Baking Tips for Beginners: What Are Baking Beans & Blind Baking? by Ann Marie Patitucci
Have you ever found yourself reading a dessert recipe, getting excited to make it, when all of a sudden you come across something that seems difficult or confusing? What about a baking term you’ve never even heard of? A personal example of this is “baking beans,” followed by “blind baking” in the same recipe. I’d never heard either term before and had no idea what they were referring to. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t imagine what any kind of beans were doing in my otherwise delicious-sounding pastry dessert recipe! So allow me to share with you what I wish I had known myself.
Let’s start with blind baking. Blind baking is essentially the pre-baking of a pie crust or tart crust without the filling. This ensures that the pastry is crisp and fully cooked throughout, before adding what is often a wet filling (like fruit, custard). It can either be partially or completely baked depending on the recipe. The challenge with this technique is that without any filling, there’s nothing to prevent the pastry from puffing up, which can result in an uneven crust. This is where the baking beans come in.
Baking beans, also known as pie crust weights, are little ceramic balls that weigh down the pastry, preventing it from puffing up. They’re reusable which makes them a great value. You simply cover the crust with parchment paper, then pour the baking beans onto the paper and bake for the time stated in the recipe. Make sure that the beans/weights are evenly distributed over the crust and pushed out to the sides. The parchment paper will prevent the weights from sticking to or becoming embedded in the dough and will also make removing the weights easier. After the allotted baking time, you remove the weights from the crust, let them cool and pour them back into their container where they’ll be ready to use again.
What if you don’t have the beans/pie weights? You can certainly buy them; they aren’t very expensive. Alternatively, you could use rice, dry beans or popcorn kernels, which can all serve the same purpose. I hope this has been helpful. Happy baking!
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