What Really Happens When You Open "Instant Dough"

>> Friday, November 12, 2010

A few weeks ago, I made some allusions to an argument I had with a can of "instant dough."  To clarify, by "instant dough," I mean the kind that comes in a can and that has perforations in the dough so the user can tear it and roll it into pieces that will become crescents, biscuits, or whatever shape is described on the label.  I'm sure most of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

To use instant dough like this properly and effectively, you need to be able to see the perforations, and to tear the dough at the right spot.  If you can't do this, then we've lost the whole point and you might as well have just mixed up your own batter and kneaded it into whatever you want.  So, when you leave those cans in the refrigerator past their "suggested use by" date, and they get tempermental, things can get interesting.

Take, for example, a particularly troublesome can of allegedly crescent-shaped rolls I encountered in September.  I peeled back the label, exposing the ever-so-critical black line to the air.  Of course, I did this with the tube about as far away from me as I could, gingerly waiting for the *pop* of the can in my hand.  This *pop* isn't loud, and it isn't scary, but still, I can't seem to just peel back that label without stretching my arms out to their full length ... just in case the little sucker might want to explode.  (For the record, I do the same thing with those hypodermic-needle looking wine  bottle openers that inject air under the cork so it pops out.  I've also noticed that the majority of people who aren't wine butlers will do the same thing with a bottle of champagne.)

So, there I was, arms outstretched, black line exposed, and ...

and ...


Nothing happened.

No *pop*.

The can didn't open.

So, I dug into my bag of tricks. 

I banged the can on the countertop.  Nothing happened.

I got out a spoon and tapped the black line.  Nothing happened.

I removed the rest of the label.  Nothing happened.  (Are you getting the picture?)

"So now what?" I wondered.  What on earth could I do with a hermetically sealed tube of crescent rolls that refuses to open?  Dinner was waiting, people!

For lack of any better options, I got out a knife and tried to pry the seam under the black line apart.  The moment the knife point penetrated the thin cardboard, I learned what about instant dough is supposed to make the can pop open.  Exposure to air through the super-thin cardboard at the black line is supposed to make the dough expand, popping the fragile cardboard and presenting the cook with a nice cylindrical pile of ready-to-separate dough.  (Let's assume that the dough isn't stuck to the cardboard anywhere, or tears where it isn't supposed to, or ... you know.  Let's stick with the ideal here.)

When the cardboard won't give, a little knife prick hole sends expanding dough oozing out like toothpaste from a toothpaste tube, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  Forget about careful tearing of perforations.  This stuff is snaking out like one of those Fourth of July "firework toys" that turn into tubes of carbon when you light the little bullet thing on fire.  (Is that enough analogies?)  No perforations will survive.  The dough, for all intents and purposes, was becoming one long thin strand suitable for braiding into 1/3 of a french twist.

Okay ... that happened.  Now what?  The dough had a life of its own, and someone had to do something.  (Given that it's only me and the 3 year old in the house, I figured "someone" was me, 'cause he'd just poke at it and then ask me to help him wash his hands.  Or smear it in the furniture.  One or the other.)

Once again, fresh out of any other brilliant ideas, I headed for the can opener.  I had to find a way to libertate this dough.

Can openers, in case you were wondering, have a similar impact on expanding dough as knife pricks do.  At the first cut of the can opener, dough began squeezing out the end.  Thankfully, the can opener worked quickly, and in a matter of moments the entire end was off, allowing the dough to ooze out like a really big, fat sausage ... with, of course, the pencil-sized appendage from the knife prick still growing on the side.

Thankfully, at this point, I was able to use the knife to finish removing the cardbord from the cylinder of expanding dough, which was a huge relief, because all that dough was starting to stick to that blasted cardboard that wouldn't pop.  (It never did pop, you know.)

As for the crescent rolls ... well ... what can I say?  I pretended I let Bubba help me put them together.  One or two came out reasonably normal.  The rest?  Let's just say it's a good thing we weren't having company or anything. 

Hey, they were edible.


Anonymous November 12, 2010 at 4:27 PM  

Are you trying to tell me that this ISN'T how they are SUPPOSED to be opened? This happens to me alot> sigh!

Karin Kysilka November 12, 2010 at 7:15 PM  

As far as I know, this is NOT supposed to happen. I figured it was the sort of thing that only happened to me. **sigh**

Gina @ Special Happens November 12, 2010 at 7:19 PM  

ROFLMAO. Seriously...we open these rolls the same exact way!

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