Most of the pans in my cupboard are cast iron. There are skillets deep and shallow, large and small. There are dutch ovens and biscuit pans. Pie and bread pans. Even the tea kettle is cast iron. It’s one of those tiny Japanese tea pots, but it’s cast iron!
The pots and pans get a lot of work at my house and they just keep getting better. Just about every kind of pan comes in cast iron.
Since we live off the grid, we conserve our electricity. Because of this, there are certain appliances that we just can’t have. We don’t use anything that is really high wattage or has an electric heating element. This includes microwave ovens and toasters or toaster ovens. They aren’t missed. I think food prepared in a microwave tastes strange. The cast iron griddle makes much better toast than any toaster.
Cast iron pans can be used anywhere. They are used for baking in the oven and on top of the stove. Often I cook inside my wood stove. I prepare an entire meal in a small dutch oven and put it right on the coals. Everything cooks evenly and nothing sticks to the pan. During the summer, I cook in a pit outside and I just lower the dutch oven into the pit of hot coals and it works like a crock pot. Slow cooking without the electricity. The black cast iron is solar oven friendly, too. I’ve baked pies, breads and other foods in cast iron, using the solar oven.
I’ve heard people say that cast iron is too heavy. Yes, it is heavy, but using it keeps my upper body in good shape. I use those arm muscles more regularly because I have to lift cast iron pots every day. I find that is an advantage living out here. We need to stay in shape.
When I left the city, I gave away glass pans, silverstone pans, and others. I had a few cast iron pieces and I knew they would be the right choice here. It was a good decision. They are more useful and easier to care for than any pans I have owned.
Once they’re seasoned, they are pretty much non stick. If something does stick, I just put a little salt in it and scrub it around with a cloth. The abrasive salt cleans up the mess without taking off the coating. For general cleaning, just a dab of dish washing liquid and some water works well. They get a quick wash and rinse, not staying in water for long and then dried right away. If the coating needs a little boost, a very light coat of oil and about 5 minutes on top of the stove on high heat fixes it.
We have a friend who lives in town. He seems to know when I’m baking something sweet. Somehow he manages to show up just when it comes out of the oven. I’ve started baking very large cakes and pies in my 10 inch skillet. I turn the cakes out onto a 14 inch cast iron pizza pan lined with parchment. It makes a good serving tray and the lid for my wok fits perfectly for a cover. Yesterday, it was peach upside down cake. Good, easy and big enough to share!
Peach Upside Down Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet
2 1/2 C Flour- (see above)
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
4 eggs OR 8 egg whites OR 1 C. egg substitute- your choice- it all works the same.
2 tsp vanilla- remember, Gluten Free people- check it to make sure!
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. honey
2/3 C. mayonnaise- You can use any kind. If you are on a diet, use reduced calorie. If a vegan, use vegan. Whatever works for you.
1 1/3 C. plain yogurt- Any kind will do. I like homemade greek yogurt, low fat. Use what you like. Soy yogurt works, too. So does goat.
For the topping:
About a cup of brown sugar
Canned or fresh peaches, drained.
You can add pecans, cherries or just about anything else if you like to the topping. You can also substitute. Get creative here. Make it your own!
Use a 10 inch skillet– oven at 350.
Oil the skillet with the oil of your choosing. I usually use canola. Spread out the brown sugar to coat the skillet. Be generous. Spread the peaches (slices or halves work) on the brown sugar.
Mix the dry ingredients. I stir them with a fork to make sure they get all mixed up.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs up really well. Frothy and foamy is good.
Add the other wet ingredients and beat them really well.
Add the flour mix 1/2 cup at a time, mixing slowly, until it’s all mixed in.
Pour the batter over the peaches in the skillet and bake for about 45 minutes. It’s done when the top is brown, the sides start to pull away from the pan and you stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
Turn it onto a very large plate about 5 minutes out of the oven, If you wait any longer, it will stick and make a big mess. Sooner is better.
Serve hot or cold with yogurt, whipped cream, ice cream or plain.
PS- You can cut this recipe in 1/2 and bake it in an 8 inch cake pan. Just watch the time. It should be more like 30 minutes. I’ve never done it, but that sounds about right.