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For a perfectly baked pie crust, use the best pie weights.
What You Need To Know
Many of our pie recipes call for blind baking—baking the crust either partially or completely before adding the filling. But without a filling to hold the raw dough in place, the bottom can puff up or the sides can slump as it bakes, resulting in ugly, misshapen pies. To prevent this, the test kitchen uses pie weights. We do this not just for aesthetics: A slumped pie crust provides less room for filling.
While bakers can use dried beans, raw rice, and granulated sugar as pie weights, we wanted to find the best product designed specifically for the job. We tested four models of pie weights, priced from about $6 to about $60 per package, in a range of materials and styles, including a set of ceramic balls, a set of aluminum beans, a 6-foot-long stainless-steel chain, and a steel disk ringed with soft silicone flaps. As opposed to the balls and beans, the steel disk model consisted of just one piece, theoretically making it easier to use and store than traditional loose pie weights.
Were They Easy to Use?
We used each model to partially bake 9-inch pie shells (Three-in-One All-Butter Pie Dough) and 9½-inch tart shells (Sweet Tart Pastry). For each test, we evaluated how easy the pie weights were to use, how evenly the crusts browned, and how successfully the weights prevented the doughs from puffing up or slumping down.
At the start of testing, we had high hopes for the chain and the disk models. It was a breeze to position both of them snugly in the dough-lined plate and extract them with one simple movement once the crust was baked, but those were the only things they excelled at. In every other evaluation, they flopped (more on that later).
To test the ceramic balls and aluminum beans, we followed our recommended test kitchen procedure. We placed two layers of aluminum foil on the chilled raw dough, loaded in the pie weights, and baked. To remove the weights in a tidy fashion, we pinched together the sides of the foil (holding two corners in our right hand and two corners in our left) and lifted. Placing the weights on top of layers of foil kept them from touching the raw dough, which meant that we didn’t have to wash them afterward. And while using the balls and beans was a little more time-consuming than using the chain and the disk, the balls and beans gave us much better results, so we didn’t mind the extra steps.
Weighing the Results
Next, we turned our attention to performance. Unfortunately, the chain didn’t live up to the promise on its packaging that said it “prevents crusts from bubbling.” We tried arranging it on the dough in a variety of ways, ...
Everything We Tested
Reviews you can trust
Reviews you can trust
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