Tried all the tips suggested here. Switched from King Arthur to Bravetart crust. 7 failed pie crusts later, I'm still getting shrinkage. Help.

- Regular unbleached flour and unsalted butter
- 2 hours in the freezer to rest
- 350 degrees for 2 hours
- Sugar instead of pie weights or beans

  • Posted by: arlusk
  • December 16, 2018
  • 1247 views
  • 29 Comments

29 Comments

Smaug December 19, 2018
Having now tried the Bravetart recipe, I can see how it could have been problematic for you. This recipe actually is has much more in common with faux puff pastry recipes that I've made that a standard pie crust. It's also kind of a pain- cutting the butter into 1/2" cubes (126 of them for 1/2lb. butter) and then tracking down all those cubes in a bowl of flour is a lot more trouble than just cutting the butter in with a pastry blender, but doable. This dough has a very high moisture content and is handled much more than the usual pie pastry; that, together with the fact that it is not rested before rolling it out, give it a strong tendency to spring back, so it's a little difficult to roll out, and these things will also contribute to shrinkage when it's baked. On the plus side, it showed no tendency to split. I baked one by my usual method- no rest after rolling it out, 400 deg. for 15 min with weights, 10 min without. It came out ok- it required some pretty nippy work with a fork to keep it from bubblin up without the weights and the rim swelled more than I'm used to- I still think that your main problem was not lining it tightly enough before baking. I have another crust to try this afternoon by their baking method- I would think that would tame it a bit more in the oven, but I would say that this is a poor recipe choice for an inexperienced baker who just wants a pie. I would recommend finding a recipe either by Maida Heatter, who has a genius for writing understandable recipes that work, or one from Rose Levy Beranbaum, who gives the most detailed instructions and meticulous procedures in the game- it may take you a week to make a pie crust, but it will by damn work. Best of luck.
 
creamtea December 19, 2018
Wow you tried it on the basis of this discussion (or, just needing a piecrust at this time of year :) When I made it, I don't think I was that careful about 1/2" cubes, just generally quartered the butter lengthwise and sliced crosswise,, tossed into the flour and, wearing disposable "surgical gloves" smeared the butter cubes between my fingers (flour seems to dry out my hands, hence the gloves, which seem to have had the unintended effect of also keeping the cubes of butter cold). I kept the flour and pin in the fridge bc I read somewhere (probably in the recipe itself) that both conduct heat to the dough. I probably used a little ice in the water and didn't add all. I think I left any unincorporated flour that was in the bowl behind rather than trying to scrape everything in. I flattened into a disc and gave a few rolls to flatten more then rested it in the fridge (departing from the recipe directions). I rolled it out super gently, probably went overboard on that--I had watched Ken Haedrich videos on preventing cracking. I also used heavy "gold touch" pans from W-S. Bought them as a treat for myself. I might have stacked an empty one over the crust to weight it--don't remember. I seem to have amassed several tips and had my share of failures (I had tried the Cook's vodka crust before this,, which worked ok but slumped for a coconut cream pie). Since I don't use lard, the all-butter crust was a great option for me.
 
Smaug December 19, 2018
No , just a science project, I suppose I'll have to come up with some sort of filling. As I was testing the recipe, I did it as nearly as possible as it was written- well, I couldn't bring myself to put in all that salt, I do plan to eat it. I think it would be a good crust for turnovers, not so much for pies. Also, I got it from epicurious as Food 52's search function is apparently wounded, not inconceivable that there were some differences in wording.
 
Smaug December 19, 2018
Addendum- baked the other crust according to recipe instructions. It worked well enough- I did the extra 10 min. without weights and after an hour it was pretty stable; it did bleed quite a bit of butter; be sure to use a baking sheet under it. I don't think I'll do it again- certainly not in summer- but if you're having trouble with traditional baking methods it might be worth a try.
 
Smaug December 19, 2018
Addadddendum- a little poking around on the internet gave temperatures for the liquefaction of table sugar (it doesn't truly melt) at from 295 to 367 degrees- I think the higher temperature is more accurate, but I still wasn't going to try it at 350. At any rate, I invested $1 in beans 15 or so years ago and I plan to get my money's worth
 
Smaug December 21, 2018
Final note- I filled one with meyer lemon curd and one with a French Silk (whipped chocolate) filling- both are rather heavy on butter, and I felt that the extreme amount of butter in the crust pushed it maybe a bit over the edge, but it's a good tasting crust (once again, I cut back the salt quite a bit).
 
creamtea December 23, 2018
Your pies sound delicious! Thanks for the update. Somewhat off-topic, I used the sugar method on Thanksgiving day for a store-bought frozen piecrust (no time--sometimes life throws you other issues than piecrust), par-baked the piecrust for about 10-15 mins. I removed the sugar liner and on a whim decided to continue roasting it bc I wanted the bonus of roasted sugar. I lined a brownie pan with foil and put in the sugar and returned it to the oven. When I took it out (in the nick of time) I ended up with caramelized edges and beige sugar in the center. I broke up the caramel into shards, whipped some coconut cream, and used the shards to decorate the pie.
 
Smaug December 23, 2018
Only two more baking days until Christmas, keep 'em coming.
 
BakerRB December 18, 2018
I didn't have luck with Bravetart's recipe -- I just prefer the proportions and mixing method I grew up with -- but I found the Bravetart long prebake time / sugar method to work well for me. I previously had a lot of slumps, overbaked spots, stinky kitchen from beans. It did take a couple times to convince myself to do it right though. Freeze or chill thoroughly (my freezer/fridge is packed so this is a pain), line all the way up with thin foil (heavy duty can be more damaging to the crust; or if you only have parchment crumple it up in a tight ball then flatten it back out and it'll conform well to the crust), then fill it all the way up with sugar and lightly press down on it to ensure the foil/parchment is in contact. Bake it all the way through or almost all the way. I believe 100% that other methods people mentioned work (higher temp/short time) and it's a matter of finding the one that works best for you. Good luck. Once you find it, it'll be great.
 
Stephanie B. December 17, 2018
Are you trying to make the Bravetart pie crust? If so, maybe it's time to try a different recipe.
 
creamtea December 17, 2018
I'd say, at least give the recipe a fair shake by following it as written.
 
Stephanie B. December 17, 2018
Agreed. I meant if she's tried it as written with no luck, and 7 variations later still with no luck, maybe try a new recipe. There's so many pie crust recipes out there, I don't think it's worth the frustration of sticking to one that doesn't work for you. If it's been given a fair shake as you say. I say this as someone who tried Bravetart's crust more than once with poor results :(
 
Smaug December 18, 2018
The recipe seems somewhat gimmicky and imprecise, uses way too much salt and more fat than necessary, but it seems like it should work OK, I suppose I'll have to try it.
 
Stephanie B. December 18, 2018
Smaug many people in the food52 baking club had great results and now swear by it, but a fair number gave up in frustration - hopefully you'll fall with the former group.
 
creamtea December 18, 2018
It seems that with any/all of the piecrust recipes it's very individual, and it either works for you or it doesn't! I had pretty much given up on baking pie; I just couldn't do it. Then I hit on this one, and it was my first pie success, delicious, flakey, no slump. I guess it's very individual; a combination of practice and hitting on the recipe that works for you.
 
Stephanie B. December 19, 2018
Agreed again Lisanne! When someone asked me why I liked my favorite pie crust instructions so much (four and twenty blackbirds crust), I couldn't give a good answer. The ratios and amounts of ingredients were almost identical to other crusts I had tried, the instructions were similar, there was nothing special about it - apart from that fact that it turns out great for me. Pie crusts are like wands: "The pie crust chooses the baker, Harry Potter"
 
Lori T. December 17, 2018
For those times I absolutely must have no shrinkage, I use a second glass pie plate and create a sandwich of pie plates with the pie dough in the middle. Then bake the entire thing upside down. Once done, you can flip and remove the top plate.
 
SMSF December 17, 2018
Lori, What a cool idea! i'm going to have to try this. Thank you!
 
Smaug December 17, 2018
Interesting- I remember that my mother used to do some sort of a double pan thing, but I can't remember exactly what. How do you deal with a rim on the crust?
 
Lori T. December 18, 2018
You can do some fancy work at the rim if you like, because the two plates don't necessarily have to fit flush together at the bottom. But as most people pay more attention to what's in the pie rather than the outer rim, I usually just do a plain flat rim trimmed to the edge and lightly pressed into place with a fork. You could always cut and bake the excess pie dough into various shapes and place those on the pie after filling for decorative purposes. In that same vein, you could create a false rim of dough to bake separately, and put it in place afterwards, held in place with a thin coating of the filling or something else. It seems a bit fussy to go that far, but you could. If you want to only parbake a crust, you could also add the decorative rim prior to filling and baking the second time, though it would need to be secured with an egg white wash to glue the two parts together. Parbaked crusts can be a bit tricky to separate, but can be if you are careful. I think with the amounts of fat used in the Bravetart crust, it should not be a problem though.
 
creamtea December 17, 2018
I found this video from Ken Haedrich very useful. It has some great tips for how to gently roll out the pie dough. I incorporated his ideas with the Bravetart recipe. I rolled out VERY gently, rotating the dough. The first two times I made the Bravetart recipe (for the Himalayan Blackberry Pie on this site, then for apple pie) I did not use the sugar weighting method, I used pie weights. I also rested the dough after a preliminary light rolling (like Ken Haedrich suggests) instead of rolling it completely and then refrigerating. Try not to stretch the dough at all when rolling or transferring to the pan and as others have said, use a pan with a good rim and try not to trim it too close. I didn't bake for 1 hour as the recipe states, I probably did about a 10-20 minute pre-bake then put in the filling. I really liked the Bravetart recipe, it was my first really successful piecrust, but having said that, there are other recipes out there that people have success with, so ultimately it's a question of what works for you. It's a very specific recipe and I departed from it a little (didn't add the water all at once, probably added ice cubes, added just enough water to moisten, and used heavy "Gold touch" pie tins instead of Pyrex). Keep going and you'll find what works for you.
 
PieceOfLayerCake December 16, 2018
The first thing I do when making a pie crust is I do it by hand....no mixer, no food processor....when I do it by hand, I can feel it better and learn from it. I put the ingredients in a bowl and I use my fingers, breaking things up quickly. I put only enough water in to JUST bring it together, there is still dry bits and some flour.....but that’s ok, if your dough feels moist at all, there’s too much water. It’s not a cookie dough. A rest in the fridge (I do overnight if possible) will hydrate everything properly. Then I roll it out so that I’ll have a good 1.5 - 2” excess around the edge and ease it into the pie plate. I use a disposable, aluminum pie plate every time, without exception. It has a nice lip that the crust can rest on and the aluminum seems to support it. Not sure how it works, I don’t really question it. When I ease it into the pie plate I make sure I do not stretch the dough, I lift the edge and push it as far down into the corner as I possibly can. Any space and the dough will collapse into that space and pull the edge down with it, so I make sure it’s flush with the edge and completely eased into the corner. Then I trim. I trim so that there’s a good inch extra. I like a good thick crust on the edge so I make sure I have enough, it also ensures that you aren’t tempted to stretch it to have enough. I then roll the excess under itself. I don’t fold, I roll tightly then pinch tightly, all the while making sure the excess is sitting right on that lip. The lip is important, if your pie plate doesn’t have a horizontal lip (that doesn’t gently slope, a nice defined edge) then get one that does. Then I crimp...I crimp tightly. You don’t have to crimp, but it helps keep the crust from unraveling. You could use a fork to secure it down to the edge, that might help. Whichever you do, make sure the edge is still sitting on the edge, not a micrometer inside the edge and not a micrometer outside the edge....right on the edge. I dock my crust then throw it in the freezer to chill completely. I blind bake my crust hot and fast. Usually 375 F, so preheat the oven. Egg wash the frozen solid crust and line with parchment (I use big coffee filters) and fill, I mean FILL, with pie weights (beans are fine, I use rice). The pie weights should create a barrier to keep the edge up like sandbags at a levy. The immediately in the oven for 15 ish minutes. By then the crust should be set and you can remove the weights and finish the baking for 5 or so minutes.

Like many things, good pie takes practice and everyone has a lot of failed attempts before they learn the fine nuances. I still get them every once in a while but after years the biggest culprits for slumping are:
- too much water (the biggest one in my opinion)
- overworking the dough
- not resting the dough properly
- wrong pie plate
- sides too short
- not enough pie weights
- oven too cool during blind baking.

I know it seems fussy, but all the details are such fine nuances. You’ll get there at some point.
 
PieceOfLayerCake December 16, 2018
I should mention that I often use commercial convection ovens, so 15 minutes at 375 F is typical for me...it maybe take a bit longer for you. I just make sure it’s golden brown before I remove the weights. I have no idea why any recipe would suggest an hour - 2 hours. Hot and fast helps set the crust before it has time to move,
 
Smaug December 17, 2018
Much truth in this. People want tricks and secrets, but with millions of people cooking for hundreds of years, there really aren't many of them left. Rather than trying everything that gets printed, it's best to choose a method and stick to it until it's easy for you- no matter how difficult something may seem, it usually becomes much easier after the first time you get it to work.
 
creamtea December 16, 2018
The Bravetart crust calls for bleached Gold Medal Flour. When I made it, I chilled the flour as well as the rolling pin and board. She advises to put the crust, in its pan, in the refrigerator rather than the freezer to rest; you mention you put it in the freezer though I don't know that that would necessarily affect it. According to the original recipe in the Bravetart book,, the baking time should be only one hour with the foil/sugar then optional 10 minutes more if not browned after removing them from the oven. I'm wondering why it took 2 hours to bake--did you find it wasn't browning properly?
 
Smaug December 16, 2018
You'll always get shrinkage, but you should be able to control it better than that. It's not much to go on, but it looks to me like the crust wasn't completely lined when you baked it. A lot of people seem to use parchment for this, and to be honest I've never been able to see how that would work; if you use foil you should be able to follow the shape closely all the way up the sides, then fill up to the rim (of the pan) with beans; I don't know how sugar got traction for this use, but it should work OK if you're extremely careful about how you take it out. Other factors could be overworking the dough (always) or getting it too warm along the way, or too much moisture. KA flour is great, but it's relatively high gluten, and unbleached flour is generally a bit harder than bleached; a softer flour might help incrementally, but it's not a solution .
 
Smaug December 16, 2018
ps I kind of glossed over the 2 hrs. baking time- I have no clue what that could be in aid of- I don't think I've ever taken more than a half hour to prebake a crust- usually about 15-20 min (at 400) with the weights, 10 min without, being very careful about bubbles. Also, I see you didn't actually say you use KA flour but I didn't feel like retyping.
 
arlusk December 16, 2018
Crust #2
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arlusk December 16, 2018
Here are the two crusts.
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