A reader has asked: How do I keep my pie and tart shells from shrinking so much? They don’t have any sides after they are baked.
A: First of all, you need to understand that the shrinkage comes from too much gluten development during mixing and rolling. Gluten forms in dough when the proteins in the flour encounter liquid and are mixed. The more you mix, the stronger the gluten. The stronger the gluten, the more your dough will shrink while baking. Here are a few hints: Mix liquid into your pastry dough with a fork, just tossing it together. Press the dough together and let it rest 1 hour in the refrigerator before rolling. When you do roll the dough, press and pound it gently with the rolling pin, then roll only to 1/8 inch thick—that’s not paper thin. Form your pie or tart shell and let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator, for half a day or overnight before baking. I guarantee you better results!