After more than 15 years of living in New York City, I am used to living in an apartment that lacks amenities that come standard in other cities. I haul my laundry to the laundromat, wash my dishes by hand, and marvel whenever I’m in a house that has a whole separate storage room for dry goods, a.k.a. a pantry. But one thing still gets me, and it is that I have roughly six inches of counter space to work with. This means when it comes to, say, rolling out cookie dough, I either have to work within the little space I have, or move operations to my living room table. It often ends up being a flour-sprinkled mess. But then I learned how to roll cookie dough out the easy way.
The trick is to skip the whole flouring-the-counter step entirely, an idea that comes from no less a baking guru than Dorie Greenspan, who knows a few things about cookies. Greenspan points out that if you roll out cookie dough repeatedly and keep flouring the surface, the dough can get tough. But if you roll cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper, it means that you can eliminate the flour mess, as well as neatly transfer the cut-out cookies on the parchment to a sheet pan.
Here’s how it works. In many roll-and-cut cookie recipes, such as sugar cookies, there’s a step between mixing the dough and rolling it out where you chill the dough to allow the flour to hydrate, the gluten to relax, and the flavor to develop. Using Greenspan’s method, you roll the cookie dough directly after you mix it. Place two equal-sized sheets of parchment paper underneath and above the dough, making a kind of dough sandwich. Then roll out with your rolling pin, keeping the dough sandwiched between the two parchment sheets. Once it has been rolled to the thickness you’re going for, chill the dough for the requisite time.
Once the dough has chilled, peel off the top layer of parchment and cut the cookies out of the rolled sheet. But instead of removing the cut-out cookies, simply remove the scraps from around the cut-outs. That way you can simply move the parchment with the cut-out cookies to a sheet pan and into the oven, rather than transferring delicate dough shapes. Roll out the scraps the same way and repeat until the dough is used up or you’ve gotten the number of cookies you require.
Voila: No floured countertop to clean, but all the cookies you want. Plus, if like me you need to use a dining room table rather than a counter, the cookies are that much more portable. Now you’ll never balk from rolling cookie dough out again.