CARE & USE

Cast iron has found a home in kitchens around the world. After much research, Jim Challenger discovered it’s the best material for baking bread, especially artisan-style bread.

Seasoning

Cast iron has found a home in kitchens around the world. After much research, Jim Challenger discovered it’s the best material for baking bread, especially artisan-style bread.

So what makes taking care of your Challenger unique to, say, your trusty everyday cast iron skillet? To start, it’s the seasoning. While your trusty skillet gains natural seasoning from fatty foods like bacon or steak, your bread is not full of fat! Your Challenger comes pre-seasoned to perfection with 3 layers of organic grapeseed oil that’s been carefully sprayed on by hand. Between each coat, the pans are moved through precision ovens where the temperature and time have been dialed in to give your Challenger Bread Pan the beautiful black durable seasoning you’ll notice when you receive your new pan.

The seasoning on your Challenger does have an enemy to its longevity: steam. While the steam that settles on your loaf is desirable while it’s baking, that same water, can wreak havoc on the seasoning of your pan. We’ve even found that the heat in gas ovens is moister than in electric ovens. If you look closely after each bake, you may see spots where the pan is not quite as black as it used to be, but fear not. Maintenance of your pre-seasoned Challenger is easy. And when you love your pan as much as we do—and we know you will—you’ll enjoy giving it a little tender loving care.

Instructions for Seasoning

Here are some very easy maintenance suggestions that fit into your baking workflow and keep you Challenger as good as new.
  1. Always use oven mitts when handling your hot Challenger—or any heated cast iron.
  2. You can add a piece of parchment paper beneath your dough. It can help create an even color on the bottom of your loaf. It’s also an easy way of keeping your Challenger nice and clean.
  3. When you remove the cover part way through your baking time, just leave it in the oven. This helps remove all condensation left on the cast iron.
  4. After removing the base from the oven—and delighting in your latest dough-licious masterpiece—remove the bread, and let it cool. If any dough is stuck to your base, use a metal spatula to remove it.

Re-Seasoning — or keeping that rich, dark black color on your Challenger

There’s a primer layer on your Challenger that gives your pan a rich dark black finish. To keep the steam in your oven from burning off that primer coat, we recommend that you follow the following method before or after each bake — whichever fits your schedule better.

If you’re doing it after you bake, take your pan out, and leave the oven on—set to 500°F/260°C is best. Follow the instructions below and place your pan back in the oven when done. You can then turn the oven off, and the heat will bake the oil into a new layer of seasoning.

If it’s easier or fits your schedule better, you can follow the instructions below right before you start preheating your oven for baking your bread. The heat during preheating will bake the oil into a new layer of seasoning.

By adding oil in this manner, you’re creating a new topcoat of seasoning on your pan. This becomes the sacrificial layer of seasoning that burns off due to all the steam in your oven. The primer coat will then stay intact, and your pan will always look as good as new.

Which oil should you use to season your Challenger? If you want to keep some grapeseed or flaxseed oil around just for your pan, wonderful. But really, we can recommend just about any oil you have in the house! A vegetable oil or high-heat extra light olive oil will work great. We don’t recommend extra virgin olive oil, because it becomes sticky and burns easily.

Instructions for Re-Seasoning

First, very lightly coat all surfaces of the base and cover with a very thin layer of oil—no drips! You can use an oil sprayer, or just pour some on. Then, use a lint free cloth to wipe off all the excess oil. Then, just place your pan back in the oven. If you see smoke, perfect: your Challenger has reached its smoking point. This is the process called polymerization, when the oil bonds with the cast iron creating a layer of seasoning.

Storage

When you’re done baking, you can let your pan cool in the oven after you turn it off. You can store it right in the oven, or anywhere that will keep it dry.