If you have ever prepared a pie crust that had to be baked in the oven before you added the filling you were “blind baking.” Recipes that call for blind baking include something like a lemon chiffon pie or a chocolate cream pie. These pies require a cooked crust but these fillings do not need to be baked.
Fruit pies also work best with a pre-baked crust because if they were cooked at the same time with a raw crust, the bottom would end up being soggy. Tart shells, which are just individual pies, utilize blind baking as well and look and taste great once a fruit or cream based filling is added.
Even seasoned bakers have experienced a pie crust that ended up shrinking or even dropping from the sides. Are there any things you can do in advance so you don’t have to wait until the crust has finished baking to see that you are going to have to start over?
How to Keep Your Pie Crust from Shrinking
1 – Use the Right Pie Pan
The best pans to use to keep your pie crust from shrinking are either ceramic or metal. Glass pans have a slippery surface making it easier for the crust to slide down.
When you are placing the crust in the pie pan try to keep the top a little bit higher. Crimp it deeply around the edges pressing it into the pan making it less likely to slip down.
2 – Knead the Dough Sparingly
When you knead the dough it creates gluten. That is fine but if you work it too much it will make the dough very elastic, which makes it easy to work with but it also makes it more susceptible to shrink in shape. It becomes even more retractable once it is placed in the oven and it faces the heat.
3 – Use as Little Water as You Can
When you are making your own dough you may come upon the part where you are directed to add more water. This is included so that it will help the dough come together.
While it is an important step in making a good pie crust, start sparingly and stay that way until you feel the dough is ready to bake. If you make sure to use a quality brand of butter you will need less water.
One way to check to see if your crust needs additional water is to put a small amount of the dough in your hand. If it stays together when you squeeze it, it is ready to go. If not, add a tablespoon at a time.
When you bake your pie crust the water will evaporate which could cause your crust to shrink.
4 – Let It Rest
If you have baked bread before you know that the dough has to rest, sometimes several times, before baking it. The same goes for pie crusts.
It is suggested to let your dough rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes so that it doesn’t produce too much gluten. While resting the dough for half an hour is fine, one hour is even better.
5 – Hold Down the Crust with Weights
Once you have your crust placed evenly in your pie plate, place a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil in the bottom and up the sides covering the dough. Now you can fill it with weights so the pie crust will remain even and not puff up.
There are professional pie weights that you can purchase or you can use dried beans, raw rice, or even white sugar. Fill to the edge of the crust.
6 – Make Sure Your Pie Crust Is Ice Cold Before Baking It
Once you have your crust weighted down, let it chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Chilling the dough helps the fat to become more solid which will cut down on the chance for it to shrink.
Once it is ready for the oven remove the weights and the aluminum foil.
7 – Bake Your Pie with Two Pans
An easy way to keep your crust from shrinking is by using an additional pan. Once your crust is in your desired pie pan, take another pan that is the same size and shape, spray the back of it with non-stick spray and place it right on top of the crust.
Put the two pans in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. When ready to bake, flip the pans over and place them on a cookie sheet. Because the crust will be upside down it will have less of a chance of shrinking upwards.
8 – Start at a High Temperature
Baking your pie crust at a high temperature, 400 to 425 degrees just for around 15 minutes will help the crust establish its shape. After the 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to the one called for in your recipe and continue baking until finished.
A couple of additional tips you should remember when making your next pie crust is to take a fork and prick the crust before baking it. This will keep your pie crust from cooking unevenly and making it raise up in spots into pockets.
Another thing to do to create a picture-perfect crust is to keep your eye on the rim of your dough. The pie may bake nicely all around, but the crust could get too dark.
Take a thin piece of aluminum foil and cover the edge of your pie once it is golden brown. This will keep the crust from cooking any further and getting too dark.
The tips listed above can help you make a great pie whether you are trying out a new recipe, one that has been passed down in your family for years, or even buying a packaged pie crust from the store. Everyone will marvel at your masterpiece and be digging into delicious pie in no time.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.