The first cast iron loaf pan I bought was an experiment. I didn’t know that I’d use it much, but I’d read online that I might be able to get crispier crusts on my banana bread with a pan that had better heat retention than the aluminum ones I’d been using.
The second cast iron loaf pan I bought was also an experiment. I didn’t know that I’d use it much, but my daughter suggested that I try baking sourdough in a “real bread shape” instead of dome loafs and rather than split my recipe and make less bread, I doubled my pans and tried just cooking two smaller loaves.
A year and a half later, experimenting complete, I can honestly say that these two pans are the most frequently used pieces of cast iron in my collection.
This specific style of pan (the L4LP3 Logic Loaf) comes from Lodge and is no longer manufactured (from what I can tell) having been replaced by an updated design.
Each of these two pans are a 10 1/4 inches long by 6 1/8 inches wide by 2 7/8 inches deep rectangular cast iron shell perfect to hold and proof half a batch of my sourdough bread or a full recipe of banana bread batter.
I use these pans so frequently, and in fact rarely even put them back into the cupboard, because almost fifteen months ago having been sent home from the office to “work from home” during the pandemic, I started baking bread on the regular.
Sourdough folks will online often compare photos of their loaves. Big dome loaves with a perfectly formed ear and baked to a perfect golden hue grace social media. These are gorgeous masterpieces of bread art (and they likely taste good too!) But my two modest loaf pans land upon my countertop a pair of neatly shaped sandwich bread loaves hot from the oven and tasting just as amazingly. Where my Dutch Oven is the artisan tool I use to bring forth an occasional sourdough creation, my two loaf pans are my workhorses, functional and simple, getting the job done two or three times per week.
Of course besides sourdough and banana bread, these pans have a list of other uses.
We take them camping and with a blend of meats, veggies, starches and sauce (covered with aluminum foil) make for a one-dish campfire casserole.
In them I’ve cooked pastas, meatloaf, pastries, potatoes, squash and more.
Any recipe that calls for a loaf pan in our house these days defaults to the cast iron while their flimsier cousins collect dust in the cupboard.
I bought these two pans as experiment not knowing if a heavy, sometimes-awkward replacement for our old loaf pans would bring any additional value to my cooking. I would say that after a couple years of experimental data, they definitely do… and I’m not looking back.