The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cast Iron vs. Enameled Cast Iron

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murphalert's picture
murphalert

Cast Iron vs. Enameled Cast Iron

Hello All,


Is there a significant difference between baking with an enameled cast iron pot or dutch oven and baking with a non-enameled cast iron pot or dutch oven? It seems like the non-enameled cookware is a bit easier on the wallet and lodge makes some cheap, plain, dutch ovens (compared to Le Creuset).


Murphy

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

I use both but in different shapes.  Seems to me the results I get are the same.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I don't see enough difference, if any, to convince myself that I need a pretty colored enambled dutch oven.  My cast iron model does a fantastic job and, as you mentioned, was MUCH less expensive.  It is important to keep it properly seasoned though and, I think, that may be one difference that attracts some to the enameled variety that doesn't need that kind of attention.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15168/dutch-oven-65-qt-tramontina-cast-enameled-35maybe-walmartcom-free-pick-test-kitchens-best


Size for size, don't think you will find a Lodge seasoned(or bare) that cheap.


Very heavy though.  A factor for some.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I agree for the most part with other posters that the non-enameled is fine for baking, especially for the cost. However, when it comes to cooking in them, you can't beat the enameled variety. They are much easier to clean and to care for (no seasoning), not to mention much nicer looking (I keep mine on top of the stove).

Ria's picture
Ria

I got a Lodge 6-qt enameled Dutch oven for Christmas. It was my choice over the non-enameled. Having used my non-enameled pieces in the past, I will agree with the previous poster that cleanup is much easier in the enameled pots. 


A well-seasoned non-enameled pot would be just fine. I have no doubt of that. But I *wanted* the pretty blue one. And hey...sometimes being the mom of five sons does bring rewards! LOL!


Ria

murphalert's picture
murphalert

Thanks for all the opinions! I am now, broke, and only dreaming of a dutch oven for at least the next six months, but all of these pointers will certainly help me in my decision.


Murphy

margieluvschaz's picture
margieluvschaz


Hi Murphy-


I priced Le Creusets at the oulet here in AZ & even with my husband's industry discount they are expensive 150 for a 5.5 qt.


I have had 3 6 qt round ones from Sam's club at 39 each but they chip very easy with no real use! I also had a lid break after using it per instructions.   I just  bought the 6 qt oval at Costco for 49. So far no chips at all & the temp with lid will go up to 500 dgrees.  Sams lid does not goe up that high-.


I like the enameled ones because I think they cook more evenly & are less apt to scorch the bottoms of things.  I love it.  I think it is a much better value for the size than you can get anywhere else.


I mainly lurk here- &  just read all of the wealth of info! good luck


Margie



margieluvschaz's picture
margieluvschaz

 


 



Hi Murphy-


I priced Le Creusets at the oulet here in AZ & even with my husband's industry discount they are expensive 150 for a 5.5 qt.


I have had 3 6 qt round ones from Sam's club at 39 each but they chip very easy with no real use! I also had a lid break after using it per instructions.   I just  bought the 6 qt oval at Costco for 49. So far no chips at all & the temp with lid will go up to 500 dgrees.  Sams lid does not goe up that high-.


I like the enameled ones because I think they cook more evenly & are less apt to scorch the bottoms of things.  I love it.  I think it is a much better value for the size than you can get anywhere else.


I mainly lurk here- &  just read all of the wealth of info! good luck


Margie



flournwater's picture
flournwater

Wondering why you use bold type so much ...  are you shouting at us?

margieluvschaz's picture
margieluvschaz

no I'm not shouting just not used to the b for bold right on the site so I don't notice it ...  hard to actually read the things I type with my 4 year old causing chaos! 


Margie 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Margie's post reminded me of something I found out when I was shopping for an enameled dutch oven -- not all of them are created equal. The quality ones (e,g., Le Creuset) have multiple layers of enamel on them, which is why they don't scratch as easily as more cheaply made ones. If you can't or don't want to spend the money on a good quality enameled oven, I'd stick with a plain one.

cmkrause's picture
cmkrause

I bought my enameled dutch oven 2 years ago at TJMaxx.  It is a Wolfgang Puck 6 quart and I paid less than $50 for it.  I use it all the time on the stove top and in the oven with no chipping or scratching issues.  Our TJM has a great kitchenwares department and I have found several quality items there for very little money.  It's worth a shot!

copyu's picture
copyu

I'd definitely go for the plain cast iron or, if you can find one, a BLACK enamelled cast iron pan. Le Creuset makes them, but they're very hard to find in Japan.


I have a round, 8" steel dutch oven with some type of dark grey coating, perhaps enamel, that is slowly improving with continued use, as the coating turns blacker. When I made my first loaf in it, my wife said it was the 'best' loaf I'd made, because the crust was 'not hard'. (In other words, it was a technical failure, as far as I am concerned.)


It's so dead easy to season cast iron pans—the Japanese way is just to cook in them. After washing once with detergent, 'sacrificial' vegetable matter, eg, tops and tails of onions, carrots, peppers, some potato peelings and a neutral-flavored oil are crisped-up together and stirred around to season the pan. (Lids are lightly oiled inside and placed straight on the stove burner.) After that, you simply wash the pan with water and a nylon scourer, if needed, and dry it on the stove-top. We sometimes rub the inside with a paper towel with a few drops of oil on it, while the pan is still heating, if it looks like it needs a touch-up. We ALWAYS store it with a piece of folded paper towel between the lid and the pan to allow air-flow.


When I lived in Australia, I used ALL plain cast-iron cookware and loved it. The one caveat is that you really need to get some foods OUT of the pan quickly after cooking, eg; white rice takes on a 'rusty' look around the edges even before you've finished eating, but there's no effect on the taste.


Cheers

madhattie's picture
madhattie

I've always had good luck finding excellent deals on bakeware in thrift shops. Often I find brand new items that have never been used.... like my stainless steel pressure cooker ($140.00 retail but $10.00 in the thrift shop). All my cast iron was found at thrift shops, garage sales or estate sales. I just pop in about once a month to see what they have. I'm hoping to find a grain mill that way.

misterrios's picture
misterrios

I found two small cast iron pans in a Thrift Store in Belgium (I'm in Germany) for dead cheap once. i think it was Five Euros for both. I'm still seeking that elusive Dutch oven, though.

wmtimm627's picture
wmtimm627

I'm fortunate to have a Le Creuset outlet store at a local outlet mall near Chicago. I bought a couple of "seconds" French Ovens from there that have performed flawlessly for me. Being seconds, however, didn't make make them that much cheaper. As stated previously, they are a dream to use and cleaning couldn't be easier.


I still love my other cast iron pots and pans though. They are the original non-stick cooking utensil, IF you take care of them properly.

TheVillageBaker's picture
TheVillageBaker

I too received a Lodge 6-qt Dutch oven for Christmas, but the non enameled version. Less than half the price of the Le Creuset equivalent. The heavy well fitting lid is a real experience as hardly any liquid is lost during a long slow cook of maybe four to eight hours, exluding reheats. We use it on the top of a wood burning stove and there has been no sticking so far.


I also bake wholewheat bread in the Dutch oven on the stove too, very moist and chewy within - again a surprising quantity of moisture is retained.


We have an unenameled Le Creuset, for dry roasting, which has not been washed in over a decade, and enameled Le Creuset, which I dislike using for fear of blackening the enterior - my wife uses it mainly. We bought an enameled Le Creuset frying pan and cooking pot from our village fete's white elephant stall for only a few pounds.


However I like the basic earthy quality of the plain black finished Lodge DO.


 


 


 


 

JoMama's picture
JoMama

Try Ross stores ... I bought a 7 quart 'Paula Deen' enameled oval Dutch oven ... for only $40 (normally $70) ... LOL - so I bought TWO ... but with Ross stores, it's hit or miss ... I've picked up a lot of great baking sheets & pans over the past two years ... never hurts to look!


I find 8 quart Lodge (or other brand) old fashioned cast iron Dutch ovens almost too heavy for my scrawny arms ... but I love my Lodge cast iron skillets (in several sizes).  


Do NOT buy Lodge imitations ... our daughter bought me an off-brand set at Sam's Club or Costco years ago ... it never seasoned right ... where as my Lodge seasoned easily.


Baked seven layer bean dip - SUPER BOWL time! - is great in good seasoned Lodge cast iron.

Irrestinctus's picture
Irrestinctus

Both of these stores offer a number of alternatives. The best that I have found for the enameled cast iron is Cuisinart. They are hefty and resilient without being too expensive. If I had money to fork out for a Le Creuset or Staub piece I would, but these work great. My 3.3 qt is fantastic. My father-in-law is a chef and loves his 6qt Cuisinart.


If I were to looking to buy a new piece just for baking I would go for the classic Camp Dutch Oven. (by the way...you should check out teh Lodge Hibachi Grill...it's amazing!!)

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

Growing up my Dad did all the cooking.  All he ever used was for fry pans was cast iron.  His way to keep the pans seasoned, and I don't know why, he did it like that was to put a bit of oil, in the pan, some salt, heat the pan, use a brown paper bag to scour the inside and this was while it was heating up on the stove.  Once I ruined his pan and he had me reseason it, and I never ruined another cast iron pan again. Where he got that method from, I don't know, but his pans were always great, and no sticking while cooking. 

Irrestinctus's picture
Irrestinctus

I think I recall seeing something similar to this mentioned on "America's Test Kitchen" when they did a spot on cast iron. The other method they used was just heating a large amount of vegetable oil in the pan and then letting it "simmer" for about 20 minutes and then cooling and dumping out the oil.

Irrestinctus's picture
Irrestinctus

when I say "dumping out" I mean just pouring into something else. They of course kept it.

jacobsonjf's picture
jacobsonjf

I'm curious about "seasoning" a cast iron skillet with any kind of oil and using the pan for baking aka the Lahey technique. I raise the question as the smoking point for many vegetable oils is well below 400 degrees f and in baking hearth breads we use temps in the 425 - 475 f range. Anyone have experience oiling cast iron and baking at 475 with the oiled pan? Does the pan smoke? If yes, what happens to the bread? How about clearing the air in the house?

wmtimm627's picture
wmtimm627

Although it can be quite expensive these days, peanut oil is probably the best for high heat applicaions. I use gallons of it to fry my turkeys.


One of the best ways I've used for seasoning a cast iron utensil is to coat it with peanut oil and then bake it in a gas BBQ grill. Get it as hot as possible and cook the thing for an hour. It's probably best to turn it upside down so the oil doesn't pool in the bottom.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

When I was baking the Lahey NK bread, I used a cast iron dutch oven which had been preseasoned initially by Lodge, but which I also sprayed with Canola oil after using it for general cooking purposes.


I've always preheated the dutch oven for about an hour at 450F - using the parchment-formed-in-a-cross technique to gently (and carefully) lower the dough into the hot container.


Never had any smoke issues but then, when you season cast iron you're supposed to wipe off excess oil so there really isn't any noticeable residue.


For what it's worth, when the winter heating season is over, I also use Canola oil on my wood stove (steel and cast iron) so it doesn't look so ratty over the summer.  I spray it on and wipe it down pretty well.  It cleans up the stove nicely.   When I fire up the stove in the fall, there's no noticeable smoke, but it does make the house smell like popcorn, but that dissipates in an hour or so.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I ask out of curiosity, not criticism, because I've been thinking about buying a cast iron dutch oven for the same purpose. I've noticed that most parchment paper boxes have statements on the outside that state the paper is safe to use up to temperatures of 400-425F. As I recall, Lahey's recipes call for heating the oven to 475F so I'd like to ask you what your procedures are when using the paper for NK bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but usually not where it touches the bread.   Sometimes I slip the paper out before the bread is done to prevent over browning or burning of the paper if the oven is set high.   The corners brown first and the paper turns so brittle it breaks easily.  With long exposure, it smokes and burns.  Half way thru the bake the strips can be just pulled out.


Better to use the parchment stuck on the dough and not heated with the pan and oven.  Or cut a circle of parchment that just covers the pot bottom and toss it in before the dough.   If it's stuck to the dough, it makes it easier to guide/lower into a pot or into the oven.   It looses its strength when baked so don't expect to use the parchment to lift out the finished bread.  Use mitts instead or just flip it out onto a cooling rack.


Mini

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I've never had parchment paper actually catch fire when baking bread in cast iron (maybe brown and turn brittle, but not burn). Obviously, you have. So...


what temperature is the oven? how long is the bake?


do you think the parchment paper you can buy is different than that available in the USA and has a lower burn point?

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

I only use Crisco shortening to season my cast iron. It is my understanding that the liquid and spray oils will remain sticky instead of producing the hard coating that Crisco will. Lard is supposed to be another good seasoning agent.


When I know a little more seasoning is needed before cooking, I will heat the cast iron, apply a thin coat of Crisco, wait a bit, then add butter, margarine, cooking oil. or more shortening. After use, wipe the cast iron clean and sometimes add a thin coat of shortening while it is warm.


If I have not used some of my cast iron pieces in a while, I will give them all a thin shortening coating and heat them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour, wiping the excess shortening after 30 minutes and an hour. I let them cool in the oven and give them a final wipe. By doing this occasionally with seldom-used pieces, I have never had a problem with a rancid coating.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I've seasoned a lot of cast iron over the decades and I think animal fat is much better than oil for home seasoning. Using cast iron to render fat is best but if I don't need to do that, I use some solid lard (which I then discard).

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

I have heard that lard works well for seasoning cast iron, but I don't use lard, so I have never tried it. Hamburgers and bacon are often suggested as good for the seasoning process, and I have used them both ... often ... yum.


Vegetable oils are supposedly not good for the seasoning process because they do not harden but leave a soft or sticky surface, but in the last few years I have noticed that a lot of people are using them. I have already posted how I use vegetable oils and butters.


Someone mentioned using salt in a cast iron pan. It is one way to clean cast iron without using something more abrasive. If wiping a pan is not enough, I usually soak it in hot water for a few minutes (boiling water on the stove also works) and rub it with a nylon scrub. I have also used a paper towel and salt followed by a hot-water rinse, but I prefer hot water the nylon scrub.

KMIAA's picture
KMIAA

My father was the cook in the family, and growing up all he used was Cast Iron Pans for frying and doing his soups, stews, etc.,  He used stainless steel pots for other items.  The pans went to me after he passed away.  He seasoned his pans, with a bit of oil.  Heated the pan on the stove, used a little oil, and used salt to clean.  He used a brown paper bag scrunched up, and went around the pan while heating it, to loosen any stubborn things on the pan.  Nothing ever stuck to his pans.  I continue to use his method for cleaning my cast iron pans. 

Bigears's picture
Bigears

I use a Lodge cast iron dutch oven.  Although I have experimented using parchment paper on the bottom to bake bread, I prefer not to use anything on the bottom.  I dress my cast iron after every use with a 500 degree preheat, a wipe with a light coating of vegetable oil and then put it away.  I use old pot holders between my stacked cast iron pieces to prevent those stacked on top from damaging the seasoning of the one below it.  My bread never burns or sticks.


Cast iron is designed for use in direct contact with hot coals so using it in a 500 degree oven is not going to damage it.  Here's one of the best source, IMO, for information about caring for your cast iron.


http://papadutch.home.comcast.net/~papadutch/dutch-oven-care.htm


 

copyu's picture
copyu

Don't worry about it. The "seasoning" is the protection for the iron and it's VERY easy to do.


Just wash and scrub the new pan/dutch oven with detergent and rinse it well in water to get rid of any petroleum anti-rust products. [Read the manufacturer's instructions first, though, just in case!] Heat it up on low heat to get rid of any water. 


When dry, add your favorite fat to the pan on medium-high heat and throw in all meat and vege scraps you have lying around. Cook them all, until crispy, rubbing them around the sides of the pan. Allow to cool. Discard the food scraps and wipe the pan thoroughly with paper towels. Done! Your pan is now 'seasoned'.


Don't add oil to the pan when baking NKB! I use a sprinkle of cornflour (when I remember) but bread dough does not stick to a seasoned cast-iron pan, whether hot ot cold. 


Cheers,


copyu

suave's picture
suave

I used both and in my opinion there is no difference.  The only thing I'd mention is that my cheapo made in China dutch oven started shedding enamel after about 30-40 loaves.