Published September 1, 1997.
Unless you both refrigerate and freeze pie pastry before prebaking, it will shrink and puff in the oven. After spending four months in the kitchen and making more than 50 baked shells, we share a dozen secrets to foolproof prebaking.
Baking an unfilled pie pastry can turn out to be the ultimate culinary nightmare. Without the weight of a filling, a pastry shell placed in a hot oven can shrink dramatically, fill with air pockets, and puff up like a linoleum floor after a flood. The result? A shrunken, uneven shell that simply can't hold all of the filling.
A pastry dough that would hold its shape when baked yet would still be flaky, tender, and full of flavor.
One key to preventing shrinkage is letting the pie crust rest once it is rolled out and placed in a pie dish. To produce a shell that not only kept its original shape and definition but also achieved optimal flakiness, we found a 40-minute rest in the refrigerator followed by a 20-minute stay in the freezer to work best. Because the sides of an unfilled pastry shell have a tendency to sink, thereby reducing the amount of filling the shell will be able to hold, bakers traditionally fill the shell with pie weights to prevent this. While dry rice and beans are often used in place of metallic pie weights, we recommend against this substitution. Pie weights outperform rice and beans because they are heavier and thereby better able to keep the shell from puffing;being made of metal, they are also better conductors of heat. The better heat conduction promotes more even browning of the pastry.list of recipes