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Ask the Well Done Chef: Blind Baking

Angela from Spinach Tiger writes:

Regarding the tomato tart, I believe they had cooked in a super hot oven (in Paris). If I blind bake crust, how long?
As it was, I baked the tart for double the time he said (60 minutes) and it was cooked.

Great question Angela. Let’s get into a bit of theory for blind-baking:

a photo of prebaked crust

Pre baking your crust is the key

Have you ever wondered why your pie or quiche had a soggy crust on the bottom? The answer lies in a little theory.

When make a pie or tart with a filling that is a custard, liquid, or something that cooks quick, you are faced with a bit of a problem. In the case of an egg filing, the liquid is not a great conductor of heat. It actually protects the crust from cooking, leaving you with an unbaked, soggy mess.

What if we used that theory to help us?

Enter in blind baking.

To blind bake a pie or tart crust, you roll out your dough, then form it into your container, cover it with foil,  and fill it with a pastry baking weight. You pre-bake the crust until it is finished. The weight does two things: evenly distributes the heat, and prevents the crust from bubbling up.

How long to bake the crust? I can’t give you a real fast answer. It depends on the size of the shell you are baking, the thickness of the crust, and the heat of your oven. I will give you the same answer every time:

The best way to tell the doneness is to lift up the foil, and check through the center of the pastry shell. When it is cooked, you are ready for the next step. My pastry chef makes tart shells every day, and she still checks the doneness of the crust each time. It is simply the best way to know.

Remove the foil and weights, and allow your crust to cool. Fill your pie or tart with the filling, and if necessary, finish baking it. If you are using a cream or a custard, simply fill up the pie, chill, and serve.

If you are thinking about purchasing those specialized pastry beads, think on this: I recently posted on how to re-purpose a lid for a burger press. I prefer to use dried beans. They cost about 1.50$ per kilogram bag, and can last until the apocalypse if needed. Why waste your money needlessly on a kitchen gadget that you really don’t need?

Do you have a question for the Well Done Chef? Visit my Ask the Chef! page and fill out the form.

image courtesy of snowpea&bokchoy of Flickr under Creative Commons by Attribution 2.0

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Jan June 28, 2010, 9:36 am

    I also used dried beans for pie weights – in fact, I’ve used the same bag of beans for several years. I also glaze the crust with a little beaten egg after I’ve blind baked it – does a wonderful job of keeping the crust from getting soggy, especially with a quiche.

  • Jason Sandeman June 28, 2010, 11:09 am

    @Jan – That is the way to go! Using the same bag of beans until kingdom come. I never did understand the why of buying the ceramic beans. The egg glaze is a great trick as well! Thank you.

  • sippitysup June 28, 2010, 2:49 pm

    Yea but have you ever accidentally cooked the beans that are meant to be reserved for pastry shells? I have. Talk about confusion and failure. GREG

  • Jason Sandeman June 29, 2010, 12:08 am

    @Greg – Oh. Chalk that one up for experience. Did the resulting dish take on a slightly roasted quality? Wow! You made my day there. [grins]

  • Michael August 3, 2011, 3:39 pm

    Why is it important to flatten out pie dough with a rolling pin?

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