How to stop pastry shrinkage

Pastry shrinks when it’s baked as its liquid content (from eggs, butter and water) evaporates. Here’s how to help stop your pastry shrinking in the oven and ruining your tart case.

How to stop pastry shrinkage

Don’t overwork the dough

When flour combines with liquid, proteins in it form elastic strands of gluten. The more you mix, the stronger and stretchier those strands become, causing tough, shrinking pastry. For light, crumbly pastry, handle the dough gently.

Go easy on the liquid

When adding liquid (cold water/milk), start with half the amount stated in the recipe, pulsing/stirring in until the mixture starts to clump together (don’t let it form a ball). The more liquid in the pastry, the greater the risk of shrinkage.

Chill it

Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap in cling film, then put in the fridge for at least an hour (this relaxes the glutens in the dough). Once you’ve lined the tin, chill again for at least 1 hour.

Don’t trim the rim of the pastry before baking

Leave a 1cm overhang to allow for shrinkage and curl it over the rim of the tin, pinching it lightly so it grips the edges. Trim after baking using a sharp knife.

Fill it up

When blind baking, line the pastry with baking paper and fill to the brim with baking beans/uncooked rice, which will support the sides of the pastry and help prevent shrinkage.

Get the temperature right

Start shortcrust off at 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5 to quickly set the pastry. If the oven temperature is too low, the pastry will shrink.

 If all else fails…

Make less filling and fill the tart shell to below shrinkage level.

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