How Can You Prevent Shrinkage When Baking Empty Pie Shells?


Blind baking pie shells -- or baking the crust without a filling -- sometimes results in a crust that balloons or shrinks during baking. Weights, such as ceramic or glass pie weights or dry beans, help to hold the bottom of the crust flat during baking, but they don’t keep the sides of the dough in place. Although carefully rolled dough may appear flawless when you slide it into the oven, it may still come out shriveled into a wrinkly disk. Practice a few simple tricks to turn out professional-looking crusts that are ready for filling every time.

Things You'll Need

  • Rolling pin
  • Flour
  • Pie pan
  • Fork
  • Parchment
  • Aluminum foil, optional
  • Pie weights
  • Incorporate the fat with the flour thoroughly when you mix the pastry dough. When the fat particles are evenly distributed throughout the flour, they help hold the dough together without requiring too much water. Escaping steam is one reason that pie crust becomes misshapen.

  • Roll the dough once, if possible, to minimize handling. Roll it on a lightly floured surface, making it larger than the pie pan so you won’t have to stretch it to fit. Fold the rolled dough into quarters or roll it lightly around the rolling pin to lift it and move it to the pan. Unfold it carefully, without stretching. Ease it into the pan so the dough contacts the entire bottom of the pan, into the corners and up the sides smoothly. Trim the excess dough to extend over the rim of the pan. Leave enough so the fluted edge overhangs the lip of the pan slightly to help hold the sides of the pie shell in place.

  • Prick the sides and bottom of the pie shell with the tines of a fork. Space the fork pricks about 1 inch apart, randomly covering the bottom of the pan. The holes allow steam to escape so the dough maintains its shape.

  • Line the pie shell with parchment or aluminum foil. Scatter a layer of pie weights or dry beans on the parchment, covering the bottom of the pie. Bake the crust until the dough loses its wet look and begins to change from yellowish to white, typically about half the suggested baking time. Remove the parchment and weights carefully and return the crust to the oven to finish baking.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bake the pie shell in the middle of a preheated oven. Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet to keep the bottom of the crust from becoming too brown.
  • A typical baking time is at least 10 to 12 minutes at 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Some recipes may need 15 minutes or longer, and the thickness of the rolled dough also affects baking time.
  • The type of shortening and flour you use affects how the dough bakes. Adjust the baking time and temperature for the recipe you use. Recipes that include sugar or an egg bake differently from a simple fat, flour, salt and water dough.

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