Saturday, 16 November 2013

Cast-iron cookware

OK, do you remember that rusted cast iron pot Nana gave you years ago, the one that went to live in the far recesses of your darkest kitchen cupboard because you didn't know what to do with it? Yes that one; go take it out, dust it and inspect the rust, because there is a thing about to happen. 
If your pot was lucky enough to belong to a loving previous owner, the tempering on it might still be there and there might only be a little rust as was the case with my little pan below:

My little pan made the voyage with my Nana Lena from Holland to South Africa in the late 1940's and again with me in 2007 to New Zealand. A very well travelled pan which now have a spot of rust and it is time for re-seasoning. Below I will take you, step by step, through the process. First thing is to do is examine your pan or pot and ascertain the seriousness of the rust. If the rust have eaten into the surface to deeply (it will leave a deep gorge in the pan or pot when cleaned away), it might be best to consider a second life for the utensil as a kitchen decoration. Old pots make very effective spice containers next to your stove for all that little bottles of spices you have everywhere.
Back to business. although I strongly urge you to never use soap on you cast iron, this time it is required. Get some of you favourite detergent and a green scouring pad:

Add a few tablespoons of hot water, some of the detergent and in little circle motions start removing the rust. Do not try and put a shine to the surface as that will make seasoning almost impossible later:

Wash of all traces of soap, dry thoroughly and immediately oil the pan or pot:

Now, place some foil in the bottom of a pre-heated oven (+/- 180 - 200 °C). The foil is to catch any oil that might decide to drip. Place the pan or pot upside-down on a oven rack. Close the oven and bake for 1 - 2 hours. Do not forget the lid, show it the same loving care. 

The oil must form a hard protective layer on the surface that looks almost sticky, like hard toffee.

This layer is what you should protect like a loved child, only difference is to remember not to use soap on it, the seasoning I mean. It will eventually remove the seasoning and then you will have to do it all over again. Don't be scared of bacteria or other creepy crawley's, the temperature you use the pan or pot at is high enough to kill all the little blighter's. I you feel that you have to soap it after every use, just oil it and bake it again, no sweat. Remember, the more you use it, the better the seasoning get.
Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask, my e-mail is
Now, lets bake a No-knead Beer Bread in your pot.
This bread is a variation on the New York Time version of a few years back.
You need the following:

  • 3 cups (425 g) white flour (bread flour works the best)
  • ¼ tsp (1 ml) instant yeast (yes, that little)
  • 1½ tsp. (7 ml) Salt
  • 200 ml water at room temp
  • 85 ml beer (I like to use a good quality Lager)
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) white vinegar
  • Tip  You can use non-alcoholic beer, but I ask you, what is the use, in for a penny - in for a pound.
    This is what you do
    1 Add all the dry ingredient to a mixing bowl and stir through with a wooden spoon.
    2 Add the liquids and mix with the wooden spoon until all ingredients are incorporated.

3 Spray with oil and cover with cling-film.
4 Place in a warmish cupboard and let it do it's dough thing there for 8 to 18 hours. It will double in volume and have a pleasant smell.

5 When you get to this point, flour your work surface and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the flour. Now, fold the dough 15 time, like you would fold a piece of paper, not more even if you start enjoying it.
6 Form into a ball shape and place on a sheet of baking paper. Cover again and let it rise for 30 to 40 minutes. It must double in size again.
7 Pre-heat your oven, with your pot inside at to 260 °C
8 When your dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven and place on a surface that can handle the heat, Place the dough, still on the baking paper into your pot, replace the lid and put the pot back into the oven. (I always use my enamelled cast-iron pot for this)

9 Turn the oven down to 220 °C and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 15 more minutes. Test the internal temperature, it should be 90 to 95°C and if it is, your bread is ready for the butter and what ever you feel like.

Until next time, enjoy your cooking.
PS. Please talk to me, my e-mail is
The Too Fat Chef