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What happened to my pie crust?

I've had good luck using all butter recipes, thought I was getting good at this, but...

I chilled the pie dough before rolling out. After rolling out, I froze the pie shells for an hour or so. The recipe said to prick with a fork and line with foil and beans (I had pie weights, probably stupid thing for me to pay $$ for.) Recipe said to bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and weights and bake another 15 or so (I baked for a total of about 35 trying to get to golden.) Temp: 375.

I had metal rings over crust edge but they did not do a very good job -- hate to do the wrapping around with foil! I wonder if I should buy those adjustable silicone ones.

Anyway, it all shrunk downward. What did I do wrong? Did I somehow stretch it when I was rolling it out?

They are cooling on a rack now; later I will whisk up the pumpkin filling and finish the baking -- guess I'll have to resort to foil on upper crust to keep it from burning.

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  1. Since you were using pie weights, the only thing that could be causing shrinkage is that you didn't rest the dough before rolling it out.

    Rest the pie dough for about 5 minutes after you roll it out onto your work surface and before you press it into your pie plate. Once it is in the pie plate, put it back in the fridge (or leave it on the counter if your kitchen is very cool) to rest for about 15 minutes before baking. This resting gives the gluten time to relax and will help keep your crust from shrinking during baking.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      You know, I pricked the bottom of the crust with a fork BUT only after I froze it -- maybe that was a problem.

      I tried to keep it well chilled throughout; did not know I should let it sit 5 minutes after rolling out, BEFORE placing in pie plate. It was frozen about an hour or so.

      It shrank a lot and became poofy, like bubbled. I've decided to forget about pumpkin filling, the crust looks too miserable, pitiful. Maybe I'll try again in a few days.

      Thanks a lot for the advice. A few months ago, I used the same recipe to make 2 double crusted pies, one fresh blackberry, one fresh peach -- both were almost perfect and I did not anticipate these problems I had today.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I have never seen, or read a recommendation to let the dough rest AFTER rolling. The OP reports chilling the dough before rolling, so it had ample time to rest. Rest the rolled dough for 5 minutes in a hot kitchen and good luck getting it off the counter in one piece!

        Jacques Pepin's Methode/Technique tome illustrates blind-baking upside down: Place an identical pie plate over the dough-filled one, and bake this "sandwich" upside down, so gravity keeps the edges from shrinking off the sides. A word to the wise: place a piece of aluminum foil
        on the oven floor, or on a rack below the one the pans are on, in case any of the fat leaks.

        1. re: greygarious

          Letting the pie crust rest after rolling allows further relaxation of the glutens. When I've done this, I have never needed to use pie weights.

          1. re: greygarious

            I always do this with aluminum foil but I appreciate your recommendation for the 'blind-baking upside down' method.
            Sounds like an excellent idea.
            Thanks.

        2. First of all your baking time seems excessively long if you were then planning to continue baking the pie with a filling. I get that pumpkin pie can sometimes leave the bottom crust a bit soggy if not pre-baked but 35 minutes is far too long. I would have just done the 15 minutes with the beans and foil, and then finished baking with the filling. That would also address your overly-browned crust edges problem.

          As for the shrinkage, it may be your recipe after all. You might want to try the pastry again with half and half shortening and butter when planning to blind bake the crust. For a filled pie - like apple or whatever - you can get away with all butter because you won't be fully baking the crust beforehand and the fruit will keep it in shape. But blind baking is a bit of a delicate process - I'd compromise in that case.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Nyleve

            Yes, I was thinking that might be too long total baking time, too.

            The crust edges did not get overly brown from blind baking but I think they might have with full baking time. Those metal crust protectors are worthless. Maybe will go back to foil; has anyone tried the red silicone ones?

            In a few days, when I recover, I'll try again using your advice.

          2. Next time leave the foil and weights in for a longer portion of the baking time. The degree to which the dough is baked with this in place makes a huge difference and it sounds like yours would have done better with more time weighted.
            Did you use a different butter? Shrinkage is from both gluten development and water content in the dough, and it's possible the butter you used had more water in it than was desirable. If you're intent on sticking with all butter crusts, one option would be to try a European butter like Kerrygold or Plugra. Land o Lakes is a domestic butter that has a good rep although I can't comment on that specifically. If you poke around on the internet you can find comparisons of fat content for various brands of butter.
            Aside from the above, I second the 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening for more reliable results.
            IME, it's MUCH better to err on the side of working the dough a bit more to get it to come together vs. adding more water.

            1 Reply
            1. re: splatgirl

              Yes, I was thinking maybe I should have left the weights in longer; it was starting to sink downward when I removed them.

              In fact, I did use a different butter the other time: Plugra (one was 1/2 Plugra, half shortening. Also, the first time was White Lily all purpose flour, this time Gold Metal, but I don't think that made the difference.

              I heard a chef on the radio say he always refrigerates his dough overnight.

            2. When I see those little packs of pie weights for sale, I always think how useless they are. In order to keep a dough from slinging down when blind baking, the crust must be filled to the top with pie weights. I like to use two bags of dried beans, which I keep in a Baggie and use over and over. Because of the pressure against the side of the crust, it will never slide down.

              1 Reply
              1. re: roxlet

                Is that two bags for just one pie?

              2. I'm betting you stretched the dough when putting it in the pie plate. I did that a few times and got the same results. I've made an effort not to, and it hasn't happened since.