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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blind Baking

Not the kind I was doing yesterday!
The baking pastry kind...
This may very well be a passe post for many but there still seems to be a mystification around blind baking and I suspect it's because people are not pastry making at home as they once did.
Blind baking is the first initial cooking of the pastry base, usually 10-20 mins depending how firm you want the base which in turn is usually dictated by the filling ingredients.
Why do it?
If you were making a lemon tart or a quiche and you poured the filling into a raw pastry shell it wouldn't have a hope of cooking and crisping. It would go soggy and in fact probably leak egg mixture.
You pastry case is the holder for your filling.
If you just put the pastry shell straight into the oven it will puff up and warp and come out like a large plate rather than a dish, so you need to line it with a piece of foil or baking paper (so the weights don't bake into the case-I've seen it happen) and then add weight to keep the pastry down.
The reason I prefer baking paper is because after pulling it out of the oven I can pick up the corners transferring paper and weights to a bowl to cool without damaging the case by pouring out contents or ripping foil.
Many people reach for the dried beans or rice but we use ceramic pie weights.

These would have to be Craig's favourite "utensil" in the kitchen.

 I have a Tupperware container to store them and they sit right alongside the baking tins in the drawer. They are at least 15 years old and I fully expect that they will be passed on after I am dead and gone. Even the baking paper gets refolded and popped in the top of the container with the weights for next time so we get a few uses out of it.

If you are looking for a kitchen tea or engagement gift, I recommend ceramic pie weights. Blind baking is never a chore or a nuisance when you have them on hand as part of your baking stash just like rolling pins, you can get by without them and improvise but the job is just easier with them.

So after you have baked the weighted pastry shell, remove the weights and you can now pour in even the wettest ingredients and they will bake safe and sound and the proof will be in the cutting also.

If you keep hens, chances are that you will be baking some quiches and lemon/lime tarts and you will be doing some blind baking. Even if you only do it twice a year, I guarantee you will love how easy ceramic pie weights make the job. They get nice and hot and are just the right weight and can be re-used over and over.
They make a sensible gift alternative to yet another set of six wine glasses.

Stephanie's Quince Tart
(recipe in Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion)

1 comment:

  1. They are worth their weight in gold - beans just don't cut it (not to mention stink at high temperatures and are a waste of good food).

    So glad you put a picture with the weights ontop of the paper - someone in our house - possible male - put them straight in the pastry.

    Suffice to say the weights were encased in pastry - and someone - possibly female - had to soak and scrub every little bead - humph.


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