Blind-Baked Crust

Those three yolks left over from the eggs I separated for macarons just had to go in a lemon tart.

Lemon tart

Lemon tart

These days I whip out these tarts as if I know what I’m doing, and in fact, I do know what I’m doing now. Up until a few months ago,though, my experience with a blind-baked crust (crust baked without a filling) fell somewhere on the spectrum between bitter disappointment and unmitigated disaster. What was I doing wrong? Are there recipes that are better suited to blind baking? Was there a problem with my technique? I was following the directions perfectly! Why did the sides of my crust collapse after a few minutes of baking? I did Internet searches, I read cookbooks, but I couldn’t find the answer. Then suddenly I learned it: I was following the directions, but all the directions were missing a step.

Blind Baking a Crust
Roll out the dough to the size and thickness specified in the recipe

pie crust rolled out

Pie crust rolled out

Fit the dough into the pie plate or tart pan
Pie dough fitted into the tart pan

Pie dough fitted into the tart pan

Press the dough into the bottom of the pan, then press it into the sides of the pan
Pressing the crust into the sides of the tart pan

Pressing the crust into the sides of the tart pan

Trim and finish the edges of the crust
Trim the edges of the dough

Using a rolling pin to trim off the excess dough

Line the dough with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or a large basket-style coffee filter
Add weights: ceramic beads, weight chain, beans (these get rancid after a few uses), or coins
Chill the crust in the refrigerator or freezer while the oven preheats to the temperature specified in the recipe
Bake the crust for the time specified
Remove the weights and liner, dock the dough, and continue baking for the time specified
Docking the baked crust

Docking the baked crust

I discovered the missing step on Baking 911. You gently fit the dough into the pan so you don’t stretch the dough; I was doing that. Then you press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan; if you don’t press the dough into the sides, the dough will slide down into the bottom of the pan as the fat melts. Having read that, I remembered seeing just a day or two before a photo of Paule Caillat pressing dough into the sides of a tart pan, and I remembered pressing dough into a tart pan in a class at King Arthur. I didn’t run naked through the streets, but I certainly shouted “Eureka!”

So there it is, the missing step. I know I’m not the only one who ever had this problem, and maybe this will help someone else.


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