Blind baking pie crust is when you bake a crust without any filling in it. Blind baking is often used for cold, custard pies, like Chocolate Cream Pie or Key Lime Pie. With these pies, the filling is not cooked in the oven, so the crust needs to be fully cooked separately.
Par baking is a form of blind baking. Par baking is when you partially bake a pie crust using blind baking (without filling). Par baking is often used when people want a crisp crust under a pie with a warm filing, like pumpkin. You only partially bake the crust in that scenario because, once you add the filling, you’ll continue to cook the crust in the oven for another 35 to 40 minutes.
The trouble with blind baking is that the crust has a tendency to sink down into the pie plate when there’s no filling inside to hold it up. To prevent the crust from sinking, people often line the crust with parchment and then use pie weights (which can be expensive), rice or beans to serve as a “pseudo filling” while blind baking. I don’t own pie weights and rarely have enough dried beans on hand when I need them. Once when I used rice, it was a disaster! As I attempted to lift out the parchment, half the rice fell into the partially-uncooked crust and I spent about 20 minutes picking out individual kernels!
So I decided there had to be an easier way. Enter disposable aluminum pie plates. They cost less than a dollar a piece at most grocery stores. And guess what? They’re oven proof and fit perfectly inside an unbaked pie crust! Simply flatten out the lip of the aluminum pie plate (just takes a minute) and then set it into your unbaked crust. Then weigh it down with an oven-proof ramekin so the crust doesn’t bubble up while baking. All of a sudden, blind baking is a piece of cake! Or should I say pie?