Keeping dough even (both in thickness and shape) can be tricky. Here are some of my best tips to keep you rolling smoothly and evenly
-Start with the dough in the shape you'd like it to end up in. It seems obvious, but starting with your pie dough in a circle or your cinnamon roll dough in a rough rectangle will help you maintain that shape better while you roll. You don't need to put too much emphasis here, just use your hands to form the dough into the approximate shape you're aiming for before you get started.
-Start in the center, and apply even pressure while moving forward and back. There's no one "right" way to roll dough, but if you struggle with keeping your dough an even thickness, this is a good place to start! Start with your rolling pin in the middle of the dough. Apply gentle, even pressure as you push the pin away from you, then return it to the center without applying more pressure. Then apply gentle, even pressure as you pull the pin toward you, then return it to the center. Continue until your dough is the desired thickness. Note: French pins are also easier for rolling large pieces of dough because they are longer, allowing you to successfully roll out more of the dough in one swipe of the pin then if you have to roll multiple times across.
-Use your hands or a bench knife to keep the edges squared off, when applicable. When I'm rolling out dough into a square or rectangle, I like to use my hands or (preferably) a bench knife/bench scraper to straighten the edges and sharpen the corners. This is useful for a variety of reasons. When you're making a complex method, such as puff pastry, keeping squared off edges will lead to greater success in the recipe - matched up edges mean better lamination. But it's also important for simpler recipes, like cinnamon rolls. Keeping your dough squared off on all sides means when you roll it up into a log, you won't have smaller/thinner pieces at the end - the whole log will be one thickness, meaning every cinnamon roll will be the same when you slice them!
-When in doubt, make the dough work for you. Remember, the dough is a flexible, moveable thing - if you want some of that excess in the middle to go toward the top, gently lift your dough off the surface in the thick area and stretch it towards the thinner area. Use your hands to make the dough move where you want it to go. Trust me, the dough will listen!
Watch these tips in action:
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