For those not yet in the know, blind baking has nothing to do with keeping your eyes closed in the kitchen. We urge you not to try this!
Simply put, blind baking constitutes pre-baking a pie or pastry crust before adding a filling. This applies to anything from a chocolate tart to quiche to lemon meringue and plenty more staples in the super baker’s recipe book.
Blind baking may be necessary to prevent the crust from getting soggy from a very liquid filling, because the filling requires less baking time than the crust, or because the filling is fresh and does not get baked at all. However, the problem with blind baking is that a crust baked without a filling tends to bulge and deform as it bakes.
Pricking holes in the bottom of a sturdier crust allows steam to escape which prevents bulging and cracking of the center to some extent. However, the only sure-fire way to get a perfect blind bake is to add weight.
Baking with weights
A lot of bakers invest in small reusable ceramic or metal balls, often referred to as baking beans. These weigh down a crust and keep it from bulging upward and cracking in the middle, or having slumped sides. Specialised baking beans work well, but they tend to be expensive.
Guess what frugal super bakers, there are many affordable alternatives to baking beans right in your pantry. Lentils work exceptionally well, so do dried chickpeas. Even corn kernels make good blind baking weights, just be warned, you might get a few pops.
Some bakers recommend a cup of rice as the ideal weight, because the small grains perfectly fit to the shape of your tart mould, but don’t repurpose rice for cooking once it’s been used in a blind bake. Rather keep the rice you’ve used in a separate container once cooled and dedicate it for use in future blind baking, just like this resourceful baker re-uses an earmarked pack of pasta.
Generally speaking, anything edible that has been used as a blind baking weight can no longer be consumed. The only exception to this rule is sugar. The fine grain of regular granulated sugar makes a great blind baking weight. As with rice, sugar perfectly moulds to the shape of your crust and prevents the sides from deforming during baking. Plus, you get the benefit of improving its flavour. Baking sugar with your crust slightly caramelises the grains, giving the sugar a lovely richness that transfers well into fillings and sponges.
Essential tips for blind baking
Pre-empt some shrinkage of your crust during the blind bake. Crimp the raw edges a little taller and wider than you want the baked result to be. If the edges are taller and wider to begin with, they’ll have more room to shrink.
Use a fork to prick holes in the bottom of your crust before baking so that steam can escape.
Start baking with a frozen crust. Once you’ve covered the inside of your tart mould, crimped the edge and pricked steam holes, pop your crust in the freezer for about 30 minutes before filling it with weights and putting it in the oven. Baking from a frozen state helps to prevent slumping around the sides of your crust.
To best uphold the shape of your crust, especially the sides, fill it right up to the top with your weights of choice. Failing to do so means the top edge of your crust can still slump inwards.
If you are using edible grains like rice, legumes or pasta for your blind baking weights, dispose of it once cooled, or dedicate it for re-sue in future blind baking, but not regular cooking.
For a proven crust that requires the minimum effort, use CAB Foods Ready Made Sweet and Chocolate Tart Doughs available in all stores. Our sturdy Sweet Tart Dough dough bakes a golden brown, scrumptious crust perfect to accommodate any sweet filling. The Chocolate Tart Dough is ideal for decadent, creamy fillings, adding the perfect bitter-sweet crunch.
Our Ready to bake Tart Dough is just one of the many products CAB Foods produces to make your baking life baking a breeze. Visit our stores or shop online to see our range of premixes, specialised ingredients, tools and decorations specially selected and prepared so that you can enjoy baking without unnecessary hassle.