How-To & Diy

The Best Strategies for Rolling Out Pie Crust and Cookie Dough

October 26, 2013

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Are pastry cloths and rolling pin covers necessary, or do you just need a heavy rolling pin and a good stash of flour?

How to Roll Out Dough, from Food52

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When it comes to pies and cookies, sometimes we focus on how we’re going to top the finished product, but before we can get decorating, we need to cover the basics. Namely, what’s the best way to handle and roll out the dough or crust. This week on the Hotline, AntoniaJames asked if others have found success with pastry cloths and rolling pin covers. Being a fan of reusable and recyclable products, she’s in search of an alternative to plastic wrap, and luckily, suggestions from the community came rolling in:

  • Use a Silpat, or make your own reusable plastic sheets from a large freezer bag (cutting it open to make two sheets), from HalfPint.
  • ChefJune has success rolling out her doughs on a marble slab with a large rolling pin with ball bearings.
  • Mrslarkin finds that most of the time a well-floured rolling pin and surface are all you need, but she’ll occasionally reach for parchment paper when rolling out numerous batches of sugar cookie dough.
  • Boulangere concurs, noting that an adequately floured surface, flour on the dough, and a large, heavy rolling pin are the perfect combination -- plus they all clean up easily.
  • When working with an exceptionally fragile cookie dough, trampledbygeese rolls it out on a well-floured tightly woven linen cloth, which has the added benefit of protecting the countertop if using metal cookie cutters.

We want to you to fill us in on your strategies for rolling out cookie dough and pie crusts. Tell us in the comments!

Photo by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • KarenT
  • Pat E. in SLO
    Pat E. in SLO
  • MariaGarza
  • bethan
  • pqmommy
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


KarenT October 28, 2013
I use a pastry cloth and cloth sleeve on my rolling pin. I have also found that the advice about having your ingredients ice cold can be taken too far. Pastry breaks apart easily and won't roll out correctly if everything is too cold. I always let the dough rest after chilling, and you just have to get a feel for how long to do that before rolling.
Pat E. October 27, 2013
I roll pastry with a two foot dowel and a little flour on a cold marble slab I keep in the fridge...but for all other parchment paper needs cookies, breads, pizza, etc. I use the reusable stuff I got from Amazon. One of the greatest inventions of mankind!
MariaGarza October 27, 2013
I use a silicone pastry mat and I love it. I tend to use less flour when I use the mat.
bethan October 27, 2013
I completely forgot my rolling pin when moving house so I have been resorting to an old wine bottle (label removed!) It works suprisingly well!
pqmommy October 27, 2013
I am a firm believer in the pastry cloth method. It takes very little flour for perfect rolling so your pastry's texture remains pure. My only problem with it is how to keep the cloth from sliding around. Does anyone have any ideas for that?
Soozll October 27, 2013
I used to use them all the time for pie crusts because my MIL always had such good luck with her pastry using them. They do work well but what a pain to clean! Since I switched from using shortening to butter in my pastries, I was afraid that any transfer of fat to the surface would get rancid and so I quit. They do hold the flour much better than flouring a smooth surface so it doesn't need to be refloured as often. Pin covers work well, too, for the same reason. I make Lefsa for the holidays and I do use the covers for it exclusively because the dough is so fragile and I make so many lefse but I've taken to using a few linen dish towels for the process because they are large enough to wrap around my marble slab and can be tightly held in place. I've switched to plastic wrap for pie dough. You get less additional flour transfer into the dough so it keeps it from getting too tough. As infrequently as I make pie, I don't feel guilty disposing of it when I'm done. I like the idea of the two gallon bag for dough. It's heavier and can be washed and reused. I use a small one for making tortillas and love how easily it works.
SuSanFran October 26, 2013
I was over at my friend Debbie's house (a masterful home cook - she is really superb) and watched her roll out a pie crust on a pastry cloth - and that was that. I went home and ordered one. I've never seen anything that works remotely as well.