Getting a pie crust just right -- so that it's flaky, tender and holds the pie filling in place -- takes time and attention to detail. When a crust bakes, air that occurs naturally in the ingredients -- namely pure butter -- expands in the oven heat. This can cause the layers to bubble up, which weakens the crust and makes for a messy presentation.
Things You'll Need
Parchment paper or aluminum foil
Pie weights or dry beans or uncooked rice
Prick the entire bottom surface and sides of the pie crust with a dinner fork to keep it from bubbling, a technique known as docking. Turn your fork in various directions as you prick the crust, spacing the sets of holes approximately 1 inch apart. Use this technique when baking the pie filling and crust together at the same time, such as you might do with a pumpkin pie. For covered fruit pies, such as cherry or blueberry, make slits in the top crust to let out the steam as the pie bakes.
Place your pie crust or tart shell in a baking dish if you plan to pre-bake it, a technique known as blind baking. Cut a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, which won't burn in the oven, the same size as your pie crust or tart shell and gently place it on top of the dough.
Set pie weights -- usually ceramic or metal balls -- on top of the parchment paper or foil to keep the crust from bubbling while it bakes. Use a heaping handful of dry beans or dry rice instead of pie weights to accomplish the same task.
Bake the pie crust or tart shell for about 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check the crust after the initial baking time. If the parchment paper or foil releases without sticking to the crust, and the crust feels dry, carefully remove the parchment paper or foil and the weights.
Prick the bottom and sides of the shell with a dinner fork and let it continue baking until it turns golden brown and done, which could take an additional five to 10 minutes. Check the crust every minute or so to ensure that it doesn't burn.
Blind bake your pie crust or tart shell if you're using a filling that won't be baked, such as the case with some fruit tarts, or if the delicate filling requires a very short baking time, such as with custard-filled pies.
Blind baking can also be used with moist pies, such as peach or berry, to prevent a soggy crust. Add your filling at the point when you remove the pie weights.
You can buy pie weights for your kitchen gadget collection at specialty kitchen retailers.