After 40 years in a test kitchen Christopher Kimball, founder of Milk Street, knows a thing or two about pie crusts. He understands better than anyone the obstacles that bakers might experience when trying to pull off the perfect pie, and has spent years – and countless pounds of flour and butter – coming up with solutions and hacks for no fail recipes. One of his great innovations? No-shrink pie dough.
Anyone who has baked a pie has likely experienced the frustration of a pie crust that shrinks in the oven. There are lots of reasons this could happen – oven temperature is too low or too high, the dough has been overworked or is too warm – and there are plenty of tricks to supposedly prevent this (special pans, pie weights, beans, freezing the crust, and so on), but even so the crust often shrinks and becomes cracked and craggy. But Kimball has hit on a foolproof method adopted from Japanese bread-baking.
The Secret to No-Shrink Pie Dough
The technique (secret ingredient: cornstarch and water) keeps the dough hydrated throughout the process. Take 3 tablespoons of water and a couple teaspoons of cornstarch, mix it, and stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds until it develops a gel-like texture. Pulse this gel into your piecrust’s dry ingredients before processing in your fat, such as butter. Bonus: The dough is easier to roll out because it’s less sticky.
Kimball also notes that it’s important to make sure that the edges of the pie shell are pressed down into the pie plate to further prevent shrinkage. And he relies on some classic pie making techniques as well, like refrigerating the the pie dough for at least an hour before baking and using pie weights or beans to really keep the crust in place.
If you’re looking for the ultimate pie crust to impress your guests this holiday season, this is it. It doesn’t stick or crack and blind bakes without shrinking up, so your fillings won’t leak and your fluted crust will be Instagram-perfect. Dare we say, it’s as easy as pie?
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