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Whenever I make a cake, I have that tiny voice in my head – and it sounds a lot like someone at The Great British Bake Off (um, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and almost every contestant) whispering, “No wet bottoms.” Because spending hours baking a cake and then ultimately getting a soft-bottomed crust is just annoying.
But how do you make sure this doesn’t happen? They blindly bake the crust, which means you bake the crust before you fill it. This ensures that your bottom is crispy and cooks through even after you’ve added your moist filling. You don’t technically need a special tool for the job, but some people prefer to have cake weights on hand.
Cake weights do, as the name suggests: they weigh down the bottom and sides of the crust to keep the crust from sagging and bubbly. A sagging pie crust not only loses its aesthetics, it also means that there is less space for the filling. Lots of people use sugar, beans, or rice as makeshift cake weights, and there are just as many tools out there if you’d rather buy something that you’ll always have on hand.
What kind of cake weight should you be getting? This is what this post is for. I ran some tests to see which ones do the best job, easiest to use, and cheapest.
How I tested the cake weights
To find out which cake weights worked best, I tried four different types – ceramic, metal, a cake chain, and a single piece of cake – and compared them to sugar, Kitchn’s favorite method (as opposed to beans or rice; read more about them here). I baked a butter cake crust with each tool, followed these instructions, and used a 9 inch cake plate.
Some cakes sagged seriously while others stayed perfectly in place. Here’s what I’ve learned from worst to best method.
The reviews: Each option received a rating. The worst cake weights were given a one and the best a five. Like the rest of our showdowns, this one took into account the final results, ease, and price of the pie crust. Read on – you will find more detailed guidance along with the rating.
Pie Weight Tool: A cake chain
A cake chain really lacks the “weight” part of the cake weights that it fails at. The cake chain I used was a single chain with tiny weights that was a – surprising! – 10 feet long and weighing less than half a pound. To use it, wrap the chain in the bottom of the pie crust (without the foil or parchment paper usually used to hold pie weights) and place it in the oven. The cake string lacked the weight or bulk to keep the sides of the cake crust from sagging. Pie batter bubbled between the gaps in the spools of the pie chain, and the chain left small spherical marks in the crust (although that looked kind of pretty?).
Cake weight tool: single piece piece
I bought this single piece of cake and had high hopes for it (it has decent reviews on Amazon). And it went better than the cake chain. This product weighs about 0.3 pounds and has a perforated metal disc surrounded by silicone flaps. To use it, I placed it on the bottom of the pie crust with the flaps flickering against the sides of the crust. Again, however, this piece of cake lacked the weight required to properly blind-bake the crust. So the pie crust sagged a little. Cook’s Illustrated notes that this cake weight goes well with doughs made with a mixture of butter and shortening. However, in my opinion, it’s not a great cake weight if it doesn’t work on all types of crusts. This cake weight also made impressions in the base of the cake crust. And because some parts of the weight were made from metal and some from silicone, the weight heated itself unevenly, which also caused the crust to bake unevenly.
Instead of comparing the cake weights to beans or rice (two commonly used alternatives for cake weight), I opted for granulated sugar. Kitchn has written extensively on why sugar makes for better cake weight, but one of the best parts is that you can get toasted sugar off-the-shelf (which can be used in other desserts!). To use the sugar as cake weight, I lined my cake crust with parchment and added about a pound of sugar, which was enough to fill the crust just below the rim. Be careful not to push the sugar into the corners of the cake. The sugar successfully weighed down the bottom and sides of the crust to ensure that sagging did not occur. However, I did notice that there were more bubbles appearing at the base of the cake than my two preferred options for cake weight (see below). I also found the sugar was harder to remove than solid cake weights, and a bit of it broke the edge of the foil and fell into the cake crust. However, it is the most affordable option in the range.
Pie Weight Tool: Metal Pie Weights
These cake weights are made of aluminum and come in a two pound pack. To use them, I lined the pie crust with parchment and pressed the weights into an even layer to make sure they lay flat against the crust. The pie crust was well baked without sagging or bubbling. I also liked that the container the weights came in was roomy, which made it easy to pour the cooled weights back into the post-bake. The biggest downside to these weights was their price: at around $ 45, they were the most expensive of all weights I’ve tried.
Pie Weight Tool: Ceramic Pie Weights
These ceramic cake weights performed just as well as the metal cake weights, but at about half the price. Each pack of these cake weights contained 1 cup of weights, or about half a pound. To fill an entire cake dish with enough weights to bake the cake properly blind, I needed 2 pounds or 4 packs of these cake weightswhat matters when you buy them. To use this, I lined a pie crust with parchment and filled it with the weights. And hip hip hurray! The crust didn’t bubble or puff and the sides didn’t sag. The frustrating thing about these cake weights is that you have to purchase them in four separate containers as opposed to one larger container, and I found it more difficult to pour the cooled cake weights back into their individual, smaller containers. However, I think in the future I will choose to keep them in a large reusable container or a resealable bag.
What are your favorite weights? Let us know in the comments?