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4 Tips for Blind Baking Pie Crust
Recipes for pies and tarts that have loose, liquid-y fillings (like quiche or pumpkin pie) or those that require chilling (like an ice box or ice cream pie) often call for “blind” baking the bottom crust. Blind baking is an extra step in the pie-making process, but following these guidelines will provide you with a great pie every time.
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What Is Blind Baking?
Blind baking pie crust is prebaking the crust either partially or completely before you add the filling. To prevent the pastry from puffing up or slumping as it bakes, pie weights are placed inside the shell when it first goes into the oven. Once the dough has begun to firm up, the weights are removed to allow the shell to cook and brown according to the recipe.
Is Blind Baking Necessary?
We say yes. Not only does blind baking guarantee a beautiful pie crust with great texture, but it helps avoid a slumped pie crust. (After all, a slumped pie crust provides less room for filling!)
4 Tips for Blind Baking
Tip 1. Let the dough chill.
Once your pie dough is rolled and formed in the pie dish, let it rest in the refrigerator for 40 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax, and the butter to chill. From there, pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes to set its shape. Skip these steps and a tough and misshapen pie crust could be your reward.
Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Non-Stick Pie DishThis golden-hued metal plate baked crusts beautifully without overbrowning; even bottom crusts emerged crisp and flaky.
Tip 2. Use pie weights, not pennies.
Left to their own devices, pie crusts will bubble, puff, crater, and become misshapen while blind baking in the oven. While bakers can use dried beans, raw rice, pennies, and granulated sugar as pie weights, we like to use the best product designed specifically for the job: pie weights. While we try not to have one-trick gadgets in our kitchen, we gladly make an exception for these ceramic pie weights.
Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Ceramic Pie WeightsThe best-performing weights, with one note: To completely fill an aluminum foil–lined pie shell, we found that we had to use four packages of the weights. But at about $20 total, we think it’s money well spent.
Tip 3. Line your pie shell for easy pie weight removal.
When you blind bake pie crust, pie weights can be essential for parbaking the perfect pie crust, making sure you can remove the weights is just as important. To easily remove pie weights, you have to line the pie shell, and here the debate begins. Recipes variously call for wax paper, foil, or parchment paper. When we checked with Reynolds, one of the biggest manufacturers of waxed paper, they said it should never be directly exposed to the heat of the oven. Foil and its high conductivity helped to efficiently transmit the oven’s heat to the shell as it baked, but it also trapped steam on its underside which resulted in spotty browning. Parchment paper is the best option. With its more permeable structure, parchment paper allows the shell to breath, and then brown, as it bakes. Allow enough overlap so that you can safely and easily grasp the edge and lift the pie weights, as once the shell is parbaked, those weights will be very hot.
King Arthur Flour Parchment Paper 100 Half SheetsThese precut parchment sheets are stored completely flat and are sized just right to slide easily into a standard rimmed baking sheet.
Tip 4. Use the correct oven rack position.
Once lined and filled with pie weights, it’s time to blind bake your pie shell. In order to prevent a doughy crust, bake the weight-filled pie shell on the lower-middle oven rack at 375 degrees. The heat radiating from the bottom of the oven will help bake the shell and set it so that it’s even. Be sure to bake until the dough no longer looks wet under the parchment, about 20 minutes.
Carefully remove the hot pie weights using a firm grasp on the parchment. Lift them out and transfer them to a bowl to cool. From there you can continue to bake the crust until firm and light brown for an icebox pie, or remove it from the oven to receive the filling before it goes back into the oven. And to get your pie out of the oven safely, make sure you have the best oven mitts for the job.
Want to bake the best pies? Learn more in the America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School classes Foolproof Apple Pies, Icebox Pies, and Holiday Pies.
Are you an experienced pie-baker? What are your tips for blind baking? Let us know in the comments.