Saturday, 17 November 2012

In praise of enamel bakeware

I ate all the pies. And I'd do it again!
Don't worry, I'm not turning all yummy mummy on you, I'm still a foul-mouthed guttersnipe. However, even foul-mouthed guttersnipes have to eat. I like cooking. Nowadays you can get all sorts of things that are supposed to help you with cooking. Non-stick surfaces, funny red dots that tell you when a pan's hot (I find flicking cold water on it and seeing if it bubbles does the trick there) and so on. Having cooked with these enamelled metal dishes, I'm not that sure that 'progress' has taken us all that far.

I bought the first one when we were in Knees, Trowbridge's funny little family-owned department store. Knees sells all sorts of things you might need, from clothes dyes to suitcases, pest control products to rugs, and some you possibly didn't think you could get any more, like blacking for your grate and Vim. (Seriously, everywhere else sells Cif/Jif nowadays, but Knees has Vim.) Yes, I could probably get lots of the stuff cheaper elsewhere, but it's central and I can't drive, plus I like browsing round Knees because it's like stepping back in time and I like to support independent shops in my town centre. It's one of those places where the shop assistants actually look at you, and give you a genuine smile and are properly helpful. Step back in time indeed.

So, there on a rack was all sorts of enamel bakeware. I loved the look. The tin mugs made me think of camping trips, although i've never been camping. I really wasn't sure I'd get much use out of it (after all, I already had a ceramic equivalent), but bought myself a pie dish anyway.

AMAZING RESULT!

Ever have a problem with soggy-bottomed pies? I always found it tricky getting the bottoms of things to cook. Not with my enamel pie dish. You grease the dish before putting the pastry in, and it comes out cleanly, with a perfectly-cooked bottom. I bought two pie dishes and realised I only needed one of each size, so gave the other to a workmate who also makes his pies in ceramic dishes and finds the bottoms stay soggy. He too finds the enamel dishes much better.

That's the best bit from a cookery point of view. From a cleanery point of view, the dishes are also ace. Grot just wipes off. You see the very crusty dish in the top photo? That crust is cooked on bechamel sauce and cheesy breadcrumbs from a squash gratin. It's set solid. After a short soak, the stuff came off easily with a bit of rubbing with a washing up sponge.

See? All clean again!
Stuff non-stick coatings and glowing red dots, enamel bakeware is the best!

4 comments :

  1. I need to get me some of this stuff. I am constantly on the look out for old bits.

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  2. They are good, and you can make bigger pies as they are not too heavy to lift out of the oven!X

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  3. You are so right there, Mim. My best ever buy is a big vintage cream and green enamel saucepan that I brought ten years ago and its still in use every day. I've got some Le Crueset, but they aren't a patch on my enamel one.

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  4. Charly, it's pretty cheap if you can find it. I love mine!

    Paperdoll, I had not considered the bigger pie aspect!

    Vintage knitter, I've got some le Creuset too, but I tend to use it for casseroles and stews. I've never tried an enamel saucepan - Knees don't sell them – and my next acquisition will be an enamel roaster.

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