Thursday, April 15, 2021

Cast Iron Saturdays-Dutch Ovens

 Welcome to my Cast Iron Saturdays which I will post on Fridays.

     I haven't set this up as a link up, but anyone is welcome to share a recipe that you like to use with cast iron or other cast iron information in comments.

   I thought I would explore Dutch Ovens this week. Those of you that have followed me for awhile, may remember me sharing photos of my lemon meringue pies baked in the Dutch Oven.  Those were the best pies ever.  I am hoping to get set up here at the lake soon-(we have been waiting for the sewer people to come back and finish) I may just place some bricks around the fire pit so I can bake again.

   I want to share a story with you. Years ago, probably soon after we retired to Missouri and when Yahoo had allot of groups-I joined one for cast iron cooking and baking. I was so proud of myself that I had figured out if I put a trivet in the bottom of my Dutch Oven and then put a pottery pie plate on top of that-I would get a nicer bake and less chance of burning the bottom of the pie (or bread) this way. So I shared this on the site-so happy with my success. Well, I got ripped apart by the administrator-this was not authentic, this is not how this was done and on and on. I wrote him back saying at least I baked up something with real foods and did not use all those canned items, cake mixes, soda pop etc. that would not have been used in the day, and left the group haha That still pops up in my head once in awhile.

   First of all what is a Dutch Oven??   These come in many different sizes, they will have 3 legs and the lid will have a lip around the edge to keep the coals on top.

Photo below shows how the lid looks with the coals-however-you do not want to bake with fire-but rather coals only

  Several years ago I found James Townsend and Sons, a historian and reenactor of the 18th century. His videos are amazing tools to learn from. This video I just found again explains using the trivet and pottery pan when baking in the Dutch Oven. The book he mentions in the beginning I had purchased and enjoyed the read.   He also demonstrates how to use wood coals instead of charcoal briquettes-which I like the idea of as well. I also on one of my last bakes forgot that one should get your cast iron "oven" preheated first. I had tried using an oven thermometer on one of my bakes, but as he indicates the temperature drops sooo much when opening the lid. I like his idea of having one of those instant reads with a probe.  So how did our pioneers know when their "ovens" were ready to bake in?? I should look that up.

  A few years ago I bought a book on hearth cooking, the author did reenactments of hearth cooking and baking. I learned so much about using cast iron from her, and she indicated the trivets and pottery pans as well for baking. If any one is interested let me know in comments and I will search my bookshelf for the title and author.

   When baking with the charcoal there are quite a few charts around on how many briquettes to use top and bottom depending on the size of your Dutch Oven. Also temperature outdoors and wind is also a factor. Here is a link to more detailed charts-depending on what you are cooking. Also many videos make a big deal about turning the pot one direction and the top a different direction-I don't do all that very often-I try to keep my coals even and not "mess" with things. haha

  Another must have tool is a pot lifter. I had welding gloves that we had near the woodstoves and thought I could pick up the lid with those-ahh nope way too hot. I don't remember what brand I had purchased but this Lodge one looks like mine-these are excellent and very secure to use.

   If you have cast iron pots with no legs than you can raise them up on a grate-there are some neat ones available now. and for the top I have fashioned thick foil or aluminum pie pans that I cut a slit in the middle to fit over the handle-which will work pretty well for stews, soups etc-it will not be as even a bake on top though for breads etc. 

  For recipes-again this method is just another way to have an oven-so what ever you want to cook-bake-etc will work. Also great ideas on camping sites and the boy scouts etc. I found this beginner one for Dutch Ovens on Pinterest

  If you can eat breads-they are sooo much fun to bake here is a simple no knead bread      photo from site

  If you like to bake pies-just bake it in your pre heated Dutch Oven with wood coals or charcoal briquettes I have baked things like brownies, a chocolate chip cookie recipe spread on the bottom, I have also baked upset down cakes with success.

   I did find a cake recipe made from scratch ingredients that looks really good-and took me to a blog site I used to follow, they stopped posting a few years ago but this is a nice site for recipe ideas I am happy I found it again

    Johnny Appleseed Cake from Everyday Dutch Oven blog

  You can bake up anything you wish outdoors in your cast iron and really Wow your guests opening up the lid to reveal breads, pies and more.

  What have you baked-cooked outdoors in your Dutch Ovens??