5 Tips for Baking in Cast Iron, According to a Pro at Lodge

published Mar 1, 2022
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Credit: Nick Evans

For many cooks, cast iron is the obvious choice of cookware when it comes to juicy seared steaks and golden-brown chicken thighs. Heck, if it’s well-seasoned, you can even fry an egg in a cast iron skillet. Far less common are the folks who reach for this type of pan when they want to bake a dessert. And that’s a shame, because cast iron can perform some pretty delicious magic with sweet treats.

I get it. Cast iron can be intimidating, so it’s understandable that we feel hesitant to use it for our pies and pancakes. Baked goods can be fragile, delicate, and finicky! You want them to come out just right. They can! And they will! Especially if you read these tips from Kris Stubblefield, a baking pro and chef at Lodge, one of Kitchn’s favorite cast iron companies.

Here’s what you need to know about baking with cast iron, according to Stubblefield.

1. Use a pastry brush to grease the pan.

Many baking recipes start with coating the pan in butter or cooking oil, to reduce sticking. This is even more crucial with cast iron (as anyone who has tried to scrape scrambled egg off an under-seasoned pan knows). Stubblefield suggests using a pastry brush — preferably silicone — to do this step when working with cast iron. “It will help the oil get into all the corners and side walls of your pan,” he says. He prefers nonstick cooking spray for this job.

2. And coat it with flour, too. 

For extra insurance, Stubblefield recommends adding a layer of flour after greasing it. This helps baked goods release from the pan with ease. To get the perfect amount, sprinkle in a light coating, then turn the pan all the way around over the sink, coating each side. Finally, hold it upside down and gently tap it a few times to get rid of excess flour. If you’re a gluten-free baker, you could use GF flour, cocoa powder (if your recipe has chocolate!), or finely ground cornmeal.

3. Be prepared to shorten your baking times.

There’s already a lot of variability when it comes to baking times. Pan shape, size, and condition can all affect how long it takes for your pie to bake — not to mention, your oven’s true temperature. Using a cast iron pan adds another wild card, often shortening the time required in the oven. “Cast iron pans retain heat really well,” says Stubblefield. “There is a chance that your baked goods will brown quicker than usual.” He suggests checking on them a few minutes before you think they should be done. It’s worth noting too that unlike clear glass baking pans, you can’t peek at the bottom of your baked good with cast iron. It may take a couple of tries to nail the time and temp.

4. Use a butter knife for easy removal from the pan.

Stubblefield reaches for a butter knife as soon as his pan comes out of the oven. “Run it around the edge of your baked good to loosen it from the walls.” This will ensure your treat doesn’t adhere to the side as it cools. Plus, notes Stubblefield, unlike ceramic and nonstick, “durable cast iron can handle metal utensils.”

5. Preheat your cast iron. Maybe.

When baking with stainless steel or ceramic, you probably don’t consider preheating the pans before adding your batter. But it’s an important first step for cooking savory foods, like pizza. Do you need to preheat a cast iron pan when baking? Remember this rule of thumb from Stubblefield, and you’ll be golden (brown) every time: “If you prefer a crispy crust, preheat the cast iron bakeware before adding the dough or batter. If you prefer a lighter, more delicate crust, add your batter straight to the cool pan.” 

Are you a baker and cast iron-lover? Did we miss your best tips? Add them below.