Nothing says romance like a rolling pin or so thought sailors around the turn of the 18th century who often brought home decorative glass rolling pins for their loved ones. The pins were typically hollow and could hold additional gifts like salt, tea, cocoa, and other rare commodities from far off places. Today we view rolling pins as either mundane, practical kitchen utensils or family heirlooms passed down through generations. Though simple in design, rolling pins are revolutionary in utility, shaping dough to a uniform thickness that could never be achieved by bare hands alone. No one knows when the rolling pin was first invented, and while there may be variations for specialized uses, the basic design of a weighted cylinder remains the same. Two main styles dominate today’s market: the baker’s pin and the French rolling pin.
The Baker’s Pin
The baker’s pin, sometimes known as the American rolling pin, features two handles that attach to a rod that spins inside a heavy cylinder. The handles make for easy rolling forward and backward, and the pin itself is typically weighty enough that you don’t have to put much effort into flattening dough. Baker’s pins are available in a variety of materials – hardwood cylinders being the most common. Pins made with a marble, silicon, or stainless steel barrel are also available for those interested in an easier to clean rolling pin. When chilled, marble and metal rolling pins are better at holding a cold temperature, making them ideal for working pastry and other doughs that must be kept cold.
The French Pin
French pins, by comparison, have no handles; you use the heel of your hand to press down and roll the pin to flatten the dough. Among French pins, you’ll find straight (dowel) and tapered designs. Bakers who use straight pins often laud their ability to produce consistently smooth and even dough, while those who prefer tapered pins tout maneuverability. The tapered design is ideal for creating circular shapes, such as pie crusts and pizzas, and shaping edges. French pins, like baker’s pins, are also available in different materials.
Clean With Care
Wooden rolling pins require special care when cleaning. Immediately after use, wipe them down with a dry cloth or paper towel or use a damp cloth to remove any dough residue and dry to remove excess moisture. Avoid using soap, which can strip away the wood’s natural oil. Be sure to periodically oil the wood (mineral or butcher block oil works well) to prevent cracks. These simple steps should keep your wooden rolling pin in like-new condition. Someday it might become a prized family heirloom – a memento of cherished moments in the kitchen baking for people you love.
“Work With What You Got!”
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