Blind Baking

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One of the most tedious techniques in cooking is the blind baking of pastry shells, involving sheets of greaseproof paper or foil and dried beans. The beans are to hold the pastry in place, preventing it collapsing down the sides of the tart tin, and in theory giving you a partially or fully baked case ready to receive a liquid filling. In fact, two things generally happen: the pastry collapses down the sides anyway, and when you attempt to remove the foil and beans, a large section of the pastry is usually attached to it!

The pastry recipe detailed here is so short that, when baked directly from the freezer at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4, without any beans, it will form a near perfect shell. I must stress that the pastry must go into the oven hard frozen; it must not defrost for even a minute. Make sure your oven is well preheated too. My success rate on this is over 90 per cent, but even if you follow the instructions to the letter and you still have a problem, you have two more pastry shells sitting in the freezer to try.

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