While the immediate answer is straight forward, there’s actually more to pie temperatures then you would initially think.
Experience has taught us that a good pie-in-the mouth temperature is around 62-65°C – just above the health regulation requirements of 60°C. Expertise has also taught us that a pie heated above 70°C will gradually lose moisture, and at 80°C it will lose a lot more moisture. And nobody wants a dry pie.
However, we have also learnt that in places like Bendigo on 4°C days, even pies heated to 80°C (as tested with internal pie temperature readings), can work. Why? When taken out of the front of a shop, facing the east on a crisp and sunny morning, a pie in a paper bag will drop rapidly to good eating temperature in just a few minutes.
If, under these conditions, you happen to place the pie on the bonnet of your car while you unlock the doors and get inside, the pie’s temperature will drop to the mid 50s (°C). This, of course, now tastes like a cold pie.
So what is the answer? In many cases it’s a case of getting the best results possible with all the varying factors – factors that really do vary from cabinet to cabinet. Even two cabinets sitting side-by-side can, and do, have variables caused by draughts.
We do know that a good quality, sealed pie held at 70°C consistently is very safe and is still good to eat after 48 hours. This is reassuring, considering we know many locations that hold portioned food products for up to 24-36 hours.
So, at what temperature do you hold your hot food portions?
In Far North Queensland, pies should be sitting at around 65°C (never more than 70°C, even in mid-winter). And in Bendigo’s mid-winter, (where bakers should know pies have shorter shelf-life), it’s 75-80°C, with mid-summer at 65-70°C. Of course, when there is no action in the shop and it’s mid-afternoon on a 25°C-plus day, the rotary switch on your cabinet should be on ‘standby’, thus using very little energy.
Customers who receive a new KAM 8 cabinet, will also receive a probe testing thermometer (which we call the ‘argument settler’) so that you can actually test the temperature within the food portions. User suggestions are also available on our website.
I urge you all to check your temperatures, particularly as we transition into summer. You should also check your temperatures if you relcoate your cabinet, or if it’s just new to you or your staff.
Get to know the temperatures that work for your bakery, and then you can establish a sound hot food temperature maintenance routine for your business to benefit from.
Holding hot food correctly really does save money in the long term. And because the right temperature will make your hot food taste better, it will also bring in money to your business.