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What Is Blind Baking?
In pie- and tart-making, the technique of blind baking involves baking the dough fully by itself (weighted to keep its shape) so that it can be served with unbaked fillings, like pastry cream and fruit. After shaping and crimping the pie dough into a tart pan or pie dish, you’ll line it with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or coffee filters, and then weigh it down with pie weights, rice, or dry beans, and then pre-bake the crust on its own, before filling it. Some tart or pie recipes will tell you to “dock” (or pierce with the tines of a fork) the bottom of the dough before baking to prevent it from puffing up, but it’s not always necessary.
Why Do You Need to Blind-Bake?
Blind-baking is a necessary step in making a classic French-style fruit tart, but it will improve almost any pie crust recipe. Since tarts are filled with creams or mousses (which can’t be baked), you’ll have to bake any tart shell in advance of filling it. Tarts and cream pies, including banana cream pie and coconut cream pie, can’t be baked with their fillings, so you need a fully baked (and cooled!) pie shell before you start assembling.
Pies that are baked together with their fillings—such as pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie, or quiche—also benefit from blind-baking, since the pie filling blocks heat from reaching the bottom of the crust, resulting in the dreaded soggy bottom. Par-baking the crust of a custard pie before adding the raw, unbaked filling ensures that the bottom of the pie is jut as crisp as the edges of the crust.
How to Blind Bake in 4 Steps
The exact method of blind baking, including oven temperature and baking time, will depend on the type of pastry you’re making. To make his classic strawberry tart, Chef Dominique Ansel uses this method for blind baking his vanilla sable tart shell:
- While the tart shell is chilling, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) for conventional or 325°F (160°C) for convection.
- Blind-bake the tart shell by lining it with parchment paper or a large coffee filter so the surface of the dough is completely covered. An easy trick to folding the parchment is similar to folding a snowflake, where you fold it in quarters and keep folding smaller segments to the point, cutting in a curve to form a circle. Press the parchment completely to the side of the tart dough.
- Fill with enough rice or dried beans to hold down as weights. Bake the tart on the center rack for 15 to 20 minutes, until it’s a light golden, sandy color and you don’t see any wet spots. Unmold the tart shell while still warm. Let cool completely at room temperature.
- Always make sure your tart shell is fully cooled before you start assembling any cream-based tarts. If the shell is still too hot or warm when you pipe in your pastry cream, you’ll end up with a soggy-bottomed tart.
A blind-baked tart shell is best enjoyed fresh the day-of. Tart shells can be baked in advance, but don’t fill them with your creams and fillings too far in advance. Ideally, it’s filled and served right away, so the shell stays nice and crispy.
Want to Learn More About Baking?
Whether you’re just learning the difference between a madeleine and a macaron, or you already know your way around a piping bag, mastering the fine art of French pastry requires skill and technique. No one knows this better than Dominique Ansel, who has been called the “world’s best pastry chef.” In Dominique Ansel’s MasterClass on French pastry fundamentals, the James Beard Award-winner expands on his precise methods and reveals how to add classic recipes to your repertoire, explore texture and flavor inspirations and create your own decadent desserts.
Want to learn more about the culinary arts? The MasterClass All-Access Pass provides exclusive video lessons from master chefs including Dominique Ansel, Massimo Bottura, Chef Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, and more.