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How to Prevent Shrinking Pie Crusts

Fine Cooking Issue 54
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Photo: Scott Phillips
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While testing the recipe for Pumpkin Pie with a Leafy Rim, we found that sometimes the crust shrank during blind baking, and sometimes it didn’t. We conducted several rounds of tests, changing variables like the type of pan, oven temperature, and chilling time. We discovered that the crust was less apt to shrink in metal and unglazed ceramic pie pans. It shrank most dramatically in Pyrex pans, slipping off the rim and-down the sides of the smooth glass.

Chilling time didn’t seem to make a big difference, but oven temperature did. Higher baking temperatures (425°F) encouraged shrinkage, while lower heat (350°F) minimized it. Shirley O. Corriher, our food scientist, explains: “At higher temperatures, the gluten proteins in the flour tighten up. If they’re heated more gently, they shrink less.” Other factors that can cause shrinkage are overhandling the dough and not chilling the dough sufficiently before baking.

To avoid shrinking crusts, use a metal or unglazed ceramic pie plate (available from The Pampered Chef) and blind bake the dough at 350°F. If you only have glass pie plates, you can still blind bake the crust. Just be sure to trim the dough a tad beyond the rim of the pie pan, perhaps 1/8 inch. This slight overhang will help compensate for the shrinkage and slippage. (But don’t go overboard: Too much overhang can cause the crust to crack during baking.)

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