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Old 03-23-2011, 10:34 AM   #1
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Scalloping the Edge of Pastry (Long Story First, apologies!)

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow I'm temporarily taking over the role of sweets chef at a branch of a local, well-known bakery.

I've actually never baked professionally before - I love baking and enjoy making stuff a lot at home. I have a home business in the education industry but it's a slow time of year. The local bakery was looking for a variety of roles so I thought I'd apply for some junior position to learn more about commercial kitchens.

After some discussions, they decided to offer me this temporary role, as the current chef has a very sick husband. A lot of staff have left due to her stressed-out behaviour (not that I blame her!) and if things continued, they would probably have closed down the branch. So she's been asked to take time off, and they asked me if I'd be willing to help out. It's too good an opportunity to pass up in so many ways, so of course I said yes! The owner enjoys giving opportunities to non-professionals and, so far, it has always worked out. I'll be responsible for muffins, cookies, scones, pies and certain types of bread. I'm also allowed to introduce my own favourites when I get settled in.

I'm already stressing out a bit because my other half is less than enthusiastic about my cooking. Every one else loves it, but he is extremely fussy and doesn't like anything unless it's covered in salt or sugar! I'm trying not to take it personally, as he is apt to be critical even of restaurant-produced stuff, but it's a bit hard when it's your husband! It really knocks my confidence, especially today when I've been whipping up stuff in the kitchen to get 'in the zone' for tomorrow.


To cut a long story short, I really don't want to mess up tomorrow and for the next 2 months. I'd love some advice on different techniques to 'fancify' the overhang edges of pie pastry. Although my pies are good, I can never quite get scalloping right. As an alternative I might try a lattice-work crust. I'd welcome any other suggestions for techniques I can apply relatively easily in a high-volume environment. I will be working on my own. The bakery has a good reputation for the pies it produces.

Thanks a million in advance!

Christy

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Old 03-23-2011, 10:53 AM   #2
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Find a very small cookie cutter. I have some leaf cutters. Cut a bunch of leaves and adhere them to the pie crust edge with egg wash. then fill the pie and bag (for a one crust pie). For a two crust pie you can do the same thing after the pie has been filled and topped. It's easy to do, uses up scraps of pie crust and people are very impressed with it. My cookie cutters are abpot an inch long and 3/4 of an inch wide.
I understand your concerns with your husband. My husband is very much the same way. Except that one minute he likes something and the next he hates it. It is very frustrating. But the fact that someone is paying you to cook for them should give you some level of confidence and some ammunition to use the next time your husband trys to be critical. (After all , no one is paying him to cook are they?)
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:57 AM   #3
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Hi Christy. Congratulations on your adventure and on the confidence your "boss/mentor" has in you. That's quite an honor.

I've been told that I produce pretty decent pies. Well, no one's turned any of them down so far.

As for the edges, I normally crimp mine using the index and middle finger of my right hand and the index finger of my left hand. Let me try to explain.

In the case of a two-crust pie, I generally make the top crust a touch larger than the bottom one. I fold the excess of the top crust under the edge of the bottom one. Sort of a rolled edge, which seals pretty well, especially in the case of really juicy pies.

Then, I place my index and middle fingertips (in the shape of an inverted "v") against this rolled edge and pull gently outward with enough space between the two fingers to insert my index fingertip of my left hand so it rests just on the outside edge between the two fingers. I pull with that finger and end up with a pretty crimp and further seal the two layers of crust together. I continue doing this around the entire perimeter of the crust, working so as to end up with pretty evenly-spaced "w" shapes.

Did this make sense? I tried visualizing it and, perhaps, it's not too clear. It may be one of those, "you have to be there" things to grasp it.

Another thing I do, with single-crust pies, is to place my crust into the pie plate, letting a little hang over the lip, and after I've done that, I trim it even with the outer edge.

That's pretty boring, but I brush the edge with an egg wash and overlap (domino-style) pretty pastry cut-outs. In the fall, I cut out little leaves. Other times, I'll cut geometric shapes, like little circles, or flower-like designs. Brush those with egg wash and let those decorative elements act as my crust edge.

Don't know if I helped much but, now, I have the most compelling desire to make a pie.

Best wishes with your projects.
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:04 PM   #4
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Thanks joesfolk and Katie H! The leaves are a really good idea. I'll be at the bakery for the first time tomorrow, so I'll check out their equipment. If they don't have leaf-shaped cutters, I'll definitely track some down.

Thanks joesfolk re your comment about your husband, it's a relief to know I'm not alone
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:51 PM   #5
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If you google pie crust in google images you will see a picture of what Katie is talking about. Just scroll down a little.
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:17 PM   #6
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Thanks joesfolk! I took a look - one of the images then led me to the Good Housekeeping website, where 6 types are shown. This gives me some additional ideas. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction :-)

Pie Crust - Easy Pie Crust - Good Housekeeping
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:35 PM   #7
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Yep, joesfolk, that's just what I was trying to describe. Looks like I hold my hands in an opposite fashion, but the result is the same.

I can't believe I didn't ask my friend Google to assist. That's usually where I go immediately. Oh, well, must've been a senior moment.

And, VegLover, I have all sorts of tiny cookie cutters I use for my crusts. Some of them I found in the fondant section of the cooking supply store. Lots of fun things to play with that can be used for other purposes than those for which they were intended.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie H View Post
Hi Christy. Congratulations on your adventure and on the confidence your "boss/mentor" has in you. That's quite an honor.

I've been told that I produce pretty decent pies. Well, no one's turned any of them down so far.

As for the edges, I normally crimp mine using the index and middle finger of my right hand and the index finger of my left hand. Let me try to explain.

In the case of a two-crust pie, I generally make the top crust a touch larger than the bottom one. I fold the excess of the top crust under the edge of the bottom one. Sort of a rolled edge, which seals pretty well, especially in the case of really juicy pies.

Then, I place my index and middle fingertips (in the shape of an inverted "v") against this rolled edge and pull gently outward with enough space between the two fingers to insert my index fingertip of my left hand so it rests just on the outside edge between the two fingers. I pull with that finger and end up with a pretty crimp and further seal the two layers of crust together. I continue doing this around the entire perimeter of the crust, working so as to end up with pretty evenly-spaced "w" shapes.

Did this make sense? I tried visualizing it and, perhaps, it's not too clear. It may be one of those, "you have to be there" things to grasp it.

Another thing I do, with single-crust pies, is to place my crust into the pie plate, letting a little hang over the lip, and after I've done that, I trim it even with the outer edge.

That's pretty boring, but I brush the edge with an egg wash and overlap (domino-style) pretty pastry cut-outs. In the fall, I cut out little leaves. Other times, I'll cut geometric shapes, like little circles, or flower-like designs. Brush those with egg wash and let those decorative elements act as my crust edge.

Don't know if I helped much but, now, I have the most compelling desire to make a pie.

Best wishes with your projects.
I crimp pies the same way, almost. Instead of using finger tips I use knuckles. That way I never poke holes or leave marks with my finger nails.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:22 PM   #9
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I love decorating pies--for pumpkin pies, make some pumpkins and leaves out of crust and lay them over the filling before baking.

Sprinkling the top crust with coarse sugar is pretty, or use some cinnamon and sugar. I always make some apples and leaves for the tops of my apple pies--don't forget to make the 'veins' for the for the leaves--just use a butter knife and press gently into the surface. You can make the grooves on your pumpkins the same way--be sure you curve them.

For blackberry pies--make the berries with tiny balls of dough.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:25 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone! You've given me loads of really great ideas! Now, I just have to get through the first few days and hope that everything I turn out is as good as it can be :-)
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