The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trimming Pastry Technique

kah22's picture

Trimming Pastry Technique


I'm trying to obtain advice on trimming pastry.

Watching television some cooks will trim the pastry after it has baked. I assume this is for two reasons it takes account of shrinkage and it also creates a much better look. But what is the technique used?

Do you use a serrated knife or one with a straight edge? Do you work level or with a downward slope? That is the type of thing I'm trying to find out. Youtube is generally a good place to find and see techniques like this but so far I haven't found a suitable video so any help would be appreciated.

My reason for asking was that I was baking an Orange and Passionfruit cake yesterday and I had a hell of a time trying to trim the pastry and I want the one that I'm taking to an Easter do to be that little bit more presentable.



MadAboutB8's picture

I baked tart regularly. I also had the same issue with shrinkage after the bake.

I've tried leaving the pastry overhanging from the pan. It was too fiddly to remove the excess.

One thing I found quite effective is putting the lined pastry tin (I mean the pastry in the tin) in the freezer for 10 mins before baking (instead of chilling them in a normal compartment). With this, I hardly had any shrinkage.


clmason's picture

Kevin, I've haven't heard of the technique you are talking about.  I don't watch too many cooking shows and my pastry chef never heard of that technique.  I'm not too sure if your are talking about a cake or pastry, so I gave advice on both.

If it's a cake that you want to trim or shape, always use a long, serated knife and always cut on a cake round, or similar cardboard surface.  As far as the actual angle of cutting, it depends on what shape you are trying to acheive.

Take time to level (trim off) your cake's dome and gently straighten the cake between layers.

About pastry dough, let your tart dough rest refrigerated for at least 30 mins before rolling out.  This will avoid shrinkage during baking.  Any dough that springs back once rolled, needs more resting time.  Also, Sue has a great tip!

Finally, blind baking, or even par bling baking, your tart crust will also reduce shrinkage.

Hope that helps...ask again if you need more information.

EvaB's picture

if by pastry you mean things like pie crust, or tart crusts, to keep them from shrinking, I learned long ago, to roll out, use a straight edged tableknife to trim the edge, by going aound the tinned crust, then place 1 tablespoon or so of flour in the crust in the pan, and gently (cannot emphasize that word enough) tip the pan and roll the flour all over the crust, place into a refrigerator without any covering for at least 1 hour, place filling in crust and bake, if I'm doing a double crust pie, I will leave the entire crust in the pan before filling, and use part of the over edge bottom crust to roll into a thin edge to flute this holds both crusts together (no leaking) and helps with shrinkage.

I have found that vegetable shortening used in pie crusts shinks worse than lard, and to bake a blind pie crust (no filling) either use something to weight the crust (pie weights or double pans that they sell) and leave it in the fridge longer, it takes more of the water out of the shell and you get less shrinkage.

Can't speak about trimming cakes, since I don't usually do that! But sponge cake trimmings make great triffle I know from experience.

moma's picture

I know some of us feel compelled to trim the crust for the overall looks of the pie. But why waste the food ?

IMO its a plus when a homemade pie looks homemade ;)