This easy technique is a pie maker's best friend.
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pie crust filled with rice beans
Credit: JOHNNY MILLER

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…..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 crimps.

What It Is

Simply put, blind baking means cooking the piecrust or pastry shell by itself, without any filling. Recipes call for blind baking the shell completely when preparing a pie with a no-bake filling, like Banana Cream Pie or other cream pies that set in the refrigerator, or baking it partially through, as when making a quiche or another 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 a Piecrust

  1. Begin by rolling out your round of dough, then fit it into the pie plate and trim the excess.
  2. 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.
  3. Chill the pie shell for 15 to 30 minutes. (You may be tempted to skip this step to save time, but it's important; chilled pastry always holds its shape better while it bakes.)
  4. 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. Then top the parchment with pie weights. Follow your recipe to see whether your crust will be partially or fully baked. Either way, carefully remove the parchment and pie weights after blind baking before proceeding.

It's Worth Investing in 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 (as in 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 or shrinking in the hot oven.

Sarah Carey, our former editorial director of food and entertaining, 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 older 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."

A Technique With Many Uses

Not all pies that are blind baked are made from pate brisée or other short crusts. Some have blind baked puff-pastry pie shells or crumb crusts. Finally, not all are filled with cooked or chilled-to-set fillings. A blind baked crust can serve as a delicious base or a deliciously fresh, uncooked filling like a salad or other mix of vegetables or fruit.

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