One day, as a newlywed, I wanted to impress my husband by making a pie. I soon realized I had a pie pan but no rolling pin. I also didn’t have the means to buy new one; so I went to the local Goodwill Store. There was an entire basket full of wood rolling pins. I picked one that had little handles that felt comfortable, paid my 99¢ went home and made a pie that tasted better than it looked. I still use that rolling pin today and it is one of my favorites.
Traditional Rolling Pin (AKA my Good Will special)
This is probably the most familiar rolling pin f0r most people, wooden, and in many cases, maple or beech wood, with two handles. You can comfortably curl your fingers around the handles, using leverage and arm strength to push the rolling pin forward and back over the dough.
Pros: Comfortable handles. Very versatile in the dough making world.
Cons: These rolling pins take a little more effort to use than the handleless options. Also, there is no way to keep these pins cool for some of those more finicky pastries.
Overall: I love this style of rolling pin. It’s comfortable, versatile, classic. If you only have one rolling pin in your kitchen, this would be my pick for you, not too large or heavy, making it wonderful for pie crust and other rolling needs.
French Rolling Pin
A French Rolling Pin is one piece of wood that is either a straight dowel, tapered from the center, or tapered at the ends. The shape is easier on your hands and wrists. You place your palm on each end of it and roll using even pressure across the dough.
Pros: Easier to roll, controlled pressure, more control in general, lightweight.
Cons: Not good for a stiff or chilled dough; your hands heat up the wood making the dough sticky.
Overall: These are simply beautiful rolling pins and are easy to us. I’m on the fence with this one; your hands are in contact with the dough. Some people like that textural feel, some don’t.
Considering a Wooden Rolling Pin?
- Wooden rolling pins are traditional and are made from a variety of wood types; and the larger the wooden rolling pin, the heavier the pin.
- Most wooden rolling pins stick to the dough. Using too much flour to prevent sticking can add an, undesirable extra floury taste to your pie. Cleaning and oiling your rolling pin will help (check below for “how to’s”). I also cover my wooden pin with a rolling pin sock.
- A wooden rolling pin cannot be chilled for pastry that needs to stay really cool.
Care of Wooden Rolling Pins
After using your rolling pin, wash it in hot water. Don’t use soap which can strip the oils out of the wood. Never allow your rolling pin to sit in water, this will cause the wood to swell, and possibly crack once it’s dried out. It also would make sense to never put your rolling pin in the dishwasher.
If the wood in your rolling pin appears to be drying out, use an oil that is safe to eat and won’t go rancid. Most vegetable oils or even lard are NOT appropriate, because they go rancid very quickly. Once this happens you will have to get a new rolling pin. On the other hand, Coconut oil is a good alternative to mineral oil for protecting your rolling pin.
Marble Rolling Pins
Marble rolling pins are truly a piece of art. As the marble pattern swirls around the wooden handles and is prominently displayed on a stand, telling the world I am The Queen of Everything!
Pros: Holds a chill for those finicky pastry doughs. Less arm force is required because of the weight of it.
Cons: They’re heavy, driving your pie dough into the surface you are using (e.g. a pastry towel), they are incredibly sticky if not chilled. The hard to maneuver around. Marble rolling pins usually cost more than the others.
Overall: In my opinion, a splurge; but each to his own.
Steel Rolling Pins
I just acquired a steel/metal non-stick rolling pin. It is very lightweight, with a smooth surface. I was surprised how well my dough rolled out. It didn’t stick and it was easy to use.
Pros: Nonstick, holds a chill, easy easy clean up. Looks great in stainless steel kitchens.
Cons: Light weight so you do have to use a little more pressure.
Overall: I think this would be a good rolling pin for an, every once in awhile, pie baker.