A pastry fork is totally indispensible. True. Have you ever tried to hold a plate in one hand and cut a piece off that slice of pie, tart, or other goodie residing on it with a regular fork? I have. Not a pretty sight. Makes a total mush of that lovely pastry (especially éclairs and cream puffs), British-style pudding (which is more like a cake), or other delectable goodie that some talented pastry chef slaved over in a hot kitchen for weeks (okay, it was probably just days…uh, hours…anyway, you get the point). So, why is a pastry fork (aka, a “pie fork”) indispensible? Glad you asked. Here’s why:

1 Only Three Tines

First, I need to clarify that this isn’t the kind of pastry fork used to work a batch of pastry dough prior to baking. It’s for using after all that hard work is done and you get to enjoy those efforts. Salad and dinner forks mostly have four tines. But a pastry fork has only three. And they are a bit further apart to spread them across the full head of the fork, which is the same width as the salad fork. Why is three tines better? Because of how that third one is shaped.

The pastry fork explained. (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

The pastry fork explained. (ETS image composite by A.C. Cargill)

2 An Extra-Wide Third Tine

The third tine, counting left to right as shown in the image here) is twice as wide as the others. You are supposed to hold the plate in your left hand and cut a bite-sized piece out of the pastry or pie with the wide tine of the fork in your right hand. Thus this pastry fork is indispensible for the more casual style of tea time served buffet style.

3 Challenges Lefties

The one drawback is that pastry forks are designed for right-handed people. At least, I couldn’t find any online made for the lefties out there. So using such a fork will be a bit of a challenge for them. Maybe a left-handed pastry fork is needed. Any of you designers out there have a golden opportunity here. And an indispensible need for inventors is a problem to solve. And that’s the lack of a left-handed pastry fork!

4 Keeps Those Dessert Spoons Company

Dessert spoons can get pretty lonely in your silverware drawer. A lot of people think they are just an odd-shaped teaspoon. So, they generate a chuckle or two and then get passed over in favor of the more normal teaspoon. But those who discover the wonders of a pastry fork (the kind you eat with) will soon learn how well it pairs with the dessert spoon. According to an etiquette site, “Traditionally, a dessert spoon and dessert fork are used when eating such pastries as cream puffs and éclairs; the pastry is held in place with the spoon and cut and eaten with the fork.” So the pastry fork is indispensible for keeping the creamy fillings from squirting out too much. And for keeping dessert spoons from languishing in the silverware drawer.

5 A Conversation Starter

Whether you’re a leftie dealing with that awkward, odd-looking fork your host foisted on you, or just one prone to observing and commenting on unusual items that cross your path, you can certainly have plenty of conversational ammo here. Awkward pauses at tea time will be a thing of the past as your host regales you with an elaborate (and probably mostly fictional) account of how the pastry fork came to be while you spend your mental capacities working out which tidbit is fact and which is falderal. So the pastry fork is indispensible here, too!

Whatever the case, your tea time (solo or en masse) will be unforgettable, thanks to the indispensible pastry fork!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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