What did I do wrong in this recipe
I tried the following recipe last night, and it was a disaster (even when I tried it a second time)
It requires melting brown sugar and butter together in a cast iron skillet, adding bananas covering with pastry and baking. sounds easy enough!
on the first take I burnt the sugar just trying to get it to melt
on the second I was more careful, but it still seemed like I had a lot of butter that the syrup was swimming around in. upon completion the bananas tasted like they were very close to burnt and it did not all stick together, so when it came out I had a pile of broken pastry and over caramalized bananas.
some things that may be contributing factors:
skipped the coffee
only second time using my cast iron skillet (first time I over cooked my chicken in it
)my brown sugar was hard
used store bought pie crust
don't know if any of these things matter. I thought that this sounded and looked like such a great recipe, I am scared off from trying it again.
I would lower the heat, and use water to soften the brown sugar. A cup of butter (1 stick) to about 1/2 cup of solids (the sugar) and 1/4 of liquid shouldn't generate a soupy mixture, unless the mixture was too hot, and you were actually making a caramel, which in this recipe it doesn't seem that you were suppose to.
If you burnt the brown sugar in the first take, you were cooking too long. If the brown sugar is one solid mass that you tried to melt, that could be the problem.
Rule Number One of Cooking:
Never Substitute ANYthing In A Recipe The First Time You Make It.
Once you know how it's *supposed* to go, then you can start to make *informed* substitutions (one hot pepper for another, water for coffee, white sugar for brown, that sort of thing). Know that IF you substitute, you will not taste what the person who developed the recipe wanted you to taste.
Never just "leave something out" because you don't have it or think you don't/won't like it. Doing so can, and will, completely screw up a perfectly wonderful recipe - unless you *really* know what you're doing.
I almost *always* end up changing *something* in a recipe, KC. Sometimes it out of preference, but it can often be because I don't have a listed ingredient. I generally do okay subbing things, but I'm careful about matching wet for wet and dry for dry, in the proper quantities, and subbing with only those things that I *know* behave the same way the original ingredient does.
So, skipping the coffee in this recipe without adding a liquid to compensate may well have been an issue, and especially since the brown sugar was hard, ergo, dried out. But I also seem to remember having a hard time cooking some dishes in my various cast iron pieces when they were new, until I had seasoned them quite a few times, even the allegedly "pre-seasoned" ones. (Can you tell I don't think manufacturers' pre-seasoning is worth squat, compared to a long-lived and well-loved CI pan?) Do you think that could have contributed to OP's problems, too?
re: Steady Habits
I have also prepared this recipe (which I got from this site) but I made a dietetic version. The recipe specifies "cast iron skillet" and that's what I used, so I disagree with the theory that you shouldn't use a dark pan for melting sugar. The absence of the coffee, as previously mentioned, may have contributed to your problem, and I suspect you got the pan hotter than it needed to be. I used my own crust recipe and it all went just as described in the recipe. That said, I was disappointed in the finished product. Maybe it's because I don't care for cooked bananas, not even if they're coated in a brown sugar/butter/coffee syrup. We served it with ice cream, which took some of the cooked banana edge off of it, but I won't make it again with bananas. I may try it with pears. Similar to your experience, I did have to get a little creative in trying to get it out of the pan. The fifteen minute cooling period was, I found, too long. A few banana pieces stuck to the pan but I was able to rescue them and return them to their proper place on the crust so nobody knew but me.
a couple thoughts--if you skipped the coffee, that's a reason that your sugar was so hard to melt. the liquid helps with that, and if you don't like the coffee flavor, you could use something else--even water.
i don't think adding nuts was a factor.
one thing to keep in mind with the cast iron is that it retains heat for a long time, so you don't want to get the food cooked too far if it's going to stay in that pan very long, as it will continue to cook, even off the heat, from the heat in the pan.
again, the hard brown sugar would b helped by that liquid--coffee or ?
i'm not above using store-bought pastry, but the only one i'll use is trader joe's which is all butter, and a really good crust for store-bought. also, if the crust had been hanging out in your fridge for a while, they do tend to become...well...crusty..dried out around the edges, or even cracked and broken from being dried out in the fridge.
hope those help. get back on the cast iron horse!
re: chez cherie
Didn't know that I needed liquid. that is probably it. the thought did cross my mind. I guess I should have researched that. next time I will add a liquid.
my crust was fresh, and actually that was really the only edible part of the whole disaster! that and the ice cream I bought to go with it ;)