How do I stop pastry from shrinking? The Never Cook Naked Guys help a reader who suffers the disappointment of rolling out a gorgeous pie crust only to have it shrink in the oven. Let their advice guide you to your own pert and perky pie crusts.

Pert Pastry Tarts

Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: How can I get my fluted piecrusts and pastry for tarts to maintain their pert shape and not shrink during baking?—Shrinking Violet

Dear Shrinking: We hear your pain. We, too, have seen that water can shrivel the best of intentions. A dip in the pool after dinner and the night’s ruined. Once we were at this jazzy little hotel when….

Oh, wait, we’re talking about how to stop pastry from shrinking. Well, the same thing, really. The problem is still water—too much of it makes things shrink. Here’s how to fix this little problem. Add as small an amount of water (or other liquid) to the dough as possible. Most pie crust recipes involve a rather inexact measurement of liquid—for example, between 3 and 5 tablespoons cold water. Start with the minimum of 3. Not even 3 1/2. See if the dough will adhere. If not, add more water in teaspoon increments until your dough holds together. You don’t want glue. You want just enough moisture to hold the gluten together. A corollary to this solution is to recognize that adding butter to a piecrust is essentially adding water, given that butter is about 20 percent HO, whereas vegetable shortening and lard contain no additional water. So be even more judicious in adding water to all-butter crusts, since there’s already moisture in the mix, or use a combo of butter and shortening or lard to minimize moisture.

While you’re at it, use cold water when building a crust, as you’re also trying to slow the melting of the fat as the crust sets in the oven. Too much melting can also create slouchy crusts.

As to that other problem with water, just book a room in a hotel without a pool. And don’t eat too much pie. That can kill the mood, too.

Our very clever, very clothed Never Cook Naked columnists are at your disposal, able to troubleshoot everything from questionable table etiquette to tricky cooking techniques (as well as, natch, proper cooking attire). Ask us your question in a comment below!

About Bruce Weinstein | Mark Scarbrough

Bruce and Mark are award-winning, international best-selling cookbook authors with thirty-six published cookbooks and over 1,000,000 copies of their books in print. Bruce and Mark have published on topics as diverse as ice cream, ham, barbecue, goat, and vegetarian main courses. They are masters of the air fryer with The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook (2019), and The Instant Pot with The Instant Bible (2018) and The Instant Pot Bible: The Next Generation (2020).
Their You-Tube channel Cooking with Bruce and Mark offers hours of delicious fun and their podcast Cooking with Bruce and Mark reaches 10s of thousands with their culinary antics.
When they are not in the kitchen, Mark teaches lit classes and runs book groups throughout Litchfield County and online while Bruce teaches knitting and designs knitted patterns for both men and women. Find out more about what they’re up to at

Hungry For More?

How to Store Holiday Cookies and Candies

Savvy tricks that ensure your Christmas creations look and taste as stunning as they did the moment you finished slaving over them even weeks after the fact. Let the holiday spirit linger!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *