The Proper Way To Use A Pie Iron For Delicious Desserts

Pie iron in campfire
Pie iron in campfire - false/Shutterstock

If you're sick of s'mores, pie irons offer endless possibilities for creating delicious camp foods. Campers in the Midwest know exactly what a pie iron is, but in case you haven't come across one, it's a campfire cooking tool consisting of two hinged cast iron (or less commonly, aluminum) concave plates at the end of two long handles. They come in various shapes and sizes, usually square or round, and are similar in design to a waffle iron but without the waffle pattern. Midwesterners, especially in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota, have been using pie irons for decades to make delicious sweet and savory toasted pies, known as pudgy pies, campfire pies, and mountain pies. While equally delicious, these "pies" are more like toasted sandwiches with various fillings than traditional pies.

Rome Industries, the pioneer of pie irons based in Madison, Wisconsin, has been making the campfire cooking tool since 1964. The basic idea behind using a pie iron to make a mouthwatering, pudgy pie is to stick tasty ingredients between two pieces of buttered bread, place the sandwich inside the pie iron, and toast it over a fire for three to five minutes. While the instructions for using a pie iron are simple, there are some helpful tips you'll want to follow to produce the tastiest "pie" possible -- as well as endless recipe ideas that campers and anyone with a fire pit and a pie iron love to create.

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Tips For Using A Pie Iron

Pancake with chocolate in pie iron
Pancake with chocolate in pie iron - Celeste Jenkins/Shutterstock

When you bring your pie iron home from the store, don't forget to season it just as you would a regular cast iron skillet. Seasoning cast iron pans helps prevent your food from sticking to the surface, creates a better sear on your dish, and prevents rust from forming. To season your pie iron, coat the inside and outside of the plates with a thin layer of high-heat oil, like canola oil. Then, put the empty, oiled plates in the campfire or a grill at moderate heat for 15 minutes until the oil is essentially baked into the cast iron. Wait for the pie iron to cool, carefully wipe down the inside, and repeat the process.

It's also advised to spray the inside with a little cooking oil before each use to make sure nothing sticks to the plates. Alternatively, you can line the inside of the pie iron with aluminum foil, which also helps prevent a mess. If you choose not to use foil, make sure not to overfill your pudgy pies since the filling could spill over the sides and create a big, gooey mess. When cooking, lay the pie iron flat over a bed of hot coals or embers. Each sandwich and fire is different, so it can be hard to gauge the cooking time. Feel free to check it after a couple of minutes to prevent burning the sandwich (wearing heat-proof gloves or an oven mitt to prevent burning yourself, of course).

What Can You Put In A Pie Iron

Peanut butter sandwich in pie iron
Peanut butter sandwich in pie iron - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

After learning about all the different ideas for cooking with a pie iron, you'll understand why mountain pies are essential treats for your next camping trip. If you want something sweet and tart like a traditional cherry pie, try making one with cherry pie filling, and maybe add some chocolate frosting for a chocolate cherry pudgy pie that won't disappoint. Or combine apple pie filling with caramel for a caramel apple pie in sandwich form.

But just because they are called pies doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to pie fillings. For a spin on traditional campfire s'mores, load up some bread with chocolate, marshmallows, and graham cracker bits. Peanut butter, banana, and chocolate also combine to create a gooey, delectable toasted sandwich that kids and adults alike will love. And while everyone loves a dessert around the campfire, you can easily make a delicious cheese sandwich as well as burger sandwiches, pizza, and tacos.

Pudgy pies are often made with bread, but you can also use dough in your pie iron. Puff pastries work great for desserts; biscuit dough for breakfast sandwiches; and pizza dough for, well, pizza. A super helpful tip for using dough is to stretch it thin and not go all the way to the edges of the plate; the dough will expand, so if you over-stuff the plates, it will ooze out the sides. Whatever you cook, remember to allow it to cool since it will be extremely hot.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.