Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Blind Baking

Blind Baking is not baking for the blind or hard of seeing. I promise. You also don't have to preform it while blind folded or with your eyes closed. So what is it and why do you want to do it?

Blind baking is when you bake a pie crust without anything in it. Say you're going to make that delicious strawberry pie I have on the blog. You know, the one with the fresh strawberries? Or maybe you want to make a coconut cream pie, or a key-lime pie. The options are endless. But when the recipe calls for a pre-made baked pie shell. OK. So you could go to the store and buy one already made. It will taste like cardboard and have so many chemicals in it, the strawberries, and you (and your family) will glow for a 48 hour period afterwards consumption, but so what? You don't have to attempt blind baking. And why would you? You'd have to go out and buy some ceramic pie weights, right? And you don't just have to buy them, then you have to find something to keep them in. Too much work. Or is it?

Blind baking is a cinch. Promise. Here's what you need:
  • pie pan
  • unbaked pie dough
  • flour, rolling pin, place to work
  • knife and fork (no spoon!)
  • foil or parchment paper 
  • foil or a pie crust protector
  • dried beans or dried rice or pie weights
....here we go!

 But wait. This is a SIMPLE thing. Put it in the pan, stick it, bake it. That's it. Now, here it is in detail.....
  1. Roll out you dough on a lightly floured surface. Be gentle. Think of pie dough as a high contagious baby. You have to handle it, but the less you do the better. Be gentle, don't drop it.
  2. Carefully drape the dough into the pie pan, allowing it to fall over the edges. Do not try and stretch it. If it tears don't go to pieces yourself. Use a little bit of water and finesse it back together.
  3. Now the fun begins. 
  4. Decide what the edge should look like: pinched, rope, braided, checkboard, fork-and-crimp combo, arrowhead, leaves, pumpkins, christmas tress, bunnies....the opportunities for decoration are endless, limited only by you!
  5. Using your knife, trim around the edge of the pan so it is nice and even. Make sure you leave yourself enough extra dough to execute your vision. I'd say at least a thumb past the edge of the pan for pinching. But you can also just cut just a little bit beyond the pan and make it nice and round and plain. That's pretty too.
  6. Now, using your fork, prick the dough all over (not on the edge where your pretty design is). This is called docking and it allows the stream to escape and keeps bubbles from forming so you don't get any huge lumps or bumps.
  7. For best results, chill dough for 10 minutes in the fridge before moving on to the next step. 
  8. If you're in a hurry, you may skip the fridge. But like most things in life, everything is better when given a little time alone to chill now and then.
  9. Remove your totally relaxed crust from the fridge. Using parchment paper or foil, tear a piece big enough so that it will fit in the bottom of the crust and cover beyond the edges. This extra foil or paper will help your crust from browning too much.
  10.  Now add the rice, beans or pie weights. Please note the rice and beans are uncooked!!! Basically you are weighing down the dough to help the docking process you did earlier so you won't have any unsightly bumps or bubble in your shell. I mean come on, you've gone to all this trouble so far, why risk it now?
  11. Bake crust according to directions. 
  12. If there are no directions, here's what you should do. Go back to step 7 and turn the oven on to preheat to 375. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Do NOT turn off oven. You're not done yet.
  13. Carefully remove the parchment or foil. Remember it will be H-O-T! So will the beans and/or rice. Try not to spill the beans and rice into the crust. Allow the beans and rice to cool. There isn't any reason you can't use these again for baking. Once the "pie weights" are cool, split them into a ziplock bag, label them and keep them with your pie pans for next time.
  14. Carefully cover the edges of the crust with foil or use a pie protector. Do not force the foil to mold to the pie. Loosely drape it in small square or long rectangles. It won't be perfect and that is a-OK. FYI pie protectors can be made of metal, silicone or other heat-safe material. Mine is bright red, silicone and sometimes works and sometimes not so much. 
  15. Return crust to the oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  16. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.
  17. Do NOT fill this until it is completely cooled, unless your recipe calls for using a warm pie crust, as in the case of some quiches.
Now, in the immortal words of Cartman, "Get your bitch ass in the kitchen and make me some pie!"

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