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Blind baking explained
Blind bakes are common with seasoned bakers, but most upcoming bakers find this term funny. Some people think the name comes from how the pie shell is baked. It is hard to see how the shell is cooked until the paper and weights are removed, making you think you are ‘blind’ until you see the results. The baker cannot use sight and has to smell in all the stages since it is hard to view the pastry while it is baking.
This suggests that baking was delegated to a junior chef who did not question what the filling was for. Therefore, he was just blind-baking the crust.
The French phrase
Cuire à blanc is a French phrase for blind baking. The literal meaning is to bake white. There is an assertion that the English blind originated from the similar sound of the French blanc. There are funny stories of misinterpretations between English speaking chef and a great French pastry chef.
What exactly is blind baking?
Blind baking uses a technique where pastry crust is baked without any filling inside. This makes it crispy and thoroughly cooked through before it is filled with wet filling such as fruit custard or chocolate ganache. The big challenge with blind baking is that it can puff up.
However, one chef discovered that baking beans could help the pastry bake evenly and prevent puffing; these are not real beans, but some little ceramic balls conduct heat. Apart from weighing the pastry down, they also ensure it bakes evenly from top to bottom. They are re-usable; before you pour them on the pie, spread a baking paper. When done, you simply take them off from the crust; give them time to cool before putting them in a storage container.
If you do not have the ceramic beans, use dry beans or rice to get the same effect though they are not heated conductors. Also, you cannot eat rice or beans once you are done baking. Throw them away because they cannot be reused.
Why should you blind bake?
Blind baking prevents disappointments caused by a soggy pie crust bottom, which occurs in recipes with wet fillings. Some of the most vulnerable pies are fruit pies and quiche. The sogginess happens when the crust is under-baked; it is possible to get a crispy crust even with fillings. Most people are looking for consistency and forget to check if the crust is crisp. Once the pie bakes to their preference, it is removed from the oven.
However, pre-baking is an essential step as it ensures your pie crust is entirely baked with a crisp base before adding your wet fillings. To achieve the desired results, you have to adjust baking time for the crust because most wet fillings take a short time to bake and less heat.
How to Blind Bake
Blind baking is easy, and you have a few methods that can come in handy. The best thing is that most recipes give you instructions, such as the time and temperature required. You must ensure that the dough doesn’t rise or change in shape as it bakes. While in the oven, the dough releases moisture, which is one of the leading causes of puffing and can lead to unpleasant burnt spots that affect your final product’s texture and flavor. For a perfect crust, you must weigh down the dough or help the steam escape. You can pierce the dough’s surface with a fork or hold it down with ceramic beans.
The blind-baking process is nothing complicated. You simply allow the pie crust to bake for a little more time before adding your filling. All you need to know are the steps and follow your recipe keenly.
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