Martha Stewart's Tip For Pastry Crust With Properly Sturdy Sides

If you've ever watched the sides of your homemade tart shell collapse through the window of the oven door, you know how disheartening it is to observe your baking efforts fail in real time. However, with a little tip borrowed from Martha Stewart, you can prevent repeating this culinary catastrophe ever again. The key to baking a pastry crust with sturdier sides is to make a fold in the dough and guide it down into the grooves of the tin to increase its thickness and strengthen its structure.

It's particularly important to have a solid pastry crust with a robust bottom and sides if you're whipping up a recipe that contains a high ratio of liquid ingredients, such as a custard tart, eggy quiche, or chocolate pie. Pastry that's been blind baked acts as a barrier to moisture, preventing it from seeping down into the base of a flaky pie crust, saturating it, and turning it soggy. However, a pastry shell with delicately thin sides can break easily, shrink back, or fall in on itself in the oven if the temperature is too cool, making for annoying leakages. An unsightly pie with broken and uneven edges also doesn't do justice to all the hard work you've put into making the pastry and filling from scratch. To make a pie that looks as good as it tastes, you'll need to master the art of folding the pastry down firmly into the sides of your baking dish.  

Make a fold in the pastry dough as you line the sides

Start by transferring your rolled-out sheet of pastry dough onto your dish by wrapping it loosely around your rolling pin and draping it gently over your pie plate (you can also roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and lay it over your tin if you prefer). Then take the edge of the pastry in your hands and guide it down into the grooves of your pie plate while making a horizontal fold in the dough. Press the pastry down firmly into the sides so it grips the ridges and repeat this action around the entire circumference of your dish. With this quick action, you're essentially maximizing the thickness of the side crust to make it sturdier.

Chilling your pastry-lined tin before baking it will help to solidify the softened butter in the dough and strengthen the sides further. This small move encourages a better bake because the butter creates steam as it melts in the heat of the oven, which forces the layers in the dough to rise. The result is golden pastry with a solidly crisp surface. Baking your pastry on a preheated tray is another great tip to garnering a crispier crust.