Baking pies is more complicated than it seems. When it comes to crust, one mistake can ruin a good one, and it’s hard to tell what the problem is by looking at it. Good crusts are what make pies incredible. An ideal pie crust should be crispy, flat, and not puffy.
The use of pie weights helps you blind bake your crust (prebake) to achieve this. Pie weights prevent your crust from puffing up during baking and prevent your pie from shrinking.
There is no reason why pie weights cannot be used when baking pie crusts. The purpose of this article will be to discuss pie weight substitutes. To do that, we need to know why we need pie weights and in this article I will also show you what to use a pie weights if you do not wish to use regular ones.
When you blind bake a pie, it loses its shape without a filling. As steam is trapped within the dough’s gluten structure, it can puff up. As a result, there will be uneven or deformed crusts with overbaked or underbaked areas. Aside from falling or completely collapsing sides, shrinkage can also occur.
Therefore, the pie ends up ugly and hard to fill. Pie weights are vital if you want to bake pies the way a professional does.
Pie weights resolve all these issues by filling the crust during blind baking. As an alternative to pie weights, they hold the crust in place. After removing the pie crust weights from the oven, you will have a perfectly baked and formed pie crust ready to fill. Metal and ceramic pie weights are commonly used in commercial baking.
Their use is excellent, but they are somewhat costly. Instead of spending a fortune, opt for cheap substitutes like dry rice, beans, popcorn kernels, or sugar. These items are probably already in your house.
Some pies should not be baked without weights; for example, the pecan pie should be baked without a crust since both take the same amount of time to cook. By baking a pie crust, you will ensure that it won’t be undercooked, soggy, or soft.
The filling of some pies need not be baked, such as cream pies, chiffon pies, and custard pies. Such pies should be filled after the crust has cooled. Pie weights are necessary to keep the pie crust flat when blind baking. In the absence of pie weights, you still have the option to prepare pies with other alternatives.
Many substitutes will work if you don’t have pie weights. After that, we’ll examine each substitute in greater detail, including what blind baking is.
Blind baking refers to baking pie crusts without filling inside. It involves baking the crust alone. Specifically, it’s essential if you’re making a pudding pie because the pudding won’t be baked. Blind baking the crust and filling it with pudding is the best method.
Pie crusts that are baked blind don’t become soggy or lose shape. Your crust will become soggy if you put in a wet filling too early. By blind baking, however, crusts become hard, so wet fillings cannot ruin them. If you have a raw pie crust, you definitely do not want to add a liquid filling.
Incorrect cooking may cause the crust to get soggy, crumble apart, or lose shape. The crust is first baked without any filling, then the filling is added later. There are partial and complete blind baking options. During a partial blind bake, the crust is baked alone, removed from the oven, filled, and finished baking.
If you are blind baking your crust, roll out the dough and place it on a pie plate. You can trim the edges to your favorite look with a fork or your fingers. If you’re blind, bake a pie crust without filling, it loses shape because the crust is not held in place by the filling. A pie weight helps resolve this problem.
The pie weight replaces the filling when blind baking. Put pie weights in the crust after lining it with foil or parchment paper. These weights hold the pie’s shape in the oven, making it less likely to puff up or crumble. Even if you don’t have pie weights, you can still make some recipes that call for them. There are plenty of great substitutes you can use in their place. Below are the best ones that work very well.
There are several excellent pie weight alternatives to the ceramic and metal pie weights commonly used in commercial kitchens. The weights are then placed on top of a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil over the crust.
A thin layer must always separate the weights and the crust. This makes sure the weights will not stick to the dough. The weights will therefore be easier to remove.
Sometimes, docking the dough rather than using pie weights is recommended as an alternative to using them. During baking, it helps to release the steam, thus reducing puffiness. However, docking does nothing to preserve the shape of the crust sides.
Despite your best efforts, you may still have a soggy, misshapen, or unevenly cooked pie crust. Even when docking the pie, you should use pie weights or a good substitute. If pie weights are not available, there are several great alternatives to use as pie weights that you can use instead. You probably already have many of them in your home.
There is no doubt that dried beans are the best food substitute for pie weights. They are extremely convenient and inexpensive to obtain. It is about half the price of other substitutes and even pie weights – maybe you even have some old beans in your pantry.
There isn’t yet a type of bean that won’t work as a pie weight. There is virtually no bean that can’t resist heat and keep its weight and shape. I always use brightly colored beans, such as black beans, red kidney beans, or pinto beans. Since they are very distinct from the pale pastry, especially if broken into small pieces, it is very easy to find them.
Additionally, larger beans are preferred. Compared to pulses like lentils, they are easier to clean up and store. You will need quite some time to clean up lentils from pastry, whereas beans are easier to clean up.
In fact, you can still use beans as food weights after about three uses, which is even better than using them as pie weights. Consequently, they are an excellent alternative if you do not want to invest in expensive pie weights.
Next to beans, I love using hard granules and raw, uncooked rice as an alternative to pie weights. Similarly to beans, you can use any kind of rice in your pantry or that you buy from the store. A rice dish can also withstand the heat of a conventional oven without changing its form, color, or taste. Once you have used rice a few times, you can easily make pilaf or risotto. These recipes will give your dishes a toasty flavor.
The only downside to using rice as a substitute for blind baking is that it can be messy to handle if you spill it. I always recommend lining the pie dish with a larger sheet of baking paper than the actual pie dish (the one between the dough and the weights).
You should extend the paper far beyond the edges, regardless of how high they are. With this, you can hold all the tiny grains of rice and regular pie weights. You can easily decant them into their containers after being removed from the pie. In addition, the paper will help you handle the weights more easily since the weights do heat up quite a bit.
Glass marbles can be the kind you use to decorate or even the ones you play with your children. They’re perfect pie weight alternative. The portable units are quite heavy, but they are also easy to use, clean, and store.
Whenever you use marbles with food, it’s important to wash them first. They may look clean, but give them a good wash in warm water. Remember that some marbles may crack in the oven in baking marbles – not all. That will depend on how they are made and how well they bake.
Polished river rocks are an excellent alternative to marbles and can definitely be used as pie weights. Unpolished edges may break off and fall into your pastry, creating an unsavory gritty product that can also be harmful to consume. River stones polished to high sheen conduct heat evenly and effectively.
I am surprised that more people don’t consider this obvious and simple method for what to use as pie weights. For those of you without any of the substitutes listed above or who do not want to use them, you can just use a pie dish that is a little bit smaller.
This may have the best weight compared to any other replacement, and it has an even weight distribution. Moreover, pie dishes are oven-proof and have excellent heat-distribution devices, which means that the whole surface will bake evenly. If you want to use this substitution, you can follow the same steps.
Place the other pie dish inside the pastry-lined baking paper, and then extend the baking paper over the edges. You should not choose a second pie dish that is too small or tough to handle.
Granulated white (or brown) sugar is another food item on my list. It is a fantastic heat distributor, which makes sugar such an incredible pie weight. The small granules fit together tightly and reach all corners due to their small size. Thus, every inch of pastry will be covered, and the heat will be distributed evenly throughout.
You can use brown granulated sugar, but I prefer white granulated sugar. These granules will not melt during toasting, but their flavor, especially white sugar, will be more caramel-like. Using this sugar, you can add a complex and deep flavor to several recipes, making it a must-try.
You should avoid using wet sugars like muscovado since they tend to hold moisture. This might not be a bad alternative, but it’s expensive and requires a lot of cleaning.
Additionally, do not use castor sugar, palm sugar, or coconut sugar, as they are much too expensive.
Furthermore, avoid artificial sweeteners because their texture is usually powdery. These products will blow away when placed in the oven since they are too light. Also, it would be cheaper to just purchase weights.
Random change accumulates in most people’s drawers, pockets, or jars. The change can also be used as a weight. Despite their weight, change is completely heat-proof, so they will perfectly stand up to the oven.
Moreover, you don’t have to have many of them to have an adequate weight. Remember to wash or change your pennies before using them as pie weights, just like you would with the other substitutes. Despite the dirt and residue remaining, at least much of it has been removed. Make sure the change is lined with baking paper before placing it on top. The change may stain and leave a metallic taste on the pastry if it is directly in contact.
In this category, I wanted to mention a few metal objects specifically. The first one is metal chains. In addition to being a fantastic heat conductor, metal is also usually quite heavy. Metal chains, in particular, are easy to use, move, and clean. If you want to cover the entire area properly, make sure the chain is heavy enough and large enough.
However, your chain should not be so heavy that it causes indentations in the pastry. Another metal object to use is steel balls. Their function is similar to regular pie weights, except they are metal. During the blind baking process, they will help hold the pastry down and distribute the heat evenly. You can also use metal objects to keep them safe in the oven.
Occasionally, it is necessary to blind bake a crust. Whether you use fresh fruit, cream, or chocolate pudding for the filling, the pie crust needs to be baked but not the filling. Blind baking the pie crust or tart shell is the first step before adding the filling. It may be necessary to bake other fillings at a low temperature or in a shorter time frame than the crust.
A custard pie requires baking, but if it is over-baked, it will curdle. In this case, the crust would be baked for about 3/4 of a time with pie weights. Then it should be removed from the oven and filled with custard to complete the baking.
Like rice and beans, popcorn kernels can be used as pie weights. I would use them when I am short on time. However, I would be concerned about them popping in the oven as a proper substitute. You can eat the popped ones, but the rest won’t be palatable. Still, they’re a good bargain. However, they’re not very reusable.
The size and shape of marbles make them perfect for use as pie weights in baking, but they can crack with the drying and heating effects of the oven. My personal preference is not to risk getting a glass splinter in my baking goods.
That is something you can do if you have leftover coffee beans. The beans can be ground up after you have used their oils, and they may be placed in several pie pans. When baking pies or cake rounds, use micronized ground beans as weights in the crust o to stay in place.
It is possible to reuse beans after blind baking. However, this is not a good idea for cooking. However, if you store them in an airtight container, they can be used a few more times as pie weights. Their lifespan is limited. They should be labeled accordingly.
Many home bakers use baking weights to prevent their pie crusts from shrinking or bubbling while baking, such as dried beans, rice, or beads. When no additional weight is added to your pie, it may start bubbling up in the oven.
You can usually reduce its rise by adding just a little water to that moistened surface and poking holes into it with a fork before returning it to the oven. When steam is released, your bubbles will disappear.
Answers vary since you want to know how much space there is between your pie filling and crust. It is generally not good to use your oven for anything other than food.
If you place a metal item in your oven or another heat-conductive material, the element could be further damaged. Furthermore, this can prevent other items from properly cooking inside your oven, resulting in further repairs down the road.
You should consider buying pie weights if you often love pie and bake pies. For baking pies, they are very useful and do not cost a lot. Nonetheless, if you don’t have them, you can always use the substitutes.
The above alternatives to pie weights will keep pie crusts from bubbling in your kitchen. By following these simple baking rules, you will always be able to bake perfect crispy pies and now you know what to use as pie weights!
Mike is one of the lead editors at Weighted Living and the author of this article. He's become fascinated with weighted products (a bit too much we think) and loves to see all the different ways they can improve our loves. He's written quite a few weighted product guides as well.
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