Episode 2: Equipment Essentials for Pies
Abby's no gadget freak, but she does believe that having the right tools will make a big difference in your baking. If you struggle to roll out pie dough or bake a tart crust without burning it, it may not be you--it may be your equipment. Here are some tips for picking out the essential eqiupment for baking pies and tarts.
- Tart pans: The standard size tart pan is 9-1/2 inches, with a removable bottom and fluted sides. Choose light-covered metal pans (such as tinned steel) over dark or nonstick ones, which can cause your crusts to get too dark. Look for tart pans that are sturdy and don't flex or torque too much when you try to twist the ring portion.
- Pie plates: glass, metal and ceramic are all options; Abby prefers glass because they're most consistent in terms of volume, and because they let you keep an eye on how your crust is browning. A 9-inch pie plate is standard; be sure you're not using a deep dish pie plate on a recipe that calls for a standard.
- Rolling pins: There are two major types: traditional American-style ball bearing pins, with their large barrel and smaller handles, and a French-type pin, which is one cylinder, either straight or tapered. Abby prefers a tapered French pin, because it gives her more feel for the dough. The tapered sides make it a cinch to roll pie dough evenly. Look for one that has a gentle, rather than dramatic, taper, because it will be more stable and less prone to wobbling.
- A scale is one of the most important tools that many home cooks go without. Measuring flour by weight instead of volume makes for better accuracy. Once you get used to weighing out flour, you'll even find it more convenient than filling those measuring cups. If you don't have a scale, you want to make sure you're using the most accurate method for measuring flour by volume: dry measure, spoon in flour, scrape to level.
- Ruler: When a recipe says to roll out the dough to a certain size, how else to know when it's there?
- Bench scraper: These broad-bladed tools, made of either plastic or metal, have a million uses: use them to gently pry your dough from your work surface, divide doughs into portions, score a dough for cutting, collect crumbs from the counter.
- Offset metal spatulas: again, can be used to help handle, unstuck dough, also to spread fillings evenly. Abby stocks a large and a small one in her kitchen.
- Parchment paper: Abby uses it to keep dough from sticking as she rolls it. Most grocery stores carry it in rolls, but the precut sheets that are already flat are so much easier to work with. Look for them in bakery-supply stores.
- Power Tools: Two power appliances get a big workout in Abby's kitchen: a food processor and a stand mixer. You can use either of these to mix your dough, as you'll see in the next episode, and they're also great for whipping up fillings quickly.
Pie Pans vs. Tart Pans
Waxed Paper vs. Parchment
Two Tools for a Better Pie
Three New Tools for Better Pie & Pastry
A Bench Knife Keeps Rolled Doughs from Sticking
For Good Measure: Why You Need a Kitchen Scale
Abigail Johnson Dodge is a contributing editor at Fine Cooking, and teaches cooking classes around the country. She studied at La Varenne in Paris, and worked with Michel Guerard and Guy Savoy, specializing in pastry. She has written six cookbooks, four of them about baking, including The Weekend Baker, winner of the IACP award. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.
|Episode 1: Press-in Cookie Crust Tarts
||Episode 2: Equipment Essentials for Pies||Episode 3: All About Pie Dough|
|Episode 4: Rustic Fruit Galettes||Episode 5: Double-Crust Apple Pie||Episode 6: Single-Crust Pecan and Pumpkin Pies|
|Episode 7: Pâte Sucrée and Lemon Tart||Episode 8: Lattice-Topped Mixed Berry Pie||Episode 9: Rough Puff Pastry Tarts|
|Episode 10: Classic Fresh Fruit Tart|