rolling in dough

February 24, 2012 § 5 Comments

$$$ Well, I wish!

Actually this is what we’re talking about.

Essential tools for rolling dough – pastry brush, straight pin, bench scraper

Rolling a tart, pie or cookie dough to an even 1/8-inch thickness can be an intimidating task, but one that bakers need to become comfortable with. Here are the guidelines I give pastry students to help them roll doughs with more confidence. Of course, there’s no substitute for practice, practice and more practice!

  1. Allow enough time to chill and rest the dough thoroughly after you make it. This firms up the butter, so the dough won’t be too soft or sticky. It also relaxes the gluten, which can cause the dough to shrink back while you’re rolling it out.
  2. If the dough is too hard when chilled, either give it several minutes to warm back up slightly, or use your rolling pin to press or gently pound it to make it pliable while still cold. Doughs can become too breakable or sticky once you’ve rolled them thin, so its best to roll them out as cold as possible, but without being brittle and crumbly.
  3. Get all your tools, dusting flour, pans (already prepared with parchment or greased) out before starting.
  4. Try to evenly dust the surface with flour. I put a little flour into my hand, close my fist loosely and scatter the flour out between my fingers with short, quick tossing movements. Cover a little extra surface so you can quickly drag or invert the dough into more flour if needed to prevent sticking. Working quickly and efficiently is important when rolling out buttery doughs!
  5. Put a little flour in your hand and run it over the rolling pin to coat it lightly with the flour. Repeat this as needed if you notice the dough starting to stick to the pin.
  6. Try to roll with even pressure of your hands on the ends of the pin and in a direction straight away from your body.  Don’t roll off the edge of the dough (it gets too thin). That edge will get rolled as you rotate the dough around. If you want a circle, give the dough a slight turn of 45° or less, roll again away from your body. Keep repeating this, turning the dough over occasionally and dragging it through more flour if it starts to stick; use the bench scraper to free it if it does. It should only take you a couple of minutes to roll the dough out to the desired size. Check to make sure it’s large enough for your pan by placing the pan on top of the dough and eyeballing to see if there’s enough to go up the sides.
  7. Use your pastry brush to remove excess flour from both surfaces of the rolled out dough (yes, you will have to flip it over). I find it’s better to use a little extra flour to prevent any sticking, rather than fighting with the dough because you’re only using a little flour. Quickly move the rolled dough into the pan, center it and finish shaping it to fit. If at any time the dough becomes too soft or sticky, move it onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and place in the freezer or refrigerator for a quick chill until it’s firm enough to handle again.
  8. If you’re making something like cinnamon rolls (or spiral rugelach) you’ll want a rectangle. Simple rotate the dough 90° when you turn or invert it while rolling until you have the desired shape and size. If you’re going to fill and roll up the dough, you only need to brush off the flour on one side, as you can brush off the other side as you roll up the dough around the filling.
  9. Here are some pictures using the chocolate sweet dough so you can see the flour before and after using the pastry brush on both sides. I worked quickly enough that the dough stayed together fine, even when rolled to less than 1/8-inch and flipped over.

Dough rolled to 1/8-inch with flour picked up from the board

Same side after brushing excess flour off

The other side after flipping over and brushing off the flour

I cut and baked 2″ cookies out of the dough. They reminded me of those chocolate wafers I can’t find at the grocery store anymore. I could use these instead for a chocolate cookie pie or cheesecake crust.


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