Pie weights -- how weighty?
I'm a fairly new baker and encountered my first recipe calling for pie weights. I don't want to buy them, and love some of the CHer's ideas for substitute weights -- particularly coins and silverware. (I don't have any dried beans on hand, the most popular option apparently.) My question is ... how much weight does blind baking require? A couple of spoons, or cover the whole tart crust with cutlery? A handful of pennies or several dollars' worth? ;) Does it depend on the dough? Any guidance would be appreciated -- I don't have time to stop into a kitchen supply store to judge the weight of a typical package of pie weights.
In my opinion, it is not so much the weight as the volume, which is why I find those little amounts of pie weights or chains to be useless. When you are blind baking a pie crust, the idea is to keep the crust in place as it bakes. Without a sufficient amount of beans, for example, that will nearly fill the crust (which should have foil or parchment over it first), the crust will likely slide down the sides once it gets hot. Invest in a big bag of beans -- you can use them over, and over, and over. I let mine cool and then store them in a baggie with the pie plates. I think that there is nothing better since they fill the crust up completely pushing against the side of the the crust as it bakes.
I like Jacques Pepin's method, which requires two identical pans: Put the crust in one pan. No need to dock with a fork. Place the second pan atop it, and invert the whole "sandwich". Place it in the oven: gravity will keep the sides from shrinking and the crust will brown evenly without puffing.
You said you're doing a tart pan? I use two sets of ceramic pie weights for a tart and it fills up the whole pan. They're a little too heavy I think, but since I magically ended up with them I just use them but I think beans would be better. Two bags of beans should be more than enough for anything.
I agree that the volume is more important than the weight. A couple of crust recipes I've used needed the support of pie weights all the way up the sides, while one I made almost doesn't need weights at all. Trial and error is your friend here, with so many variables. The double pie pan thing... it worked for me a few times then I had a few horrible results... maybe there's some trick to it.
And just in case anyone's ever seen those perforated pie pans, put them down, give them back, throw them away. The lovely butter in my crust dripped out the holes and I had a lovely, smokey, greasy oven, and had to set it in a second pie tin to keep from getting grease everywhere. Ack.