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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Lentils Used As Pie Weights

    I used a bag of dry lentils on top of foil as pie weights when making pie crusts. They've been baked for 12 minutes at high heat. Are they still useful in cooking stews or even as wildlife snacks, or has the baking process changed them too much?

    From the nigella team:

    Some tart and pie recipes, such as Nigella's Rhubarb Tart (from Domestic Goddess), require the pastry case to be baked before the filling is added. This is called "baking blind" and helps the pastry to remain crisp once the filling has been added. The raw pastry shell is usually lined with foil or parchment paper and filled with baking beans or pie weights before being put into the oven, as this prevents the base from puffing up.

    "Baking beans" can be rice, beans, lentils or you can buy special ceramic pie weights. Unfortunately if you use rice, beans or lentils then they are not really suitable for use in other dishes afterwards as they become dried out in the oven and will remain hard and tough if cooked again, even if cooked for a long time. Most people let the rice/beans/lentils cool completely and then store them in a jar to use again for baking. They can be used many times over for this.

    We are not sure if the lentils will be palatable to wildlife, though we suspect the lentils are a bit dry and hard. However you could put out a small amunt and see if the birds like them, or not.

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