5 Reasons Your Pie Crust Shrank

published Nov 13, 2015
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

If you’ve ever blind-baked a pie crust (essential for desserts like pumpkin pie), it’s likely you’ve encountered the tragedy that is a shrunken pie crust.

You rolled out the dough, carefully placed it in the pie dish, made a perfectly crimped edge, and transferred it to the oven to pre-bake before adding the filling. But what came out of the oven was something almost unrecognizable. A much smaller, seriously shrunken version of what went into the oven; a crust that definitely will not cut it for your pie. Here are a few reasons why it happened, and how to make sure your pie crust doesn’t shrink again.

1. You didn’t rest the dough.

In addition to butter and flour, a crucial ingredient in making pie dough is time. Letting the dough rest, both after making it and again after rolling it out, gives the gluten time to relax. The more relaxed the gluten, the less likely it is your crust will shrink.

2. You stretched the pie dough too thin.

When pie dough gets stretched, it reacts by contracting and shrinking during baking. Be careful when rolling out the dough and placing it into the pie dish that you don’t stretch it too thin.

3. You didn’t roll the dough wide enough.

When in doubt, give yourself a little leeway. Roll out the dough to a 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness, and an inch or two wider than the pie dish. After placing the dough in the pie dish, fold the extra dough under itself, and crimp. The extra weight of the dough around the edges will help prevent it from sinking down inside the pan.

4. You didn’t weigh down the dough when blind baking.

Weighing down the dough is an important step in making sure the dough doesn’t shrink during blind-baking. Once the dough is lined which parchment paper, dried beans or ceramic pie weights hold the dough in place and ensure it keeps its shape.

5. You didn’t dock the pie dough.

Some recipes call for docking the pie dough before baking (rather than using pie weights). In this essential step, you use the tines of a fork to prick holes across the dough, which allows steam to escape and prevents the crust from puffing up. This can also serve the same purpose as using pie weights.