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Blind Baking Pie Crust


Joe Gerard
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With Thanksgiving here I am once again facing the prospect of watching my blind baked crusts meekly shrink off the sides of their pans until they form an amorphous mass of dough, destroying my decorative crimping efforts in the process.

I have tried reinforcing the dough by folding it under itself before crimping, overhanging the dough and adhering it to the outside of the pan, freezing the crust first, using pie weights or beans, etc.

Nothing works.

I need help - I'm getting tired of graham cracker crusts.

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With Thanksgiving here I am once again facing the prospect of watching my blind baked crusts meekly shrink off the sides of their pans until they form an amorphous mass of dough, destroying my decorative crimping efforts in the process.

I have tried reinforcing the dough by folding it under itself before crimping, overhanging the dough and adhering it to the outside of the pan, freezing the crust first, using pie weights or beans, etc.

Nothing works. 

I need help - I'm getting tired of graham cracker crusts.

Can we assume that you're doing your best to not stretch the dough as you fill the pan? That is a killer, right there. How long are you chilling/resting the dough after filling the pan and before baking?

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With Thanksgiving here I am once again facing the prospect of watching my blind baked crusts meekly shrink off the sides of their pans until they form an amorphous mass of dough, destroying my decorative crimping efforts in the process.

I have tried reinforcing the dough by folding it under itself before crimping, overhanging the dough and adhering it to the outside of the pan, freezing the crust first, using pie weights or beans, etc.

Nothing works. 

I need help - I'm getting tired of graham cracker crusts.

Not to guilt trip you or anything, but if you're baking pies only once or twice a year (thanksgiving, etc), you're probably not going to be completely happy with the results. You may need to practice pie making a bit more to be any good at it, especially the crust aspect.

Okay, that out of the way, you could try another sort of pastry dough which might help (a sweet, cookie dough crust might work better).

And I'd reiterate the questions Ruth asked. It's important not to stretch the dough as you fill the pan.

I've had the same problems, and I solved them after getting a fair amount of practice (more than once or twice a year), and by freezing the pie crust for at least an hour and playing around with pie weights/beans techniques. I use foil and beans, making sure the pan is filled a little over the top, the foil higher than the sides of the pan, and the beans pushed all the way up to the top and even a little higher. The foil, standing straight up around the edges will keep the beans in.

You might try blind baking a little hotter than many recipes call for and then lower the heat to the recipe requirement and baking another 5 or 10 minutes after you take the beans out, pricking the bottom crust.

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I agree - stretching the dough is probably the culprit.

When you roll the dough, it's best to start at the center, roll to the end, make a quarter turn of the dough and roll from the center again; repeat as necessary, being sure you have the rolling surface lightly floured just enough to keep the dough from sticking. And roll it out large enough so you have an edge to trim. Dust the top of the rolled dough and brush off all the excess flour, then fold it in half and gently pick it up, and ease it into the pan. But no stretching to make it fit.

Chill or freeze, line with oiled foil, weigh with dry beans or rice, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and continue baking until golden brown.

Good luck!

Eileen

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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To help eliminate shrinkage, it was once suggested in another eGullet discussion to bake the pie shell upside down. Put the dough in your pie pan and place another (clean) pie pan inside the pie crust. Invert the two pans (turning them upside down) and bake them in the oven for the required amount of time. Gravity is your friend in this case.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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To help eliminate shrinkage, it was once suggested in another eGullet discussion to bake the pie shell upside down. Put the dough in your pie pan and place another (clean) pie pan inside the pie crust. Invert the two pans (turning them upside down) and bake them in the oven for the required amount of time. Gravity is your friend in this case.

I was already planning to do the upside-down method this week. I'm a pretty good pie baker, but also have trouble with the shrinking crust. I've done all the other things already to no avail.

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With Thanksgiving here I am once again facing the prospect of watching my blind baked crusts meekly shrink off the sides of their pans until they form an amorphous mass of dough, destroying my decorative crimping efforts in the process.

I have tried reinforcing the dough by folding it under itself before crimping, overhanging the dough and adhering it to the outside of the pan, freezing the crust first, using pie weights or beans, etc.

Nothing works. 

I need help - I'm getting tired of graham cracker crusts.

Not to guilt trip you or anything, but if you're baking pies only once or twice a year (thanksgiving, etc), you're probably not going to be completely happy with the results. You may need to practice pie making a bit more to be any good at it, especially the crust aspect.

Okay, that out of the way, you could try another sort of pastry dough which might help (a sweet, cookie dough crust might work better).

And I'd reiterate the questions Ruth asked. It's important not to stretch the dough as you fill the pan.

I've had the same problems, and I solved them after getting a fair amount of practice (more than once or twice a year), and by freezing the pie crust for at least an hour and playing around with pie weights/beans techniques. I use foil and beans, making sure the pan is filled a little over the top, the foil higher than the sides of the pan, and the beans pushed all the way up to the top and even a little higher. The foil, standing straight up around the edges will keep the beans in.

You might try blind baking a little hotter than many recipes call for and then lower the heat to the recipe requirement and baking another 5 or 10 minutes after you take the beans out, pricking the bottom crust.

Well, I bake pies throughout the year but the majority are double crusts. I have a very reliable dough recipe that is easy to roll out. I always have plenty of overhang and try to be careful lifting the edges and dropping them rather than pushing them in. Double crust fruit pies are great if I do say so myself, but still no luck in the blind baking area.

I will give your suggestions a try and see how they work out.

Thanks.

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To help eliminate shrinkage, it was once suggested in another eGullet discussion to bake the pie shell upside down. Put the dough in your pie pan and place another (clean) pie pan inside the pie crust. Invert the two pans (turning them upside down) and bake them in the oven for the required amount of time. Gravity is your friend in this case.

Thanks for reminding me of this trick. I'll give it a shot this week as well.

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also, it may seem obvious but make sure you have enough dough to produce a nice crust. if it is rolled too thin or stretched to fit, it will tend to sink down. A good rule of thumb is one ounce of dough for every inch diameter of your pie or tart pan. When you roll, think even, don't think thin or big circle.

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I would also suggest to be careful about the way you're rolling out the dough. My grandmother taught me to use the rolling pin to spread the dough, and make sure I wasn't using a stretching/massaging movement. She always started with her rolling pin in the center of the dough, and worked from the center out in all directions. And she also said to make sure the dough wasn't sticking to the surface (i.e., countertop or whatever you're using), since the sticking could cause some stretching.

Just some points to ponder.

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Just a few possibilities, some of which have already been mentioned:

-dough should be rolled out, not stretched. Rolling it out a bit wide and then actually compressing it a bit to fit in the pan is ideal.

-gluten needs to be relaxed. mixing the dough as little as possible, using as little water as possible, and giving it as much time as possible to rest, both before filling the pan and then before baking, are ways to achieve this. it's very easy to use too much water. unless you're already on top of this, I'd try using 2/3 as much water as you're currently using. The dough probably won't hold together. Put it in the fridge, covered, for 20 minutes and try again. The flour needs some time to fully hydrate.

-add less water along with the fat. i don't like to go as far as using shortening, but I'll use a high buterfat, european style butter (84% to 85% butterfat). Tastier results, better texture, and less shrinkage.

Notes from the underbelly

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Mostly I've solved the incredible shrinking crust issue by having an overhang which I roll off after the shell has been blind baked. What I still have a problem with is the bottom puffing up after the foil and the weights have been removed!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Mostly I've solved the incredible shrinking crust issue by having an overhang which I roll off after the shell has been blind baked.  What I still have a problem with is the bottom puffing up after the foil and the weights have been removed!

I had the same puffing problem last week. I pulled out the pie plate from the oven and literally used the palm of my hand and a piece of foil to push the bottom down. I also pushed in the sides. I had to do this three times, about 5 minutes apart. It was a pain in the butt (or, er, the hand), but it was effective. Also, instead of using my regular all butter recipe, I used Dorie Greenspan's good-for-almost-everything pie dough, which contains butter and shortening. After lining the pie plate, I froze it overnight, then baked it with foil and weights. Despite the puffing problem, this was the first crust I have blind baked without any shrinkage. An earlier post suggested using shortening instead of all butter to prevent shrinkage. It worked for me.

I'm curious about how you "roll off" the overhang. How much of an overhang do you leave?

Ilene

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I can't roll it off if I'm using a pie plate, but it works well with a tart tin perhaps because the edges are sharper than a pie plate. I leave about a half to three quarters of an inch I'd guess all the way around. I do freeze my shell before baking it. After the shell has been blind baked, I set the pan on a towel and literally use my rolling pin to roll over the top and the overhang comes right off. Then I set the tin on a rack to cool. I almost always use Keller's pate brisee from Bouchon, because it seems to work for me. But the puffing thing drives me crazy. :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Puffing dough - do you dock it before baking?

I'm no baker, so I have no clue what docking is. So probably not. :biggrin: I do prick it all over with a fork. Is that the same thing?

Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Puffing dough - do you dock it before baking?

I'm no baker, so I have no clue what docking is. So probably not. :biggrin: I do prick it all over with a fork. Is that the same thing?

Yes, pricking the dough with your fork is called docking.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Puffing dough - do you dock it before baking?

I'm no baker, so I have no clue what docking is. So probably not. :biggrin: I do prick it all over with a fork. Is that the same thing?

Yes, pricking the dough with your fork is called docking.

Thanks! Apparently, I need an Elements of Baking book. :biggrin: I just made a bacon onion and cheese tart for dinner tonight. I still had the puffing problem, but I did what Beanie suggested and pushed it down every 5 minutes with some tin foil. That helped a lot, but not completely.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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