Pastry techniques including covering a pie dish and baking blind.

Pastry techniques
Making pastry may require some effort just until you get the hang of it, but some of you may wonder what to do with the pastry once you need to roll it out and line your pastry case or pie dish.
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How do you get the pastry into the tin without it cracking or falling to pieces, how do you get the measurements exactly right first time, how can I finish off my pie so that it looks pretty and professional and what does it mean to "bake blind"?

These are some of the questions that you may be faced with once you have your ball of dough and pie dish sitting directly in front of you and these questions will be answered in the following sections.

The key to success is being gentle with the pastry dough.

Covering a pie dish

If you are making a pie with pastry covering the top only, you will need to follow the following instructions. These instructions are to line a pie tin that is 2 inches deep.

In this case, the filling will be placed directly into the bottom of the pie dish and the pastry will be placed over the top as a cover and sealed.
  1. Roll the pastry out evenly on a lightly floured surface. Use the inverted pie dish as a guide to measure an extra 2 inches all the way round the tin.
  2. With a knife cut a 1 inch strip of pastry from the edge, in the same shape as the pie dish.
  3. Place the pie dish the right way up and moisten the edge or rim of the dish with a little water. Taking the 1 inch strip of pastry, position it on the rim of the dish and press it down gently into place. Brush the strip with water.
  4. Place the sweet or savoury filling inside the pie dish, piling it up around the middle of the pie, so that when the pastry cover goes on, it will sit lightly on top of the filling.
  5. Wrap the pastry in one piece loosely over the rolling pin, lift the rolling pin up and position it over the pie dish and unroll the pastry so that it falls into position over the dish, centring it as much as possible.
  6. Press the edge of the pastry cover down onto the rim of pastry put into place earlier, sealing the edges together firmly with your fingers.
  7. Trim any excess pastry away from the edges with a sharp knife, holding the knife at an angle away from the pie dish. Cut a slit or small hole in the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape during cooking.
  8. To seal the edges firmly so that they do not come apart during cooking and allow the filling to leak, tap the pastry edges all the way around the dish with the blunt edge of the knife held horizontally.
  9. Use the back of a floured fork to press down on the rim of the pastry for a decorative finish.

Making a two-crust pie

What could be better than not just one layer of melt in the mouth pastry covering a deliciously sweet or temptingly tantalising savoury filling, but two layers of pastry with a steaming filling hidden inside?

For a two-crust or double-crust pastry, firstly you will need 50% extra pastry. Then, you will need to separate the pastry into two chunks, one slightly bigger than the other.
  1. Take the larger portion of pastry dough and roll it out on a floured surface to a size that is 1 inch wider than the inverted pie dish. Use the inverted pie dish as a guide.
  2. Wrap the rolled out pastry very loosely around the floured rolling pin and position it above the dish. Lay the pastry down into place so that it lies loosely over the centre of the dish.
  3. Ease the pastry into the bottom of the tin by lifting it upwards and then gently lowering it into position. Press down into place with your fingertips along the bottom and sides of the dish.
  4. Trim any excess pastry from the rim of the pastry dish.
  5. Fill the pie case with the filling, piling the filling up high towards the centre.
  6. Brush the pastry edge with water.
  7. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry so that it is about 1 inch bigger than the rim of the pie dish. Lift it up with the rolling pin and unroll it over the top of the dish.
  8. Press the two edges together and cut off excess pastry but leave inch hanging over the side. Fold the overhang of pastry neatly under the rim of the dish and press the edges together again making sure that the pie is fully sealed.
  9. Cut two slits into the top of the pie and glaze with a beaten egg or milk (see our introduction to pastry - pastry glaze). Use any excess pastry to cut out shapes and decorate the top of the pie.

Lining a flan tin or flan ring

You would use a flan tin for sweet flans or tarts and quiches.

Flan tins are not very deep and they do not have a rim, and their sides are smooth or fluted.

The handiest tins have a base that you can take out, which makes removing the finished dish very easy.
  1. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to 2 - 3 inches larger than the actual flan case.
  2. Lift the pastry and lightly drape it over the tin.
  3. Lift the edges of the pastry upwards and ease the pastry into position. Press the pastry firmly but gently into place with your fingertips, ensuring that there are no gaps between the pastry and the tin.
  4. Turn any excess pastry outwards and then roll the rolling pin over the top of the flan case so that any extra pastry is cut off.
  5. Smooth any rough edges with the side of a blunt knife.

Baking blind

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Baking blind is also known as pre-baking. Basically, what this means is that you partially or fully bake the pastry shell before adding any filling.

This may be done for several reasons.

Firstly, if the filling does not need any baking or not as much baking time as the pastry does, then you would need to partially bake the pastry and then finish off the baking time once the filling has been added.

Secondly, if the filling is added before the pastry has been baked, it could make the pastry soggy or wet, depending on the type of filling.
  1. First of all, prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork.
  2. Line the pastry case with a piece of greaseproof paper or aluminium foil.
  3. On top of the greaseproof paper, add a layer of dried beans, lentils or pulses.
  4. Bake the pastry for 15 - 20 minutes if partially baking in a preheated oven set to 400F (200C). If you are fully baking the pastry, bake for 5 - 10 minutes longer or until the pastry has set and dried.
  5. Take out of the oven and remove the greaseproof paper and dried pulses.
  6. Allow to cool slightly and then add the desired filling.
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