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Dec 6, 2011 08:30 AM

Rolling Pins - What is Your Favorite & What do You Use it For?

There are all sorts out there, long ones, short ones, wooden, marble & a whole lot more. I am wondering, do I need a different rolling pin for different tasks? I sure hope not, so maybe we could weed through the whole bit & come up with a multi purpose one. Or who knows, perhaps it is necessary to have more than one?

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  1. Have had my rolling pin for 25+ years. I find a "less is more" philosophy about tools - my rolling pin is one solid piece of maple wood, tapered at the ends. I am short and the rolling pin is average sized. I take good care of it, wash it when it's dirty, but don't fuss with it. On occasion, I have been known to use a wine bottle on vacation to roll out a pastry dough. Actually, maybe not as wide across, but my maple rolling pin sort of resembles a wine bottle, a little longer.

    If you do a lot of pastry, it would be terrific to have a marble rolling pin, to ensure the dough will be kept cold. If I were going to buy another one, it would be marble.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Diane in Bexley

      Diane, how long is your rolling pin?

    2. On The French Chef, Julia Child had several and pointed out that she liked her extra-long one better than the typical footlong type with handles, because that one isn't long enough to cover a larger round of dough. However, she also used a length of broom handle, and made it clear that it's fine to go basic.

      I like my French pin - that is the name of the style with tapered ends and no handle. I roll it in my pastry cloth, put that into a plastic bag, and keep it in the refrigerator, since keeping it cold makes rolling dough neater.

      5 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        greygarious, do French pins come in different lengths, what length is yours?

        1. re: cstout

          Good question. I have only seen the 20" length. Between the length and the taper, your hands do not touch wood that has contacted the dough. A French pin can be made to rotate slightly by pressing down harder on one end than the other. This helps when you are trying to redistribute dough to maintain a rounder circle (redundant, I know, but you get the idea).

          1. re: greygarious

            greygarious, I think I need a 20" pin. My dough turns out ok, but as for the "circle", it is anything but a circle. Somehow I need to master that part. I roll from the center out, turn the dough a quarter turn, roll from center out again & keep repeating the process, but it still comes out with jagged edges. My rolling pin is just a cheapo with handles on each end. I find myself never using the handles, so your size pin sounds like that sure would help. Thank you.

            1. re: cstout

              Sounds like your technique is fine but if the edges are jagged, your dough is too dry, or hasn't had enough of a rest to evenly hydrate. Don't ever expect to get an even perimeter without trimming, but if the edges of your "circle" look like the coastline of Norway, it's a hydration issue.

              1. re: greygarious

                greygarious, were you a detective in another lifetime? You are so good at sniffing out problems. Your attention to detail amazes me. I certainly will up the water a little bit in making the next pie crust. You must have been baking a long time or went to some sort of culinary school. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I don't know about that crust looking like the coast of Norway, but I certainly do see the state of Texas in the shape.

      2. Thorpe Rolling Pins... Made in USA Quality hardwood and bearings

        1. I have two rolling pins at this point. A straight traditional rolling pin, no bearing, no French.

          I have a small one for small pastry and Chinese dim sum.

          Oh yes, they are both made out of wood.

          The marble one is for pastry dough which need to stay cold, but I don't buy that argument, not for the pin anyway.

          17 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I think I am going to go with the straight Vic Firth one on amazon. Where did you get the small pastry one?

            1. re: cstout

              I got my small pin (really small like 10" long at a restaurant supply store. It was sold for 1 or 2 dollars. :)

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Chemicalkinetics, I think the Mexican folks use a small one like that to roll out their tortillas. I would like to find one like that too. Thanks.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Small ones of various lengths are used by cake decorators to roll fondant.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    greygarious, come on now, I just KNOW you are a professional baker or something like that. whoooo wheee, I just love the details you provide. Who knew those little sticks were used by cake decorators?? Maybe all you people out there knew these things, but I did not & it is most interesting.

                    1. re: cstout

                      Not a professional, nor have I ever taken cooking classes. But I susbscribed to Cook's Illustrated for many years, have watched a LOT of PBS (never have had cable) and Martha Stewart in her network days, and supplement my pretty good memory with a lot of note-taking.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I have always wanted to subscribe to CI, but thought it would be just another magazine laying around. You have convinced me otherwise. Thanks for taking all those notes. I do not have cable either, so these forums are where I glean my information, which means from folks like you who take the time to share their knowledge. Only trouble is, there are so many websites that just throw recipes out there & don't have a clue if they work or not. Information overload at work, I am one who has been burned more than once with copying a recipe from "out there" & finding that it is a total flop. The folks on Chowhound seem to be above all that & my hat is tipped to them.

                        1. re: cstout

                          I've never looked at CI's cookbooks and I no longer subscribe but I do keep an eye out for the bound magazine annuals on eBay. I prefer my reading to be on paper rather than online. CI began in 1993. You can usually get an annual that is from a few years ago for considerably less than it would cost for a one-year subscription. CI's pros and cons have been widely debated on CH. I do think they sometimes invent problems that aren't there, just to come up with subject matter.
                          For example, they decided baked apples need to be completely peeled.and they remove a very wide core so as to stuff with what amounts to the mixture for a fruit crisp topping. I don't mind the skin, and I would not want to sacrifice that much flesh. I would not turn my nose up at a baked apple just because it split and oozed.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            greygarious, that is exactly why I did not subscribe....what is truly the "best" way aint necessarily so the next year, as some would say. The subject matter I come across in this forum is plenty for my peabrain to digest. Folks like you who are at home in their own kitchens facing the ins & outs of a recipe are much better than those folks in some "test" kitchen trying to figure out why Granny's fried chicken recipe should be changed to do such and such. Just saying.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I have several but the one I reach for most often is an 18" Banton, solid maple with ball bearings and is heavy. It was made in Maine. Vic Firth (yes the drum stick maker) now owns the company and the pins are beautiful. I have a marble one I almost never use, can't think of the last time I did, Another is an antique, hand made maybe 1 1/2" -2" in diameter. I used to use it for rolling out pasta, it too is beautiful, cherry and well oiled with use and age. BTW Chemicalkenetics, use a tortilla press for dim sum wrappers. I learned that trick from Andrea Nguyen when I was testing recipes for her book Asian Dumplings several years ago. I taught that trick to a Vietnamese friend and she had to have a tortilla press after that as did her mother and sister.

                1. re: Candy

                  Candy, very interesting info. I will look up an 18" Banton, never heard of those before. Thanks.

                  1. re: cstout

                    They are now sold under the brand Vic Firth

                    1. re: Candy

                      Candy would the straight Vic Firth be the best one? Chemicalkinetics has just the straight one, no French. Do you agree on this??

                      1. re: cstout

                        That is a personal preference. I know many people like the French style better. VIc Firth, of course, has the other versions.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Yep, Chemicalkinetics, there is always that "personal preference" involved & I guess that is what makes it all so interesting. We just have to read, digest & go for what best suits us (at the time).

                        2. re: cstout

                          I do have a French pin but my heavy ball bearing loaded Vic Firth nee Banton is the pin I reach for most. The pin is heavy and I do not have to work as hard to roll out dough. I have arthritis in my right hand and it is the most comfortable for me to use and I don't have to press as hard as I do with other pins. The pin does most of the work.

                    2. re: Candy

                      For Dim Sum wrappers, it depend. For some of them, I roll out, but many I just press with my plate -- Same idea as the torilla press. I know traditional method is to use a Dim Sum knife, but I don't have the skill to do it correctly. I tried. :)

                  2. In my honest opinion, Thorpe rolling pins are far better than any other on the market. Julia Child had a large 18 inch Thorpe pin, and they are the industry standard for bakeries.

                    These solid maple, heavy, steel ball bearing pins have comfortable handles and are available in sizes ranging from 12 inch long, 2 1/2 inch diameter barrels to 18 inch long, 4 inch diameter barrels.

                    I have one in every size, though my favorite is the 15 inch long, 4 inch diameter barrel pin. The weight of the pin does all of the work for you and they are an excellent pin for pastry and bread.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Leolady

                      Leolady, have not heard of Thorpe pins, will google & check them out. Thanks for yet another option.