Baking with Cast Iron: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Many can attest that cast iron is one of the most versatile cookware materials anyone can have in their kitchen. It can handle high temperatures, sear meats, fry eggs, and make delicious sauces. But did you know that cast iron is also great for baking?

You heard that right! You can use your cast iron skillet, Dutch oven, or even a cornstick pan to bake cakes, pies, breads, and more!

In this article, we will show you why cast iron is great for baking, what types you can use for baking, how to bake with cast iron, and how you can make your baking experience even better! So, grab your favorite cast iron piece and get ready to bake like a pro!

5 Reasons Why Cast Iron is Great for Baking

You might be wondering why you should use cast iron for baking when you have other options like aluminum and stainless steel. Here are some reasons why this cookware is great for the job.

1. It holds and distributes heat well

Cast iron is a rather poor conductor of heat. While that may sound like a drawback, it really isn’t. This characteristic means that cast iron distributes heat evenly, which is especially important for baking, as it ensures that your baked goods are cooked thoroughly and evenly, without hot spots or burnt edges.  

Another advantage of cast iron bakeware is that they retain heat well. This is especially helpful for recipes that call for a well-developed crust.

2. It releases food easily

The natural non-stick property of a properly seasoned cast iron creates a smooth, shiny coating that prevents food from sticking to the pan. So, when you bake with one, you have to worry less about your cakes or pies sticking to the cookware, as long as you grease and flour it properly before adding the batter or dough.

3. It handles the rigors of baking with ease

Cast iron is very durable and can withstand high temperatures, up to 650°F. This means you can use it for any baking recipe, whether it requires a low, medium, or high oven temperature.

Cast iron is also resistant to banging and denting, which is useful when you need to tap your cake pans on the counter a few times before putting them in the oven to release air bubbles and prevent doming.

4. It comes in different shapes and sizes

Cast iron cookware comes in various shapes and sizes, like wedge pans, cornstick pans, cake pans, tube pans, loaf pans, sheet pans, muffin pans, and more. With its range, best believe you can use cast iron for any baked good, from pies and cakes to breads and muffins!

5. It can be used for serving, too

Cast iron cookware is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. Most have a rustic and elegant look that adds charm to any table setting.

You can serve your baked goods directly from the cast iron pan without transferring them to another dish, saving you time, effort, and dishes to wash. Plus, your guests will be impressed by your presentation skills!

What Types of Cast Iron Cookware Can Be Used for Baking?

You can bake with most cast iron cookware, but these are the most popular types.

Cast iron skillet

The cast iron skillet is the most versatile cast iron cookware you can have. You can use it for frying, sautéing, simmering, and, of course, baking!

You can bake anything from cornbread and pizza to brownies and cookies in a cast iron skillet. Its shape and size make it ideal for baking round or square cakes, pies, and tarts, and its handle makes it easy to move the pan in and out of the oven.

Dutch oven

A Dutch oven is a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Aside from the usual braising, stewing, and roasting, you can also utilize it to bake bread, cake, cobbler, and more.

The Dutch oven’s figure makes it perfect for baking large or deep-dish baked goods. Its lid also helps trap steam and moisture, creating a moist and tender crumb. You can also use it as a separate baking dish if you flip it over.

Wedge pan

A wedge pan is a round pan with eight wedge-shaped sections. You can use it for baking scones, biscuits, and cornbread. Its dimensions make this type ideal for baking portions of baked goods with crisp, golden edges and soft, moist centers.

Cornstick pan

A cornstick pan is a rectangular pan with seven or nine corn-shaped sections. You can use it for baking cornbread, corn muffins, or corn dogs. The pan’s units help create a crunchy and corny texture while keeping the inside fluffy and tender.

Cast iron bakeware

Chances are, your favorite type of bakeware has its cast iron counterpart. You can find these in various shapes and sizes, such as cake pans, tube pans, loaf pans, sheet pans, and muffin pans. These are similar to the bakeware you’re used to, except they are made of cast iron.

That means you can use cast iron bakeware for any baking recipe and enjoy the benefits of cast iron, including even heat distribution, non-stick surface, and durability.

How to Bake with Cast Iron

Baking with cast iron is not much different from baking with other bakeware materials. You just need to follow these simple steps.

Preheat the cast iron (or don’t)

Depending on the recipe, you may need to preheat your cast iron pan before adding the batter or dough. This is usually done when you want to create a crispy crust on your baked goods.

To preheat your cast iron pan, place it in the oven while it’s heating up or on the stovetop over medium-high heat until it’s hot. Then, carefully remove it from the heat source, grease, and flour it as usual.

You don’t need to preheat your cast iron pan if the recipe calls for a delicate crust, such as cakes or pies. Just grease, flour it, and add the batter or dough.

Apply a lot of grease to the pan

To prevent your baked goods from sticking to the cast iron pan, apply a generous amount of grease to the pan. You can use butter, oil, or cooking spray, depending on your preference and the recipe.

Make sure to cover the entire surface of the pan, including the sides and corners. You can spread it using a pastry brush, a paper towel, or your fingers.

Put a lot of flour on it, too

Dust flour on top of the pan to prevent your baked goods from sticking to the cast iron pan. Feel free to use all-purpose flour or the same one as in your recipe.

Like greasing, don’t forget to cover the sides and corners. Use a sieve, a spoon, or your fingers to sprinkle the flour, and then tap the pan gently to remove any excess.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil

To protect your baked goods from burning or drying out, cover the cast iron pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. This is especially important if you’re baking at a high temperature or for a long time.

Make sure to cover the entire surface of the pan, including the edges, with a sheet of foil or paper. You can also use a lid if your cast iron bakeware has one.

Place it in a preheated oven

Once the pan is prepped, place it in a preheated oven at the temperature and rack position specified by the recipe. Remember to put on oven mitts or use pot holders to handle the hot cast iron pan, as it can cause serious burns if you touch it with your bare hands. Carefully place the cast iron pan in the oven and close the oven door.

Bake according to instructions

Follow the baking time and method specified by the recipe. You can use a toothpick, a knife, or a thermometer to check the doneness of your baked goods. If the toothpick or knife comes out clean or the thermometer reads the desired temperature, you’re done! Otherwise, you may need to bake it for a few more minutes until fully baked.

Release the finished product from the pan (or don’t)

To release your baked goods from the cast iron, let it cool slightly in the pan for 10-15 minutes—unless the recipe says otherwise. Then, loosen the edges of the baked goods from the pan using a butter knife or a spatula. Invert the cast iron over a plate or rack and gently tap the bottom to release the baked good.

Alternatively, you can serve your baked goods directly from the cast iron pan without releasing it. This is convenient if you’re baking a pizza, a cobbler, or a skillet cookie. Just cut and serve it from the pan using a knife or a spatula.

6 Tips for Baking with Cast Iron

To make your baking with cast iron experience even better, here are some tips you can follow.

1. You can use parchment paper if your seasoning is dodgy

If your cast iron pan is not well-seasoned or if you’re baking something sticky or acidic, you can use parchment paper to line the pan before adding the batter or dough. This will prevent your baked goods from sticking to the pan and protect your seasoning from damage.

Simply cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the shape and size of your cookware and place it over the greased and floured pan. Then, add the batter or dough as usual.

2. You can bake more than just desserts

Cast iron is not only good for baking sweet treats but also for savory dishes. You can use cast iron to bake casseroles, quiches, frittatas, lasagna, and more. Follow the same steps as baking desserts, and adjust the oven temperature and time according to the recipe.

You can also use cast iron to bake breakfast items, such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Preheat your cast iron pan on the stovetop, and add the batter or bread as usual. Then, transfer the pan to the oven and bake until done.

3. You can remove the cover in the last few minutes to get a nice top crust

If you’re baking with a cover, such as foil, paper, or lid, you can take it off in the last few minutes of baking to get a nice top crust on your baked good that is brown, crisped up, and textured. Just be careful not to overbake, as it can dry out or burn without the cover.

4. You should rotate pans while baking

In case you’re baking more than one cast iron pan at a time, you should rotate them halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. This is because different parts of the oven may have different temperatures, or one side of the pan may be sitting closer to a heating element, which could cause uneven browning.

By rotating your cookware, you can avoid hot spots or uneven browning. Don’t forget to use oven mitts or pot holders to handle the hot cast iron pans and switch their positions in the oven.

5. You can bake stuff over coals

If you’re feeling adventurous, use cast iron to bake stuff over coals, such as in a campfire or a grill. This is a fun and rustic way to enjoy baking, even giving you that smoky flavor to taste.

You can use a Dutch oven or loaf pan with a lid to bake over coals. Just place some coals on the bottom of the fire pit or grill and set the cast iron pan on top. Then, put more coals on the lid of the cast iron pan and bake according to the recipe.

6. You should clean and oil your pan after

After you enjoy your baked goods, clean and oil your cast iron pan to maintain its seasoning and prevent rust. To clean your cast iron pan, scrape any food residue with a spatula or a brush and rinse it with hot water.

To oil your cast iron pan, apply a thin layer of oil to its surface and heat it over low temp until it smokes slightly. Once done, wipe off any excess with a paper towel, and let your cast iron pan cool completely before storing it.

Bake like a Boss with Cast Iron

Cast iron is not only good for frying, searing, or simmering, but it’s also ideal for baking. You can use it to bake anything from cakes and pies to breads and muffins—the possibilities are endless!

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your cast iron and start baking with cast iron like a boss today!

If you liked this article, there’s more here at Cult of Cast Iron. For more tips and tricks on baking with cast iron or just how you can make the most of your favorite cookware in the kitchen, we’ve got you covered!

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