rolling and crimping – smitten kitchen

[Previous episodes: Pie Crust 101 & Pie Crust 102]

As you wish, my friends.

So, when we left off, you had all realized how much fun and easy it was to make pie dough at home, in no time flat while dirtying less than ten dishes. I suspect that each and every one of you ran to your fridge to pull out the ingredients and ten minutes later had your doughs neatly chilling back inside them. And now, all that it is left is getting those babies rolled out and filled with pumpkin or apple or cherries or lemon or … gah, I just hope you share with me.

There are only three things to remember when rolling out dough, and one you already know: cold. Work quickly so the dough stays cold (and also firm and easier to work with) and if it takes a few extra minutes and starts to soften, slide it onto the back of a tray and chill it in the freezer for two or three minutes. Second is flour; a whole lot of you said that your doughs stick to the counter and the rolling pin and your fingers and it’s really simple: be generous with flour. You can always brush extra off. It’s hard to add more to glued-on dough (but I’ll show you how to do that too). The third is to not freak out–even if it gets warm, even if it sticks, it’s gonna be a’ight. So here we go!

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Start by getting your stuff out: You’ll want a small dish of flour (or a shaker, if you have one), a rolling pin, your pie dough that has been chilling for an hour or two, but preferably longer, your pie pan and some sort of bench scraper or knife.

Flour the heck out of your surface, unwrap the dough and put it in the middle and flour that too. Be generous, you’ll thank me later.

Get rolling: Start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the pin and moving it from the center out. You’re not going to get it all flat in one roll or even twenty; be patient and it will crack less. Roll it a few times in one direction, lift it up and rotate it a quarter-turn. And that’s what you’re going to continue to do, roll a couple times, lift the dough and rotate it. Re-flour the counter and the top of the dough as needed–don’t skimp! You should be leaving no bits of dough on the counter and none should be stuck to your pin.

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Roll, lift, turn, repeat. Got it?

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Whoops! But what is this? Despite your best efforts, you go to lift the dough and part of it doesn’t want to move. It happens to me all of the time. Use that bench scraper and run it tightly underneath the stuck part, peel it back, and flour the heck out of that area, before getting back to rolling, lifting and turning the dough. I told you it was going to be all right!

Trim the dough: For a standard-size pie tin — that’s what this pie dough is scaled to, after all — you’re looking for a 12-inch circle. You can either keep a ruler nearby, or if you’re me, know that a certain kitchen bowl has a 12-inch diameter rim and use that as your stencil. We’re really high tech here. (Also, you might consider not walking around the kitchen saying “Hm, what’s 12 inches in here?” aloud. Especially if you live with an Office fanatic.) Trim your pie dough into a 12-inch circle with the tip of a knife.

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Transfer your crust: Because your pie dough has been kept cool and loose on the counter, transferring it to the tin should be no trouble at all. Some people suggest your roll it around the pin and unroll it in the pan, and hey, that works too. But I prefer to fold it very loosely into quarters and unfold it into the pie pan.

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Fold the excess under: Press it gently into the pan, making sure it is centered. You should have half an inch overhang around the pan, and you’ll want to fold this overhang under so that the pie dough becomes the size of the pan.

If you’re making a double-crust pie, you’re going to want to wait to fold the excess under and crimp the edges until you have sealed the top and bottom lids together.

Crimp the edges decoratively: One you’ve got the excess folded under, you can make a traditional decorative crimp by forming a “V” with the tips of the thumb and index finger of one hand and pressing the dough into this “V” with the index finger of your other hand. Go around the rim until the whole thing is so cute, you can barely take it.

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Get crafty with the scraps: If you’re me, the sight of the extra scraps of pie dough on the counter after you have trimmed your circle is just torture. I can never resist re-rolling mine, and using cookie cutters to make little leaves or hearts or apples and decorating the pie crust tops with them (use a little egg wash as glue). Alternately, you could skip the crimping part altogether and create a leaf wreath around the edges of your pie, but prepare to be teased, just a little, for getting so carried away, not that I’d know this from experience or anything. (Psst: I’ll still think you’re cool!)

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