Cast Iron Christmas
Last spring, I got really into Dutch Baby Pancakes, which are basically – big awesome pancakes that are oven baked. They rise SUPER high while cooking, then fall making a yummy breakfast treat. Anywho, as I made them more and more, I looked to refine my method and found that many recipes called for a cast iron pan. So, I went out and bought a 10″ Lodge skillet and I was in business…so much so, that weekend Dutch Baby’s (DBs) for me and B, turned into weekday morning DB’s for myself before work. Yeahhhhhh, did I mention I use like a whole stick of butter for these? baha. So good.
A few dutch babies later, I was starting to get some burnt bits on my pan that were getting progressively crustier by the Dutch baby. What do they say, a poor crafts(woman) blames her tools? Well, I did. I blamed this newly made piece of cast iron, with its rough interior and set off to Google to figure out how to salvage and maintain it. Late light Google-ing and Youtube-ing taught me two things: I hadn’t properly cared for my skillet, and vintage cast iron is rad!
Before I ever got around to cleaning my Lodge with my newly learned regimen, courtesy of The Culinary Fanatic, I scored two pieces of vintage Griswold cast iron, shweeet!
- Griswold #8 Skillet – Found at auction by a work colleague. This pan was produced between 1919-1940, and features the large block logo. Bamfy.
- Griswold #7 Skillet – Found at an antique store in Frederick, MD. Produced between 1940-1957. This pan features the small block logo, which isn’t as collectible, but had a gorgeous interior. Super flat, no pitting or rust at all.
It’s hard to describe, but immediately I loved them… like, family heirloom-level love. These pans are 60+ years old and their mystery was alluring. Who owned them, what had they cooked inside? The thought of restoring these pans and putting them back to work was exciting, but before I could get to cooking – both needed to be stripped and re-seasoned.
Enter my friend Megan. She allowed me the use of her self-cleaning oven to strip the pans down to bare metal. A self cleaning oven cycle heats to 900 degrees and burns off old crud so you can start fresh. This method of stripping worked beautifully, but not before we started a small fire in her oven. OOPS! Turns out some burnt cheese on the floor of her oven was ready for an encore. Lesson learned? Give your oven a good wipe down before you set it to INCINERATE. Then, IF you see flames, leave the door shut and let it burn out. Oh, memories. haha.
Fast forward to this Christmas, and I spotted two crusty pieces of Wagnerware in my Dad’s cookware collection. I thought it would be fun to strip and re-season them to their former glory from start to finish, with no fires. So I did, using the Culinary Fanatic’s method. I don’t know why, but it’s so satisfying to clean these things. Rough & burnt – to MEGA rusty – to smooth and clean! Proof is in the pudding, check it out.
Culinary Fanatic Restoration Instructions
- Place pan(s) face down in the oven.
- Set oven to ‘Self Clean’ for a 2 hour cycle.
- Allow pans to cool with oven door shut.
- When cool, scour thoroughly with 00 steel wool and dish soap.
- Rinse in cold water, dry well and set over heat ensure completely dry.
Culinary Fanatic Seasoning Instructions
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Place skillet face down on the rack, and allow to heat to 200, appx. 20 mins.
- Remove skillet from oven and apply a liberal amount of Crisco shortening to entire pan.
- After applying Crisco, wipe it all off with an absorbent paper towel, like Scotts Blue Shop Towels.
- Place skillet back in oven upside down and increase temp to 300 degrees, bake for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove skillet and lightly wipe to smooth any pooling or uneven spots of oil.
- Place skillet back in oven upside down and increase oven temp to 400 degrees, bake 2 hours.
- Allow pans to cool completely in oven.
- Repeat if more sheen on your skillet is desired.