If you’ve ever wondered why some pies have wonderfully crisp crusts while others turn out soggy, you’re in the right place. In this easy-to-follow guide, you’ll learn exactly when and how to blind bake a pie crust for perfect pies every single time.
First things first. What’s blind baking?
It’s like giving your pie crust a head start in the oven before adding the delicious filling. But why is it so important?
Imagine sinking your fork into a slice of lemon chess pie, and instead of that delightful crispy crust, you encounter a sad, soggy mess. Not quite the pie experience you were hoping for, right? That’s where par-baking comes to the rescue.
Blind baking isn’t just some unimportant fancy baking technique; it’s the secret behind many classic pie recipes. It plays a crucial role in pies like custard pies, cream pies, and quiches, to ensure create a flaky crust and one that stays attached to the filling when removed from the pan.
But it’s not only about preventing a pie crust catastrophe. Par-baking also works its magic on the texture and taste of your final dessert. Picture a sweet potato pie with a silky-smooth filling nestled in a crust that’s both tender and crispy at the same time. That’s the magic of par-baking.
Here’s just a few pies that required a pre baked crust.
Understanding Blind Baking
There are 2 types of blind baking.
- Fully blind baking is when you fully bake your pie crust empty with no filling in it.
- Partially blind baking is when your crust is partially baked before adding a filling that requires more baking.
Fully Blind Baking
What is it: Fully blind baking means you bake the pie crust completely without any filling in it. The crust is baked empty, and no ingredients are added to it during or after.
Why it’s important: By fully blind baking the crust, you ensure that it’s fully cooked and crispy because the filling in these pies doesn’t require additional baking time. If you were to add the filling to a partially-baked crust, it would end up a soggy as the crust would absorb the filling.
Partially Blind Baking
What is it: Partially blind baking, also known as par-baking, involves baking the pie crust partially before adding the filling. The crust is baked for a short time without the filling to give it a head start, but it’s not fully baked yet.
When to use it: You should opt for partially blind baking the crust for most pies that will be baked and the filling could absorb into the crust if it’s not pre-baked. This is needed for pumpkin pie, buttermilk pie, blueberry pie and apple pie to name just a few.
Why it’s important: Partially blind baking helps stop the crust from becoming soggy when the filling is added. The crust is partially cooked, so when you return it to the oven with the filling, both the crust and filling finish baking together. Perfection!
How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust
Blind-baking is a simple process – so simple you won’t believe you haven’t been doing this all along. But first, you’re going to need a pie crust.
Whether you make a pie crust from scratch or buy pre-made dough sheets from the grocery store, you’ll still encounter some recipes that would be better if you par-baked the crust.
If you want to make a from-scratch, classic, crust, this is my favorite pie crust recipe.
You probably have everything you need in your kitchen to make a homemade pie crust, and it’s really not that hard. You’ll need butter, flour, salt, sugar, and a splash of vinegar.
Equipment for Blind Baking Pie Crust
You don’t need much to blind-bake your crust. Here’s a list of the essential equipment needed for par-baking a pie crust:
- Pie Dish: You’ll need a pie dish to hold your pie crust. It can be made of glass, ceramic, or metal, and the size should match your pie recipe.
- Pie Weights: These are little helpers that prevent the crust from puffing up during baking. See below for a list of pie weight options (some of which are free and already in your house!).
- Parchment Paper: I place parchment between my crust and my pie weights so the weights don’t end up baked into the crust! Plus, it makes them a lot easier to remove later. You can also use aluminum foil.
Pie Weight Options
You can buy pie weights on Amazon or at any department store or baking supply shop, but there are also lots of free options, many of which you probably already have in your kitchen.
- Ceramic Pie Weights: These are small, evenly-sized ceramic balls designed specifically for blind baking. You can use them over and over and over. You simply cover the top of the pie crust with the balls and bake.
- Dried Beans or Rice: Dry beans (like lentils or chickpeas) or uncooked rice can be used as makeshift pie weights. They’re affordable and work well, but after you use them as pie weights, toss them out.
- Stainless Steel Pie Weights: These are metal beads or balls that are oven-safe and can be reused many times over.
- Chain-style Pie Weights: These are long chains made of stainless steel or aluminum. They’re placed in a crisscross pattern across the crust, and some people find them easier to remove than individual weights.
Preparing the Pie Crust
Making pie crust might seem a bit daunting, but here are some tips to make it easier.
Tips for Making Homemade Pie Crust
Keep Ingredients Cold: I like to use butter, but whether you use butter, shortening, or lard to make your crust, keep it VERY cold. If you add water, make sure it’s ice water. Cold fats create a flakier texture by creating steam pockets as they melt during baking.
Measure Ingredients Accurately: Precise measurements are absolutely crucial to get the right flavor and perfect texture.
Use the Right Flour: All-purpose flour is perfect for a versatile pie crust that works well with both sweet and savory pie fillings.
Don’t Overmix: Mix the dough just until it comes together; overmixing can lead to a tough crust.
Use a Food Processor (or Pastry Cutter): These tools help you cut the fat into the flour evenly, resulting in a tender crust, and can be much easier than using your hands. Don’t mix too long! Just until the flour looks mealy.
Chill the Dough: Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before you try to roll it out. This lets the fats firm back up. It makes the dough easier to work with and prevents the dough from shrinking during baking.
Roll Gently: Roll out the dough with a light touch to maintain its tenderness. Roll from the center outward in all directions for an even thickness.
How to Par-Bake Pie Crust: Step-By-Step Instructions
Here are step-by-step instructions for fully or partially blind-baking your pie crust, including how long to bake a pie crust.
Step 1: Roll
Roll out your cold pie crust on a piece of plastic wrap. Make sure the crust is about an inch wider than your pie pan. You can flip your pie pan upside down on the center of the crust to see if you’ve rolled it wide enough. Then, place it in the pie pan.
The plastic wrap will make it easier to move the pie crust. If it gets to warm while rolling you can just place it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Step 2: Crimp
Crimp the edges. To do this, make sure the excess dough is hanging evenly over the edge of your pie plate. Then, use your fingers or a fork to gently press and shape the edge into a fluted pattern.
Step 3: Dock
Dock the crust. This just means pricking the surface of the pie crust with a fork. This helps steam escape so the crust doesn’t puff up so much. It also helps it to bake more evenly and gives it a crisp texture.
Step 4: Start with a hot oven
Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 425º and place a cooking sheet in the oven while it heats up.
Step 5: Pie Weights
Add pie weights. Place a piece of parchment paper inside the pie pan and add pie weights.
Step 6: Bake
Bake. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are set and slightly brown. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper.
For a partially baked pie crust, return it to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove it from the oven, let it cool slightly, then add your filling.
For a fully-baked pie crust, return it to the oven for 15 minutes until the crust is browned. Remove it from the oven, let it cool completely, then add your no-bake pie filling.
You can pre-bake a pie crust in advance. It’s a great way to have pie crust ready for last-minute guests or a dinner invite. Make sure it’s fully cooled, wrap it well in plastic wrap, place it in a Ziploc, and store it in the freezer. When needed, thaw and fill. It will be fresh for 2-3 months.
A Few Pie Crust Tips
- To prevent the pie crust from getting too brown, use a pie shield or cover the edges with aluminum foil.
- If the ie crust slides down even with pie weights, take a dish cloth and gently push it into place while it’s still hot.
It might sound like it’s hard to pre-bake a pie crust or that it’s a lot of trouble, but it really isn’t. When making a pie, just do the pie crust first and it will be ready when you have your filling prepared.
If you want even more pie recipes and tips, than check out my ebook all about pies.
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