This guide will show you how to blind bake pie crust. This technique is also called "pre-baking" and it's the process of baking and empty pie or tart shell.
There are times when a recipe may call for baking an empty pie shell, bakers call this blind baking, before the filling is added.
This step is necessary when the filling doesn't require baking. Pudding filled pies like banana cream pie is a great example of this. Tarts filled with custard and fresh raw fruit also require a pre-baked pie shell.
There are also times when you may need to partially bake a crust before adding a semiliquid filling that is cooked in the shell, like when making pumpkin pie. This technique is helpful in preventing the crust from becoming soggy.
Blind baking isn't difficult but it can be tricky if you're inexperienced. But don't fret, I'm going to walk you through my best tips to help you pre-bake a crust perfectly every time.
What you need to blind bake a pie crust
The biggest issue you'll face when baking an empty pie shell is slouching. This happens when isn't a filling to hold the sides of the crust in place. As the crust bakes and the fats melt, the sides of the will start to sag.
There's also the issue where the steam from the water content causes the crust to puff up. While this creates gorgeous flaky layers, it also makes it difficult to fill the pie with your desired filling.
The best way to counteract both of these issues is to weigh the crust down. I prefer to use pie weights but dried rice, beans, sugar, or pennies will get the job done.
How to blind bake a pie crust
Follow this technique when baking a pie shell and you'll get perfect results every time.
Step 1: Start with cold dough
Whether you use homemade pie crust or storebought, you need to make sure it is cold when it goes into the oven. Once you've fit the dough in the baking dish, pop the whole thing in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Chilling the dough will allow time for the gluten to relax. This prevents shrinking.
This also ensures the fat is as cold as possible when going into the oven. As those bits of cold fat begin to melt, they'll create steam. This steam results in a flakier crust.
ⓘ Avoid freezing the dough before baking! Gluten will NOT relax when frozen. Freezing suspends the deactivation of gluten.
Step 2: Fill the shell with weights
Once the crust is good and cold. Fill it with weights of your choice. First, you'll need to line the shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Never use wax paper!
Trim the foil or parchment paper so you don't have too much excess. But also keep in mind you'll need to remove the weights. So keep enough excess to easily lift the parchment paper out with the weight inside.
Fill the lined shell with the weights of your choice. As mentioned before you can use buy aluminum pie weights or just use what you already have in the pantry.
- Dried beans - You won't be able to cook with these afterward but you can keep them and reuse them for future pie baking.
- Uncooked rice - Same as the beans. You can't cook and eat it after baking but it can be kept to reuse.
- Sugar - Sugar distributes heat evenly because of its small granular size. It can be used after baking and will have a slight caramel flavor.
- Pennies - If you have a jar full of pennies, use those!
Fill the weights all the way to the top.
ⓘ If you don't have enough to completely fill the shell, make sure the bottom is completely covered and the weights are pressed up against the sides.
Step 3: Bake the crust
Position the oven rack to the lower third position preheat to 400°F. The lower-third is just beneath the center of the oven. This puts the crust slightly closer to the bottom element which helps the crust crispen up.
Bake it for 15 minutes. The edges of the crust will turn pale brown.
Remove the shell from the oven and lift the weights out by picking up the ends of the parchment paper. Set the weights in a heatproof bowl and allow them to cool before storing.
If the crust has bubbled up, you can use the tines of a fork to prick the bottom. This will allow steam to escape and keep the crust flat during the second half of baking.
Return the shell to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The crust is finished baking once it golden brown and the inside looks matte instead of shiny.
If you plan to use the prebaked crust to hold a liquid filling, you need to seal it so the liquid doesn't soak through and make it soggy. Do this by brushing it with egg wash before the second round of baking.
If the rim of the shell becomes too brown before the rest has finished baking, line the edges with aluminum foil or a pie shield.