some mixing device (stand mixer or even good hand mixer) would be more useful for baking.  In many cases, I think an enameled cast iron pan (like Le Creuset) would be detrimental for baking a cake since it would take so long to heat up compared to an aluminum pan. 

If you are new to baking, I can’t recommend Rose’s books enough.  She has equipment recommendations (some expensive/some not—good quality, yes!) and her recipes are well developed so even beginner bakers can have excellent results if you follow directions well smile Do not be intimidated by her lengthly recipes.  They include crucial details that enable you to produce fabulous baked goods.  Good luck on your baking adventures!

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Posted: 14 November 2011 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes to everything Sherrie says:  cakes and pies do not do well in cast iron, aluminum is better for cakes.  For pies, I suppose one could bake in cast iron, but based on how my cast iron pans heat up, I think you’d actually be in danger of overbrowning the crust.  The other problem is that recipes are not developed or written for cast iron, so you’d always be testing and tweaking, instead of baking perfectly the first time.

For yeasted breads, some are baked in a unglazed ceramic pot, and you might be able to adapt those recipes for cast iron, but again you’d be faced with testing and tweaking. 

Just curious, what does your friend make in enameled cast iron?  The only thing I’ve seen for baking that would be great is an enameled cast iron baking stone for pizza.

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Posted: 15 November 2011 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I have a few recipes for upside down cakes which specify using a cast iron skillet as the baking vessel and they are delicious; but, they are more rustic and have a different crumb than Rose’s recipes I have made. Personally, I would not use a cast iron skillet unless the recipe called for it.

For Rose’s cakes, I use Magic Line as well.

Rose recommends equipment in her books. I have never been steered wrong following Rose’s advice.

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Posted: 21 July 2013 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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For Southern Cooks a black cast iron skillet is a must for cornbread, pineapple upside down cakes, biscuits and rustic cobblers. I have specialty cast iron pans for cornbread and biscuits.  I do also have two enameled cast iron oval baking pans that I use for tarts, cobblers, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake - but they are a luxury there is nothing they do that could not be accomplished in a cast iron skillet. I inherited much of my black (raw,unfinished) cast iron including a muffin pan with the cups shaped like fruit - we use it for everything from baked goods to making Christmas tree ornaments, and still do.

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Posted: 21 August 2013 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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i’d also think that cast iron is going to get real hot too and contribute to overbaking. Cast iron you could make cornbead or something, baked beans. I think it’s something that good more for stews and other things

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