I think that there is a lot of truth in the saying that you get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean that I am not an avid bargain hunter and like most of us I will always try to find products that offer the very best value. During my married years I have had countless sets of saucepans and oven dishes, some have lasted better than others. Many of the pans have ended up minus handles or lids and have eventually been consigned to the bin. Apart from one brilliant Viner’s deep frying pan that I managed to get in a sale the only other long lasting pans in my home are from the Le Cruset range.
Le Cruset was introduced in 1924 by two gentlemen of Belgian origin, one was experienced in the casting process and the other was an expert in the enamelling process. The two joined forces and opened a foundry that would would focus on producing good quality enamel cookware. The rest is history because the whole concept took off with a bang and Le Cruset grew from strength to strength, manufacturing cookware for every foreseeable occasion. Le Cruset have used some vibrant colour schemes over the past few decades and none more iconic that the range that came out in bright orange, still highly popular today. My niece has the whole set of pans complete with the hanger in her kitchen and they make an attractive display.
As you will have realised by now, cast iron is no new revelation and it was used as far back as the days of the Romans for cooking. Le Cruset have always gone the extra mile to make their cast pots look attractive as well as being versatile and durable. The whole beauty of cast iron is its ability to retain the heat and when you use cast iron to cook it ensures that the heat is spread evenly as the cooking process takes place.
I was searching for a decent Tatin dish, if the dish is too thin then the bottom of the tart sticks and burns before the top is anywhere near done. Knowing from experience that you have to be prepared to go the extra mile and pay a bit more for a good dish I had already settled my mind on the dish from the Le Cruset range. The Amazon website just had to be my first port of call, time after time I have found that their prices are extremely competitive, the Tatin dish was on the site for £63, I know that seems a lot of money to pay for oven ware but don’t forget this dish will more than likely out last me! I had a choice of two colours, iconic orange or cobalt blue, given that I have a mixture of both anyway I decided to plump for the cobalt blue. Cobalt blue is quite an elegant colour and it would look especially good sitting on a dining table.
The dish is 24cm in diameter, it has a 1.8 L capacity and holds around six portions. The dish is rich cobalt blue on the outside and then the normal beige colour on the inside, the handles have been designed really well. The circular dish has large handles which are shaped inside for good grip, when you lift the dish to turn the tart it flips over easily. Le Cruset have made the dish look streamlined and up to date.
Because the cast iron distributes the heat evenly the dish cooks the pastry base exceptionally well and there are a thousand and one flans, both sweet and savoury that can be cooked successfully using the dish. In fact you can use the dish for whatever purpose you want, there are no hard and fast rules! Like all Le Cruset cookware the dish is oven proof, grill proof, it can be stored in the freezer and after use it can be stacked into the dishwasher. Regards cooking it will adapt to any method, gas, wood, oil, induction, halogen or ceramic.
I feel that the dish does do justice to tarts and flans, the pastry base stays much firmer due to the cast iron. I don’t have a dishwasher but my niece just loads her Le Cruset cookware in with not a care in the world, the one and only thing that I have noticed is that her pans seem to be developing patches where they need a good scour. I wash mine in the sink and tend to remove any marks as they arrive, that way there is no chance of a build up. Any food that sticks to the dish is soon removed with a short soak in soapy water and I use my normal nylon scourer to remove marks with good results, you cannot use metal scourers of any kind on the enamel.
If I was to be picky I would have to say that Le Cruset cookware does feel weighty but you can’t have your cake and eat it. The cast iron cookware is bound to be heavy, that is how it carries out it’s job so admirably. But maybe if you were choosing a pan for an elderly relative the Le Cruset range wouldn’t be the one to go for !
You will need to buy a good thick oven glove, when the dish has been in the heat the handles get incredibly hot so make sure that you allow for this. Don’t ever let the empty dish overheat or it may well ruin the enamel. Always make sure that you allow the dish to cool slightly before you immerse it in the washing up water too. Another good point to remember is that you need to use either wooden or plastic spoons and spatulas in conjunction with the cookware. Le Cruset offer a lifetime guarantee with their products which shows that they have great confidence in their cookware. Naturally you must protect the enamel from bumps and bangs and if you drop the pans the enamel may chip but that has no lasting effect on the ability of the pan. I think that Le Cruset try to say that normal wear and tear can’t be given the lifetime guarantee, a fair point. Ideal if not slightly expensive cookware but it has to be rated as one of the best on the market.