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blind-baked shrinkage frustration!

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tundrah Mar 15, 2009 10:24 AM

So in spite of my usual inability and/or disinterest in baking in general, I do think I have down a decent pie crust. I don't really make pies, instead I use Martha's pate brisee for my quiches.

The texture and taste are always good, however I -cannot- avoid the shrinkage problem.

I pre-chill the dough before rolling out, then put in the pie dish. Then I freeze it for at least another 45 minutes to an hour. I prick the bottom, multiple times. I put in parch paper with beans, and bake, first for 20 with the beans, then another 20 w/out.

The only thing I can think of is that instead of pinching the edges I should let them drape over the sides to hold them down??

The only reason this matters much is that for the quiche, it gets super messy and the filling bleeds all over into the pan and underneath the crust. Taste-wise its not too affected, but I would like to be able to produce a nice cleanly-crusted end product...

Any thoughts?

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    Nyleve RE: tundrah Mar 15, 2009 11:34 AM

    It sounds to me like you're not filling the empty crust with enough weight. Here's my method: prick bottom all over, line with foil and press gently so that it fills in all the corners of the crust, pour in enough beans (or whatever you're using) to go right up the sides of the pan. This will almost certainly keep the crust from shrinking down the sides. After it's baked for about 10 to 15 minutes - just enough so that it's set, but not fully baked - remove the foil and beans, re-prick the bottom, and continue baking until crisp. You may get a bit of shrinkage at that point, but the worst will be over.

    Good luck. With pastry - it's all about the try-try-again.

    1. greygarious RE: tundrah Mar 15, 2009 11:36 AM

      When blind-baking a pie crust, you'll be guaranteed perfect shape and even browning if you use two identical pans (preferably glass, because of its weight, better thermal conduction and because you can see how browned the dough is). Place the rolled dough into the pan but do not trim the excess yet. Place the second pan on top of the dough. Invert the pans and trim the excess dough. Place the upside-down "dough sandwich" in a 400 oven and bake 35 min or until desired depth of browning. The weight of the second pan, and gravity, keep the crust from shrinking. If you are using lightweight pans, weigh the top down with something ovenproof.

      This method is in Jacques Pepin's techniques book - the culinary equivalent of Moses' stone tablets!

      2 Replies
      1. re: greygarious
        roxlet RE: greygarious Mar 15, 2009 11:47 AM

        What a great idea! The only problem -- as far as I can see -- is that you sacrifice a decorative edge to the crust.

        1. re: greygarious
          gansu girl RE: greygarious Mar 15, 2009 05:20 PM

          this is a great idea - shrinkage remains one of my most vexing pie crust issues. sometimes I have good results, sometimes no - most likely b/c I don't use enough weight. a pretty edge would be had with the Emile Henry fluted edge pie plates I have . . . makes me want to try it tomorrow! thanks!

        2. JoanN RE: tundrah Mar 15, 2009 11:43 AM

          There was a good thread on this subject a few months ago. The OP was having problems with a tart ring, but there's some good info her you might want to peruse:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583430

          My first question would be, what's your oven temp? You need to start out in a hot oven--preferably preheated to 425F for at least 20 minutes--for the edge to "set." Too low a temperature, and the fat in the crust will begin to melt.

          I know beans are most often recommended as pie weights, but I find that they're not heavy enough to keep the sides of the crust propped up against the dish. Although many bakers will tell you that pie weights are too heavy and will impair the texture of the finished crust, I use pie weights supplement with pennies and make sure they're pushed right up against the edges.

          I can't see how draping the edges over the sides would do anything but compound the problem of lack of height. It seems you be you'd be better off making sure that when you trim the dough you have a good half inch to tuck under so that you're able to create a sturdy, raised, fluted edge.

          Finally, and I doubt this has anything to do with the shrinkage issue, but I don't prick the crust until I remove the pie weights, just before I return the crust to the oven for the remainder of it's baking time.

          An all-butter crust is going to shrink a bit. No way to avoid it entirely. But if you build up the edges or your crust sufficiently, it ought to be able to contain the filling whether it shrinks a bit or not.

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            tundrah RE: tundrah Mar 15, 2009 05:10 PM

            great ideas all...

            I think you may be right RE the beans/weight. A) I dont have that many left and B) theyve been through the process enough times that theyre just little dried up shells without any heft in them.

            In regards to heat, that is one thing I am doing right. My old oven is not the greatest so I have an oven thermometer to gauge with, and I definitely let it get nice and fired up before I bother putting anything in.

            grey, do you have any problems removing the second pan? do you add extra flour in there? this sounds like the easiest/fastest solution but I am having premonitions of hot glass and ruined crusts...???

            So, maybe I will do this, RE all of your replies:

            - first try new and more beans
            - then go to the pie weights/pennies
            - and/or try the second pie plate

            Thanks all! I will report back...

            1 Reply
            1. re: tundrah
              greygarious RE: tundrah Mar 16, 2009 07:29 AM

              The photographs in the Pepin book show the entire baked crust being lifted free from the pan(s). Unless it is underbaked, it shouldn't stick. I have also heard of just forming the crust on an upside-down pan, pricking/docking, and baking it that way without a second pan to weigh it down.

            2. s
              Stuffed Monkey RE: tundrah Mar 16, 2009 06:44 AM

              Be sure not to stretch the dough when rolling or placing it in the pan. While it is tempting to stretch to fit, it will shrink back when baked. The colder the dough is when you roll it the less it will stretch,

              1. s
                Stuffed Monkey RE: tundrah Mar 16, 2009 06:49 AM

                2 threads running on same topic:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/603892

                1. k
                  karykat RE: tundrah Mar 16, 2009 12:36 PM

                  Here's a posting from smitten kitchen that uses something like the draping technique you mentioned. She uses a bit of dough at intervals to tack down the crust. Here's what she says:
                  http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/12/shr...

                  I always thought that letting the dough rest and then chilling it after rolling prevented the shrinkage. But it sounds like that hasn't been working. Here's a good explanation of the theory behind that from Baking911.com:

                  The pie crust dough must be chilled after mixing. It is made into a disk shape, well wrapped in plastic wrap, and then chilled for at least an hour before rolling, preferably overnight. The cold and rest relaxes the gluten in the dough, relaxing it so it can roll out easily. Gluten strands are much like rubber bands, and want to contract when stretched, which is what happens when a pie crust is rolled out and the strands are forced to lengthen. When the dough is refrigerated (a least 1 hour or so) after mixing and after rolling, the cold relaxes the gluten strands in the dough, hence less contraction or what we see as pie crust shrinkage. A stay in the freezer is not as effective in preventing shrinkage as the refrigerator is.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: karykat
                    z
                    zamorski RE: karykat Mar 16, 2009 04:09 PM

                    I think that the freezing step in the initial post is the leading problem here: In the freezer, the dough will solidify before it can relax. I used to do this and in addition to the shrinkage I also had a lot of trouble with cracking.

                    That said, crust will ALWAYS shrink to some extent--you just have to plan for this. A few tricks: 1) I cut my dough so that that it is about 3/4 inch or so too big all the way around, then fold it over towards the rim of the pan, leaving a raised (but reinforced) edge projecting about 3/8 of an inch above the rim of the pan, which minimizes the impact of shrinkage. I don't have any problem with it collapsing, and I use only a small amount of beans to weight the dough. 2) Use pastry flour for the crust (less gluten). 3) The depth of tart pans varies: For blind baking I use a deeper one.

                    One thing that does NOT work in my hands is King Arthur's "dough improver." Doesn't hurt, but doesn't help at all, for me anyway.

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