Quick, what’s the best way to improve a single-crust pie?
It’s called blind baking, which means partially pre-baking the crust before filling it. And what it does is ensure a crisp bottom crust, especially on pies with creamy liquid fillings like pumpkin and lemon meringue.
Here’s how it works: you take a thawed Grand Central pie shell, dock it with a fork, line it with foil or baking parchment and dried beans or pie weights, and bake until golden. Once the crust is cooled, you can fill it and bake as directed.
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To blind bake a pie crust:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use a fork to prick the bottom of a slightly thawed Grand Central Bakery U-Bake Pie Shell (if using Grand Central pre-rolled pie dough, fit it into the pie pan and fold and crimp the edges first). This allows steam to escape and prevents bubbles from forming on the bottom of the crust. Cover with a piece of baking parchment or foil and fill with 2 to 3 cups of dried beans. Be sure to bank the beans high against the edges; this helps keep the crust from sagging. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes more or until crust edges are deep golden brown (protect the edge from burning by covering it with foil). Remove from oven, carefully lift out the parchment paper and beans and return the crust to the oven for 5 minutes, or until bottom crust is slightly dry and pale golden brown.
Let cool to room temperature before filling.