Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My New Cast Iron Skillet

Oh my goodness! Last Saturday, I was beside myself with excitement because I just bought a cast iron skillet. There were posts in the past couple of months that kept telling me I should buy one but I just haven't looked that hard and didn't know what kind to get.

Kelsey’s Spiced Apple Molasses Cake
Jenna’s Deep Dish Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
Kathryne’s Carrot Cake Pancakes
This blog post by Brette about finding the right cast iron pan
Joy’s Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

So after my school's graduation ceremony last Saturday, I went to T.J.Maxx to search for a cherry pitter. There were tons last December but zero when I went there, so I walked around and happened upon a cast iron skillet with an $11.99 price sticker. I thought cast iron skillets were more expensive than that so without any second thoughts, I bought it.

Let’s backtrack for a bit… in one of the Food 52 e-letters that I got this week was Brette’s post, mentioned above, about finding the right cast iron pan. It seemed too long so I didn't really read it but it since buying a cast iron skillet has been in the back of my mind, I bookmarked it. Right after paying for the pan, I made a mental note to check what she said as soon as I get home. Boy, was I stoked when she mentioned the very same brand that I just bought… Lodge Logic! I got the Lodge Logic Skillet with Assist Handle 10-¼” diameter and it is ruggedly handsome!  

What is the best way to christen a new cast iron skillet? Well, I would pick either one of those recipes mentioned above, but since there were plenty of strawberries in the refrigerator, I made Joy’s Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake that she adapted from Heidi Swanson’s recipe in Super Natural Every Day.

There were some slight ingredient and method modifications that I made:
1. Used agave maple syrup instead of real maple syrup.
2. Added the balsamic vinegar to the strawberries before roasting them.
3. Used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.
4. Used Demerara sugar instead of just plain, granulated sugar.
5. Mixed the roasted strawberry juice into the batter. *See very important note below.*
6. Added all the roasted strawberries into the batter instead of just half.

The cake was beautiful and tasted lovely… but alas, it did not cook all the way through. Wondering what could have gone wrong, I happened upon this super helpful blog post and found a couple reasons why my version of the cake did not turn out quite the way I wanted it to.
1. When substituting all-purpose with whole wheat flour, use an amount slightly less than what is called for, or add a bit more liquid.
2. Whole wheat flour does not absorb liquids as quickly as all-purpose flour and needs some time to rest. My batter did not rest, it went straight to the oven (too impatient!). So, I should have let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
3. When baking with whole wheat flour, increase cooking time. 

* Another mistake that I made was mixing the juice (which had balsamic vinegar in it) into the batter. The reaction between the acid and the iron caused some metal to leach into the bottom of the cake, leaving small black, metallic-tasting dots on the underside. Gross! Through some more research, I discovered that it is NOT advisable to cook acidic ingredients in a cast iron pan.    

This not so successful baking attempt with my new cast iron skillet has taught me helpful baking and cast-iron-use lessons. Next time I make a pastry or cake with whole wheat flour, I will keep in mind these three things: use slightly less whole wheat flour or add a bit more liquid, let the batter rest, and increase cooking time. When using my cast iron skillet, no acidic ingredients should be cooked in it. 

Even with this unfortunate mishap, I am still in love with this cake, with the roasted strawberries, with Joy, and with my cast iron skillet!

If you have plenty of strawberries, make this cake the Joy Wilson way, she knows best… that’s why she’s Joy the Baker.  


  1. oh. my. god. This post is heaven. Look at that stuff! Drool.

  2. Well it sure looks great, even though it didn't cook all the way through. I'm always wary of substituting whole wheat flour for white flour. My train of thought: I want this to be healthier..I should sub in whole wheat flour..But it seems too heavy..What if something screws up..I'll just do half white half whole wheat.. THAT actually works out, and cooks perfectly, but since I know you've got rid of all your all-purpose flour... At least it was a learning experience. For both of us, now I won't do the same thing (because I was really thinking about replacing the whole amount the other day), so thank you :)

  3. I love my cast iron skillet. I will not cook tofu in anything else anymore because it is the only pan I have that gives it the beautiful brown crust we like. I have a few cookbooks with cast iron recipes and tricks if you are interested?

  4. Oh my goodness. I could not live without my cast iron skillet! Welcome to the club. You won't be able to do without it now. :)


Let me know what your thoughts are... Your comments always make my day!