Reader György is the latest in a long line of readers to ask me if I know of any cheap/easy alternatives to pie weights or pie beads. I wrote about this recently in a tutorial, but it seemed to me that a separate post was warranted. Because let’s face it: a lot of bakers waste money on these sorts of things. Or worse, pantry space, with big containers of “baking” rice or beans that hardly ever get used.
I’ve pretty much tried every crust-weighting solution know to bakingkind over the years: the shiny chrome chains (which always get lost or tangled up), the charming ceramic peas (which soak up grease and end up smelling like a wet yak), the uncooked rice (which spills everywhere), dried beans (ditto), even those weird little Matfer aluminum pellets, which look very cool but cost fifty bucks!
It was in a last ditch search to find something, anything to weigh down a tart crust one day that I suddenly looked over and spied the kitchen change jar. Why not? I spread a few ounces of coins across my foil-covered tar crust, and…it worked like a charm.
These days I’m more sanitary about my baking change. I keep about a pound of it in a little jar by the stovetop. It’s been well scrubbed in hot, soapy water (which actually shines it a bit) and every so often, if I feel it’s gotten greasy or floury, I soak it overnight in a bleach solution.
What do I like so much about change? Well, aside from being extremely cheap (I can use all pennies if I feel like it), a single layer of coins is the perfect weight for defeating crust bubbles. Change lays down flat, so it doesn’t make dimples, and if you like you can even lean individual coins against the sloping sides of a pie crust. Change is also indestructible, and won’t attract mice or other pests should you spill it down the gaps in the counter or decide to store it in some out-of-the-way place.
All-in-all it is a far superior, much less expensive, and much more flexible solution to the crust weighting problem than any other piece of gear I’ve seen. And if you get sick of baking one day you can turn around and spend it on some golf balls, crochet hooks or whatever. What’s not to love? Thanks György!