Can I bake at 375F in my brass-handled, tinned copper skillet?
I need a 10" for a clafoutis, and it's the only one I have that size. Otherwise, it's a 9" pie plate or a 12" Le Creuset skillet....
Oven temp will be between 375-400 F for approx 50-60 min.
I know the tin melting point is 450F, but wanted to ask first....
What to do? I have the oven warming right now..... : o
dost: As you have learned, 375F is nowhere near the redline.
I have a theory that ovens at--and above--the 450F redline (technically 437F) are less likely to melt tin than many people fear. Here it is: Much as you cannot melt your tin lining with liquid in your stovetop pan (3500F flame outside, tamed by 212F water inside), I think it may be almost impossible to melt tin in a 450-500F oven if there's a decent quantity of food in the pan. The food and liquid are a "sink" to the heat, and copper is so amazingly conductive that the heat easily flows into the food (As you discovered with your shorter cooking time).
It would be high-stakes poker to test this theory out fully, but if you think about it, bimetal copper roasting pans are a pretty recent innovation, and there are still a LOT of tin-lined roasters out there on the used market. In all the time I've misspent on eBay and in the antique markets looking at and shopping for copper, I've NEVER seen a tinned copper roaster that has any evidence of melting or puddling. You DO see wearing-through of the BOTTOM tin surfaces sometimes, but the more I learn, the more I attribute that to the cooks scraping the bottoms in deglazing or cleaning. Now, if you put an empty tinned roaster in a >425 oven, you might well get some bubbling or melt, but with food in the pan, it's a different animal.
Remember, too, that many classic French recipes (e.g., Pommes Anna, Tarte Tatin) call for oven cooking at around 425-450F with no warnings whatsoever about not using tinned copper.
So... someone prove my theory wrong--so I don't have to. Has anyone here ruined a tin lining in a pan cooking wet ingredients in a 450F oven? If so, what were the particulars and circumstances?
A+ for doing your homework and checking the melting point of tin. Another thing to keep in mind is that in order to get the tin layer to 450F in an oven whatever you are cooking would have to come to nearly the same temperature, in which case you would ruin the dish as well as the pan. So there is little risk in the oven. Be more careful on the stovetop. From experience I can tell you it's easy to put a copper pan on a burner and forget it for 10 minutes and come back to find a pool of tin in the bottom.
re: tim irvine
Thank you for the reply! Mine turned out great- pan looks just the same, and the buttered/sugared bottom is totally non-stick. I was able to cut 5-15 minutes off the baking time, which is fantastic, because in my other pans I ALWAYS have to cook longer. Love it! I can't wait to bake in it again.