Ina Garten's Top Tip For Rolling Pastry Dough Into A Rectangle

If you bake a lot of pies, shortbreads, and tarts, a rolling pin is a tool you definitely want to have in the kitchen. Because the dough is a major component most pastries, it makes a big difference when the finished product is rolled out well. But although a rolling pin is a lot easier to manage than a wine bottle and more effective than just your fingertips, it still doesn't do all the work for you.

It takes patience and skill to roll out pastry dough to both an even thickness and the appropriate shape for your recipe. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to make a perfect rectangle, and instead ending up with a patchwork of dough because you had a little too much here, and not enough there. A segmented dough is a lot more prone to cracks and holes, so while the final product may taste the same, it probably won't look as clean and finished.

Luckily there's a technique Ina Garten shared (via YouTube) that can prevent this from ever happening to your baked goods.

It helps to roll out the dough from the center

In an episode of "Barefoot Contessa" reposted to YouTube Ina Garten shared a recipe for French fig tart where she says her dough rolling tip comes in handy. She starts off with a ball of pastry dough and a well-floured cutting board. Garten first flattens the ball slightly, then instead of rolling it out from top to bottom, she works from the center. She rolls the dough diagonally until it forms a rough rectangle, being careful not to overhandle it. For extra straight corners, Garten simply slices off the edges with a knife.

In the video, Garten appears to be using a French rolling pin, which makes her technique even easier to execute. According to Fine Cooking, a French rolling pin is tapered on the edges, directing most of the weight to the center of the dough. When you roll out the dough from the center, as Garten demonstrates, it's a lot easier to control the shape.