Friday, December 6, 2013

Technique: How to divide a piece of dough into three equal pieces

It's pretty easy to divide a piece of dough into halves or quarters or any multiple of that, right? Eight, sixteen, thirty-two ... you just keep cutting in half and in half and in half.

But what about when you need 12 pieces? You can cut into quarters, but then you need to divide each of those into three, and that doesn't seem as easy when you're trying to get relatively equal pieces.

But there's actually a really simple way to divide a piece of dough into three (mostly) equal pieces. We're talking dough here, not something that's going to turn into a fireball if the ratio is a little off. In fact, I don't really mind if some buns are slightly smaller and some are slightly larger. That means the hungry folks can grab larger portions. But I still like them to be close to the same size.

So here we go.

And, sorry about the poor photos. This was shot in my kitchen where the light isn't great. But this isn't about art, it's about technique.

First, form the dough into a nice circular shape.

Then, make a cut through the dough to the center of the circle.

Now, open up that cut to a 90-degree angle.

Do you see what you have here? Take a look after I've scored it. 

You've got 3/4 of a circle of dough, with 1/4 missing. 
Now you just cut straight lines and you've got 3 equal pieces of dough.

So that's it - now you've got three roughly equal pieces that you can continue to divide. If I need to divide them in half, I usually just cut the wedges in half. But if I need to cut into thirds again, or into quarters, I form the wedges into rounds again - they don't need to be tightly formed balls, as if I was making buns - just rough circles to make the dividing easier.

Easy peasy, right?