Monday, August 9, 2010

To Parbake or not to Parbake?

Here's the situation: do you parbake the crust or bake the whole mess? I'm talking about tarts. If it's a raw filling, then you definitely need to pre-bake the crust completely. But, I'm referring to baked fillings, where the recipe states to parbake the pastry shell, fill it, and then finish baking.

What to know what I do? Great!
I bake the whole mess and here's why:

a) I'm too impatient to wait an extra 10-15 minutes for the crust to parbake and then cool before filling it.
b) I believe that parbaking can sometimes lead to a dried-out crust, especially when the filling requires an additional 20-30 minutes in the oven.
c) An empty tart shell can shrink while baking, even when baked with pie weights, especially when the pastry is made with eggs.

But now you might be wondering "Christina, how about that saggy bottom?" Don't worry, I'm not insulted.

I understand. You're worried that when you fill an unbaked pastry shell with a wet filling, the bottom crust will be soggy and saggy. It's OK, though, because I've got you covered...

Solution: bake the tart in high heat (375 degrees F) for the first 10-15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. This will direct more intense heat to the bottom of the tart and bake it through before it has a chance to get soggy. That is how you get a nice, golden bottom. Yes!
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