So, I have opened a pie shop, and I have been going almost a year now. I have been making my pie crusts 1/2lb of butter at a time in a small food processor. Is there some bigger equipment I could use to make a bigger batch? I"d like to be able to mix at least 1lb of butter in at a time. Though, bigger would be nicer too, I'm just about to invest in a pie press, because the rolling is wearing me out, and I realized if I could make some bigger batches I would be in much better shape to keep up with demand. I have a pretty ridiculously big fridge, so I could mix it all in there to keep it cold. I just don't want to waste 5k on equipment to find out that I am barking up the wrong tree. Thanks for any help, I'd really appreciate it.
Bulk Pie crusts
I'm not a big fan of pie crust presses, you need a very "liquid" dough" to squish out into your forms, and you still have to scale out the dough into portions/balls to fit into the press. Most formulas for dough specific to a crust press use liquid oil, and not butter.
Many bakeries use a machine called a "dough sheeter". This machine has a conveyor belt on either end and a pair of s/s rollers in the middle. You can adjust the gap in between the rollers and roll out your dough as thick or as thin as you like. This is the same machine used for puff pastry and danish, basicallly for any dough you want to roll out. Bad news is these machines aren't cheap, table top models start at 5 thousand.
What I strongly suggest is for you to look for companies specializing in bakery equipment, they will have both new and used machines. At these stores you can see the equipment and try it out, and they won't make you buy it! Basically, familiarize yourself with the equipment and suppliers, you will need them one day. 20 qt mixers can be found at any restaurant supply store, new or used.
Hmm, I definitely don't want to change my recipe super drastically. I didn't realize it would need to be so dramatically different for a press.
I'm prepared to spend some money on equipment, I just really need the right equipment, it would be really frustrating to drop a bunch of money on something that is ineffective. I will look at dough sheeters, that might be the right thing.
Can I cut butter in with a mixer? I've got a kitchen aid I could start practicing with...
Right now I run the butter through a potato slicer, and then cut it in with the food processor. Is there a better more efficient way?
Yes, you can cut in butter with a mixer. Hobart makes a special dough hook for this purpose, it looks like a flat beater, but with knife edges to cut in butter into flour.
This is what I do: I unwrap my butter and toss into the flour, then take out the blocks and cut them into 1/2" thick slices, which I toss back into the flour. Then I stack up the slices (they won't stick, because they are coated with flour) and cut them into strips and then into cubes (I am a cook, after all...) and toss it back into the flour. What you have now are 1/2" chunks of hard butter that are flour coated and will not stick together. It sounds like a lot of work, but it goes very quickly. Using the "B" flat beater in the mixer, you can cut in the butter very quickly and efficiently.
Check out the dough sheeters, you want the table top reversible ones. They are very handy and can be used for a multitude of doughs. DO NOT use any pizza making equipment, and don't let anyone tell you that a pizza roller is the same thing as a dough sheeter, a huge amount of differences.
Hope this helps
This might sound a little strange, but for batches of pie dough, or biscuits, where I need to cut 10+ lbs of butter, I force it through a wire cooling rack. It saves me a lot of time, and it comes out the same size as if you were dicing it. From there I usually finish working it in by hand.
I use a cheese grater on cold butter, it works great for me. I make pie dough enough for 10 or 15 pies at a time, in a bowl, with my hands. Mostly because the one time I put it in the hobart I had terrible dough that couldn't hold together, it's a bit of work, but it's bulletproof every time. I am a little curious about the attachment that cuts in butter for you. Oh, and I freeze my dough disks, and that also works well for me.
I have a double decker convection oven that I just bought, it can fit 4 pies per rack with a cookie sheet under them for ease of cleaning. I do 8 pies per oven, so 16 at a time. If I need to I can add another oven rack, making it 24 at a time, but one, I haven't needed it yet, and two, it makes getting them in and out of the oven more difficult. Also, I could skip the cookie sheets and I could fit a lot more pies per oven rack, but it would be extremely obnoxious to clean up all those drips.
I am a pie shop in a farming community that has a lot of tourists. My traffic varies wildly, and I'm still learning the business, it's just at the end of my first year. Your oven needs are more dependent upon how and what you are going to cook and for how many pies and how many sales.