If, like me, you love your Pies, Quiches and Tarts, this section is for you. It is about blind baking and how it is an important step to do to avoid, like Mary Berry would say 'a soggy Bottom' on your pastry base.
It only consists of baking the Pie crust/base without the filling for a few minutes. This process allows the pastry to set a little, get a nice colour and to get rid of excess moisture. If the pastry casing will be filled with wet ingredients later like in Quiches, then it is a small step which I never skip.
First, lay your chilled and rolled pastry in your greased pie tray. I use butter but you can use oil, or just a spray of oil on the pie tray. It helps to take the mould off at the last stage but also to golden the pastry while baking.
Second, just mould your pastry to your pie tray. This can feel a bit like sculpting. Make sure any tear and hole are looked after and duly mended. Get rid of the excess pastry by the rim. Tip: Just leave a little but not too much. When the pastry bakes, it reduces. Not cutting all the way to the rim allows the casing to remain a whole holding container for your filling. Once your Tart, Quiche or Pie is completly baked, filling cooked and all, then finish tidying up the edges. Tip: Keep any excess pastry from the initial trimming for it can be used for decoration or mending at a later stage.
Third, I prick the pastry with a fork evenly. This is an old tip done by my Ma and Grand Mothers. It allows the pastry to bake thoroughly and the excess moisture to evaporate.
Fourth, it is the blind baking time. You cover the pastry with parchment paper/grease proof paper. Aluminium Foil is often used too, but studies show that avoiding cooking with foil is best. Then you pour on the paper some sort of weight. Pie-Weights are widely available, from ceramic or metal pearls/beads to the use of dried grains, peas, beans or pulses. I use rice myself. A little jar made of dried grains set aside for bling baking is a very useful tool in the kitchen. It doesn't have to be all fancyful and expensive either.
Fifth, Blind Bake the pastry. Follow any guidelines about it on the recipes your are following. As a rule of thumb, I go for 15 mins at Gas mark 5-6 (depending on the strength of your oven). Then I remove the weights and paper to put the pastry back in the oven for another 5 minutes. This makes a world of difference to Quiches, Pies, and Tarts.
Blind Baking is very helpful and I can only recommand anyone to get acquainted with it.