Four Surprising Ways to Use Dental Floss in the Kitchen
What do cheesecake, cookie dough, cinnamon rolls, and goat cheese all have in common? Besides being delicious, they’re a pain in the be-hind to slice.
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Photos and article by Ashley Strickland Freeman
How often have you spent the time to mix up a cheesecake, bake it, chill it overnight, and present it on a lovely cake stand, only to mutilate it with a serving knife? I’ve lost count. And what about cookie dough? I have a 4-year-old and there’s nothing more fun than grabbing a log of dough from the supermarket and making slice-and-bake cookies with him (decorated with sprinkles, of course). The only problem is the once-perfectly cylindrical dough ends up looking more like blobs by the time I’m done placing slices on the cookie sheet.
Then there are cinnamon rolls. I love making the pillowy pastries for special occasions, but it’s a long process. I painstakingly roll the dough to form the perfect pinwheel shape, only to have to reshape the rounds of dough after my knife smashes them.
Finally, goat cheese is another offender. Plain goat cheese rolled in herbs and spices makes a beautiful addition to a cheese board. But getting nice little round slices of cheese is close to impossible.
Fortunately, I have a hack to solve all of these cutting conundrums, and it’s probably sitting in your medicine cabinet right now. Dental floss is my solution to creating smooth slices of cheesecake, round Cookie Monster-approved slices of cookie dough, bakery-beautiful cinnamon rolls, and delightful discs of goat cheese.
Slice cheesecake neatly
Cheesecake is one of my all-time favorite desserts. Whether served with fresh berries on top, gussied up with chocolate curls, or made in a dense New York style, it’s a classic for a reason. For years I used the “dip a knife in hot water” technique, and it worked okay, but how annoying is it to have to dip over and over again (and keep wiping off the gooey knife)? Enter my dental floss hack.
1. Simply unmold the cheesecake and transfer it to a serving plate or cake stand if you like. Cut off a large piece of floss to extend the length of the cake and pull tightly until the string is taut. Press down with the floss to cut the cake in half.
2. Pull the floss up and rotate the taut string to cut again. (You can either cut the cake in half again to equal four quarters, or rotate slightly to cut like you would a pizza.) Continue cutting until you have the desired number of slices. You may also need to wipe the floss occasionally between slices. (Note that this technique works best with thinner or softer crusts.)
Cut neat rounds of cookie dough
Logs of from-scratch or store-bought cookie dough make it easy to create lots of cookies, and I love rolling the edges in sprinkles or nuts. But cutting the dough is another story. Dental floss is a great tool to use to retain that cylindrical shape and prevent you from having to reshape the edges.
1. Place the dough log on a clean work surface and slide a length of floss under one end, about 1/4 inch from the edge (or thicker if you like).
2. Hold the floss until it’s taut and lift the ends up. Cross them over to cut the dough into an even slice and place on a baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve cut all the dough.
Slice perfect cinnamon rolls
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a fresh-from-the-oven, gooey cinnamon roll. Yes they can take awhile to make — waiting for the dough to rise twice, spreading on the cinnamon filling, rolling them out, and then baking — it’s a long process. Using dental floss to help retain those gorgeous cinnamon swirls was a game-changer for me, and I use the hack for other dough recipes too (like making palmiers, aka elephant ears, with frozen puff pastry dough). I use the same technique for cutting as I do with cookie dough. The only difference is I make the rolls a lot thicker.
1. Place the log of dough on a floured work surface and slide a length of floss under one end, about 1 inch from the edge (or whatever the recipe recommends).
2. Slide the floss under the dough and lift up, crossing the taut lines of floss over each other in an “x” to cut through the dough.
Cut goat cheese beautifully
Are you a goat cheese fan? I am, big time. Cutting it (and getting it out of the plastic package) is not fun, though. When I’m feeling fancy, I like to roll a log of goat cheese in lemon zest, chopped parsley and thyme, and a little crushed red pepper. It’s a delicious and easy addition to a cheese board or charcuterie platter. (As for getting it out of the package, scissors are your friend.)
1. Place the goat cheese on the serving board and use the same method of cutting as for cheesecake (although you can also cut it like I do for the cookie dough and cinnamon roll dough).
2. Hold the ends of the floss in either hand and pull until the line is tight. Press down, slide under the slice, and pull the floss up. Repeat the process until you’ve made all the slices.
Now that you have this trick in your repertoire of kitchen hacks, grab your floss (unflavored please) and see how easy it is to enjoy these dishes!
More handy kitchen hacks
At Yummly we have lots more hack-tastic ways to make your life easier in the kitchen. Here are a few more to explore.