November 20, 2013

Pull up a stool....How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust or Pastry

If you've taken a minute to "Meet Euna Mae" (here) then you know that I learned a lot from her by pulling up a stool and watching her cook, asking questions, observing, and gaining an understanding of kitchen basics. So I invite you to pull up a stool...and learn how to blind bake a pie crust or pastry!

It's day three of Pumpkin Pie Week! Monday, I shared my favorite, fool-proof cream cheese pumpkin pie  recipe, and yesterday we dove into homemade sweetened whipped cream. So goooood. 

One of the most important steps in baking a single-crust pie like pumpkin is blind-baking.  Blind-baking is the process of baking a pie crust or pastry without the filling in it. This is a necessary step when a pie will be filled with an unbaked filling such as custard, pudding, and cream pies or when the filling has a shorter cook-time than the crust requires. Blind-baking dries out the crust and helps ward off a soggy bottom crust. And nobody likes a soggy bottom...

The instructions for blind-baking a crust are the same whether your recipe requires a completely baked shell or a partially-baked shell. My cream cheese pumpkin pie recipe requires a partially baked shell to dry out the pastry a little before pouring in the liquid-y filling, all of which will be returned to the oven to continue to bake.  Just follow your specific recipe instructions for how to prepare the crust. 

1. Whether store-bought or homemade, carefully line a pie plate with the pastry, pressing into the plate around the bottom and sides
2. Trim any excess overlay, tuck the edges under, and apply your preferred decorative detail to the crust edge. Being generous and allowing a heavier crust edge will help prevent shrinkage when blind-baking the shell.
3. Use the docking-method to prick holes with a fork all around the bottom and sides of the crust to prevent bubbling up while baking. 
4. Place the unfilled pie crust in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, but preferable an hour or even overnight. Frozen crusts shrink less; and the colder your crust is when it hits the hot oven, the flakier it is!
5. After your crust is frozen, line the shell with parchment paper with plenty of extra paper sticking up and out of the pie plate (which will give you 'handles' to lift it out later), and fill completely to the top of the crust with 2lbs of dried beans. You may also use pie weights if you prefer. Be sure to press the beans/weights into the sides so there's no room between the crust and the weights. Space allows opportunity for the sides to collapse! And that, my friends, ranks as one of the top most-maddening kitchen happenings.
6. Bake the frozen, lined, and weighted shell in a preheated oven (usually around 400-425 degrees) for 15 minutes before removing pie weights. For a fully-baked pie shell, bake a total of 35-45 minutes or until completely dried out and browned. For a partially baked pie shell, bake a total of 20-25 minutes until dried and getting a little color. 

Then follow the recipe to make a perfectly delicious pie, tart, or quiche!
No soggy bottoms here!