RESTING/ROLLING: Warm, Comforting Advice on a Chilling Subject

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How can I slice cookies off dough logs and keep them all even and thin?

ROSE B.: Chill the dough until it is very firm before you slice it. You can even freeze it until it is firm enough to cut even slices. I like to use a serrated knife for this.

How long does a dough need to be refrigerated before I use it?

NICK M.: Always allow a dough to chill until firm. If it is not sufficiently chilled, the dough will be soft and pasty, and it will stick to everything.

Check by pressing with a fingertip. If the dough is still soft in the center, the firmer dough on the outside will break into lumps while you are rolling. For soft doughs that have been chilled, cut off a small piece at a time and leave the rest in the refrigerator.

When rolling small pieces of a soft, chilled dough, incorporate the scraps right into the next piece of dough rather than reroll all of them at the end, when they might be too soft to roll easily.

Does time in the fridge make all cookies softer and chewier?

ROSE B.: Yes! Chill the shaped dough on the sheets, and it will hold its shape better when placed in the hot oven. It is therefore thicker, and it doesn't spread as much and become as crisp.

It's hard to get my roll-out sugar cookies thin enough, and they tend to lose their nice edges. What can I do?

RAEANNE H.: Set aside a flat baking sheet that will fit in your refrigerator and/or freezer. Roll out dough between two sheets of plastic wrap (preferably 18 inches wide), using as guides two 1/8 -inch-thick wooden slats (available at crafts stores) placed on each side of the dough that conform to the width of the baking sheet. Use a wide dowel-type rolling pin (with no handles) and slide it over the wooden slats; this assures that the dough will be rolled into an even 1/8 -inch thickness.

After the dough has been cut, use the plastic wrap to slide it onto baking sheets that will fit in your freezer. Let the sheets of dough freeze before cutting out your cookies. The frozen shaped, unbaked cookies can go straight from the freezer to the oven.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company