I like making pastry tarts, and many of my recipes require a sweet pastry recipe (see Chocolate, Lemon or Rhubarb tart recipes). Many recipes for pastry ask you to Blind Bake – but what does this mean?
Essentially, if you are making something with pastry, it is best to pre-bake the pastry before putting a filling into it, otherwise the pastry goes soggy (and no-one likes eating soggy pastry). The pre-baking process is what we call ‘Blind Bake’, as we cover it ‘blind’ to dry the pastry out first.
To Blind Bake:
First make your pastry. The ingredients to make a Sweet Pastry for a 24cm flan tin are:
- 120g unsalted butter
- 75g icing sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 250g plain flour
- 2tbsp water
In a large bowl, cream together the soft butter and icing sugar; then beat in 2 of the egg yolks. Add the flour and with your fingertips, rub the butter mixture and flour together to achieve a crumbly texture.
TIP: make sure your hands are nice and cold, and do this as little as possible.
Add the water, and press the mixture together very quickly and lightly to form a ball. Flatten the pastry slightly with the palm of your hand, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Ensure the pastry has had at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Some people say it is best to leave it in the fridge for 2 hours, but if you are short for time ensure it has at least 30 minutes. When you take the pastry out of the fridge it will be hard. You don’t want to touch your pastry too much, but you will want to knead it 3 or 4 times just to get enough heat in it to roll it. Roll the pastry, and place into a 24cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Take a small ball of pastry and gently press it all around the base of the tart to ensure a snug fit. Once you have covered the pastry tin, and ensured that it is filled in to all the edges, cut off the excess pastry by rolling your rolling pin over the edge of the tin to get a nice clean finish as it shows in the photo.
Now, pierce the bottom of the pastry all over, randomly, with a fork. This will stop air bubbles creating.
The next phase is the secret for all pastry chefs. Chill the pastry in the tart tin again! Leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This allows the pastry to settle, and stops the pastry from shrinking when it is baking.
TIP: refrigerating the pastry really helps it to not shrink too much once in the oven!
Cover your pastry with either baking parchment, greaseproof paper or tin foil. Make sure your cover goes over the pastry sides. Fill your covered pastry with either special baking weights (these are generally ceramic balls), or you can easily use dried rice, dried lentils, or dried beans (ensuring of course that the layer of baking parchment is between the pastry and the baking weights). This is called Blind Baking.
Bake the pastry for 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven of 180C.
To get an even more professional finish, remove the pastry from the oven, and lift out the cover filled with pie weights. Continue to cook uncovered for about 5 or 10 minutes until golden brown (but not too brown!).
Using a pastry brush, brush over some beaten egg onto the base, and pop back into the oven for 2 minutes to dry. This creates a protective layer between the pastry and the filling, helping to seal the pastry and make it crunchier and ensures you definitely do not get soggy pastry.
The most important thing is to not overcook the pastry. It should be a very light golden brown when you remove it from the oven. If you overcook the pastry, it will get even more cooked once you put in the filling, and you will end up with burnt edges, and a brittle, cracked pastry, which is about as bad as having soggy pastry. The best thing to do is keep an eye on the pastry while it is cooking because every oven is different.
Use this Sweet Pastry to make: