America's Test Kitchen LogoCook's Country LogoCook's Illustrated Logo

The Key to Blind Baking: Use the Right Lining

The top of lining you choose can be just as important as the type of dough.

Pie and tart recipes with loose, liquid-y fillings (like quiche or pumpkin pie) often call for “blind” baking, or prebaking, the bottom crust empty to ensure that it turns out crisp and fully cooked. To prevent the pastry from puffing up as it bakes, pie weights are placed inside the shell when it first goes into the oven. Once the dough has begun to firm, the weights are removed to allow the shell to brown completely.

To easily remove the weights, recipes variously call for lining the shell with waxed 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, so that left us with just foil and parchment paper to test. We blind baked batches of our Foolproof Pie Dough with each one. The high conductivity of aluminum foil helped to efficiently transmit the oven’s heat to the shell as it baked, but it also trapped steam on its underside and resulted in slightly spotty browning. Parchment paper fared best; its more permeable structure allowed the shell to breathe—and then brown—as it baked. It’s our go-to choice for blind baking, with foil as a backup.

Parchment + Pie Weights =

Perfectly Baked Shell

Recommended Reading

This is a members' feature.