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What are Pie Weights?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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Pie weights are sets of small weights that are designed to be placed into a pie crust for blind baking. Blind baking is a commonly used technique in which the bottom crust of a pie is partially baked before the filling is added, ensuring that it bakes all the way through and stays crisp. In addition to these weights, which are available at many kitchen supply stores, cooks can also use things like beans or rice to hold down their pie crusts during blind baking.

If a pie crust is not weighted for blind baking, it can bubble up and develop air pockets. Putting some kind of weight inside ensures that the crust stays smooth and even during the prebaking process, although some cooks choose not to weight their pie crusts, for various reasons. Typically, the crust is removed from the oven when it just starts to turn golden, although for an already cooked filling like custard, the crust would of course be cooked all the way during the blind baking step.

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A number of different designs can be used for pie weights. One of the simplest is just a chain or set of beads strung together. The advantage of strung weights is that they are easy to handle and wash, and they will not be lost in a kitchen drawer somewhere. Ceramic balls, polished river stones, or metal balls can also be used, in which case they typically come with a container for storage so that they will not be lost.

To use pie weights, cooks prepare the crust as directed, press it into the pie pan, pierce it several times for ventilation, and then arrange the weights inside, being careful to distribute the weight evenly. Some cooks like to lay them on a coffee filter or piece of parchment paper so that they do not make impressions in the crust. Then, the pie is prebaked, the weights are removed, and the filling is poured or spooned in.

The weights are most easily cleaned by dropping them into a dish of hot soapy water, allowing them to soak briefly, and then rinsing them. Some can be run through the dishwasher, in which case they should be washed in a silverware cage to ensure that they do not come loose and damage the dishwasher or other objects being washed. After being rinsed, the weights can be laid out on a towel to dry before being put away.

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Mykol
Post 8

While using rice and pinto beans are often used as substitutes for pie weights, I knew of a lady who also used marbles with the same result.

She always told me it was not necessary to spend the money on something when you had things around the house that would work.

I remember her also telling me that you could use a glass plate that is a little bit smaller than the pie plate itself.

Anything that will not burn up in the oven and is not too heavy will essentially get the job done.

John57
Post 7

One year my mom and I were watching a pie judging contest at our state fair. We happened to be sitting next to a couple of ladies who had entered pies in the contest.

I am not much of a baker, but really enjoyed getting some tips from these ladies. The judges would hold up the pie to look at the bottom of the crust.

This was the first time I had ever heard of using pie weights. One of the ladies said she always used rice or beans and had good results with her crust. She must have known what she was talking about because her pie is the one that won first place that day.

cloudel
Post 6

I hate air pockets in pie crusts. It's awful when I'm enjoying a wonderful piece of cherry pie and I discover that the filling is leaking out through a weak spot in the bottom caused by a popped air pocket. I end up having to lick the plate to get all the yummy goo off of it.

That's why I use a pie weight chain. I've had wonderful results with it, and haven't had to lick any plates since I started using it.

It's great for making my crusts secure. I often make pies with heavy ingredients, like nuts and chocolate chips, that could easily push through the bottom. The pie weights make sure my crusts are strong enough to withstand the pressure.

lighth0se33
Post 5

@Perdido – I discovered a few years ago that rice makes a great pie weight. Also, you can eat it when you're done baking the pie crust!

The crusts I make are somewhat buttery. I line them with parchment paper, and the butter seeps through a little, so the rice takes on some of it. The rice gets nice and toasty, and it makes a great base to a meal.

I like to add just a touch of chicken broth to the rice after it has served its purpose to moisturize it a bit. Then, I can enjoy rice with the meal I'm eating while waiting on the strawberry pie for dessert!

Perdido
Post 4

I use dried pinto beans as pie weights. Before baking the pie crust, I line it with aluminum foil and pour the beans on top.

The only problem with beans is that after I use them a few times, they start to smell weird. The odor is a combination of something burning and something acrid.

I don't want to buy pie weights when I could make them out of something else at home. Does anyone have any other suggestions for using food as pie weights? I would love to use something that doesn't make the house smell like it is on fire.

gravois
Post 3

@chivebasil _ My grandmother sounds a lot like yours. She also made great pies and was very tight lipped about her secret recipes.

She passed away a few years ago and the family went into her house and took anything of sentimental value that they might want to keep to remember her. I was surprised because I expected to walk out with a whole box full of stuff, but in the end I only ended up with one of her pie pans and her set of pie weights.

I know I made the right choice. Having theses around inspired me to learn to make pies myself, and while I am nowhere near as good as she was I can make a pretty awesome apple pie. I use her pie pan and weights and ever time I make a pie I think of her. I think this is the best was to commemorate her.

chivebasil
Post 2

My grandmother made incredible pies. It is not overstating things to say that she made legendary pies. They were a feature of all our family gatherings and she even ran a little business out of her house baking for people who wanted to buy pies.

She guarded her recipe like it was a nuclear launch code. To this day I'm not sure what she actually put into her pies. But I spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen and I got to observe her making the pies on a number of occasions.

She always used pie weights and prebaked the crust. It must have been worth it because people always commented on how delicious and flaky her pie crusts were. I have never tasted another pie that paralleled hers.

OeKc05
Post 1

My cookbook for beginners has a section on pie crusts that mentions pie weights. I think it's a brilliant idea. I'm terrible at making pie crusts, so I've never had any personal experience with them, but if I ever decide to try again, I will use the ceramic pie weights.

I saw a picture of them in the cookbook. They look like little gray English peas. I would certainly use the kind that are strung together, because I am accident prone, and I know I would drop them at some point.

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