No cook wants a soggy bottom. It means that the bottom crust of the lovely pastry tart or pie, that you’ve just spent a couple of hours slaving and fretting over, is undercooked, soft or still raw because the filling has prevented the dough from cooking properly. Soggy Bottom Syndrome (SBS). Not a good thing.
“Baking blind” is a process where you pre-cook and seal the pastry before adding the filling, to ensure your creation has a nice crisp bottom, which is a very good thing.
This process is a must for pastry goods with custard-based fillings, but you’ll probably notice that many recipes involving for drier fillings (e.g. sponge, frangipane, lemon curd, etc) don’t call for baking blind. However, my OCD gets the better of me and I always do it to make sure the base is crisp. SBS is also a risk in double crust fruit pies, with fruit which has a high water content. Sprinkling ground almonds or fine semolina over the base before adding the fruit soaks up the fruit juices and saves the day.
You may be tempted to save time by cutting out the process, but be strong! You won’t regret it! Like all good things, a good tart’s worth waiting for.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- Loose-bottomed tart tin
- Circle of greasproof paper or foil 3-5 cms larger than your tin
- A couple of handfuls of baking beans or any dried beans (but don’t use dried kidney beans)
- Pre-heated oven set at: fan 180 degs, conventional 180 degs, Gas Mark 4
- Roll out your dough on a floured pastry mat (Lakeland’s are fab) or a clean floured worktop, until you get a round big enough to line the bottom and sides of your tin with about 0.5 – 1.0 cm to spare
- Press the dough firmly but gently into your tin without stretching it, pushing it down evenly around the sides to give you a slightly raised, even edge. If you stretch the dough, it’s likely to shrink back during cooking. Prick the base all over with a fork
- Leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 mins or, even better, 20 mins in the freezer
- To bake the case blind, crumple the paper/foil disc and line the pastry case so the the paper comes well up the sides of the case. Fill at least half full with beans
- Bake smaller, individual cases for 10-15 mins, and larger ones for 20 mins, until the bottom of the case (i.e. under the paper/foil) looks dry but not coloured
- If your filling is fairly dry, (e.g. sponge or frangipane) remove the paper and beans and leave to cool slightly before proceeding
- If your filling is wet (e.g. custard-based) then paint the base and sides with a little beaten egg (you can use just yolk or white if you have some spare). The egg will set and seal the pastry and you’ll avoid the dreaded SBS
- Return the case to the oven for a further 5-10 mins (depending on size) until the egg has set, before removing it from the oven and proceeding.