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Why Pastry Cracks When Rolling (And How to Prevent or Fix It)

Why Pastry Cracks When Rolling (And How to Prevent or Fix It)

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No matter what time of year it is, it’s always a great time for pastry! 

Whether it’s a delicious berry tart, a delicate pastry with custard cream, or a lattice apple pie, they’re all favorites to my family. But to make any of those treats, you need the perfect dough.

This is where things can sometimes go wrong, as pastry sometimes cracks when rolling out the dough. Is it too much flour or not enough shortening? Or maybe the dough is too cold or didn’t rest long enough?

Let’s take a look at why pastry cracks when rolled along with some tips to help you keep the dough from cracking as you’re rolling.

9 Factors That Cause Pastries to Crack When Rolled

There are various reasons why pastries crack during the rolling process, although some of them are more common than others. 

In this section, I’ll walk you through all the different factors to help you pinpoint the culprit in your situation!

1 – Ignoring the Ratios

Pastry dough doesn’t have a lot of ingredients. It’s either flour, fat, a bit of salt, and ice water if you’re making a shortcrust pastry dough, or flour, fat, sugar, and egg if you’re making a sweet one.

No matter what type of dough you’re making, always follow the recipe, as the perfect ratio of ingredients is critical to getting the right dough consistency.

Use tools to measure your ingredients exactly, and avoid going above or below the recommended amounts.

2 – Choosing the Wrong Flour

Jars Of Different Types Of Flour

Throughout the years, I’ve learned that it’s best not to substitute different types of flour in pastry dough recipes.

Some pastry dough recipes will call for pastry flour, while others will use all-purpose flour. Other flour options are a pastry flour blend or whole wheat flour. Each of these flours differs in the way they absorb moisture.

If a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, substituting it with a pastry flour blend is going to throw off the fat and water ratio, which leads to cracks while rolling.

If you can’t help but pick a different type of flour, you’ll need to adjust the ratios to get the right consistency. 

For example, if the dough feels too sticky, add more flour, or if it feels too dry, you can add more water. But baking by adding more of one ingredient or less of another can lead to dough that just doesn’t roll out smoothly without cracks.

3 – Overdoing the Chill Step

Chilling the dough is a tried and true method to prevent cracks while rolling the dough. After preparing your dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 to 30 minutes before rolling it out.

However, overdoing this step will make your dough too cold, which also results in cracks and crumbly texture, so don’t let the dough chill for longer than 30 minutes.

But it’s a fine line here – don’t let the dough warm up too much well, or fat layers will start to melt into one another, and your dough won’t be nice and flakey.

4 – Shaping the Dough into a Ball instead of Disks

Shaping Dough With Hands

Another trick for avoiding cracks is to form the dough into a disk shape before chilling. 

Doing this ensures even thickness when rolling it out later, and allows the dough temperature to stay even across all sections, unlike ball-shaped dough.

If you’re chilling dough in a ball before rolling, and you’re still getting cracks, chilling as a flattened round disk can solve the problem.

5 – Not Enough Resting Time

Some recipes require that your pastry dough be rested for a few hours. If the recipe calls for it, don’t miss this step. 

During the resting time, the flour in the dough moistens throughout so that gluten forms. When flour doesn’t have time to hydrate, your dough may crack when being rolled.

6 – The Dough Isn’t Moist Enough

If the dough is difficult to roll and starts to crack, it may be too dry. In that case, adding some moisture may help. 

Start by adding a few sprinkles of cold water and work it into the dough while handling it as little as possible.

When the dough is evenly moist, carefully start to roll it out. If it’s still cracking a bit around the edges, let it warm up for 2 to 3 minutes. Any longer and the dough will become too warm.

7 – Inadequate Rolling Pin

While there are plenty of alternatives, having the right rolling pin can make all the difference when it comes to cracked dough. Invest in a French-style rolling pin – the kind with no handles.

Using a rolling pin with handles may cause uneven rolling as you put more weight on one side. This uneven rolling can cause the dough to stretch out more in some areas, which leads to cracks.

French rolling pins give you more control when rolling, leaving you with dough that’s the right thickness and without any cracks!

8 – Incorrect Rolling Direction

Wooden Dowel As Rolling Pin

Pastry dough often cracks if not rolled in the right direction – away from you. Start at the center of the dough and push the dough so that it rolls away from you, rotating the dough a bit with each turn. 

Besides reducing the chances of cracking, this technique also leaves you with a perfectly nice circle of dough for your pastry or pie crust!

9 – Using Too Much Flour When Rolling

The excessive use of flour to keep the dough from sticking is one of the most common mistakes people make while rolling pastries. This is because flour dries up the surface of the dough, increasing the chances of cracks.

Instead, try to add as little flour as possible and spread it evenly before rolling. In fact, any more than a teaspoon won’t only crack the dough as you roll, but will also make the pastry dry and crumbly.

Extra Tips and Tricks to Help You Enjoy Crack-Free Pastry Cracks

Now that you know more about the reasons behind cracking, here are some valuable tips to help you avoid cracks while rolling

Consider Adding Shortening with the Butter

If your favorite dough recipe keeps cracking around the edges, take a look at the ingredients. 

If the recipe is using just butter, try adding a portion of shortening to the mix the next time you bake.

For 1 cup of butter, substitute shortening for ¼ of the cup. The addition of shortening can prevent those annoying small cracks.

Roll Between Parchment Paper

Sheet Of Parchment Paper On The Counter

A trick I often use when making pastry is to roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper. If I start rolling the dough, and cracks are forming, I get out the paper.

Rolling gently, from the center out, the parchment paper keeps the dough moist and even, which helps me avoid cracks every time.

Use Marble Rolling Surface

A great investment if you make a lot of pies and other pastries is a marble pastry board. 

The marble surface is perfect for rolling dough – the marble stone keeps the dough just a bit cooler than room temperature, preventing the dough from forming cracks.

A trick I often use when making pastry, is to roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper. If I start rolling the dough, and cracks are forming, I get out the paper.

Rolling gently, from the center out, the parchment paper keeps the dough moist and even, so cracks are avoided.

What to Do When the Pastry Cracks While Rolling

Sometimes, no matter what you do, the dough is going to crack when rolled. Here are a few fixes for cracked pastry dough:

1 – Pinching

When cracks start to form, gently pinch them together to try and mend. Be careful not to stretch the dough too much or it will start to pull apart.

2 – Mending Cracks with More Dough

If the crack is too large to pinch together, you can try mending. Pull off a piece of pastry from the edge. Place it over the crack and gently press it into place, then carefully continue rolling.

3 – Start Over

If all else fails, your last resort would be starting over. Simply roll the dough back up into a ball, and carefully knead in a bit of cold water, then wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to start again.

By starting over I’ve been able to rescue dough, so it rolls out perfectly on the second attempt without cracks.

Final Thoughts

When you know why pastry cracks when it’s rolled, and what you can do to prevent these cracks, you guarantee that your pies and pastries will come out perfect every time.

Sweet or savory, you’re now ready to start making pastry dough for your next strawberry tart, banana cream pie, or Quiche Lorraine!

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Sunday 11th of July 2021

Everytime I use an egg my pastry falls apart. Without an egg I don't have this problem


Friday 27th of November 2020

You are a life saver! Wrestling with Thomas Keller’s quiche recipe....the crust defeats me time and again. Used your parchment paper trick and VIOLA! Perfect crust, no cracks and completely round (because rotating was so much easier). Thanks for sharing your knowledge and helping me be a better baker :)


Monday 26th of October 2020

How do you turn your pastry to roll out if it’s stuck to the counter and you say don’t use too much flour??

Karen White

Monday 10th of August 2020

My pastry dough doesn't crack when rolled - or not much - but my problem comes when transferring it to the tin, It begins to crack as I try to mould it into the tin, especially at the bottom inside edge and where I am trying to shape into the fluted edges. Sometimes it all breaks up as soon as I lift it. The proportions I use for a basic savoury dough are 200g plain flour, 100g butter (or 1/2 and 1/2 butter and trex) and 1/2 to 1 beaten egg. If I use water rather than egg the dough cracks even more. Do you have any suggestions as to what I may be doing wrong please?