First things first - what is "blind baking" a pie crust? Blind baking a pie crust simply means that you are baking an unfilled pie shell to produce a partially or completely baked crust prior to filling it. You often employ this method for custard, pudding, or fruit pies.
One of the biggest problems you'll encounter when blind baking a crust is that it will shrink, leaving an unattractive and often too small shell to hold the filling. Follow this method to help prevent the shrinkage and garner a beautifully baked crust:
- All the standard rules for handling pie crust apply - cold ingredients, coarse crumbs, letting the dough rest, not over handling - you know the rules, right? You can use this method with nearly any pie crust recipe, so just use your favorite.
- After your dough has rested, roll out your dough and place it in the pie tin. If you have excess dough hanging over the edges, trim it slightly, but leave enough (about 3/4") that you can roll the edges of the dough under. This creates a thicker dough around the lip of the pie plate which is less likely to shrink and pull down the sides. Crimp the edges as you normally would.
- Freeze the dough in its pie plate before baking. This isn't absolutely necessary, but freezing the crust overnight or even for an hour makes the dough less likely to shrink.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425°F and place a baking sheet on the top rack. (Yes, it's an empty baking sheet, you want it pre-heated.)
- Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper and fill with pie weights/uncooked beans/uncooked rice before baking. If you have enough weights, pile most of them around the sides of the crust (this is commonly where the dough tries to shrink the most), but make sure you still have weights in the middle of the crust as well to prevent bubbling.
- Turn the oven down to 400°F, place the prepared crust on the pre-heated baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes (on average) or until the crust begins to lose its translucent, unbaked color and the edges begin to turn golden. Cool on a wire rack, removing the pie weights once they are cool enough to be handled.