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Blind Baking. To pre-bake a pastry shell before adding filling, first chill the pastry, and then line your pan. Line the pastry with foil, parchment or greaseproof paper, leaving plenty to come up the sides. Fill with baking beans (alternatively, for a really smooth finish use plastic wrap to line the pastry: place 2 sheets over the pastry, add the beans and bring the edges into the center.) Whichever method you choose, bake 'blind' in a 350 degree F, oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry. Remove the paper and beans, brush with a little leftover beaten egg and return to the oven for 2 minutes. If there are any little holes or cracks in the pastry, just patch it up with any leftover raw pastry before you return it to the oven. Remove from the oven and set aside in the tin while you make the filling. The pastry can be baked a day in advance and kept covered until you need it. Variations: Sweet shortcrust pastry: In place of the pinch of salt, use 1 tablespoon of icing sugar. Sour cream shortcrust pastry: Replace the egg with 2 tablespoons of sour cream or creme fraiche, adding just enough to bring the dough together.
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