Learning how to blind bake a pie crust is an essential skill to master for the art of making pie. It may seem intimidating, but it's quite simple to do! Following these simple directions, you can become an expert in no time!
The Art of Blind Baking
There are few skills more important in pie-making than ensuring that the pie crust gets baked properly. A properly baked classic pie crust should be flaky, a bit tender and fully baked from the crust on down to the bottom. Nobody wants a soggy bottom, that's for sure! Many people are intimidated by blind-baking a pie crust, but it's actually quite simple to do if you follow a few easy tips and tricks.
A Partial Blind Bake vs. Full Blind Bake
But first, there are a few different ways to name the act of blind-baking a crust, and it may seem confusing to figure out what all these different names out there. Some people refer to blind baking as par-baking. They mean the same thing in the sense that you are partially baking the crust before you fill it. But par-baking technically refers to a partial blind bake of the crust, meaning that you only partially bake the pie crust instead of a full blind bake, which means that the crust is entirely baked without the filling.
A pie crust should be fully blind-baked if the filling is of the no-bake variety. Meaning you bake the pie crust entirely, and then fill it with something, such as chocolate pudding or vanilla pudding.
A pie crust might be partially blind-baked first when it is intended to be filled with a pie filling that is baked at a low temperature, such as a quiche.
I find that there are only a few minutes difference in terms of baking time between these two baking distinctions. For a partial blind bake, I generally look to make sure the pie crust isn't at all raw, in that it's fully cooked, but just barely. For a full blind bake I look to see that the crust is flaky with a light golden color in the middle of the pie crust.
What Types of Pies Need Blind Baking
Nearly any pie that has a filling that needs to be baked below a temperature of 400ºF should be blind bake. The reason for this is because a pie crust, at least a classic butter pie crust, needs a long baking time at a high temperature in order to be fully baked through.
Pie types that benefit from blind baking:
- most single-crust pies
- custard pies
- no-bake pies such as cream pies
- chiffon pies
Pies that don't need blind baking:
- double crust fruit pies
- single crust fruit pies with a crumble topping
- double crust savory pies
Blind Baking Different Types of Crusts
This website is filled with all types of different pie crusts, made from all types of different ingredients, ranging from the Basic Butter Pie Crust to a sweet pie crust known as Pâte Sucrée. While the process for blind-baking is nearly identical for all pie crusts, what does change is the oven temperature and the length of time needed to blind bake.
A basic pie crust that consists primarily of white flour and butter always benefits from blind-baking at 425ºF. However, if sugar is added to it, it's better to bake it at a lower temperature of 400ºF, to prevent the sugar from burning. Though, it will need to be baked for longer to ensure it's fully baked through.
Similarly, if a pie crust uses whole grain ingredients such as spelt or whole wheat flour, it's also best to bake it at the lower temperature of 400ºf and increase the length of baking time to prevent burning the whole grains. The photos in this post are of a whole wheat pie crust.
A crumb crust, such as a graham cracker crust, does not act the same way as a raw flour pie crust, but still can be blind baked to ensure it is crisp and that it holds together. It should be baked at the lowest temperature to blind bake of 350ºF for a short 10 minutes, or until it starts to get fragrant in the oven.
You don't need a lot of tools, and in fact, I own nothing special for this. Some people like to use specially purchased pie weights, but I don't find them as helpful as using dried rice and beans. I like to use dried rice and beans because they are smaller, and can really pack into small crevices and do a great job holding up the edges of the crust so they don't sink down. I keep the same rice and beans for many years and reuse them to blind bake pie crusts. Occasionally they will get too oily and they will need to be replaced. And over the years I add to the collection of blind baking rice and beans as needed, and by the time I am ready to replace the batch I've been holding on to there are all different types of dried legumes and grains included in them. I've used everything from dried peas, to quinoa to forbidden rice.
Here are the tools I use to blind bake a crust:
- a pie plate (my favorite pie plates are ceramic)
- parchment paper (preferable) or aluminum foil
- unused dried rice and or beans
- a fork to pierce holes in the dough to let steam escape
Steps Needed to Blind Bake Pie Crust
So now you know why and what types of pies to blind bake, let's talk about the important steps needed to actually do it!
- Place pastry in the pie tin properly! The first thing you want to do is make sure your pastry is nicely fitted inside the pie plate and there aren't any large air gaps in between the pie plate and the pastry. That will create steam, and will prevent the crust from browning and baking properly.
- Chill the pastry! Make sure you chill the pie dough! I never roll out a pie crust and then immediately bake it. Always chill the rolled out pastry for at least 15 minutes in the freezer, or 30 minutes in the refrigerator. This is a minium requirement. It's better to let it rest for a few hours so that the gluten gets a chance to relax as well.
- Create steam holes! Take a fork and dock the pie crust all over so that the steam escapes during baking. If you don't do this, the pie crust will puff up and steam is created in between the crust and the pie tin. Steamed pie dough is never a good thing. Ocassionally I will find that I will need to create steam holes once more, later in the baking process. See step 6 for that.
- Cut out a parchment paper barrier. You can't put your pie weight / beans directly on the crust as they will bake into them. So you need to create a barrier between the weights and the pastry. I find that actually cutting out a circle of parchment is helpful than using a square piece of parchment because it allows you to really evenly get into the edges of the pie crust. It's important to push / fold the parchment paper circle into the edges of the pastry. This helps keeps the side of the dough from slipping in.
- Add pie weights! Place the pie weights on top of the parchment. I like to have enough rice and beans to nearly fill the whole pie up, and it's important to push the rice to the edges of the pie, to hold up the sides.
- And bake! Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and remove the parchment and pie weights. Return to oven and bake for an additional 5-12 minutes, depending on whether or not you are doing a partial blind bake or a full blind bake. For a partial blind bake I do 5-7 minutes after the weights are removed. For a full blind bake I do 10-12 minutes after the weights are removed.
Blind Baking FAQs and Troubleshooting
Q: Why did the sides of pie crust sink in?
A: This happens for a few reasons. The first possibility is that your pie crust wasn't chilled enough. If the butter is too soft, your crust will melt before it has a chance to actually bake. Pie crusts must be chilled before baking.
A second possibility was that the oven was at too low of a temperature, and similarly to the butter being too soft, the crust melted before it has a chance to bake.
A third and more likely case is that the sides weren't supported enough. Make sure that the parchment paper is pushed directly up against the sides of the crust, and the pie weights are supporting them. This is crucial to ensuring your pie crusts edges don't sink in before they get a chance to fully bake and stabilize.
Q: What will the pie look like when it's fully baked?
A: For a partial blind-bake, the edges of the pie crust will be light golden, and the bottom of the pie crust will not look raw or wet in any areas, and will be very light in color, but fully cooked through. It should appear flaky.
For a full-blind bake, the edges of the pie crust will be light golden, and the bottom of the pie crust will also be puffy and light golden in spots.
The pie crust is light in color on the bottom, but I followed the time in the recipe! Why?
Q: My pie crust wasn't done in the time indicated for the recipe. Help!
Bake it for longer! Oven temperatures may vary, so if your pie crust is still a bit uncooked in the alloted amount of time, bake it for longer.
Q: The pie crust didn't keep it's shape when baking. Why?
A: There are two possible reasons for this. The first is that the pie crust wasn't completely chilled. If the butter is too soft, your crust will melt before it has a chance to actually bake. Pie crusts must be chilled before baking.
The pie dough also may have been overworked. If the pie dough is overworked, the gluten is fully activated the pie crust will shrink and become misshapen during the bake.
Q: What do I do after the pie crust is blind baked?
A: Follow the directions for baking the pie!
Pie Recipes to Practice Blind Baking:Print
- 1–9″ single Pie Crust
- Preheat your oven to 425ºF and place the rack in the lower middle part of the oven.
- Place your pastry inside of your pie dish. Take a fork and dock the pie crust all over so that the steam escapes during baking.
- Cut out a parchment paper circle and press it in the pie dish, taking care to push it into the edges of the pastry.
- Add dry rice / beans (see note about pie weights in post) to the parchment, making sure to push the rice all the way to the edges.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and remove the parchment and pie weights. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes for a partial blind bake or for 10 minutes for a full blind bake. If you are doing a partial blind bake, look for the pie crust to be fully cooked through, but not very brown. For a full blind bake, look for fully cooked and lightly golden pie crust on the bottom.
Keywords: How to Blind Bake Pie Crust
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