So you’ve resolved to make your family a delightful summer fruit tart or take advantage of the fall’s harvest by making a sweet pumpkin pie, but there’s just one obstacle. The recipe requires blind baking the crust and adding pie weights. That is not something you keep dangling around your kitchen.
But no worries. While there’s a wide range of different pie weights substitute open to the home baker today, there are lots of alternatives that you can use if you’re in a rush and different techniques you can employ for blind baking.
Pie weights are used to hold a pie crust from bubbling and shrinking away from the corner of the pie plate or tart pan when you’re blind baking (a loose term for pre-baking a crust). If you don’t have pie weights, there are many things in your pantry that you can use instead. Of course, pie weights are not completely necessary to make a tasty pie, but if you’re someone who pays thorough attention to detail, or if you’re entering your pie in a contest, you want it to be just right.
Some pie weights substitute include dried rice, beans, or corn, loose change, steel balls, metal chains, glass marble, sugar, and another smaller pie form. We’ll examine each of these in detail below.
But first, let’s make a stop and find out what blind baking is and when and why you may need pie weights.
What is Blind Baking?
Blind baking is basically the pre-baking of a pie or tart crust without the filling. It may be either partially or fully baked based on the recipe. The filling is then included in the pre-baked crust and baked further if required.
When to Blind Bake?
There are different situations when a crust may need to be blind baked. In some cases, such as those for cream pies, fresh fruit tarts, or chocolate pudding, the pie is baked but not the filling.
In these methods, the pie crust or tart shell will be completely blind-baked before the filling is included.
Other fillings may require only a brief period of baking or a lower temperature than the pie, and so the crust will require a head-start if it is to become crisp. Custard pies, for example, can thicken if baked for too long.
A pie crust can also become wet if the filling is too moist, as with quiche and some fruit pies. Blind baking helps to stop this.
Why Do I Need Pie Weights?
One issue with blind baking is that without a filling to press down the pastry, the dough can puff up as heat produced during baking gets caught in the dough’s gluten structure. This can result in an uneven crust and over-or under-baked portions of the crust.
Shrinkage of the edges as they bake can also be a problem, and the sides even can fall in or collapse. Pie weights resolve these problems by filling the crust while blind baking and holding it in place.
Pie Weights Substitute
Commercial pie weights normally take the form of ceramic balls. A layer of parchment paper or aluminum foil is placed on top of the crust, and the weights are then put on top.
The paper or foil stops the weights from sticking to or becoming buried in the dough and removing the weights much easier.
Piercing the dough with a fork – known as “docking” – is frequently suggested as an alternative. It makes the steam escape and can reduce the amount that a shell puffs up, but the sides can still be a challenge, and wet fillings can seep through these openings into the crust, making it soggy.
Luckily there are pie weights substitute that you may have lying around the house or right in your kitchen, which you can use as a substitute and serve just as well.
1 – Dried Beans, Rice, Popcorn
You may previously have heard of “baking beans,” which are just dried beans used as pie weights substitute. Popcorn, rice, or similar dried foods can also be adopted and are something you may have handy in your kitchen.
They can even be re-used and stored as permanent pie weights substitute.
2 – Rice
When life gives you lemons, you make a lemon meringue pie, and when you don’t own pie weights, this trusty staple saves the day. It helps in the uniform distribution of heat throughout the pie crust and ensures it’s even cooking. Once again, just line the dough with some parchment or butter paper and put the rice on it. Moreover, you could utilize the buttery toasted rice to make pilaf, other than just throwing it away.
3 – Steel Balls or Other Metal Things
Small steel balls or other metal objects are good pie weights substitutes have the added advantage of holding down and then radiating heat to the shell, which can help to give a more uniform bake.
Make sure that any objects that you use are neat and oven safe.
4 – Metal Chain
In addition to the above advantages, a metal chain is much simpler to handle as a pie weights substitute– just make sure you wear oven gloves when you remove it!
5 – Sugar
Sugar is a common pantry staple. Simply mold some aluminum foil round the pie crust and up the edges, then fill the crust with sugar. It will fill every space of the pie tin, making sure that the pie crust is firmly in place.
Re-use the sugar various times before using it in your desired recipe for a toasted caramel flavor.
6 – Another Pie Form
Perhaps the most original substitute is to lay another smaller pie form above your parchment paper or aluminum foil. This can then be reversed and baked upside down on a baking tray to let gravity work its magic!
There will be no puffing and no more shrinkage of the ends. A set of pie forms that match inside one another would be perfect for this solution.
Loose Change (Coins)
Unlike beans, sugar, and rice, this option obviously isn’t consumable. But you might still have to lay it around if you look through your wallet and under those couch cushions. Ensure you line the pie dish super well with aluminum foil since you don’t want the coins to come in touch with your crust and leave a metallic taste.
Glass Marbles or Polished River Rocks
Why just use these as home décor when they could serve equally well in the kitchen? So line your dough with some butter paper, knot the marbles/river rocks in a muslin cloth, and apply them as pie weights substitute. These will guarantee that the pie gets heated uniformly. Make sure that you cleanse the marbles and river rocks before using them.
Pie Weights Substitute – Additional Tips
- Freezing or chilling your crust before blind baking can also aid to prevent puffing. It also reduces the possibility that your foil or parchment paper will stick or that you will ruin any fancy fluting.
- Piercing your crust with a fork is a good safety measure even while using pie weights substitute. But don’t do this with very moist fillings.
- Always have a layer of foil or parchment paper separating your crust and the weights. This prevents them from sticking, makes removal easier, and prevents tastes or aromas from transferring to the crust.
- If you figure that the bottom of your blind-baked crust comes out a little soggy when using foil, try parchment paper alternatively.
- Ensure that your pie weights are equally distributed over the crust’s surface and pushed out to the edges. Holding the weights in an oven bag can make removing them easier.
- Commercial pie weights can be pretty heavy, so adjust the number of weights you use accordingly. You may require two layers of dried beans but only one layer of steel balls.
- Some recipes require a crisp, golden crust. Remove your pie weights substitute and foil or paper halfway into blind baking to allow the crust to bake completely and develop some color.
- If you realize that the sides of your pie crust are burning or baking faster than the back, ensure you fully cover the sides with foil or buy a silicone pie crust shield.
Follow the guide above, and you should be baking perfect pie crusts all the time, no matter your choice of pie weights!
Recipes to Utilize that Roasted Sugar
Once you’ve gathered roasted sugar from your scrappy pie weights, put it toward your favorite baked foods and desserts. You can try stirring one spoonful into coffee or tea, too, for a tastier cup.) You can also mix roasted and granulated sugar
Salted Egg Yolk Pound Cake
Salt-cured egg yolks leave a glowy golden hue and subtle to this moist, fudgy pound cake. The only thing that will make it even yummier? Roasted sugar, of course. And we wouldn’t remove some sour cream, sweetened with this roasted sugar, to thump on top either.
Our Favorite Banana Cream Pie
Using your pie weights to bake even more pie is a meta (most effective tactics available), so let’s work with it. Our Best Banana Cream Pie is already filled with malty, caramelly flavors, so the roasted sugar will match right in. Swap it for the granulated sugar in both the Nilla wafer crust and vanilla pastry cream.
Perfect Raspberry Granola Bars
These granola bars are favorites for both kids and adults alike. Imagine a gooey, jammy center, circled by the nuttiest granola in town. And yes, you can swap the pecans and raspberry jam for your favorite type or whatever is around.
- Leave out about half an inch of the pastry over the rim of the pan. The shrinkage of the pastry won’t really be that noticeable that way.
- If you are a sweet tooth or you are a big fan of some tasty, seriously meaty stuff, there’s a pie to satisfy all your fancies.
Important Things to Note about Pie Weights Substitute
- Not all pie recipes and methods are the same. Therefore, some pies need a crisp, golden brown one, while other pies look great with a partly moist crust.
- Always remove your pie weights to let the crust bake thoroughly at the needed baking time.
- Meanwhile, if you figure that the sides of the crust are becoming brown or baking faster than usual, always cover both sides entirely with a foil to stop it from burning.
- As you use pie weights, make sure that it is spread evenly over the crust surface.
- Always utilize a layer of foil or parchment paper separating the crust and the pie weight.
- Set your pie crust in the fridge for a while before blind baking.
FAQs on Pie Weights Substitute
Are Pie Weights Necessary?
Blind baking a pie crust requires filling the bottom crust with pie weights to prevent the pastry from puffing up in the oven. But if you don’t have pie weights, there’s no need to buy them. Instead, check your pantry for dried beans or raw rice, sugar, and all the other items mentioned above.
Can I Blind Bake a Pie Crust without Weights?
Pie weights are what most bakers and chefs use to blind bake pie crusts, but you can certainly blind bake a pie crust without using weights. Why use pie weights when you can use a pie weight pastry you already have in your pantry?
Can I Use Marbles as Pie Weights?
Common Pie Weights Substitutes
Just line the bottom of your crust with parchment. Cover with glass marbles, but ensure that they don’t crack or break (even though the parchment paper should offer some shield from glass fragments)
Should You Poke Holes in the Bottom of the Pie Crust?
Poking holes in your pie dough allow the steam to escape while it is baking. Without this, the heat would puff up in bubbles and pockets all round the crust, making some parts of the crust bake too quickly and resulting in an irregular surface for your filling.
Can You Use Pasta as a Pie Weight?
If you don’t have an alternate pie dish, cover the crust and rim with aluminum foil and fill it with rice, popcorn, or tiny pasta ( it is messier than dried beans but actually effective) to prevent the bottom crust from distorting.
When Should You Use a Pie Shield?
To make use of a pie shield, you can either put it on your pie before baking and remove it halfway into the baking time, or you can put it in place halfway through the baking time to reduce the browning.
How Do You Bake a Pie Shell, So It Doesn’t Shrink?
How To Keep Pie Crust From Shrinking
1. Poke holes and use pie weights in the bottom of the crust if pre-baking.
2. Remember to give the pie crust time to “rest.”
3. Don’t stretch the pie to fit the pie pan.
4. Avoid glass pans if possible.
5. Don’t overwork the dough.
6. Use low baking temperatures if possible.
7. Leave a little room around the edge
Now that you’ve acquired some of these clever ideas and have known about different pie weight substitutes, making the perfect pie crust will no longer be an issue for you! It is going to be a walk in the park.
Be it an intoxicating admixture of spice, berries, and sugar, a custard loaded with meringue, the oh-so-seductive bit of some bittersweet chocolate, or some veggie or meaty goodness; a good pie can fill everywhere in your perpetually hungry stomach. Combine that with crispy, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth crust, and enjoy. You can also use your roasted sugar to try out more recipes and enjoy yummy dishes!