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Whenever I'm making a recipe that calls for blind baking pastry, they always provide alternatives for ceramic baking beads (such as rice) in case you don't own any. I do own them, so I always use them, assuming that they are the best choice.

Considering that they are specifically designed for blind baking, my question is: are there any disadvantages to using baking beads, or if I own them should I always choose to use them over other things for weighing down the pastry? Are there any alternatives that will give better results?

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    I've known pastry to be dimpled by the beans, so if you could come up with a case where that mattered you might get somewhere. – Chris H Nov 23 '17 at 12:56
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There is no reason to use something else, except that you either don't have pie weights (another name for ceramic baking beads), or you don't have enough of them.

Most Americans don't have pie weights in the kitchen. Even those who do, often have a single chain of them, sufficient to cover the bottom of a pie crust but not to fill it. Certain preparations, such as blind-baking a butter crust, require filling the pie crust to the rim in order to deter slumping, which could require as much as 5 cups of weights.

So if you don't have any, or don't have enough, use rice/beans/spare change.

COUNTERPOINT: Stella Parks makes a good case why you should use sugar in preference to pie weights in her article on blind-baking. Do note that using sugar requires you to blind-bake at low temperatures, because at 425 that sugar would turn to caramel.

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