By Edith Morgan
Every week my husband, Guy, and I go to Barnes and Noble bookstore for coffee and, while we are maxing out on caffeine, we browse through the magazines to see what is new. This past week we came across a whole magazine dedicated to “Southern Cast Iron Baking,” full of luscious recipes for using dough and phyllo to make all sorts of baked goods right in a cast iron frying pan.
I have never been very happy with the teflon-covered pans and have not yet invested in the new ceramic covered pans that look so inviting when shown on TV, where everything just slides off easily and clean up is a dream come true. I considered it, as the Teflon seems to come off too easily, and I have not seen any data as to what eating that coating does to us.
But as I think about getting rid of the accumulation of my own pots and pans over 60 years of housekeeping, plus the remainder of my mother’s things when she passed away in 1981, I find I really like using the cast iron frying pans that were passed down to me. I have a small one and a larger one and use them often, but never yet for baking.
I especially like iron skillets because they are so easy to maintain: after cooking an omelet or some fried eggs, it is so easy to just wipe the extra grease (usually butter!) off with a paper towel and hang the skillet back up on the hooks above my stove, ready for the next time. I know, you are probably saying: “What, no soap, hot water, scrubbing, etc?! Germs, germs, germs!! But the old iron frying pans just need to be “seasoned” – rubbed with oil. This will make them shine beautifully and not rust. (If you use soap and water, they will rust unless you season them.)
I like the cast iron pans because they heat up evenly and stay warm even after I turn off the gas oven. So, if you are lucky enough to have some cast iron pans, get creative and try various versions of biscuits … make fresh berry fillings, bake them in the round pan and drizzle them with your favorite glaze.
For more specifics about what to bake, look up recipes for Southern iron pan baking or just go off on your own: some of the recipes call for a yeast dough, but I am usually too impatient to wait for it to rise. I have never tried it, but I suspect that pizza dough, if rolled out, filled and buttered would work well and be a shortcut for busy home makers. Now that fruits and berries are ripe, it is a great time to make tasty snacks that look great too!
Baking in iron …
PEACH CINNAMON ROLLS🍑
1 cup warm water
1 packet dry active yeast
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring surfaces
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. applesauce
1 tsp. ground flaxseed
1 tsp. vanilla
Coconut oil, for greasing
1/2 cup vegan margarine, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups peaches, rinsed and sliced (remove pits), or use frozen peaches, defrosted
1/2 cup peach juice from the frozen peaches
2 cups powdered sugar
Whisk together the water, yeast, and 2 tablespoonfuls of the sugar in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, olive oil, applesauce, flaxseed and vanilla with an electric handheld mixer using bread hooks.
Pour the yeast into the flour mixture and blend until smooth.
Use a spatula to scrape the sides and incorporate all the dry ingredients.
Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.
Grease a cast-iron skillet with coconut oil.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 10-inch-by-18-inch rectangle. Brush with the melted vegan margarine and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Place the peach slices in a single layer over the dough. Roll the dough into a tube and cut into 1 1/2–inch slices using a knife with a serrated blade or a cheese wire. Gently tuck the loose end under the roll.
Place all the slices into the skillet so they are touching.
Roll any leftover dough into little balls that you can tuck into any open spots between the rolls.
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.
While the rolls are baking, whisk together the peach juice and powdered sugar until smooth.
Let the rolls cool for 15 minutes, then drizzle with the peach glaze.
Let cool for another 5 minutes.
Adapted from the book Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking by Annie and Dan Shannon. © 2015 by Annie and Dan Shannon. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.