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Rolling Out Dough

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Dear Pastry Chefs:

Please help this non-pastry chef. I am dough rolling challenged. Every time I roll out pastry dough for a pie/tart, even when I was in cooking school, the dough cracks and does not roll out into a round shape. Instead I end up with something that looks like a four leaf clover.

I have used different recipes inlcuding:

flour, butter, salt, water
flour, butter, sugar, water
flour, butter, baking powder, sugar, water

Doesn't matter. Still get the clover.

I have varied the amount of water from just enough to get he dough to hold together to a little too much, to no avail.

I have used salted and unsalted butter. Still no luck.

I have made the dough by hand and by food processor. Same results.

I have varied the resting time, (where you wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it), from 1 hr to many hours. Same story.

Instead of using only all-purpose flour, I even tried a mixtre of cake flour and all purpose. Nothing changed.

The moment I start rolling it out from the center with the rolling pin to form a circle it starts to crack. And the more I roll the deeper the fissures get.

I've concluded that there's something seriously wrong with me because my prior classmates, using the same recipe, methodology, and tools, would roll out neat discs while I had something resembling a daisy.

Does anybody out there have a cure for me or am I beyond hope?

Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
post #2 of 5
You just described my pie making beginnings!

Luckily the solution is easy. You are probably too focussed, as I was, on avoiding over-kneading. Try kneading just a few seconds longer. My dough comes out perfect now.

BTW, I use the flour butter water salt baking powder combination.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

I think you might have hit the nail on the head.

I've wondered myself if my dough rolling problem is from under-kneading. Every chef, recipe, and cooking show warns you about the dangers of over-kneading and creating tough dough. I don't even knead my pastry dough. The moment the water brings it together, that's it. In fact, that's probably the only variable consistent throughout ALL of my failures. I never have kneaded my pastry dough.

Yesterday I made a crust for a pie and as I was struggling to roll out a circle, I wondered if more gluten development would have solved the problem because the dough did not have any elasticity.

Thank you Anneke. I'm going to make another batch this week and knead it first before refrigerating it. How long would you recommend?

Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
post #4 of 5
Mark, what I usually do is roll it into a ball then press it down into a thick disc. If it cracks on the edges as I'm pressing it down, it needs a little more kneading. You'll be able to tell when it stops crumbling and starts to - not just stick together- but form a more unified mass of dough.

Best of luck in your efforts!
post #5 of 5

I was curious about how your other attempt came out? I was also wondering about the temperature of the dough as you were working with it. In general I find that the dough should be cool yet pliable. If it is too cold during rolling that can cause cracks at the edges also. I hope things turned out well. Let us know.

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