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Pancakes and my cast iron griddle?

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I have an emeril/all-clad cast iron reversible grill/griddle. It says it's pre-seasoned with a matte enamel surface but I have been trying to season it anyway. It feels quite rough on the surface. It's big enough to fit over 2 burners. I preheat it for ~10 minutes. No matter what I do it seems to be a very uneven temperature across the surface. Even across one pancake! Each is burnt and underdone.

I've tried the trick to see when the water bounces and rolls across the surface but it either zaps off in a puff of steam or soaks in. I use vegetable oil to lightly coat the surface even though Alton Brown likes butter. It seems like everything I put on this griddle gets smoking hot or not hot enough to cook. My cooktop is gas and from the early 80s and doesn't have very good controls.

Is there a good way to check the temperature at different spots across the burner without an infrared thermometer? Is there a way to get this griddle to heat more evenly? Thanks!!

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  1. Burnt and underdone sounds like you're heating up your cast iron cookware in high heat. Try to bring the griddle to ready heat with nice medium heat rather than high heat...and you have to be patient. Cast iron is supposed to give you the best steady temperature throughout due to its heaviness.

    3 Replies
    1. re: baekster

      Thanks for the reply! I actually heat it up over low or medium heat. This morning I tried low and waiting a long time (15 minutes) before attempting pancakes. I've tried medium and it quickly gets to a point where water instantly steams off. My cooktop is really old. Do you think it can be something wrong with it? Should I wait longer of a preheat? Thanks in advance :)

      1. re: MarshmellowFlu

        Your cooktop may not be heating it evenly. The best arrangement of burners for the double griddle is actually a continuous or bridge element that connects the two matching burners. If your burners are not even size, or if you are not getting the same amount of heat out of them, the griddle will cook unevenly. What kind of cooktop do you have? Gas can sometimes look even, but it may not be because of burner size or blocked holes in the burner, and electrics that are old can be very uneven. Plus, the part not over the burner is likely to be cooler no matter what you do. I found that mine worked best when I upgraded my old electric coil cooktop to a smooth ceramic surface that has the bridge element to connect to matching burners. Still, I can notice that the area over the bridge can be a little hotter than over each burner, so you need to keep the temp on medium or lower and then watch carefully. The double griddle I like the best for pancakes is the All Clad non-stick. Oddly, and perhaps because of this, the griddle has an edge on the bottom that actually keeps the main surface of the griddle above the burners about one sixteeth of an inch and not in direct contact with it. The air space, I am sure, helps to even things out. If you can't get them even, you may need to consider switching back to single size griddles.

        1. re: MarshmellowFlu

          Hmm. Then I'm not sure. Usually long preheating take care of uneven temperature on the griddle. But 15 mins is really long time that should've done the trick. I'm stumped.

      2. If you find that you have to ditch the cast iron griddle, you might find a large electric griddle works well. I have a cheap one that is big enough for 6 pancakes at a time and it's no problem at all. Something like these.
        http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/...

        3 Replies
        1. re: yayadave

          I think CI recommended the Broil King XL electric griddle. I bought one for my mom for about $50. It works great. One side does cook just a little faster than the other.

          1. re: Romanmk

            Thanks everyone for the feedback! (i'm new to this board and it's pretty great. I tried again this morning, lower heat, longer pre-heat but I think my burners are to far apart and too close to where the griddle rests? It's a Roper cooktop from the 80s. I frequently have the problem of it getting too hot and cook things on a lower setting than recipes call for. I'm off to seek out an electric griddle!

            1. re: MarshmellowFlu

              I have a cast iron (Lodge, no enamel or coating) that sounds basically like your situation. It fits over two burners on my gas stove. I used it for about the past twenty years for innumerable family pancake breakfasts.

              I encountered some unevenness, as you did, but chalked it up to "the nature of the beast." I developed a technique of rotating pancakes and, using a spatula, moving them around on the griddle so they'd all get enough heat.

              Now that the kids have moved out, I have little use for such a large griddle. Nowadays I make waffles; they're basically the same thing but much easier! I got an ancient, heavy, second-hand waffle iron at a thrift store. Looks awful, makes terrific waffles!