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Can flashbake ovens be used on meat pies?

meat pie plate ketchup

Question:

Dear Advice Guy,

Can I use a Flashbake oven for meat-filled puff pastry pies? The meat filling is already cooked before filling. 

– Imraan Goondiwala, Owner, Mzanzeez, Burnaby, Canada

Answer:

You are smart to ask this question from a food safety perspective rather than just going for it. The challenge with high-temperature baking as happens in a Flashbake oven (or even a convection oven on a high setting or pizza oven) is that you risk a brown and flaky outside and an under-thermed inside, even with a cooked filling.  Flashbakes work best on thin foods with a large surface area such as pizza. In your case of meat pies, a number of factors can influence how quickly the filling comes to temperature including its shape, density, composition (fattier fillings reheat faster), and starting temperature (for example, are you baking from frozen or refrigerated).

The standard is that the filling itself must come to a temperature of 165°F for 15 seconds. Local codes may be more stringent so check with your health department to confirm.  It is entirely possible, depending on the size and shape of your pies and baking time, that a flashbake oven could safely meet this standard—or not!

To test, assemble an assortment of pies and test them with an accurate thermocouple. It is not sufficient for them to be at temperature on average, but rather they need to be uniformly at or above 165°F for at least fifteen seconds when they bake. If it doesn’t work, try to make adjustments in cooking time until it works—or you may need to try another piece of equipment or change your formulation (for example, try a flatter shape or less filling).

The food safety program at a university like ours can do this work for you as well.

More on flashbake ovens here

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