While we had him on-site, we grilled Richard Burr for his tips on baking with pastry, a notoriously tricky skill to master.
My main piece of advice would be… cold hands! And don’t overwork the pastry – it will go tough and shrink back from the tin.
A handy tactic… is to put the pastry in the tin, and then put the tin in the freezer for 10 minutes before your blind bake.
When using fruit… be aware of how much liquid they hold. When using pears, for example, cut them into smaller pieces, or make a jam by heating the fruit with some sugar and reducing it down.
Don’t be lazy! Pastry takes time, so chill it properly if you want to avoid a collapsed bake.
Don’t worry if you don’t have baking beans… dried butter beans work just as well, or if you’re making a smaller pie or tart you can use something finer like rice. However, avoid using rice for a larger bake – it can insulate the base and stop it from baking through properly.
My favourite frangipane combination is… greengage is my favourite at the moment. I’ve been making greengage jam to use in my bakes.
Richard Burr’s ‘Bake It Yourself: 80 Sweet And Savoury Recipes To Make You An Expert Baker’ is available to buy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/BIY-Yourself-savoury-recipes-expert/dp/1849496994