Blind Baking

Blind Baking is a technique commonly used with both ‘normal’ and sweet shortcrust pastry.  It ensures a perfectly cooked pastry every time without the infamous ‘soggy bottom’

There are 2 circumstances when you’ll need to ‘blind bake’ your tart of flan case – either when your filling needs much less cooking time than the pastry (or no cooking at all), or when the filling is so wet that it will soak into the pastry and prevent it cooking through to a nice crisp base

The only ‘special’ ingredients needed here are some ‘Baking Beans’.  Although you can buy ceramic baking beans, dried pulses or rice work just as well.  I have a pot of dried chickpeas set aside especially for this purpose

Preparing the pastry

  • Pre-heat your oven to the correct temperature for the recipe (around 160oC Fan)
  • Roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick, slightly larger than your flan tin
  • Carefully list the pastry on the rolling pin and place into the flan tin taking care not to rip or stretch
  • Trim off the excess pastry, leaving a little extra over the edges of the tin
  • Carefully work the pastry into the corners of the tin, excluding any air pockets, then fold the excess pastry over the edge.  Prick the base with a fork**
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest

Baking blind

  • Take a sheet of baking parchment and screw into a ball, then stretch out and place over the pastry
  • Pour the baking beans onto the paper and carefully distribute to weigh down the paper
  • Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes then remove the beans and paper
  • Trim the excess pastry off the edge and brush with a little beaten egg
  • Return to the oven for either a couple of minutes if baking again with a filling, or until fully cooked and golden (10-15 minutes)  if the filling is not to be baked again

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Docking the Pastry

As an alternative to using baking beans you can ‘dock’ the pastry. This is a simple technique which does away with the need for baking beans but should only be used when you’re not using a very wet filling, such as a raw custard

  • After taking the chilled pastry case from the fridge, prick all over with a fork. This will ensure any steam or air pockets created will escape through the holes
  • Cook as per the instructions above

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