There is an exciting craze sweeping the South—a resurgence of the love of cast-iron cookware. Our moms cooked in cast iron; it was and is a staple in their kitchens. Young people today are falling in love with cast iron, and those of us more “mature” people are getting ours out of storage.
My skillet has many years of cooking wear on it. It started out as a gray, newly made iron skillet that had to be seasoned. Today most of the new skillets come already seasoned and ready to go. After years, mine is now dark black and very smooth on the cooking surface.
The old wives’ tale was that the cast-iron skillet was always a wedding gift and was used to keep the husband in line. Well, it is probably better to woo him with delicious food prepared in the skillet, like a scrumptious dessert. That’s why I had to share the recipe for Pumpkin Crumble Pie from our new release, Southern Cast Iron.
A recipe for a new cast-iron favorite.
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts (1 sheet)
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup evaporated whole milk
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
- Apple Cider Syrup, to serve (recipe follows)
- For crumble: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in butter with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll piecrust into a 12-inch circle. Press into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Fold edges under, and set aside.
- For filling: In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, milk, zest, pumpkin pie spice, salt, eggs, and pumpkin until combined. Pour into prepared crust. Sprinkle crumble evenly over filling.
- Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, approximately 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with Apple Cider Syrup, if desired.
- Canned pumpkin and pre-made piecrust help this treat come together quickly.
- 1 quart apple cider
- In a small Dutch oven, bring apple cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until cider reduces to 1 cup, approximately 40 minutes. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
What do you love to make using your cast-iron cookware?
I inherited my mother-in-laws cast iron skillets and for the past year or so it’s all I use. I have a set of Calphlon pots and pans but prefer the cast iron. Makes the best gravy no matter what meat I cook. Pineapple Upside Down cake and cornbread are the best ever. I also have a smooth cooktop and as others have stated you must be careful, it will scratch.
My mother and grandmother used cast iron skillets and I was lucky enough to inherit them. Although I don’t cook as often as they did, it’s a MUST for cornbread. I also like it for skillet apple pie! Can’t beat it!
I have iron skillets from my mother, possibly grandmother and a dear older friend. I only use mine when making Pineapple Upside Cake. Will try to remedy that!
Hi Jane, I have always used cast iron skillets as it is part of my culture. However, I did get a black ceramic top stove a few years ago. My skillets work well with the stove. You just have to remember to pick them up when you are repositioning them vs. dragging them to another location on the stove top, so that the ceramic cook top doesn’t scratch. I also place the iron skillets on a good solid cutting board to cool if I have been cooking with them in the oven instead of putting them on the cooktop so hot. It only took these few adjustments in my routine. Enjoy
Is it possible to cook cornbread in any pan other than a cast iron skillet?
I use cast iron skillets passed down from my great grandmother.
Jane I use my cast iron on my ceramic stove top. I’ve never had a problem.
Has anyone used cast iron in their ceramic cooktop? I know you aren’t supposed to but I’ve also read online comments that say they do it anyway with no problem. I grew up with a mom that always used cast iron skillets & would love to go back to that but I can’t afford a new stove right now!
Made your apple pie recipe last fall in my cast iron skillet – yummy!!
Have wonderful memories of my mother’s chicken fried in a large rather deep cast iron skillet. Nothing like it.
I have her cast iron griddle that she cooked many pancakes on down thru the years. One memory is of a winter snow storm taking out our electricity on our Iowa farm and mother making pancakes on that griddle on the old cook stove stored in our farm basement. What a labor of love for her family. I have that griddle hanging on a wall in my kitchen but think it may need to come down and be used this winter!
I have never thought to use my cast iron skillet for a dessert recipe. As I moved to an apartment a year and a half ago (with a balcony and no barbecues allowed), my iron skillet came out for all my grilled meat entrees. Seasoned steak (pork, chicken, or fish), seared for a couple of minutes on both sides, then placed in the oven at 350 for another few minutes – has been my go to method of cooking.
Also, it does add a little iron to the food – bonus.
My grandmother Birdie cooked with cast iron, and I do too. As a college student, I prepared my first batch of fried chicken in a cast iron skillet and never looked back. It’s durable, long-lasting, and easy to maintain. Although I own several All Clad skillets and pots, I return to my cast iron skillets every time. I appreciate the even heat distribution as well as the lovely results. And I swear by Lodge brand cast iron skillets. They are made in the south (TN) and easy on the wallet. I can’t wait to read your new cast iron magazine. It’s always fun to discover new recipes!
I can tell you a BIG reason cast iron skillets are making a big comeback in two words…Pioneer Woman! Since the surge in the popularity in the blog of Ree Drummond, better known as the Pioneer Woman and then with her show being on air she has almost singlehandedly renewed the interest in cast iron skillets. In a retail store I had for about 8 years from around 2000-2008 we would sell them, but it was rarely any of the younger generation. Ree Drummond made it “acceptable” to use cast iron and not an “old people’s” way of cooking. The invention of the glass top stoves also played a big role in the demise of cast iron for a while since they can’t be used on this type of stove. For a while they were the latest “fad” that every kitchen, whether anyone actually cooked or not and everyone had to have these new type of stove. Now it’s the more professional gas top range. This is what every so-called “foodie” want. Even on the shows like “Buying Hawaii” or “Living Alaska” when people are buying vacation homes, not even their full-time resident, they want these “gourmet” kitchens. (Actually, I need to get off the topic of those shows as I want to “shake the sugar” out of some of them because they appear SO SPOILED with their comments of “how small” rooms are and so many other things. Heck, I grew up in a bedroom half or a fourth of what they complain about or their Master Bedrooms can’t hold king size beds and are yet the size of small apartments. For a $125,000 they want every luxury item known to exist. No one is satisfied any longer with a simple, basic, normal house like people built in the 60s. Everyone wants 2 or 3 bathrooms even in homes “off the grid”. It’s NUTS!)
Anyway, back to cast iron….Ree shows on every episode cooking everything a person can imagine in her cast iron skillets and women now feel comfortable enough to give them a try. I’ve been around them all my life, people like my parents didn’t know anything else didn’t even existed. There is also the additional advantage of the iron they can add to people’s diets but if the cast iron is used a lot iron levels need to be monitored. It is possible for a person’s count to get too high.
How do you clean them?
I have had my three cast iron skillets and large stockpot since I got married over 40 years ago. Even with all the “gourmet” cookware I was able to afford in later years, they remain my favorite. I always say that if I could only take one pan with me, it would be one of those skillets. Cast iron pans are still my “go to” for most things. I’m excited about the Cast Iron publication, can’t wait to get it! I mostly make dinners in my cast iron, and soups in the large pot, but your recipe sounds very delicious, I might give dessert a whirl!
Never did I stop using my cast iron skillets. Corn bread baked in anything other than cast iron just leaves something to be desired. My Pineapple Upsidedown Cakes and my Ginger Peachy Cakes were always baked in them. They turned out perfect time after time. Chili and spaghetti sauce were slowly simmered for hours and the aroma was as delicious as the end result. I started out newly married using cast iron and am still using it 52 years later. I have skillets from small enough to make corn bread for two, to big enough to make corn bread for a crowd… Other fad cookware has come and gone but my cast iron is here for the long haul.