What are Baking Beans: Explanation and FAQs

You are baking a pie, and the instructions ask you to blind bake with baking beans. What does baking beans even mean? Are they edible? Where can you find them? The questions are endless.

Baking beans are one of two things- either small pie weights or dried beans (Recommended Coffee Bean Roasting Baking Machine). Both are used for a single purpose of weighing down a pie party during blind-baking so that it maintains its shape while baking. This post will explain what baking beans are and how they are used in baking.

What are Baking Beans?

Baking beans act as a weight and are used in blind baking to ensure that the pastry base cooks evenly without rising up.

● Baking Beans

When a baking recipe calls for beans, it could either mean actual beans or pie weights. If you have decided to use beans, make sure that they are completely dry and uncooked, or it would not fulfill the purpose of blind baking. Black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas are the most common beans that are used for blind baking.

●  Pie Weights

Pie weights are metal or ceramic weights that are spherical and made specifically for blind baking. They can be bought online or from baking supply stores. Owing to the shape of pie weights, they are often called baking beans as well.

Beans are little balls made from heat-conducting ceramic, which serve a dual purpose of weighing the pastry down and helping it to bake from the top. They are reusable, so they can easily be lifted off the crust once the pastry has baked, allowed to cool down, and poured back into its container.

Why did the need for Baking Beans arise?

Blind baking is a technique where a pastry crust is baked without any filling inside it. This ensures that it bakes to a crisp and cooks through before any filling is added to it. The problem with the absence of filling is that there is nothing to prevent the pastry from puffing.

This led to the realization that weighing down the pastry helped it bake evenly and prevented it from rising. Thus, the idea of baking beans was formed.

How to use Baking Beans?

The process for baking is the same for both beans and pie weights. You will need to cover the pie pastry with a sheet of parchment paper and place your pie weights on top of it. The paper will prevent the weights from clinging onto the pastry and make removing them from the pastry much easier once you have baked the crust.

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What Does Blind Baking Mean?

Learning the art of blind baking is an essential skill for any budding pastry chef. This technique lets you use liquid tart fillings without the pastry leaking and ensures that the pastry is evenly cooked throughout, giving a beautiful golden finish from base to rim.

Blind baking is a technique where you can bake a pastry crust without any filling inside. Once the crust is perfectly cooked, you can add a filling which is often a wet filling, such as fruit, custard, or chocolate ganache. Baking beans are used to add weight on top of the crust, so the pastry doesn’t puff up and is cooked evenly.

There is quite a lot of discussion about what should be used for the blind baking mixture. While ceramic baking beads are readily available in shops, some experts say that dried beans and rice work just as well.

These natural food items can also be used repeatedly, although some people don’t appreciate the element of food wastage in this technique since the beans or grains that you use can’t be cooked after baking.

These weightier options are needed when baking paper or tin foil are used to cover the pastry for blind baking. However, one of the most consistent and convenient materials that you can use for blind baking is oven-proof cling film filled with plain flour. The flexibility of cling film combined with the fineness of flour ensures that the mixture can get into every corner of the pastry, delivering a consistent and smooth finish.

Popular Substitutes For Baking Beans

If you are trying to make a tart or pie that needs the crust to be cooked before you add filling, you need to ace blind baking with the help of baking beans. But what if you don’t have any on hand?

Do not worry, as there are many substitutes for baking beans that will help you achieve perfect pies and tarts.

1. Dried Foods

The most commonly used dried food as pie weight is beans, but other options can also bring your pudding pies and meringues to life. Some dried food that works well include:

  • Rice- A budget-friendly option because a large bag of rice doesn’t cost too much. All types of rice can be used.
  • Popcorn- Popcorn kernels are another inexpensive option but be careful as the kernels can pop during baking sometimes.
  • Lentils- This is another good baking bean alternative.
  • Chickpeas- As they are larger than other options mentioned, you can use less quantity of chickpeas to achieve the same result.
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Another great thing about dried food is that they are reusable.

2. Sugar

If you are running low on dried foods, your next best option is the kitchen-staple ‘sugar.’ The benefit of using sugar is that its size allows it to fill up every nook and cranny of your crust, giving an even result. After using the sugar for a few rounds, you can add the toasted sugar to another dessert recipe for a rich caramel flavor.

3. Smaller Pie Form

Another substitute for baking beans can be to whip up a smaller pie and lay it on top of the covered pastry. This way, you are sure that your crust will have the perfect shape. When your pastry is cooked, pull it out of the oven using a mitt and bake the crust upside-down.

This ensures that you will get a perfect-looking pie crust that doesn’t shrink. You can use the smaller pie and bake it right afterward.

4. Loose Coins

Although placing coins directly onto your pastry doesn’t exactly sound sanitary, when you are in a pickle, you have to make do with what you have. When using loose change, make sure that you line your crust with foil or parchment paper so that the change doesn’t touch the crust at all. It would hurt to use more than one line of parchment paper in this case.

FAQ about Baking Beans

1. What can I use if I don’t have baking beans?

If you don’t have baking beans, there are several options that you can use to place on top of your pie crust. If you take your baking very seriously, you can invest in commercial pie weights to use repeatedly for your blind baking recipes.

You can also use dried foods such as beans, any type of rice, sugar, lentils, popcorn kernels, chickpeas, or loose change to add weight to the top of the crust. Make sure you line your crust thoroughly before placing anything on top.

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2. Can I bake without baking beans?

You can bake without baking beans; however, if your recipe requires you to blind bake, you need to add weight to the top of your crust to ensure that it cooks evenly and thoroughly without any filling inside.

To achieve a crust that is crisp and cooked through, add a line of baking paper or foil on the crust and add baking beans on top. If you do not add baking beans to your crust and bake it without filling, it may puff up and look not-so-perfect.

3. What are ceramic beans used for?

Commercial beans are designed with food-safe ceramic stoneware that can withstand high temperatures. Ceramic beans are used as baking beans in recipes that require blind baking.

Simply line your crust completely with foil or parchment paper and add ceramic beans on top. The weight of the beans will ensure that the crust cooks perfectly throughout.

Ceramic beans are easy to use and reusable, which is a major plus point.

4. What beans can be used for blind baking?

There are several options that can be used for blind baking, including dried foods such as beans, lentils, rice, sugar, etc. We can also use commercial pie weights or loose change for blind baking.

5. Can you blind bake without weights?

If you blind bake without weights, there is a fair chance that your crust will puff up and not cook evenly.

6. Can I use coins in place of baking beans?

Coins can be used in place of baking beans but make sure to line your crust thoroughly so that the change doesn’t touch your crust.

7. Is blind baking necessary?

Not all recipes require blind baking. This technique works well when you want to bake your crust before adding any filling to it.

Final thoughts

Blind baking is a technique that requires the tool of baking beans (Recommended Coffee Bean Roasting Baking Machine). We hope this article has helped you understand what baking beans are and how they can be used in blind baking.