Why You Should Never Use A Pie Chain To Weigh Down Your Pie Dough

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When you make a pie crust that you are going to fill with an unbaked filling like pudding or a mousse, and you don't want to make a crumb crust, you'll need to blind-bake the pastry. That means you roll out the dough, fill the pie plate, then bake it unfilled until it is crisp and golden. But there's just one problem — the crust will likely slump, bubble, and generally misbehave in the oven. 

So, you'll need to add something to hold the crust in place while it bakes. You have several choices. You can use dried beans or sugar, or you can invest in ceramic or metal pie weights. You could also use a pie chain, which is a string of stainless steel beads you coil in the crust to hold it in place.

Or does it? Turns out, the pie chain is not the best choice when it comes to blind baking the perfect crust.

A pie chain is not the same as a weight

Anyone who has baked a pie has likely watched with dismay as the crust shrinks, slumps, and puffs in the center. Pie crust dough seems to have a mind of its own in the oven, and unless you have handled that crust perfectly (per Chatelaine), it will happen to you. Weighing down the crust is the answer.

So let's compare weights. A 10-foot beaded pie chain weighs about 7 ounces, per Lee Valley. A box of ceramic pie weights, on the other hand, weighs anywhere from 1.2 to 2 pounds, according to this set on Amazon, which is enough heft to hold down that unwieldy crust. And you can pile on as many dried beans as you'd like to completely fill the shell. You can even use rice or flour to do this. In the end, there's really no contest though — the pie chain loses.

In addition, the chain will not cover the bottom of the pie completely, so the crust will likely bubble up between the chains. This means the bottom won't be even and your filling will not sit correctly in the crust. And you really can't maneuver the chain up the sides of the pie, so the edges may slump down; another way to ruin your dessert.

Pie weights to the rescue

The answer to your pie problem is to use ceramic pie weights, metal pie weights, dried beans, or sugar. They all have the requisite strength to hold that pie crust in place. So use your beaded pie chain to decorate your Christmas tree.

Oh and one more thing — how do you get those weights out of the crust? The pie chain removal is easy, just pull on one end to lift it out. But picking up each pie weight or bean would get tedious really fast. The answer is to line the crust with parchment paper before you add the weights, according to Sally's Baking Addiction. Then carefully lift up the paper, holding the beads (or beans) inside, and set aside to finish making your pie.

Now that you have your perfect baked pie crust, how are you going to fill it? Will you make an old-fashioned banana cream pie or a rich German chocolate pie