All About Blind-Baking Pie Crust
If you're new to pie making, you may be unfamiliar with the term "blind baking." Don't be put off by this mysterious sounding term. Blind baking is easy as…well, you know the rest. It's easier, in fact, than may other aspects of pie baking, like fitting a top crust over a mound of fruit filling, or hand-forming decorative lattices and crimped crusts. Simply put, blind baking means cooking the pie crust, or shell, by itself, without any filling. Recipes call for blind baking the shell completely when preparing a pie with a no-bake filling, like many cream pies that set in the refrigerator, or baking it partially through, as when making a quiche or other especially liquidy filling.
The goal of blind baking is to avoid the dreaded curse of every pie baker: a soggy bottom. By baking it on its own, ahead of filling it, the crust has a better chance of firming up and producing a nice flake.
How to Blind Bake
Begin by rolling out your round of pie dough, then fit it into the pie plate and trim the excess. Most recipes call for docking the dough, which just means to poke the bottom with a fork; this should prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes. Ideally, you'll then chill the pie shell for 15 to 30 minutes. Though you may be tempted to skip this step to save time, know that it's important: Chilled pastry always holds its shape better while it bakes. Next, you'll place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough. Cut the parchment just large enough to cover the bottom and come an inch or two above the sides of the pie plate. Finally, you'll top the parchment with pie weights and bake. Follow your recipe to see whether your crust will be partially or fully baked. Either way, carefully remove the parchment and pie weights before proceeding to bake the crust to the desired stage.
What Are Pie Weights?
Commercial pie weights, made of ceramic or metal, are worth buying if you bake frequently, as they're designed for repeated use. In a pinch, you can weight a pie shell with dried, uncooked beans or rice. Whichever weight you choose, be sure to cover the bottom of the pie shell with enough to hold it in place as it bakes. You want to keep the sides of the crust from slipping in the hot oven. Our editorial director food, Sarah Carey, offers this pro tip: "I fill to the rim of the plate with rice or beans, then blind-bake much longer than many recipes say, especially old recipes. I find it takes much longer when the pan is so full of something like beans, which insulate the crust from the heat. Also, I want my crusts just shy of fully baked before I pour in a liquid filling, as I find that the bottom really never bakes any more once that is added."
Not all pies that are blind-baked are made from pâte brisée or other short crusts. Some have blind-baked puff-pastry pie shells or crumb crusts. Finally, note that not all are filled with cooked or chilled-to-set fillings. A blind-baked crust can serve as a delicious base for a deliciously fresh, uncooked filling like a salad or other mix of vegetables or fruit.