The Kuhn Rikon PushPan: Pie Maker’s Friend

Last year, the good people at Kuhn Rikon sent me a couple of pans – PushPans, they’re called – that they thought you, my pie and tart making comrade, might find quite appealing. Nice of them to think of us, wasn’t it?

I told them no promises, but I’d be happy to take ‘em for a test ride. And now that I’ve been playing around with these pans lately, making a variety of pies and tarts,  I’m sold on them. Jump right into the video above if you want to see why.

So…it’s been a busy few weeks around here at The Pie Academy. I’ve been shooting the last few videos for my upcoming pie pastry course, and giving private pie making lessons here in the Lowcountry – I’ll tell you more about those in my next video – and, as I mentioned, putting these PushPans through their paces.

The pans are made in China, but Kuhn Rikon is a Swiss company and the product appears to be made to the high standards we associate with Switzerland.

Think of a PushPan as part tart pan, part springform pan but without the buckle and expandable sides. I actually like this more than the buckle style pans because – even with the buckle – you often get butter leaking out the bottom of the pan and smoking up your oven and kitchen.

The PushPan comes in a 9” and 10″ size and it has a sturdy rubber gasket instead of the buckle. All you do is lightly oil the sides of the pan and the gasket, then push the bottom into place. The gasket lodges the bottom snugly in place and creates a leakproof seal all around.

Of course, anything with straight sides is a little more challenging to line with pastry than a slope-sided pan because the crust doesn’t recline. So what I do is butter the sides of the pan with soft butter so the pastry has something to grab onto when it goes into the pan.

I get the pastry into the pan pretty much the same way I always do, first rolling it onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, then flipping into my hand and draping it over the pan. (I demonstrate in the video above.) If the pastry falls down inside the pan as you’re working, don’t worry: just pick it up and press it against the sides of the pan. Once it’s in place, I refrigerate the pastry for 10 or 15 minutes, then I level off the top edge to make it as even as possible.

If a recipe calls for a partially prebaked crust, do this the same way you would for a pie crust, and support the shell with your foil and beans when you’re prebaking it. Once it bakes, don’t be surprised if the edges drop down a a bit and form little peaks and valleys. That just adds to the rustic appeal of your pie or tart.

However, if I’m baking a crumb topped fruit pie – like the one below – I’ll leave the pastry high against the sides of the pan, then gently fold it over the filling after the shell is filled.

As for that tomato and spinach tart I show you in the video, you may think I’m crazy for using plum tomatoes this time of year because they’re cottony and taste, at best, underwhelming. But you can give them a total taste makeover by roasting them first. Here’s how I do it. (You can see my method at 2:37 into the video.)

I simply core, halve, and seed about 8 or 10 plum tomatoes, and arrange on a lined baking sheet cut side up. Then I sprinkle with salt, pepper, and olive oil. If I really want to ratchet up the flavor I’ll spread a little pesto on each half. Then I roast at 325° for about 90 minutes, until they’re soft and roasted down to about a third of their original size.

 The roasting gets rid of the cottony texture, concentrates the tomato flavor, and brings out the tomato’s sweetness.

So…how easy is it to get your tart out of the pan? Very. All you do is put the pan on top of a large can or a small bowl, push down on the sides and – viola! – you’ve got a gorgeous tart, ready to serve.

 Bottom line: this is a well made, functional, and unique pan that you’re likely to find many uses for. The only difficulty is deciding whether to buy the 9” or 10” pan…or both. (Consider your personal situation: if you frequently bake for a crowd, get the larger pan. Otherwise, the 9” pan should do.)

KEN HAEDRICH – Dean of The Pie Academy

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RECIPE NOTES for the ROASTED TOMATO AND SPINACH TART featured in the video.

Rather than reprint the entire recipe here, refer to the Bacon, Swiss Chard and Havarti Cheese Quiche. This is a variation of that recipe. You will find both the filling and the pastry recipe at the link; feel free to substitute another favorite pastry.

Make the following adjustments and changes:

-Roast 8 or more plum tomatoes according to the directions above and outlined in the video. Cool and reserve.

-Omit the bacon, or not. Your call.

-Use about 1/2 pound fresh baby spinach in the saute, in place of the Swiss chard.

-For the custard, reduce the number of eggs to 4 and reduce the amount of heavy cream to 3/4 cup.

-Use sharp or extra sharp Cheddar cheese.

-In step 5, the assembly, layer the quiche as directed, but reserve 1/2 cup of the custard and that last third of cheese. Arrange a close fitting layer of the roasted tomatoes on top of the filling. Sprinkle with the remaining third of the cheese, then drizzle the remaining custard over the top. Bake as directed.