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Rolling in Dough

September 03, 1997|RUSS PARSONS

The most important thing I learned while researching pie crusts was how to roll out the dough.

In the past, I've always approached a disk of pie dough as if it were a block of cement that I had to somehow crush into submission. Over a couple of months, I came to view the process in a much more cooperative light.

The idea is to stretch the dough, not smash it. The pin should go across the pastry, not down. Above all, you're not fighting the dough but shaping it. (Another big improvement was investing in a pastry sheet and rolling pin stocking that helped keep the dough from sticking.)

The dough should be somewhat malleable before it is rolled out. If it is too hard, you can leave it at room temperature for five minutes or do what the pros do and beat it firmly with the rolling pin to flatten it and start the softening process.

Flour the work surface lightly and sprinkle some on top of the disk too. Too much flour will toughen the crust, but if the dough keeps sticking to either the pin or the table, you'll never get a crust at all.

In rolling, start from the middle of the disk and roll almost to the edge. Turn the dough 45 degrees and repeat. Remember to push across the dough rather than down on it and never to roll completely to the edge (a sticky edge inevitably leads to torn dough and a very unhappy pie maker).

Dust lightly with more flour underneath and on top whenever the dough shows signs of sticking. And keep your pin clean. Any bits of dough that stick to the pin will immediately pick up companions on the next turn.

I tried several methods of moving the dough from the work surface to the pie plate. Two of them worked consistently better than the others. First, simply fold the dough in quarters and position the right angle in the center of the pie pan. Unfold the dough and gently press it into place.

That method can be a little difficult if the dough feels soft. In that case, sprinkle the top of the rolled-out dough lightly with flour and then lightly roll it up on the pin, being careful not to smash any of the layers together. Place the pin at one edge of the plate and carefully unroll the dough, gently pressing it into place.

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