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.

Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  5. 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!

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