So you’ve chosen to prepare a lovely summer fruit tart for your family, or take advantage of the autumn harvest by making a sweet pumpkin pie, but there’s only one problem: the recipe asks for blind baking the crust and the addition of pie weights, which you don’t have lying about your kitchen.
But don’t worry. Although there are many different pie weights (and how they are normally used) accessible to the home baker nowadays, there are lots of substitutions you may use if you are in a hurry, as well as other strategies for blind baking.
Dried grains, beans, or maize, steel balls, metal chains, sugar, and a second, smaller pie shape are some simple pie weight substitutes. Let’s go through each of them in greater depth below.
But first, let’s take a step back and define blind baking, as well as when and why you may require pie weights.
- What Exactly is Blind Baking?
- When Should I Blind Bake?
- Why Do I Need Pie Weights?
- Alternatives to Pie Weights
- Additional Tips
- What can I do without pie weights?
- What happens if you blind bake without weights?
- What is the hack for pie weights?
- Can I use pennies as pie weights?
- What is the best pie weight substitute?
- How to make homemade pie weights?
- What is the best thing to blind bake with?
- Can you blind bake with aluminum foil?
- Can I use coins to blind bake?
- Can I Prebake pie crust without weights?
What Exactly is Blind Baking?
Blind baking is the process of prebaking a pie or tart crust without the filling. Depending on the recipe, it might be baked partly or completely. The filling is then poured to the prebaked crust and baked again if necessary.
Further information on this procedure may be found in my post on blind baking.
When Should I Blind Bake?
A blind baked crust is required in a variety of scenarios. The crust is cooked but not the filling in several recipes, such as those for fresh fruit tarts, cream pies, or chocolate pudding.
Before adding the filling, the pie crust or tart shell is entirely blind baked in these recipes.
Some fillings may just need a brief baking time or a lower temperature than the crust, so the crust will need to have a head start if it is to get crisp. Custard pies, for example, may curdle if overbaked.
If the filling is overly moist, as in quiche and certain fruit pies, the pie crust may get soggy (see my advice for avoiding this), and blind baking can help prevent this.
Why Do I Need Pie Weights?
One issue with blind baking is that without a filling to keep the pastry in place, the dough might bubble up as steam trapped in the gluten structure of the dough during baking. This might result in an uneven crust as well as over- or under-baked sections.
Shrinkage of the sides as they bake may also be a concern, with the sides falling in or collapsing. Pie weights overcome these issues by filling and keeping the crust in place during blind baking.
Here’s a good movie that highlights the impact of using pie weights (in this instance, dry beans) during blind baking. Move forward to around 2:45:
Alternatives to Pie Weights
Commercial pie weights are typically ceramic balls. A piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil is laid over the crust, followed by the weights.
The paper or foil keeps the weights from clinging to or getting lodged in the dough, making removal simpler.
As an alternative, docking the dough with a fork is often advised. It allows steam to escape and may lessen the amount of puffing up of a crust, but the sides can still be an issue, and moist contents can leak through these pores into the crust, leaving it soggy.
Fortunately, there are several alternatives to pie weights that you may have laying about the home or in your kitchen that may be used as a replacement and work just as well.
1 – Dried Beans, Rice, Popcorn
You’ve probably heard of baking beans, which are basically dried beans used as pie weights. Rice, popcorn, and other dry foods may also be utilized and are likely to be on hand in your kitchen.
These may even be used again and again as permanent pie weights.
2 – Steel Balls or Other Metal Objects
Tiny steel balls or other metal items have the extra benefit of retaining and then radiating heat to the crust, resulting in a more level bake.
Check that any products you use are clean and oven safe.
3 – Metal Chain
Apart from the advantages listed above, a metal chain is considerably simpler to handle; just make sure you use oven gloves while removing it!
4 – Sugar
Sugar is inexpensive and readily available in most kitchens. Just wrap aluminum foil over the pie dough and up the sides before filling it with sugar. It will fill every nook and crevice of the pie pan, securing the dough in place.
For a toasted, caramel taste, re-use the sugar multiple times before using it in your favorite dish.
5 – Another Pie Form
The most inventive solution is to place another, smaller pie form on top of your parchment paper or aluminum foil. This may then be inverted and cooked upside down on a baking pan to let gravity do its thing!
There will be no more puffing or side shrinking. For this solution, a series of pie shapes that fit within one another would be ideal.
- Chilling or freezing your crust before blind baking can also help to prevent puffing. It also reduces the likelihood that your foil or parchment paper will stick, or that you will damage any fancy fluting.
- Pricking your crust with a fork can be a good safety measure even when using pie weights. Just don’t do this with very wet fillings.
- Always remember to have a layer of foil or parchment paper between your crust and the weights. This stops them from sticking, makes removal easier, and prevents flavors or aromas from transferring to the crust.
- If you find that the bottom of your blind-baked crust comes out a little soggy when using aluminum foil, try parchment paper instead.
- Make sure that your pie weights are evenly distributed over the surface of the crust, and pushed out to the sides. Keeping the weights in an oven bag can make removal of them easier.
- Commercial pie weights can be quite heavy, so adjust the quantity of weights you use accordingly. You may need two layers of dried beans, but only one of steel balls.
- Some recipes call for a crisp, golden crust. Remove your weights and foil or paper half way through blind baking to allow the crust to bake fully and develop some color.
- If you find that the sides of your crust are burning or baking faster than the bottom, make sure to fully cover the sides with foil or purchase a silicone pie crust shield.
If you follow the guidelines above, you should be able to bake beautiful pie crusts every time, regardless of pie weight!
Now that you’ve mastered the crust, here are some inventive options for your leftovers!
What can I do without pie weights?
Dried beans are the ideal size and shape for weighing down your pie crust—they are perhaps the most often used substitute for pie weights.
What happens if you blind bake without weights?
When blind baking a crust, stuffing it with pie weights or beans prevents the bottom from blowing up, but the sides may still droop. Instead of weights, nestle a second pie plate — either the same size as or slightly smaller than the crust — within the dough.
What is the hack for pie weights?
If you don’t have any pie weights, use dried beans or dry rice. When I originally attempted this technique, I used dried beans, but I later switched to pie weights, which worked better.
Can I use pennies as pie weights?
Pennies, beans, or rice
Any kind will suffice as long as you do not attempt to prepare them afterwards. Pennies carry heat effectively as well, so wash them in soapy water and cover the pie crust with paper before weighting it down. Uncooked rice may also be used in place of pie weights.
What is the best pie weight substitute?
The most usually suggested pie weight substitution is uncooked beans or rice. Just layer the bottom crust with parchment paper, then top with uncooked beans and bake. It’s important to note that baking the beans this way means you won’t be able to cook them afterwards. The good thing is that you can reuse them as pie weights.
How to make homemade pie weights?
Pie Weights may be made from pantry staples.
Fill the interior of the crust with dry beans, grains, or popcorn kernels after lining it with foil or parchment paper. Next, bake your crust according to the recipe’s directions. Your handmade pie weights will most likely be too dry to cook and eat, but don’t throw them away.
What is the best thing to blind bake with?
A tempered-glass or aluminum pie dish is the greatest choice for blind-baking. Your crust will stay crisp and shapely if you use aluminum or tempered glass.
Can you blind bake with aluminum foil?
Parchment paper performed best because its more porous structure enabled the shell to breathe—and then brown—as it cooked. It’s our preferred method for blind baking, using foil as a backup.
Can I use coins to blind bake?
Baking in the dark
Instead of baking beans, a handful of copper coins may be used to weigh down your dough. But whatever you use, don’t go overboard or you’ll wind up with a soggy bottom…
Can I Prebake pie crust without weights?
Many bakers and chefs use pie weights to blind bake pie crusts, however you may blind bake a pie crust without weights. If you don’t have weights, you can hold down your crust using ordinary cupboard goods.