No-shrink pie crust – Milk Street

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This is my first run at testing Milk Street’s Foolproof Single-Crust Pie Dough. In the recipe they published in their Milk Street magazine, they claim that it makes a crust that doesn’t shrink when it bakes. I’ve had great luck with the Foolproof Vodka Pie Crust originally developed by Christopher Kimball’s other venture Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen, so I wanted to test this one out too.  It grabbed my attention right away because it uses a novel way of getting the water into the recipe.  It has you make a gel with water and cornstarch by heating it in the microwave for a few seconds.  The recipe also calls for some sour cream, an ingredient that I don’t often see in pie crusts. I wanted to test this no-shrink pie crust right away and compare it to other methods.

Our comparison videos

Here is part one of the two-part series.  I go through each recipe up to the point of rolling out and baking the no-shrink pie crust and two others:

In part two, I roll out each recipe and give commentary on how easy each recipe is to work with.  Finally, I bake and taste each crust and share my feedback.

Here’s the recipe in print.

Tasting and lessons learned

This no-shrink pie crust worked really well!  I love the flavor of the sour cream in the crust – it’s slightly tangy in a very pleasant way.  The sour cream seemed to aid the browning reactions and added some flavor complexity.  It wasn’t quite as buttery as the Bon Appetit recipe, but it was every bit as good.

Rolling it out took some patience.  It’s a little fussy to work with and there are a lot of steps to bring it together and bake relative to a traditional recipe.  In my opinion, it was not as easy to handle as it was advertised by Milk Street.  It was supposed to roll-out like Play-Doh, but that was not my experience.  I’ll use it again in the future and hope that it will handle better.

Please let me know down in the comments if you’ve had the same experience or if it worked great for you!

Patrick Jaszewski

Culinary Tyrannosaurus, passport stamp collector, home cook, pilot, strength enthusiast, bilingual, coffee roaster, former homebrewer. Committed to DIY ethic. Minnesota native transplanted in Pennsylvania. Thunderbird MBA Alumni and Golden Gopher. Undyingly positive and open minded. Drives Jill crazy by questioning everything.

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  • I've made both ATK and Milk Street and I'm really in love with Milk St. That one did roll out like play dough , and I'm surprised it didn't for you. I thought the flavor was stunning.

    • Thanks for posting Bonnie and I'm sorry for the delay in replying to you. I'll have to try making it again, but It didn't roll out as nice for me as I had hoped. One possibility could be a couple of days in the refrigerator before rolling it out may have made it stiffer than if I had gotten to rolling it out right away.

  • I haven't had great luck with the vodka dough recipe, so I was eager to try the cornstarch recipe. After leaving the dough in the fridge for 2 days, I let it warm up for about 30 minutes, on a plate, under a bowl. It rolled out like playdough! So easy! And then it totally slumped in the oven during the first 5 minutes of baking! I was so disappointed! I didn't use beans because the dough was so sturdy, and I had wrapped it around the rim of the pie dish. It so totally slumped that there were no sides at all. Because I had everything else ready for my quiche, I used a spoon to push the dough up the sides of the dish, and cranked the oven up to 425 degrees (the temperature at which I usually blind bake a pie crust). I broke off some little pieces of the crust, and it was delicious and flaky! The quiche is baking now at 375 degrees. I wonder what I could have done differently, other than the beans. And I don't think they would have been enough to hold the sinking dough. I almost wondered if I should bake the crust on the outside of an upside down pie dish... Has anyone used this to make a 2 crust pie?

    • Thanks for posting and I'm sorry that you had some struggles with your quiche. I've heard other people talk about the Milk Street recipe slumping during the cooking as well. On the Milk Street Podcast, Christopher Kimball talks about how critical it is to rest it in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before baking. Did you take that step? I found that it doesn't shrink as much if you do that. Really, that's a great technique to take to any pie crust.

      Another key piece is to ease it into the pie tin/plate without stretching the dough. Because the gluten has "memory," it'll try to contract and cause the slumping. I know it can feel a little bit like pushing a rope, but it can help mitigate some of the shrink.

      Finally: pie weights. I've tested a variety of options and have found that ceramic weights, pebble stones, or coins work the best. Unfortunately, beans and rice simply don't seem to be dense enough or transfer heat quite right. Of course, you'll want to line your crust with aluminum foil before adding them. :) Fill it nearly to the top and they should help keep the sides of the crust from sagging.

      I hope that helps you and best of luck!

      • I did all the suggestions, except the pie weights. I just got 2 bags from Amazon, but I don't think it will fill the crust to the rim. I think I'll try coins, per your suggest! I'm trying it on a buttermilk pie next. I'll let you know how I make out.

        • Please do! I hope that you have some great luck with the coins. They should keep those sides in place. I'm looking forward to your feedback! :)

          • I ended up baking the buttermilk with the filling, so I didn't pre-bake (I forgot that I didn't need to pre-bake.) And it worked great! No slumping! Because I was in a hurry, I did start rolling right our of the refrigerator, and I did get some cracking, the issue you were having. The first time, I let the dough sit for about 15 minutes before I started, and it didn't crack at all. That might be worth repeating.
            I have my new favorite pie crust! Thank you Milk Street!

          • Awesome, I'm happy you had better luck this time! I'll have to try it again too - we're certainly getting into pie season :)

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