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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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  • Shortcrust Pastry

    When I am making a tart I cannot prevent my frozen shortcrust pastry case from rising. I have tried pricking it and blind baking and doesn't seem to work. Can you help?

    From the nigella team:

    When a pastry tart case is baked any small bubbles of air that may be trapped underneath the pastry, or even incorporated into the pastry, will tend to expand in the heat of the oven and cause the pastry to rise up. Baking blind is the best way to try and reduce this.

    It is most likley that there isn't enough weight put on top of the pastry when it is blind baked. The pastry case can be pricked all over with a fork to try and release any trapped air bubbles, then line the pastry case with a piece of baking parchment or greaseproof paper (parchment paper). Scrunch up the paper a bit before you use it as this makes it easier to push the paper right into the edges of the case. You then need to put the weights on the paper. Store-bought ceramic baking beans are fairly heavy so you should only need a single layer on the base of the case, but make sure they are pushed right into the edges too. Rice and beans are lighter so you will need to add enough to at least half fill the case.

    Bake the case in an oven preheated to 200c/400F for 15-20 minutes, until the top edges of the pastry are starting to turn brown. For sweet pastry bake at 180c/350F to reduce the risk of the sugar burning. Carefully lift the paper and look at the base - the pastry should no longer look raw but if it is put it back into oven for another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the weights from the pastry case, you may need to carefully spoon some out before lifting the remainder out on the paper. If you have a few larger bubbles on the base of the case then you can use the tip a sharp knife to gently pop them at this stage. Finally return the pastry case to the oven for a further 3 to 5 minutes to let the base dry out a little more before adding any filling.

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