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Troubleshooting Problems with Pastry Pie Crust

Common problems that can occur when making a pastry pie crust, the possible causes, and the solutions to help correct the problems.

PROBLEM: Crust shrinks excessively.

Possible Cause: Stretching dough when placing in pie plate.


  • Roll pastry large enough to eliminate need for stretching.
  • Ease toward center when placing in pie plate.
  • Prick crust thoroughly.

Another Possible Cause: Baking pie shell immediately after preparation.


  • Allow pie shell to rest about 30 minutes (preferably in the refrigerator for a flakier crust) before baking.

PROBLEM: Crust is crumbly, too tender.

Possible Cause: Too little gluten formation.


  • Cut shortening or butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal.
  • Chill shortening or butter.
  • Add more water. Work dough more once water is added.

PROBLEM: Crust is tough.

Possible Cause: Too much gluten formation.


  • Cut shortening into flour more thoroughly.
  • Use shortening that is at room temperature.
  • Use 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar as part of the liquid.

PROBLEM: Crust is not flaky.

Possible Cause: Shortening (or butter or margarine) is cut in too finely.


  • Use all shortening instead of part butter and/or margarine.
  • Keep ingredients and dough cold.
  • Cut shortening into flour into larger pieces.
  • Chill crust before baking.

PROBLEM: Bottom crust is soggy.

Possible Cause: Oven temperature too low or baking time too short.


  • Increase oven temperature and/or baking time.
  • Brush crust with egg white and chill before filling.

Another Possible Cause: Filling too hot when placed in pie shell.


  • Cool filling before adding.
  • Add filling just before baking.
  • Use a glass or aluminum pie plate.

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