Even with all the expert tips in the world, pie baking can be challenging. Once you’ve made your dough, many recipes ask you to blind bake the crust to ensure it turns out flaky and crisp. This means rifling through my kitchen for pie weights. An honest list of things I have used to weigh down pie crusts other than actual pie weights: dried beans, uncooked rice, coffee beans, and pebbles, which I used in a moment of real desperation when I was trying to make quiche for my extended family in a dismally understocked rental kitchen.
Blind baking entails stacking weights on top of parchment paper on the bottom crust and baking it in the pie pan to get the dough as crispy as possible first, especially when making fruit pies. Pie weights prevent shrinking and stop air bubbles from forming under the crust. They ensure the crust bakes evenly, tucked snugly into the corners of the pie plate. Traditional pie weights are small balls of metal or ceramic that sit on top of a layer of parchment paper or aluminum foil, but they can be inconvenient to store and clean.
Enter the Chicago Metallic Pie Weight ($21), a perforated metal disc fit with a silicon rim that fits into the bottom of your pie crust to help it cook evenly. We tried it out in our test kitchen and we’ll never go back. Here are five reasons we love our new pie weight:
It’s one and done. Instead of hoping you haven’t run out of parchment paper, fussing to cut the right size sheet, and then struggling to get it to lay flat, simply lay this pie weight in the center of your crust and bake. It’s truly that simple.
It’s easy to remove. When there’s a layer of parchment paper covering the crust, it’s important to remove immediately so the crust can cool without getting soggy, but it’s awkward to lift piping hot pie weights out of a pie plate without burning yourself or spilling a few pieces. I’ve also had parchment paper rip as I lifted it out, spilling hot the hot pie weights all over me, the floor, and my now-ruined pie crust. With the Chicago Metallic Pie Weight, the silicon nob is easy to grab, making it easy to manipulate and remove. It’s also easier to lift the weight during baking to check the crust’s status without risking damage.
It's easy to store. Rather than trying to pour your dried beans in an old plastic bag or canister without spilling them, then shoving that bag into the back corner of your cabinet, this pie weight lays flat in a single piece in a drawer. I like to store mine inside my pie plate for easy access next time I need it.
It’s dishwasher safe and easy to clean. After use, toss the weight in the top rack of your dishwasher. For an extra-deep clean, remove the rubber lip from the metal plate and give it a good scrub.
It gets your pie crust extra crispy. Because the metal plate in the center of this weight is perforated, it releases steam, rather than trapping it like the old parchment paper and dried bean method. Since the metal is against the surface of the crust, it also conducts more heat than parchment, giving you an extra crisp crust.
To buy: Chicago Metallic Pie Weight, $21 at amazon.com