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Why Chill the Dough?

Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 09:33 AM

Hi all,

I have seen many recipes call for chilling the dough for hours before working on them and sometime they makes sense and sometime not. I understand the reasoning for doing so to prevent the cookie to spread too thin during the baking process. I also understand doing so for icebox cookies, where the dough can be cut out consistently.

However, sometime I chill the dough for hours only to thwart it back to room temperature, why?

Yesterday, I was looking at a recipe for making the mini tart shells. The exact ingredients are not important. It calls to refrigerate the dough for 1 hour, take it out, roll it out thin, cut it into shape, and fit each piece into a muffin cup. By the time, I fit them into muffin cups, the dough is more than room temperature warm. So what is the point for the original refrigeration? Or is there a chemistry occurring for the dough at cold temperature? Many thanks.

  1. visciole Jan 12, 2010 09:41 AM

    If you formed any gluten when you mixed the fat with the dry ingredients, resting the dough will let the gluten "relax." Also, you want to get the fat globs cold again before rolling out so that the pastry will remain flaky. And, with all-butter pastry, if the dough is too warm it won't roll well and will get a bit melty when you work it.

    9 Replies
    1. re: visciole
      Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 09:57 AM


      Thanks. Yes, for heavy butter pastry, I will need to chill the dough to roll it out, otherwise it will be a mess. I did not know about the gluten relax thing. What does it mean? Does it mean the final bake goods will be less "tough" if the dough is relaxed first? Just want to be sure.

      Most importantly, I really want to know about the flaky thing because I think that is why so many of these crust/shell recipes call for this step. Can you tell me why chilling the fat (butter) will help make the pastry more flaky?

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
        visciole Jan 12, 2010 10:14 AM

        I'm not sure of how it works chemically -- shouldn't that be your department? ;) But it does mean that the final product will be less tough if the dough is relaxed. Much of pastry-making is about how to prevent gluten from forming, which is why you don't want to cut in the fat into too-small pieces, why you work the dough as little as possible, why you add as little water as possible, and why you chill the dough before rolling it out as quickly as possible.

        The flaky thing: I think here if the fat chunks are large enough and firm enough, they slip between the layers of flour and water, and form flaky dough. You want them to insert themselves in layers into the dough as you roll it, if that makes sense.

        1. re: visciole
          Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 10:28 AM

          Yeah, but I am a gas-phase chemist by training (Yes, I am really a chemist, but not the kind who mix solutions together). :P

          Yeah, I only know about gluten formation increases when the dough are vigoously mixed. According to what you said, I wonder if using cake flour helps as well, because there is less gluten in cake flour I think. In the extreme case, I can probably even use wheat starch (flour without proteins).

          I have absolute no idea about the fat chunk thing, but I think you are right. I have read dozens of recipe which call to cut butter into big chuck and mix these big chunk into the dough. I never fully understand why I did it. I thought it is to simply produce an inconsistence texture, which it does. I thought it is all for the "cool and awesome" factor. I didn't know it actually makes the pastry more flaky.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            visciole Jan 12, 2010 10:41 AM

            Yes, that is the precise difference between pastry (cake) flour and bread flour, so using cake flour will help. All-purpose flour has an intermediate amount of gluten.

            1. re: visciole
              Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 10:49 AM


              One last question. My current recipe calls for all-purpose flour for making the tart shell or tart crust. Do you think it is normal? Or it is better to use cake flour? I think I will try it tonight by trying both and see which one comes out better. Thanks.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                visciole Jan 12, 2010 11:21 AM

                Almost all recipes these days call for all-purpose flour since most people don't bake enough to buy both bread and cake flours. If that's what the recipe calls for you can certainly use it. I think if you substitute cake flour you may have to use slightly more flour.

                I bake all the time and regularly use all-purpose flour with no problem. When I use whole wheat flour I do use the pastry type, though.

        2. re: Chemicalkinetics
          mrsdebdav Jan 12, 2010 10:19 AM

          Gluten are the "strings" formed by the protein in the flour. When the dough is worked, the strings tighten up, making the dough difficult to work with, as you noted. The end product is not the relevant factor so much as the proper texture of the dough when it's finally rolled. The chilling also hardens the fat in the dough, which is why you chill dough to insure flakiness. When the dough is baked, the chilled fat takes longer to heat, and the steam released by the heating fat "puffs" the dough, making it flaky. If you started with warm dough, the fat would melt right away and you would have a greasy product.
          Hope this helps.

          1. re: mrsdebdav
            Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 10:36 AM


            Trust me. You guys are helping. I am just still trying to fully understanding it.

            I guess it sorta make sense. If the fat is in large pieces as Viscole stated, then heating the fat chunks (especially butter) will release gas/steam and create local air pockets, so there will be puffy here and puffy there. If the fat is uniformly melted then there will also be steam, but the steam will be too uniformly released to create that local air pockets, everything just collopsed. Is that correct?

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              chowser Jan 12, 2010 10:54 AM

              You're a quick study. You want the chunks of butter because when it melts in the oven, you'll get that flakey texture for the reasons you mention. If it melts before, then you won't get it. The reason you refrigerate before rolling out is to harden the butter and not let it get too warm (if you make the dough, the butter gets closer to room temperature. If you continue to roll it at this point, it'll get even warmer. But, if you refrigerate it, it'll cool the butter again.

              As gluten development goes, it'll continue in the refrigerator but be slower. But that's not the reason to refrigerate the dough. You do want some gluten developing which is why you don't want to use cake flour. You wouldn't have the same texture with cake flour. It would be softer without that bite.

      2. b
        Brandon Nelson Jan 12, 2010 09:54 AM

        Cold dough and a delicate hand keeps flour doughs from getting tough as the gluten is developed.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Brandon Nelson
          Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 09:59 AM


          Similar thing as Visciole said. I know about the delicate hand slow down gluten development. I didn't know about cold dough, but I guess cold temperature slow down reactions, so any reaction (including gluten formation) is slow down, right? Is that the logic? Come to think of it, maybe that is also why the recipe ask me to add ice cold water instead of just room temperature water as part of the ingredients.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            Brandon Nelson Jan 12, 2010 03:51 PM

            You have a handle on it.

            2 elements make gluten develope. water, and friction.

            Also, the flake is caused by butter remaining solid and forming "streeks' in the dough. Butter has enough water that these streaky ribbons of butter give off steam and cause a flaky "rise' of sorts in the oven.

            Ice cold vodka is an awesome little cheat for flaky pie crust. Substitue for half of the water. The booze cooks of, and does not react with the flour to cause gluten formation.

        2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 10:41 AM

          Visciole, Brandon and MrsDebdav,

          There is a reason why I go all excited. Although my original question is about chilling dough, that dough is supposed to create a flaky pastry crust which it did not do. I did follow the steps very carefully, and did all the chilling and gentle mixing, but it does help to know chilling is to make it flakier. I think I am going to add a bit more fat and take out a bit more water just to see if it will finally "flak" up more. Thanks.

          28 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            chowser Jan 12, 2010 10:59 AM

            Too much gluten development will give you a tough dough and that happens mostly from the rolling process. You want to handle the dough as little as possible. I don't know how you're mixing the ingredients (by hand, food processor or mixer) but don't mix it until you have a ball shaped dough. You want to do it until it just starts to come together. Pour it out onto a plastic wrap and gather it into a disk shape. Refrigerate and then roll out but rolling is where most people over do it. It takes a light tough and just the right amount of flour (so it doesn't stick but you also don't want to add too much). There are recipes that use vodka or another alcohol in place of some water which reduces the amount of gluten that develops. I haven't used it but want to give it a try.

            The keys I'd have to say are making sure everything is cold and remains that way, even if you have to take a break to re-refrigerate and minimal touching. I barely touch the dough with my hands once it comes out of the refrigerator for rolling and rely on a pastry scraper/spatula.

            1. re: chowser
              Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 11:15 AM

              Cool. Thanks Chowser. I usually either mix my dough with a spatula or with a handle mixer.

              When you said "don't mix it until you have a ball shaped dough", how do I get to a ball shaped dough without mixing? Let's say I have flour and butter, don't I have to mix them in order to get them to form a dough? Or do you mean I should just "press" the ingredient together without mixing?

              Oh! So that is why some people buy marble pastry boards to keep the dough as cold as possible. I didn't know why it is desirable to have an ice cold board. Oh well, I only have a wooden one.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                visciole Jan 12, 2010 11:24 AM

                Toss the liquid gently into the flour/fat mix with a fork or your fingertips. When it starts to clump slightly, gather it up in your hands and gently form it into a loose ball. Have the wax paper already out to wrap it in and refrigerate.

                1. re: visciole
                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 11:29 AM


                  Oh so that is why my recipe said to use a fork -- though I didn't listen to it because I thought it weird to use a fork.

                  How did you guys learn these things? Is there a good pastry/baking book which explain these theories? My books give accurate instructions. They just don't tell me why I am doing these steps.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    Caitlin McGrath Jan 12, 2010 11:41 AM

                    You might want to check out "The Pie and Pastry Bible" by Rose Levy Berenbaum. Berenbaum can be fussy with regard to technique but she is very thorough and gives good explanations of the science behind the methods for making different types of pastry.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      visciole Jan 12, 2010 11:51 AM

                      I learned three ways: I watched my mother; I read books; I baked. The former and latter are the best. The best part of the latter is that you get to eat the results, and usually even the failures taste pretty good!

                      1. re: visciole
                        Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 12:11 PM


                        My mom does not bake. I bake about once a week which is not bad for a single guy with a full time job I think :P I do learn alot from actual baking and got a good feel about what butter does, how sugar change textures, by observing how the texture changes as the ingredients vary. However, I never get a feel about things like "chill the dough" or "mix with a fork" because I don't get to really compare. I mean I only have one outcome, so I don't know what would have happened if I didn't chill the dough. Thanks.

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        mrsdebdav Jan 12, 2010 12:13 PM

                        I'm so old I took "home ec" in "junior high school." They hadn't invented middle school yet.
                        We made biscuits in 7th grade, and we used a pastry cutter, similar to this: http://www.google.com/products/catalo....
                        I prefer to use my hands. I think the fork thing is fussy, adds to the difficulty, and unnecessary. You want to mix the flour and the fat until you have pea-sized pieces, and then you add the water, and mix with a fork. Using a fork prevents the "creaming" of the fat, which you don't want if you're making pie crust or quick breads like biscuits.
                        I've always felt that, despite having a graduate degree, the most useful thinks I learned in school were typing and home ec.
                        Keep up the good work!

                        1. re: mrsdebdav
                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 12:40 PM

                          You kidding me? Middle school is a recent thing?

                          Got it. Knives and forks do not produce creaming effect because they cut into butter/fat.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            mrsdebdav Jan 12, 2010 12:44 PM

                            Well, define "recent." But yeah, when I was a younger mrsdebdav, elem sch was k-6, jr high 7-9 and hs 10-12.
                            Thanks for making me feel even older than I already do!

                            1. re: mrsdebdav
                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 01:13 PM


                              Technically, you should be happy that I used the word "recent", right? Because that implies the introduction of middle school happened only recently -- possibly only yestersday, which means you have not graduated yet :P

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                mrsdebdav Jan 12, 2010 01:20 PM

                                Hahahah, thanks, chem. I did pick up on the "recent."
                                With age comes wisdom, or at least extensive pie crust experience.

                          2. re: mrsdebdav
                            walker Nov 8, 2011 09:19 PM

                            Yes, algebra and multiplying fractions have never done anything for me.

                          3. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            chowser Jan 12, 2010 12:42 PM

                            You might be interested in Shirley Corriher's book, Bakewise, that Kelli mentioned below. She gets into the food science reason behind why we do what we do. I took a pie class at L'Academie de Cuisine. There's something about hands on training that you can't get from a book. It's nice having the instructor over your shoulder, pointing out the technique, the amount of pressure, the right feel for the dough, etc. that you can't get any other way without a lot of playing around.

                            1. re: chowser
                              foiegras Jan 12, 2010 08:18 PM

                              I was *just* going to mention Cookwise. Cookies are my area of expertise, and I found her cookie information truly underwhelming, and not that accurate based on my experience.

                              From the perspective of actually getting the cookies baked, I have found that dumping the dough into a large freezer bag, flattening, sealing, and chilling for about an hour yields good/ideal results. Chilling for longer is sometimes necessary (for logistical reasons), but does become somewhat of an exercise in frustration when you have to waaait for the dough to become workable again.

                              1. re: foiegras
                                chowser Jan 13, 2010 04:36 AM

                                I thought Bakewise was informative, although there were things she said about protein that contradicted what I've read elsewhere. Since the NYT article about chocolate chip cookies and refrigerating the dough from 24-72 hours, I've done that and love the cookies it makes. As the OP's topic of pie dough goes, I've been told you can also refrigerate the pie dough up to 2 days, or freeze for longer. But, I don't think the longer refrigeration positively improves it--it's more for an "as needed" in your schedule. I find it hard to roll out really cold pie dough but haven't had problems scooping cold cookie dough.

                                1. re: chowser
                                  foiegras Jan 13, 2010 08:23 AM

                                  So how do you find the refrigeration changes the chocolate chip cookies? I frequently refrigerate the dough (Maida's original Toll House recipe with slight modifications) because I prefer them fresh from the oven, so I bake a sheet or so at a time, depending on how many people are around. But I've always preferred the cookies in the first batch when the dough is 'fresh.'

                                  1. re: foiegras
                                    chowser Jan 13, 2010 11:04 AM

                                    Personally, I find the flavors richer and the texture a little firmer. I bake cookies all the time, used to use the Best Recipe thick and chewy recipe (melted butter which is absorbed by the flour better so along the same idea as a long rest) and people would rave about them but nothing like the response I've gotten since using the NYT recipe with the overnight rise method. This explains it in a more scientific way:


                                    1. re: chowser
                                      foiegras Jan 15, 2010 08:08 PM

                                      Yeah, it's true that the flavor deepens as described ... I guess it's just a matter of whether you consider that an improvement on the 'classic' chocolate chip cookie or not. I guess to me the cookie part is a delivery system for the melted chocolate and nuts ... I don't mind it being a bit more neutral.

                                      Interesting that Mrs Wakefield chilled the dough overnight. Almost positive Maida doesn't mention that.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          greygarious Jan 12, 2010 11:28 AM

                          Chemicalkinetics, you might want to look up the technique called "fraisage". This in volves having rather large bits of butter in the dough, then smearing the dough across your work surface with the heel of your hand. It helps the butter to sheet and crates flakier pastry.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            Caitlin McGrath Jan 12, 2010 11:37 AM

                            I think what Chowser meant was that you should NOT mix the dough enough that it actually forms a ball, as that will be overhandled and result in a tougher crust. What tool do you use the cut the fat into the flour? If doing it by hand, I think a pastry blender or two table knives are the best choices. You don't want something that will effectively cream the flour and fat. As visciole says, it's best to gently toss the water and flour with a fork until the dough starts to clump. You can can dump it onto a piece of plastic wrap then, and use the wrap to pat it together before chilling.

                            People use marble boards because they're a cold surface, which helps keep the fat in the dough chilled as you roll it out. Rolling as quickly as possible helps to keep the fat cold. You said in your original post that the dough was warmer than room temp once you got it in the tins. If that happens, you can put the pan in the refrigerator for half an hour (or the freezer for a shorter time) before you bake it to chill the fat again so it can react properly in the oven.

                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 12:01 PM


                              Funny. Because my recipe also said mix the dough with two knives or a fork. It also said that I should put the the muffin pan back into refrigerator. I guess it all makes sense now. I thought the book wrote all these steps just to have fun with me.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                foiegras Jan 12, 2010 08:20 PM

                                My favorite cookbook author for really thorough instructions is Maida Heatter. Her instructions can run a bit long, but her recipes won't fail you.

                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                chowser Jan 12, 2010 12:39 PM

                                Thanks for clarifying. That is what I meant.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            visciole Jan 12, 2010 11:27 AM

                            Ha -- it's not so easy to make a nice flaky pie or tart crust! Why do you think so many people resort to pre-made frozen ones?

                            Many variables are involved, so it takes practice -- enough practice so that you can kind of feel and see when it's right, and you're confident enough to do it all rapidly. You'll get the hang of it.

                            1. re: visciole
                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 12, 2010 12:18 PM


                              I don't know. I thought it is the same reason why we have pre-cut celery :)

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                visciole Jan 12, 2010 01:08 PM

                                Good point. But even some excellent cooks I know use pre-made pie crusts, because when it comes to pastry, they're very, very afraid...

                              2. re: visciole
                                chef chicklet Apr 17, 2010 09:34 AM

                                Great point, and there are always questions about how to make good pie dough on this board and me being one of the usual participants.

                                I refuse to buy packaged dough so I keep trying and I've definitely come a long way. It takes practice and also making sure you're following those instructions to the letter. I thought since I could cook, how hard is it to make pie dough? Ha is right!

                            2. k
                              Kelli2006 Jan 12, 2010 12:06 PM

                              Chilling the dough allows it to relax and for the fat that was softened by mixing to re-firm, but it also allows the flour particles to hydrate by evenly absorbing the liquids.

                              Shirley Corriher's Bakewise explains the chemics and physics of baking as does Harold McGee's book, and the CIA's baking text also does a excellent job, but at great cost.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Kelli2006
                                RikkiMama Jan 12, 2010 07:04 PM

                                Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen explain some of the chemistry/physics as well as results of their recipe testing. The story behind the vodka pie dough recipe (the only one I use now) is very interesting.
                                Also, Alton Brown's show Good Eats and his books go into the chemistry & physics of cooking. I know he's done a show on pies and has a book on baking.

                                1. re: RikkiMama
                                  chowser Jan 13, 2010 04:37 AM

                                  Alton Brown relies on Shirley Corriher so I wouldn't be surprised if his book reiterated what she's said in either Bakewise or Cookwise.

                              2. Karl S Jan 12, 2010 12:07 PM

                                There is also the issue that it takes time for the flour to absorb the liquid; many classic cookie doughs benefit from 1-3 days resting in the fridge. Something bakers once knew by passed-down knowledge but now has to be taught rather than passed down.

                                1. p
                                  Paws Up Apr 16, 2010 01:33 PM

                                  Is has been very interesting reading everything you all have written. Now I’m going to throw a twist into everything :-P … I am baking animal treats, I use all natural human grade ingredients and don’t add additional salts, sugars, preservatives, etc. I do use whole wheat flour and/or unbleached flour I do have a problem with my dough getting tough. After cutting out my cookies I then cook them in a small commercial convection oven…I have been having problems with the cookies puffing/bubbling up. I want to keep them flat like a sugar cookie. Some will come out with a bubble and some will not…what is causing this and how can I fix it and also including the tough dough. I am not so much into the flaky product as I have to cook them to where they are dry and crunchy ;o) …

                                  20 Replies
                                  1. re: Paws Up
                                    Chemicalkinetics Apr 16, 2010 02:01 PM

                                    I think increasing sugars will keep cookies flatter and crispier. Adding butter will also keep them flatter. On the other hand, too much flour can get the finish product tough and too much eggs will get the cookies raise up too much like a cake.

                                    I cannot tell if you have trouble with your current receipe or if you have trouble with the new convection oven. Are you saying that your cookies used to be fine until you started using the convection oven?

                                    1. re: Paws Up
                                      chowser Apr 16, 2010 04:22 PM

                                      Tough could be caused by a number of things from too much protein, too much flour, overbeating, overcooking, or if you're substituting ww flour for ap flour that has more protein and will affect the results. If I'm replacing w/ ww flour, I increase the liquids slightly. Since you're having bubbles, it's possible that you're overbeating it, and adding air to it which would cause both bubbles and toughness. Also, if it's a rolled doggie biscuit, rolling it too vigorously and/or reusing scraps and rerolling those could cause toughness. But, that's all just speculation. It might help for you to post your recipe and if you're making changes to it. But, really, I don't think dogs care about the toughness and might enjoy it!:-)

                                      Oh, I just noticed the part about the convection oven. Did you lower the temperature with it? I don't know about commercial convection oven but with residential ones, you need to reduce the temperature.

                                      1. re: Paws Up
                                        Paws Up Apr 16, 2010 09:05 PM

                                        Thank you for your response…The problems I have been having were before the convection oven. Also I did decrease the temperature on the oven. I am not having problems with the cookies being tough after cooking as they are animal treats and hard and dry by the time I finish with them ;-) … Yes I have been reusing the dough as I cut out the shapes. I have tried to be very careful not to over mix anything however, I still have the problem…which from what chowser mentioned about rerolling that could be the issue for the toughness. I don’t want to add sugar I do use agava as it is naturally sweeting, I could add more of that if you think that might help…not all my recipes have the agava…I will have to pay attention to see if the recipes I am using that I am having the issues with on the bubble whether or not it has the agava in it. The ingredients I use in all the recipes are: whole wheat flour and/or unbleached white flour, flaxseed, olive oil (instead of butter), ginger, cinnamon, and citrus acid. Now adding to the above ingredients I just mentioned …depending on the flavor of the cookie I use one or more of the following: agava, vanilla, eggs, bananas, apples, carrots, molasses, peanut butter, blueberries, strawberries, liver powder, organic chicken/beef bouillon, non fat powder milk, and cheddar cheese (I think I listed everything) oh water if needed. I take all the dry ingredients put it in one bowl and use a whisk to mix. Then I use another bowl and mix all the wet ingredients together then add the wet with the dry and combine until just mixed. Then I roll out and cut into shapes. Should I be chilling the dough before rolling? Also If I chill the cutout cookies before cooking would that help too? Also do you think it is ok to cut the eggs out or should I be using them? When I make the peanut butter cookies they seem to not get as tough for some reason. I think I answered your questions again thanks for your help.

                                        1. re: Paws Up
                                          Chemicalkinetics Apr 16, 2010 09:36 PM


                                          Oil/butter flatten cookies and make cookie less cake-like. Eggs give texture, but too many eggs also give that cake-like texture. Think "shortbreads" They are essentially made with butter and sugar with no eggs. Without eggs, the cookies will not be tough, in fact, they will barely hold together like shortbread.

                                          I think the oil from peanut butter may explain why those cookies are not as tough. You can also try to decrease the amount of egg and water. Water also make cookie tough. Of course, what I should say is that water help build gluten and give texture to the cookies, but too much of that "texture" cause cookie to get tough.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            Paws Up Apr 16, 2010 10:44 PM

                                            Thank you for the info...instead of water what could I use? Do you have any idea why I receive the bubble? I think I should use the egg so that it won't fall apart. Not all of the cookies get the bubble or puff up but some do.

                                            1. re: Paws Up
                                              chowser Apr 17, 2010 05:15 AM

                                              I think I misunderstood your question--you WANT your cookies to be tough but they're not? I read it

                                              "I do have a problem with my dough getting tough"

                                              as meaning your dough gets tough and you want to prevent it. If you add liquid (like molasses, agava), fats (like cheddar cheese), fruits, it'll cause the cookies to be softer. If the recipe doesn't call for them but you add them, they'll spread and not get hard. Also, the olive oil will make it soft. Could you use lard instead? If you want it harder, you could make them like biscotti where it's baked twice, with a cooling in between.

                                              1. re: chowser
                                                Paws Up Apr 17, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                Sorry I may not be explaining this well let me try again…BEFORE cooking in the dough stage: I have problems with the dough being tough/rubbery; however, I think you might have answered that problem as I do reuse the dough pieces after cutting and roll them out again (I’ll have to be more careful about that and see if that is the problem for the dough being tough/rubbery)……….DURING the cooking process: sometimes the cookies will get a bubble that puffs up, you can push on it and it gives in and I don’t know why that happens. I do use fruit, cheese, oil, and veggies and DO NOT have a problem in drying them out so the cookies are dry and hard like a dog biscuit. And yes sometimes I do have to cook twice or put them in the oven at a very low temp to make sure they are dry and hard. I do taste everything for flavor and doneness (except the liver, yuck/I draw the line there, haha) and so far in that respect everything is coming out good. I am cooking treats today and will see what happens, I'll let you know. Just for fun, I have attached a few photo's of the decorated treates to show you what I make ;o) ....

                                                1. re: Paws Up
                                                  chowser Apr 17, 2010 09:13 AM

                                                  Very pretty! Do you sell them? There's a doggie treats bakery near me and I was so surprised to see them do so well (it's such a specific market).

                                                  As the bubble goes, it sounds like the same problem as pie dough if you don't dock it. Maybe that would help you? Sorry, I'm not coming from this from a dog biscuit perspective and haven't made those types before (though I made biscuit like ones w/ ham and cheese which I thought about keeping for myself!).

                                                  1. re: Paws Up
                                                    greygarious Apr 17, 2010 07:39 PM

                                                    I think you need ot keep the egg in order to get them to hold together. But you might get away with using powdered egg whites rather than whole egg. Your finished treats are very impressive! I make treats for my 3 hounds on occasion but have not used any of the many recipes in books and online. If I have a lot of rendered chicken or meat fat, dried-out cheese, stale crackers or dry cereal, etc., I mix it all up with egg and whole wheat flour and roll/cut or just pat into a sheet pan and break into pieces later. I can't say I've ever had them puff up, though. I don't see why it is a problem if the dough is tough - as long as you can roll it, and the treats stay in one piece. Texture doesn't matter to dogs.

                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                      maryannbyrd Nov 8, 2011 01:55 PM

                                                      I find all of this interesting and will share my knowledge of Southern Biscuit baking that might help some. Flours have different gluten content. For tender flaky biscuits use a flour low in gluten..around 8%.. Soft t White Southern wheat flours and pastry/cake flours have the lowest gluten content. If you have a tough dough, it could be you are using the wrong flour. We swear by our White Lily and Martha White Flours in the South.
                                                      Kneading your dough will activate gluten, which is why you always hear, "Don't overwork your dough." Now if you are baking bread...gluten is your friend..but not with biscuits. A good rule is; after you turn your dough out on a floured surface..kneed if four times and stop... pat or roll out..fold..and cut your rounds. Up and down..don't twist that cutter.
                                                      Many top biscuit makers all preach refrigerating ingredients before mixing..to keep them cold..even put them in the freezer. You do want to keep your fat, be it butter, lard, or crisco, very cold. Why? Because when the biscuits baking the oven..the cold chunks melt and leave pockets of air. A good thing.
                                                      Some biscuit makers mix the fat into the flour with thier hands.. I use a pastry blender so I can keep my ingredients as cold as possible the entier process..that is because I want a tall biscuits. Other times, I'll use my hands..I get a different kind of biscuit..but it is still good. This is why biscuits are so personal, everyone makes them different because we each have our own touch.
                                                      So, you want it flaky? Fold your dough...each fold..adds a layer of flakiness.
                                                      Here are my buttercrisp biscuits.

                                                      1. re: maryannbyrd
                                                        Chemicalkinetics Nov 8, 2011 04:40 PM

                                                        Very very delicious looking biscuits. I have baked cookies, small pastries, breads..., but never tried biscuits. Wow. They are awesome. Also, thanks for the tips. They are very thoughtful.

                                                        1. re: maryannbyrd
                                                          visciole Nov 9, 2011 07:07 AM

                                                          These look great! Can we have the recipe, please?

                                                          1. re: visciole
                                                            maryannbyrd Nov 11, 2011 06:27 AM

                                                            I'm glad you like the look the biscuits..they taste even better. These are more involved then some of the simple classic Southern Biscuits I bake.
                                                            The trick is to refrigerate your ingredients before..and I put my butter in the freezer.

                                                            2 cups of self rising flour (use a soft white winter wheat..low gluten..whit lily is my favorite..martha white is good too)
                                                            1/4 cup frozen butter cut into chunks
                                                            1 cup of buttermilk
                                                            a pinch 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

                                                            Mix your dry ingredients...cut frozen 1/4 cup of butter into the flour. Put your pinch of baking powder into your cup of buttermilk and stir. Add to flour..form dough. Roll the dough out and fold over..and roll again. Do it five times..last time...add bits of frozen butter on the top of your dough and fold a final time. Then cut your rounds.
                                                            During all of this have your baking pan in a 425 degree oven. Put a half stick of butter on the pan..to melt ... take the pan out..make sure it is coated with butter and add your raw biscuits..use the butter to brush tops..and bake for 18 minutes. Don't forget to turn the pan around 9 minutes into the baking for even baking. You will have crisp buttery flaky biscuit.. (also I cut mine small..2 inch rounds..I think turn out better)
                                                            Love & Biscuits,
                                                            Maryann Byrd

                                                            1. re: maryannbyrd
                                                              visciole Nov 11, 2011 07:40 AM

                                                              Thank you, I am definitely going to make them soon! I admit I'm very surprised you roll them out five times, I always am trying to barely touch the dough when I make biscuits. Do you roll them out super-gently?

                                                              I wonder if maybe the self-rising flour also makes a big difference, in addition to using the low-gluten type and chilling everything well. I've never used self-rising flour, but your picture of those biscuits is going to make me give it a whirl.

                                                              1. re: visciole
                                                                maryannbyrd Nov 11, 2011 08:50 AM

                                                                You can use all purpose and add your baking powder if you'd like. My technique is my own.. The best biscuit makers I know preach.."don't overwork the dough."
                                                                But in this recipe, I do knead it more than four times (always the standard for biscuits) and I fold and roll it out four to five times. Folding is what adds the layers, that with the cold butter. I also use a pastry blender to blend the frozen butter so it won't melt with the heat of fingertips. .. I have not tried refrigerating the dough like many discuss here. I really do like the ease of Southern biscuits...making them fast and easy is part of the tradition....And this recipe is more involved than some of my others. So, adding the refrigeration of the dough would add to the difficulty.. Still, I'm going to experiment and try it with half a batch and see what the outcome brings.
                                                                Here are some pictures of the batches I baked yesterday.

                                                              2. re: maryannbyrd
                                                                Chemicalkinetics Nov 11, 2011 10:17 AM

                                                                You should also put this as a new post, so more people can get to read the recipe. :)

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                  maryannbyrd Nov 11, 2011 12:14 PM

                                                                  thanks Chemicalkinetics...I am new here...so I will do a new post for the recipe

                                                                2. re: maryannbyrd
                                                                  chowser Nov 11, 2011 11:23 AM

                                                                  This sounds great. I haven't read directions like this before for biscuits. Is it hard to cut frozen butter into the flour? I've read some grate it in to make it easier/ What consistency are you looking for before you fold it? Your pictures are great.I can't wait to try this. Thanks!

                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                    maryannbyrd Nov 11, 2011 11:50 AM

                                                                    I wish I could show you. I did first upload a demonstration video I did for this.. but it was taken down by the forum administrator. I cut the frozen butter into the flour with a pastry blender. If you use your fingers...it would melt the butter and you really want it cold so when the chunks melt as the biscuits bake..it leaves air pockets and gives you height.
                                                                    Now when I turn this dough out onto the floured surface it is a pretty wet dough...I sprinkle the top with flour..as well as my surface...and I form a ball and knead it softly about 6 to 10 times. I flour my rolling pin and gently roll out the dough...fold..gently roll...fold..andI turn it at times also..and flip it...then the last time I roll it out larger and thinner to put about two tablespoons of frozen bits of butter on the dough...then I fold it on last time...gently roll it to 1/2 inch thickness..then cut my rounds. I also re-roll the left over dough..fold one time..and cut the rest of the rounds.

                                                                    1. re: maryannbyrd
                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Nov 11, 2011 03:49 PM

                                                                      you can upload a video here ? :) I thought we can only upload photos.

                                              2. c
                                                ConnieC Nov 22, 2012 09:12 AM

                                                I just tried it. I left the discs of dough in the refrigerator overnight. It says somewhere here that doing that makes it easier to roll out. In fact, the dough was impossible to roll out. The discs were just hard. I had to leave them out an hour before the rolling pin would push the dough down a bit. When I began rolling, it all came apart. I wound up pressing the pieces of dough into the tart dish.

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