Blind baking is a technique that involves partially baking a pie crust (pastry case) before adding fillings, or for tarts and pies where the filling isn’t cooked at all.
It ensures the crust is cooked thoroughly, to crisp perfection, and that it can hold its filling without developing a soggy bottom, or leaking. Blind baking isn’t necessary for every pie or tart, but is vital when using particularly wet fillings, such as custard, or when baking something like a quiche. For step-by-step instructions, why not join Tom Morrell in his online classroom The Pie Shop and get advice from a top chef on your cooking.
Method for Blind Baking
1. It’s important to chill your dough before you line your pie or tart tin, as this prevents the butter it contains from melting too quickly and therefore helps it hold its shape once filled. Give the dough at least 30 minutes in the fridge before you roll it out. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 or the temperature stated in the recipe, and slide a baking sheet into the oven to heat up.
2. Roll out your chilled dough and line your tin with it, making sure to press the dough into the edges of the tin with a scrap of rolled up dough dipped in flour. When you’re crimping the edges or pressing the dough into the sides of the tin, leave the edges of the dough a little higher than the sides of the tin to allow for shrinkage. Prick the base of the crust with a fork; this is known as docking the pastry and will let the steam escape and prevent it from puffing up in the oven.
3 Now, take a piece of greaseproof paper or baking paper, scrunch it up and then open it out again. Use this to line the pastry case. Scrunching the paper first ensures it fits into the edges of the tin snuggly. Alternatively, use heavy duty foil to line the pastry.
4. Fill the paper- or foil-lined lined crust with objects to stop the pastry from rising or bubbling up in the heat of the oven. You can buy special ceramic baking beads for this; they’re a good investment if you bake a lot because they can be endlessly re-used. Alternatively, use dried beans or pulses, or uncooked rice. Some chefs even use small coins. Make sure you fill the case to the very top of the tin, and that the beans, legumes/rice/coins are evenly distributed. That way you will get a smooth and even crust.
5. Carefully transfer the filled tin to the hot baking sheet in the oven. Placing the tin on this hot surface will help ensure the base is as crisp as possible.
6. The time you leave the pie crust in the oven depends on what you are making. If you are adding a filling that needs to be cooked,bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Carefully lift the paper/foil and baking beans off the pastry. (Have a heatproof bowl ready to put them in to cool, as they will be very hot, and if you place them on a flat surface, they’re likely to spill everywhere).
7. If you like, you can brush the base and the side of the tin with egg white lightly whisked with a splash of water. This will help seal the pastry. Return the tin to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes or so, or until the crust is pale gold and dry and firm to the touch. You can now fill the pie crust according to your recipe.
If you’re making a pie or tart crust that needs no further baking – for example, a tart filled with crème pâtissier and topped with fresh fruit – you will need to bake the crust for a little longer, so that it cooks through. To prevent the edges of the tart case from burning, cover the rim of the pie crust with foil once you see that it’s sufficiently golden.
When making a tart or pie in a loose-bottomed tin, make sure you leave it in the tin for ten minutes or so after you remove it from the oven. Pie crust can be fragile when very hot, and crumble easily, so leaving it to cool slightly before releasing it will reduce the risk of this happening.
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