In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Skillet

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Jan 27, 2017 3:26 PM
Stir, Sizzle, Bake

Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Skillet, by Charlotte Druckman.  Copyright © 2016 by Charlotte Druckman. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Our Summary:

Despite its name Stir, Sizzle, Bake, you may be somewhat surprised to learn this book is all about baking in a cast-iron skillet.  While the idea of baking and cast-iron may not be a common one, save the rustic cornbread, Stir, Sizzle, Bake makes a convincing argument that it should be.  If you're still not convinced, the tour of world- and cultural- cuisine recipes should at least convince you that a sturdy skillet is the way to achieve delicious results on both your stove top and in your oven.

What you need to know:

Get it:  Stir, Sizzle, Bake, by Charlotte Druckman. Photographs Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter September 27, 2016, Hardcover $25.00 (Amazon $14.88; Kindle $13.99)

See it:  224 pages with color photos of about every other finished recipe.

Make it:  77 recipes for baked dished made in a standard 10 ¼" cast-iron skillet, including "no-bake baking," "easy-bake baking," "on-the-rise baking," and "make-the-most-of baking."  Also included is 8 recipe in the chapter "condiments."

Our Review:

If you have a cast-iron skillet and always thought you should be able to do more with it, this is the book for you.  But here, more means baking.  In her impressive collection of recipes for cast-iron skillet baking, Charlotte Druckman in Stir, Sizzle, Bake largely credits learning to bake with cast-iron for her return to contemporary cookbook and recipe writing.  And it shows.  Druckman invites you away from the anticipated traditional and rustic fare you'd stereotypically envision when thinking about stirring, or ingredients sizzling, in a cast-iron skillet.  Instead, you'll find yourself searching for cultural ingredients and seasonings to make things like Blistered Pizza Naan, Moroccan M'smen with Ras el Hanout, Delhi Bialys, or Migas with Sweet Potato Rusks & Chinese Sausage

That's not to say there aren't plenty of recipe names you'd recognize.  There are.  But you may find yourself constantly flipping through pages of Stir, Sizzle, Bake to find out what an English Muffin My Way entails.  You'll be tempted by the photograph of doughy looking pretzel knots alongside the Curried Pretzel Knots, but scratch your head wondering why curry? (which, to be fair, she does explain).  And while there are enough recipes that include proteins for a one-skillet meal, the proteins are rather unconventional - lamb, duck confit, chicken liver, to name a few.

It is, however, the diversity and the range of baking options in Stir, Sizzle, Bake that allows you to - if you give this book a chance - expand your baking repertoire not only with a variety of doughs and batters, but flavor profiles, too.  You must immediately suspend your anticipation for Southern-influenced dishes that you might expect when cast-iron is involved, though Druckman does include a few cornbread recipes, including Mom's cornbread revisited and one fruit pie (Wholesome Apple-Quince Pie) recipe.  And for amusement, she changes up the classic Pimiento cheese spread tempting bakers with a Cheesy Frito Bread with Pimientos, the Frito reference, of course, belonging to Frito Lay®.

When everything is said and done you'll be in one of two camps:  you'll either love Stir, Sizzle, Bake or you won't.  If you're smart enough to look beyond the walls of either, you'll find yourself with a primer on the cast-iron skillet - including how to select and care for this affordable cooking vessel, as well as an open door to the unlimited flavor profiles and possibilities baking in cast-iron affords. 

The Recipes (Reprinted with permission from Stir, Sizzle, Bake. Copyright © 2016 by Charlotte Druckman. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.):

Cheesy Frito Bread with Pimientos

NYC Rarebit Sandwich

Tomato Pie

Published in Donna Marie Desfor

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