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This happened to me yesterday with pâte sucrée, and it has happened before with other kinds of dough too (like the traditional American flaky dough).

When I try to blind bake a pie, I usually do as follows: I lay out the dough over the bottom and sides of an aluminum pan. I then chill or freeze the dough, and once it's sturdier line the insides with aluminum foil, and pour some beans or sugar over it to act as pie weights.

The pan is then set on a preheated oven (about 180°C) and baked. I used to set the pan directly on the oven's grid tray, but as the butter melted it would drip onto the bottom of the oven and burn with an unpleasant smell. I now generally lay the pan onto a baking sheet, and then stick everything into the oven when I want to bake.

Time depends on the size of the pan, but the problem generally shows on larger pans; these are usually circular cake pans (so, vertical side walls) with removable bottoms. For these pans, I bake them anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes.

Now, what happens is that generally the sides of the crust wil brown properly way before the bottom. In fact, the bottom will generally have a soggy aspect, as though the fat in the dough did not cook properly and pooled in the bottom of the crust. The bottom will be almost flexible or sticking to the pan, while the sides will be already crisp.

For smaller tartlets, I can usually remove the foil lining (and even the molds) and stick them back in the oven with good results -- yes, the sides will brown more, but not overly so, and the bottom will turn out okay. For larger pies, this simply won't cut it, and the sides will overcook. I've had good pie bottoms this way, but the sides ended up way too hard.

For these smaller pies I can even stick them back in the oven upside down to really get the bottom going, but this looks like a dangerous game with larger pies. Indeed, the center of the pie's bottom (which is suspended -- the pie is upside down) will become soft in the heat of the oven and bow under its weight. For smaller pies, the distance to the (sturdier) side walls is not so large and this effect is not significant.

So my question is: what's a good way to ensure that blind baked pies brown properly on the bottom without overbaking the sides?

Would convection (in the oven) help or aggravate the problem? Is it a matter of using a lower temperature for a longer time?
Should I preheat the baking sheet together with the oven and set the pan directly onto the hot sheet? Now thinking about it, this should be a no brainer.
Shold I brush the bottom with something before sticking it back in the oven? Egg (whole, beaten? whites? yolk?), or cream? Or something else entirely?
Would other pan materials be better suited to the task (I've been thinking of grabbing a glass pan to be able to see how the crust's browning as it bakes)?
Should I 'shield' the sides of the crust (with foil?) and stick it back in the oven?
Are there other things that could help or solve this?


EDIT: I could salvage the crust and was pretty satisfied with the result. I used aluminum foil to cover the side walls of the pie crust so as to shield it from the heat and hot air currents in the oven.

I placed the pie crust onto the bottom of the cake pan (so, placed it on a solid, thin aluminum disc). I preheated the oven (I used an oven thermometer; it turns out my oven's internal thermostat is not reliable) and, with the fan turned on, placed the disc with the crust onto the oven's grid tray.

Soon enough, the pie crust's bottom/center was bubbling, and in about 10 minutes it had browned lovingly. Moreover, when I removed the foil, the side walls had not browned noticeably more.

  • A soggy crust after 60 minutes of blind baking is weird. Can you post your pie crust recipe? Also, how much do you trust your oven's thermostat? – Sneftel Jan 31 at 13:27
  • It's a typical pâte sucrée recipe with the creaming method. I don't have the exact recipe here with me but it's definitely nothing out of the ordinary. Cream butter and sugar (some almond flour optionally), add eggs, then flour. I don't actually trust the thermostat that much to be honest, since as it preheats the temperature seems to jump a bit too wildly. – Fimpellizieri Jan 31 at 13:36
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    I'm not sure what is happening, you say the butter is dripping. What butter is dripping, and how is it dripping out of the pan? – GdD Jan 31 at 14:04
  • The pan has a removable bottom, like the pan on the left in this picture. In the oven, some of the butter melts and leaks through the removable bottom. It can be seen clearly on the baking sheet when it's baked on top of one. – Fimpellizieri Jan 31 at 14:13
  • I see, that makes sense. This sounds like a cold oven to me @Fimpellizieri, it shouldn't take anywhere near that long to blind bake a pie crust, and the butter shouldn't drip through as it should cook to quickly for that to happen. I would suggest getting an oven thermometer – GdD Jan 31 at 14:55
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I then chill or freeze the dough

That's your problem, right there. Especially if you are using a ceramic pan, like a traditional quiche pan.

For a long time, I also followed the ubiquitous advice to keep pie crusts as cold as possible, even freezing, and struggled with the same problems as you. Then, with more experience and some experimenting, I realized that the "cold is good" rule gets overinterpreted.

Instead of all this craze of "more cold, more cold", it is much better to use "just as much cold as needed". And what do you need the cold for? First, if you use a "cut the butter into the dough" method for a flaky crust, it is easy for an inexperienced baker to overmix. Cold butter mixes slower, making the process more forgiving towards bad technique or missing experience (to recognize the right moment to stop). Second, if you want to roll out the dough into the pan as opposed to using your fingers to spread it, there is a right temperature range to do that. If your dough is too warm, it won't work properly. Actually, it won't work if it is too cold either, but you seldom hear about that.

And that's it. No more cooling needed. In fact, I once purposely made crust without using any cooling technique - started with room temperature butter, and the dough and all utensils were kept at room temperature throughout. I placed it by hand into tartalette tins because it was too soft for rolling. And I ended up with perfectly nice flaky crust. So I would say that, while erring on the side of "a bit colder" can be helpful in making the process more fault-tolerant, excessive chilling is not needed.

Now my crusts are in the 15-20 C range when they go into the oven. And the pan itself is room temperature, it has never spent time in the fridge or freezer. And the problem of "wet bottom, overdone sides" has been greatly reduced. I don't bother to do anything more about it if I'm going to eat the result alone at home.

If you are baking a perfectionistic pie, after starting at the right temperature, you have to stage your blindbaking. First, you bake for some time with the beans, until the "walls" are just firm enough to not fold in the heat. Then you remove the beans and the foil. If you want to fiddle, or left it a bit too long in the oven, add a strip of foil over the walls. Now continue blindbaking without beans, until the bottom is well baked. The walls will still be somewhat more baked than the bottom, but the difference will be tiny. Now you can continue with filling, etc.

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  • I must say that dropping the cooling entirely is not really an option where I live (Rio de Janeiro). My kitchen does not have air conditioning, and at room temperature dough will not roll well; it will simply stick to the counter regardless of how much flour is used. This is especially true for American flaky pie crusts or other similar crusts with higher butter content. – Fimpellizieri Jan 31 at 15:19
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    That said, in the spirit of this answer, should I perhaps chill 'just enough' to be able line it the insides with foil without it sticking to the dough? Moreover, would it be okay to say, freeze the dough after rolling it out and laying it on the pan, and bringing it to close to room temperature before baking? – Fimpellizieri Jan 31 at 15:20

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