Noob - how the heck is Aussie pie pastry made?

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by ROBERT, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. ROBERT

    ROBERT New Member

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    Hello all,

    we're in process of setting up a pie company as people have been nagging us for years to so do. We are experienced at running own business but not in the food sector.

    We're well aware of the thousand issues to be worked through, everything from use-by dates, to which automated equipment to install.

    Now here's the thang. Masses of people including ourselves know how to make pastry suitable for pies, for example flaky tops and shorter bottoms, however, nobody appears to know how the closely guarded Aussie method is done that delivers both flakiness and the all important tender / chewy quality so good for a hand held pie. Pukka pies have a chewy bass, but we don't mean that flexible / chewy.

    So far we're in process of trying everything from marg instead of butter, to vodka (not good), lemon (basic idea, nothing special), to milk, egg, cream, suit and so on. It may be that all we need is the basic water, flour and salt, but there's some 'magic' process required to deliver thin, flaky FLEXIBLE results.

    Does anyone know how the best Aussie pie makers do it? BTW - buying in ready made pastry is not a viable option and would also not deliver the quality we seek.

    AUTOMATION - given we MUST use large mixers, and cold press machines (no rolling by hand), it's no good us employing methods such as grating frozen butter as we'd never produce enough product.

    Wasn't at all sure how to word this opening post, but thank you in advance and I very much look forward to replies.

    I really am after fact rather than urban myths, if possible, lol.
     
    ROBERT, Oct 9, 2017
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  2. ROBERT

    ChesterV Well-Known Member

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    I looked up "Aussie Pie Crust" on YouTube and it gave me recipes for Aussie pot pies, but not for the crust......but they all claimed to use "short crust" for the pies. So, maybe this video will give you what you are looking for.

    If not, you might try some other companies who make production pot pies and see if they use a short crust or their own recipes.
     
    ChesterV, Oct 9, 2017
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  3. ROBERT

    ROBERT New Member

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    Thank you very much Chester.

    I've scoured Youtube for months and there's nothing useful on there so far.
    We've already worked out that the method we need pretty much turns pastry production on it's head, we're just in need of some tweaks.

    Cheers for your interest.
     
    ROBERT, Oct 10, 2017
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  4. ROBERT

    Apocalypso Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you might be looking to reproduce the style of Australia's mass production meat pie makers. An article I've found names Sargents, Aussie Pies, & Four 'n Twenty brands. And another mentioned Vili's - these are in addition to lots of more locally made pies. (Links to those pages which mention them below)

    So to search them by brand name: here's a recipe that purports to be the Four N Twenty brand, and it looks like the fat is beef fat (beef drippings).
    http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/44/Aussie_Meat_Pie_Four_and_Twenty9524.shtml

    Sargents, in their Q&A, says they use animal fat in their ingredients: http://www.sargents.com.au/questions/

    I couldn't find "Aussie Pies" as a brand, but Vili's ingredients also include the term margarine, then break it down to both animal and vegetable components, whereas US supermarket margarine is more typically all vegetable fat. It's difficult to tell whether the fat they use is a commercial tallow blend for the pies or standard margarine/shortening. But, I'm guessing beef fat is their secret ingredient.

    http://alldownunder.com/australian-food/meat-pies-recipe.htm
    http://www.goodfood.com.au/eat-out/best-of/the-field-guide-to-australian-meat-pies-20170928-gyq9wx

    You don't really say where you're from, Robert, but if you're mainly familiar with American dessert pies like I am, you might want to look into the UK traditions for savory pies, which often feature a "hot water crust," something i learned about from watching the Great British Baking Show. Here's a recipe featuring a combination of both plain (akin to all-purpose in US) and strong (bread) flours, both butter and lard, and boiling water. It produces a sturdy crust able to make a free-standing pie. I wasn't familiar with Australian meat pies until I started Googling, but it does seem most have a different bottom crust and top crust - the top being more like a typical puff pastry.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/hand-raised_chicken_and_12433

    That said, I suppose there'd be nothing like in-person research. If you're opening an Aussie meat pie company, can we presume you've been across Australia to sample the local bakeries and also mass-produced pies?
     
    Apocalypso, Oct 10, 2017
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  5. ROBERT

    ROBERT New Member

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    Thank you for your very considered reply Apocalypso (love the film btw).

    I'm just outside London, England.

    I've managed to extract some Aussie pie crust secrets in the last 24 hours - cold butter is not viable in terms of a business setting, and it appears margarine / veg shortening, mixed with milk powder and other ingredients to include some cake mix flour all made at normal room temp, are the way to go. We aren't just selling at local markets and thus we need something that can be made in high numbers with uniformity, suitable for storage, freezing and so - that chip shops and other retailers demand.

    The hot water crust method is not quite what we're after although this is used extensively in the British pork pie sector.

    We are after a light, flaky, stable, drip & degradation proof but TENDER flexible result, emendable to freezing and refrigeration, that has a good shelf life.

    Read a number of examples of people starting pie companies and making no money for years. This wont be acceptable to me - I've started other business's in the past and have this attitude it must be profitable from day 1. This is kinda a fun adventure for me - and initially a side-line as I already work as a self-employed consultant about 1 day per week.

    Bloody terrified though as I cant stand the thought of going to all this trouble, buying all the pie making equipment (such as commercial mixers, portioners, cold press for base and tops, large oven and fridge, working tables, pie dishes, cooling racks, double sinks and so-on), only for the business to fail.

    I am usually someone that invests money in nice safe real estate (I'm not v rich btw), for a steady secure largely hassle-free return.

    I know the pie business is going to be a whirlwind.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
    ROBERT, Oct 11, 2017
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  6. ROBERT

    Apocalypso Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Robert,

    Forgive my guess that you were somewhere in North America and eager to introduce Aussie meat pies into a culture that is largely inexperienced with this type of savory pie. (Not a bad idea, though, as the US has embraced things Australian-branded in big waves.)

    Hopefully, if you're the business end, you're working with an experienced commercial chef and experienced manager, hopefully two different people? And perhaps someone is experimenting with relatively small batches of these crusts for you, unless you are also the chef.

    Incidentally, I shared under another thread something I just saw on a video, which was to me at least a revolution in pie crusts. The concept was making a cooked "roux" or I guess really something of a paté a choux starter, to be worked into the crust. It's an idea they apparently borrowed from the Japanese Haikado milk bread, which has a flour-water or flour-milk cooked gel (tangzhong) added as a starter. It suspends the moisture in the starch gel, and apparently this keeps the crust flaky, while also making it elastic. I haven't actually tried it yet as a pie crust, but in my limited experience, this is something of an innovation.

    One seldom hears of food enterprises delivering profits quickly, but I imagine if that is to be achieved today, it's through an ingenious marketing campaign that creates a demand. But then to have a unique and delicious product that keeps people coming back (unless your plan is to get the company off the ground and then sell it.)

    I agree, butter would be costly and the crust would probably be too delicate. The matter of what fats to use is something that you might have to balance between the best performance in a crust -- where the highest saturated fats, due to their higher melting points, are going to produce the better crusts usually -- and the vegetable fats which are deemed more palatable to consumers. I'm seeing this through an American perspective, where for example McDonald's used to cook their French fries in fat containing beef tallow, until this became a particular focus of a crusader against heart disease. Since then, they've been fried in vegetable oils, and then a while later trans fats became the concern. For marketing purposes, that's probably something that you'd need to keep in context. Here, I don't think I could find suet even at the holidays because almost nobody bakes with it. But for a large-scale operation you could I'm sure have access to a lot more.

    I also just stumbled on a thread on a chef's forum, regarding quantity pie crusts, that you might find interesting. https://cheftalk.com/threads/any-and-all-professional-bakers-quantity-pie-crusts.61340/
    There's some bickering there, but in general the advice that scaling a crust recipe has less to do with the ingredients than the technique. But this is coming from chefs who aren't mass producing.

    Finally, while we've been mostly looking at the effects of various fats, the type(s) of flour used is obviously going to have an effect on the crust, in substance as well as flavor. I wish NorCalBaker were online, but she is in the area of northern California currently affected by very dangerous wildfires, and I'm just hoping she's safe and well. She has a lot of experience with not just baking but the chemistry within baking.

    I also found this piece which breaks down the ingredients in a commercial pie crust compared to homemade.
    "According to the back of the box, Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust contains the following ingredients:
    enriched flour, bleached; wheat starch; partially hydrogenated lard with BHA & BHT; water; potassium sorbate & potassium propionate; xantham gum; yellow #5 and red #40; citric acid; rice flour; salt."
    https://www.reluctantgourmet.com/pie-crust-store-bought-or-home-made/

    The xanthan gum is something that's often added to gluten-free flours to simulate the effect of gluten, Presumably this blend - wheat flour, wheat starch, rice flour, and xanthan gum - is Pillsbury's "secret sauce" of ingredients. I know I bought rice flour on recommendation for making fresh pasta, not in the dough but to toss the cut pasta in to keep it from sticking to itself. A professional told us that the rice flour doesn't get absorbed the same way. Perhaps the wheat starch works like the corn starch (or corn flour in the UK) in the case I mentioned above.

    As for the movie, do you mean Apocalypto? No connection to my moniker here, by the way. Years ago I adopted the combination of "apocalypse" and "calypso" as one of my screen names, unaware that there were a couple of songs by that title. While I didn't think it was an original coinage, it did predate a novel and a few album titles, including the Motels.

    - Ann
     
    Apocalypso, Oct 11, 2017
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  7. ROBERT

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Automation will produce a grocery store bakery quality crust. Using a large mixer and press will produce a crappy crust. There’s no getting around it. A mixer creates friction. Friction creates heat. Heat melts fat. Melted fat will absorb into the flour. A press will fuse dough together given the pressure.

    Pie crust is pie crust. There’s no such thing as an “Aussie” pie crust. Don’t be fooled by marketing.

    You achieve those layer with either traditional puff pastry technique or rough puff pastry technique. The rough puff pastry technique is the one most commonly used for multi-layer pie crust. You won’t get those layers with automation.

    The tenderness depends on the flour protein content, the fat, the hydration, and mixing method. I have no idea what you mean by “flexibility” since that’s not a baking term. Flexibility is to bend without breaking. I frequently make hand pies, but I’m not sure why a pie crust needs to be flexible.

    Since you decided not to use butter, your options are lard or shortening.

    If you use lard, then leaf lard should be used.

    If you use shortening, then a high ratio shortening.

    High ratio shortening is not the same as the shortening sold in grocery stores. High ratio shortening is formulated for the baking industry. It is mixed with emulsifiers. The most popular all purpose high ratio shortening is manufactured by Stratas Foods and marketed under the brand name of Primex.

    https://www.stratasfoods.com/products/primexgoldenflexall-

    Since you lack both baking knowledge and a recipe to begin your enterprise, you should consider hiring a bakery consultant to develop a recipe and workflow process.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Oct 16, 2017
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