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Dec 2, 2008 12:18 AM

Tart Shell - What's That? Can I Use a Biscuit Pan? Help!

A recipe for a vegan pumpkin pie I'm making says I need to put the ingredients into a tart shell. The ingredients (mostly crushed nuts and maple syrup) will comprise the pie crust. Anyway, do I specifically need a tart shell? Will a biscuit pan do?

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  1. I don't know what a "biscuit" pan is but a tart shell pan has a removeable bottom so you can take the finished tart out of the pan without destroying sides.

    1 Reply
    1. re: serious

      katya, serious is right -- that is the main advantage -- the removable bottom tart pan allows you to make a prettier presentation -- as your pie doesn't have to be sliced and served out of the pan. not all tart pans have removable bottoms, though.

      a "biscuit pan" in my household is a pie tin (my mom also uses a cake pan), and as mentioned below, a pie tin will do fine -- although i'd check the cup capacity.

      a springform is the same concept - more or less -- as the tart shell, except the springform is going to have higher, more vertical (90 degrees) side, with no fluting -- compared with a tart pan that is rather shallow, with angling fluted sides that will allow better crust browning, imo.

      tart shell with removable bottom (this is a newer version than my old one):

      here is mine:

      i like the concept of that newer anolon one, but there may be some issue that it will not brown as well as the black steel (traditional) one.

      look at these on sale:
      (i'm liking that "" shopping website! ;-).

    2. You can use a pie plate, but it'll be deeper than a tart pan.

      1. If you don't have a tart shell, then I'd use a spring form pan if it were me.

        My mother used to make biscuits, and she used a 9 inch round cake pan, is that what
        you mean? It wouldn't hurt your pie, it just isn't meant to bake a pie in. Cakes or biscuits get turned over and come out easily in that kind of a pan.

        Good luck.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mcel215

          katya, a pie plate would be my recommendation.

        2. I'm wondering if by biscuit pan Katya means the cast-iron pan which is actually 7 3"rounds connected to each other. If so, that could double for individual tartlets, as could a "muffin top" pan. Regardless of pan, where this tart crust is mostly nuts rather than flour dough, if not using a pan with a removable bottom I'd use a round of buttered parchment on the bottom to improve the odds of a smooth release.

          3 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            That sounds like a good idea. I'm embarrassed to say I'm not sure what "buttered parchment" is. Do I butter parchment paper and put it below the crust? If I don't have parchment paper can I just butter the bottom of the pan?

            1. re: katya

              Yes, you butter (or vegan substitute) the pan, then line it with a round of parchment you've cut out (trace an outline of the pan on the paper and cut it out), then butter the parchment. You can just butter the pan, but it won't release as well as parchment. If you're planning to serve it from the pan, which you have to if you don't have a pan with a removable bottom, it will be easier if you use a pie pan. (A Pyrex pie pan costs no more than $5 at the grocery store and can be used for anything you want to cook in the oven, not just baking.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Thanks for reminding me to use margarine. I wonder if Pam cooking spray is vegan...

                Thanks for the rest of the info as well!

          2. Thanks for all the responses and special thanks to alkapal who included links to some tart shells. You guys really know your stuff! Thanks for helping a clueless person like me.

            Yes, many of you guessed correctly - what I call a "biscuit pan" is pretty much a 9 inch cake pan.

            Thanks so much for the help!

            5 Replies
            1. re: katya

              you are welcome, katya, and good luck.

              if you do the tart pan, i like the idea upthread of using a buttered parchment paper cut-to-size under the crust. once you bake your pie, and it is cooled (thoroughly, imo), hold the tart shell outer perimeter "edge" in each hand, thumbs on the top edge, and your fingers around the edge and under the pan, to gently push up on the "bottom section". there may be a little stickiness, and if so, take a flat dinner knife blade and --from underneath -- slide it a little between the "edge" and the "bottom" -- to a little leverage action, if necessary.

              now, because of the parchment, you are able to slide your knife between the parchment and the pan "bottom", and slide the pie with parchment onto an adjacent pretty serving plate. you should be able to remove the paper before you place it on the serveware.

              it may sound complicated, but when you are doing it, it will be common-sense, please let us know your success! i love it when people give reports back after asking for advice/info/recipe ideas. ;-).

              1. re: alkapal

                I believe you - I'm sure it will make sense seem natural while I'm doing it. Thanks for the instructions!

                I'm a little worried right now because I may have overestimated the strength of my blender. The nuts have to be chopped to achieve a perfectly smooth consistency. My husband doesn't think my blender can do it. I'm going to look into it, but I really hope to still make it. If not this time, I plan to definitely make it sometime in the future. (It's a recipe I got from one of the chefs at Google after I told her I liked her vegan pumpkin pie so much I had three pieces. I definitely want to eat it again.) All the suggestions have been useful and will be used eventually in the chance I can't use them this time. Thanks for all your help!

                1. re: katya

                  katya, do your nuts in small batches, and pulse them. do the short bursts of the blender at slower speeds, and as the nuts get finer, then higher speeds. (you're coaxing the nuts into a higher state of consciousness. ha ha) you will get a "cooked" aspect to the nuts, if your blender gets overheated by struggling, or by just whirring them too long at a time.

                  are you only havingt the nuts and a maple syrup as the crust? do you blind bake it (bake it first without the filling?)

                  hounds, would any of you think it might be wise to brush the crust with an egg wash (or just beaten egg) prior to a blind baking (or even if no blind baking) in order to "seal" the crust"? i'm just wondering about the coherence of the crust.....

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Adding some of the sugar from the recipe into the nuts will prevent them from turning oily. Or, simpler yet, if you are near a Trader Joe's use their almond meal instead. I don't know what your recipe calls for, but almonds, pecans, and walnuts will in most recipes be interchangeable. The taste will be a little different, but no big deal. Look for it with the cake mix, not the nuts. Other nut meals are doubtlessly available in better markets but a word to the wise. Pay for the bag and open it while you are still in the store - if it smells rancid, exchange it till you find one that's not. Keep nut meals in glass containers in the fridge (better yet, freezer). TJ's has enough turnover that I've never had a bad bag of almond meal.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Your egg whit suggestion makes sense generally, but not in the specific instance of a vegan dish.