The Easiest Way to Roll Dough

Dorie Greenspan's Dough

I can sorta relate to Dorie Greenspan. I mean, I make a mean pie crust, although I lack her prowess with pastry. And though I swoon to Paris, I’ve yet to finagle a flat there. Yet in one way, she and I are resolutely alike, and that’s that the older we become, the less inclined we are to do as we’re told. I know this because she copped to it in her recently released cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. I think I’ll be even less inclined to listen to anyone knowing that Dorie also has little tolerance for perceived nonsense, even if it is time-honored baking advice. Actually, perhaps we’d all be a little better off if we asked ourselves, “What would Dorie do?” Starting with how we roll out dough.—Renee Schettler Rossi

For most of my life, I have followed instructions like a good student. This has meant that I made the dough—pie dough, tart dough, cookie dough, most any dough—gathered it into a ball, pressed it into a disk, and refrigerated it for an hour (usually longer), so that the roughly handled dough could settle down before I had to rough it up again by rolling it out.

Gone are those days! As a woman of a certain age, I’ve rebelled and the dough and I are both the better for it.

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Dough fresh from the fridge is a bear to roll out. You have to leave it at room temperature until it’s supple enough to roll or, if you’re impatient, as I often am, you have to bash it with a rolling pin until it’s soft enough to roll without cracking. These days, I no longer beat or bash: I roll the dough as soon as it’s made, when it’s softest and most compliant.

When the dough comes out of the mixer or food processor, I form it into a ball, divide it (if necessary), flatten it into a disk (or disks) and place it between sheets of parchment paper. And then I roll. And rolling is a breeze. The key is to turn the dough over and roll on both sides and to lift the paper often, so that you don’t roll creases into the dough.

When the dough is the thickness you want, slide it, still sandwiched between the paper, onto a cutting board or baking sheet and chill it for at least 1 hour (or for as long as the recipe instructs). If the dough is destined to be a pie or tart crust, you’ll need to remove it from the fridge and let it warm up a bit before you can fit it into the pan. Not so if the dough is heading to cookiedom—you can usually cut that dough immediately. In both cases, it’s best to rechill or even freeze the crust or cut-out cookies while you preheat the oven—something I do no matter how I’ve rolled out the dough.

Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Dorie Greenspan

About Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan has come a long way since setting her parents' kitchen on fire at age 13. She's now the best-selling author of nearly a dozen cookbooks, including Around My French Table, and a frequent guest on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Splendid Table. She's also been called a "culinary guru" by the New York Times and received six James Beard and IACP awards. She commutes from New York City to Westbrook, CT, to Paris, France, and back again, never remembering which pantry is out of vanilla beans.

  1. Maureen says:

    As another woman “of a certain age,” I thought I’d give this a try. I’ve been doing it the other way for a very long time indeed but no more. This was really easy.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Terrific, Maureen! So lovely to hear that you feel the same. Appreciate you taking the time to let us know how well it worked for you.

    • Maureen, there are some benefits to being ‘a woman of a certain age’ and breaking a few rules is one of them. Enjoy!

  2. Susan says:

    Thank you Dorie! Common sense prevails! When all the pastry gurus were insisting that pastry dough must be kept ccold, cold, cold, I complied…for a while. It was just as you said, Renee, it was nearly impossible to roll out. I couldn’t figure out what the point of refrigerating the dough for at least an hour when we were also instructed to leave the cold dough at room temp for 20-30 minutes after removing it from the fridge before rolling. I get that it takes some time for the dough to absorb some of the moisture and that it needs to relax a little, but, come on! It’s cut together with a ton of fat and very little (iced cold) water, it shouldn’t ever get too soft unless you lolligag and/or are working in a very warm kitchen. I soon after reverted to the way I was taught: roll out the dough using very little flour to keep it from sticking after you finished putting it together. I still had trouble rolling out the dough because “very little flour” wasn’t working for me, It is something I worked around (read: cussed at it a lot and generally snorted about) until I finally just gave in to using plastic wrap while rolling it out. I even figured out the peel and flip thing so it didn’t have wrinkle lines in the dough. I don’t consider it cheating, either! I sometimes wonder where they come up with some of these rules about making pastry. If the finished product is wonderful, then it was done correctly…regardless of method.

  3. Irene says:

    I’ve been rolling dough between sheets of parchment or plastic wrap, then chilling it, for years and it really makes baking easier, quicker and overall less frustrating. I’m glad to see a pro giving her seal of approval!

  4. Maria Peplowski says:

    Funny, I have been doing this for a couple of years and would never have admitted it…as if I was doing something wrong. But it seems to make so much sense to me. I never understood why we had to wait to roll the dough out until it was unmanageable. It always cracked. When I started to roll before chilling I got the same results. Actually better because I didn’t over roll it. Thank you so much for relieving my guilt!

  5. mb grey says:

    I have been doing it this way since age 12 (now 71). I tried the cold method a couple of times and said phooey. Now I just chill the whole pie or whatever for an hour (1/2 hour in a pinch, yesterday I put a whole flat apple pie out on the 29° porch) and it is always flakey and well appreciated. A great trick is to put the pie crust scraps on a cookie sheet and then on the pizza stone—sprinkled with cinnamon sugar they are the best snack while you are waiting for the pie to cool.

  6. Dorie taught me this trick about rolling between parchment and rolling the shape out before you chill (well, her Around my French Table – which I have been cooking and baking from every week since October 2010 – did!). It’s the best, especially for someone with no counter space to roll dough and get floury and messy. This is not only commonsense but it’s neater and cleaner too!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Amen, Mardi!

    • Natalie Burton says:

      Around my French Table has become my cooking bible – no matter where I’m living in the world – Lebanon, Jordan and now Zimbabwe. Dorie gives great advice and I have grown as a home cook as a result of her wisdom! Adding pastry between parchment to my skillset!

    • Mardi, I love, love, love that you’ve cooked and baked your way through my books. And love that I got to see you in Chicago when I was on book tour with Baking Chez Moi. Thanks for coming!

  7. Chris Riggle says:

    Put it into the fridge rolled out only if you have enough room in the fridge! Can you put it into the pie plate THEN put it into the fridge, where I would have more room? Wouldn’t that be the same idea?

  8. ruthie says:

    My grandmother, who got me started with baking, never chilled her crust before rolling, and her crust were the envy of everyone who tried her pies. So, I had no idea you were supposed to chill the dough first. Lucky me, I grew up doing it the easy way. Thanks, Grandma!

    Isn’t it nice, though, that someone as respected as Dorie Greenspan has come out of the pastry chilling closet to make the rest of us feel less inadequate. ;)

  9. I love any trick that gets me to the finish line quicker and this is going to come in handy immediately due to next week’s pie making. Also, I read this and thought OF COURSE! Dorie, you rule, as always.

  10. Judy says:

    I learned to make pie crust in high school (almost 50 years ago now (yikes!)) and I always roll it out and put it in the pie pan before chilling. While I understand the reasons for chilling, it makes more sense to form the dough first while it is supple. Glad Dorie called this one out.

  11. Christine Yommer says:

    Hi ! I am the PIE Lady of my small town. I’ve been giving, selling, and baking pies for years, and I’m very good at it! I may refrigerate my flour/fat combo before I add ice water, but heck ya can’t roll out refrigerated pie dough! I’m baking 50 pies for Thanksgiving with homemade fillings. Ain’t nobody got time for that!!!!!!!! LOL I own very few cookbooks but I do covet Dorie’s new one!

  12. Judy Phelps says:

    Let’s take this to the next level of sacrilege or paradigm shift. After the pie crust is rolled, why refrigerate it at all? Again, you will have to bring it to room temp to fit it into the pan, so what is the point?

    • Judy, you don’t have to refrigerate the just rolled-out dough before fitting it into the pan *unless* the dough is too soft to move, in which case you should chill it until its got the right texture.

    • Janet Zimmerman says:

      I find that if I chill the dough after rolling, then it’s much easier to remove the parchment without its sticking to or tearing the dough. I peel one piece of parchment off, flip the dough over, then peel the other piece off. Since the dough is so thin, it softens quickly, at which point I fit it into the pan. Then back into the freezer to firm up before I line with foil and fill with pie weights.

  13. This is a great method for rolling out dough. I’ve been doing it this way since my first cookie cookbook, The International Cookie Cookbook, came out in in 1986 and I’ve been touting the approach ever since. It amazes me how many peeps are still rolling out dough the hard way–it requires much more clean up and cookies and pie dough often come out too floury.

  14. Rochelle says:

    Would Dorie give credit to Marion Cunningham? She not only did not chill her pie pastry before rolling out, she also did not chill her fat before making the pastry. Her basic pie crust is very easy.

  15. Penny Wolf says:

    My Mother always chilled or froze her crusts in the pans as part of her time management. Crusts for pie would be prepared one evening for filling and baking at a later date. In fact, when she passed away an unbaked crust was in her freezer. I had to awaken my pie-baking gene and had her crust for my brothers and I to compare to. Thank Heaven (and Mom) for small favors!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Penny, I love this trick and this story. Yes, thank Heaven—and thank Mom! And thank you, too, for sharing.

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