“ Brand: Beka / Type: Frying pan „
One of the iconic scenes from East Enders must be the one where Pauline whacked Arthur with her frying pan. I'm betting if she'd owned one of these Beka non-stick pans, she'd have chosen a completely different kitchen utensil with which to clonk her old man. It's far too good to risk damaging on a philandering husband!
I'm not keen on cooking and count myself lucky to get in and out of the kitchen in half an hour flat. However, being no Delia Smith, I have a nasty habit of burning things and as any cook will testify, once a non-stick pan has been burned, it's almost impossible to get it back to its original condition. As a consequence, I've gone through quite a few in my time and tend nowadays to stick to stainless steel which can be given a darn good scrub. I've seen ceramic pans advertised on various shopping channels and thought they looked pretty good but with ridiculously inflated prices I've never bothered to buy one. When I spotted this 28cm frying pan on special offer in my local Waitrose (in the John Lewis Home section) I snapped it up. It was being sold at £10, reduced from £27 which I felt was an exceptional bargain and I've been using it for several months now and am very impressed with its wonderful ceramic properties.
I'd never heard of Beka as a brand name before but when I did a bit of research online it turns out they are a long established company with their head office in Belgium but with UK offices in Norwich. Also Marco Pierre White is currently fronting a collection of their cookware. The pan I bought is red and forms part of the Beka Summer colours range but this has now morphed into their Winter range with slightly different colours available being lime, pink and yellow, all with white ceramic linings.
The main body of the pan is made of aluminium which (and here's the scientific bit) is a much better conductor of heat than either iron or stainless steel. Aluminium distributes heat more uniformly across the entire cooking surface which ensures even cooking of the food irrespective of where it's placed in the pan. The self-coloured Bakelite handle is ergonomically designed and remains cool however hot the pan may become. The handle has a soft rubberised feel to it which allows for a good non-slip grip.
Beka claim that the non-stick ceramic coating is environmentally friendly and also better for human health than conventional PTFE coatings and though I can't back their claims up with any evidence of my own, I can certainly confirm that it aids human health by the very fact that little or no added fat is required when cooking. As with all non-stick linings, it goes without saying that only plastic or wooden utensils should be used with the pan as metal could very easily damage the ceramic non-stick lining. By the same token, when cleaning the pan only use soft cloths rather than metal scourers.
This pan can be used on any heat source, gas, electric radiant and solid rings, halogen or ceramic hobs and all with equal success. They can't be used in an oven, however.
When putting this Beka pan through its paces for the first time, I can't say I was expecting it to perform any better than the more conventional PTFE lined pans but I was agreeably surprised. The coating is such that absolutely nothing adheres to it and when cooking is over and the food served, the pan only needs a wipe over with kitchen paper and a damp J Cloth to restore it to its previous pristine condition. Even when food is overcooked - oh, alright burnt - most of the stuck on residue comes away after a short soaking and a wipe down with a damp cloth. This ceramic coating is a miracle worker and a friend to any less gifted cook.
Availability in the UK seems to be fairly limited and the pan I bought no longer seems to be available from either Waitrose or John Lewis, or isn't on their website at any rate. A set of these pans is available from Amazon and currently retails at £21.78 for all 3 pans in small, medium and large. I've written to Beka to try to find out about UK stockists but as yet they haven't replied. If they do, I'll update this review.
In the meantime, there are other manufacturers of ceramic lined aluminium pans, including Lakeland, which I assume will be equally effective.