Baking 101

Baking 101: Which Rolling Pin Is Best?

Which Rolling Pin Is Best?

I can be a bit of a nag in the kitchen.  

I don’t generally care how fancy your butter is, which set of copper measuring cups you use, or if your oven is gas or electric or hamster-wheel-powered. If you’ve been around here for even just a few days, you know that I’m a stickler, a nag, a nuisance, a pest, a finger-wagger about making your own pie crust.  

Proof:  Five Tips For the Best All-Butter Pie Crust From Scratch

Pie crust requires patience, guts, practice, flour, butter, buttermilk, and a rolling pin.  But wait… why are there so many different kinds of rolling pins?  Different strokes for different folks.  (Is that rolling pin humor?)  Let’s discuss the differences.  The right rolling pin and you’ll be on your way to pie crust success.

Did someone say pie!? (yes. me. a lot.)

Bourbon Pear Crumble Pie

Salty Honey Pie

Brown Butter Chess Pie

Traditional Rolling Pin

Perhaps this is the most familiar rolling pin to you, the American or ‘baker’s’ rolling pin. A wooden, in this case Maple, center dowel that turns in the center of two handles.  You can comfortably curl your fingers around each of the handles, using leverage and arm strength to push the rolling pin forward and back over dough.  

Pro:  comfortable handles.  Great for everything from cookies, biscuits, pizza, and pie.  

Con:  I’ve found that these rolling pins can be a bit heavy and are slightly less maneuverable that other, handleless options.  

Overall, I love this style of rolling pin.  It’s comfortable, versatile, classic.  If you only have one rolling pin in your kitchen (because you’re a reasonable person), this Maple Rolling Pin is great.  Not too large or heavy, making it wonderful for pie crust and other rolling needs.  

French Rolling Pin

You may have run across a Tapered or French-style rolling pins and thought… nope, too fancy for me.  I did.  I was wrong.  

French Rolling Pins don’t have handles, so you won’t be grasping at the sides of the rolling pin to push and pull.  Instead, you use the heel of your hand to press a French Rolling Pin away from you.  Since you aren’t grasping the outside handles, you naturally place your hands, more towards the center of the rolling pin, applying pressing and pressing the dough with more control and intimacy than a rolling pin with handles.  

Pro:  maneuverability, controlled pressure, more control in general, lightweight.

Con:  great for soft bread doughs and pie doughs… not good for a stiff or chilled cookie dough.  

Overall, this is a wonderful rolling pin to have.They’re beautiful, simple, and really easy to work with. 

Mahogany French Rolling Pin or Food52’s beautiful Tapered Wooden Rolling Pins.  

Laser Cut Rolling Pins

Let’s talk about show-off rolling pins.  These are them. 

These, personalized laser-cut rolling pins (they totally say Joy the Baker) are for two specific purposes.  One:  making awesome custom sugar cookies and Two: as decoration on my kitchen shelf.  

This is not your pie crust rolling pin.  It’s just not.  

Laser Cut Rolling Pins.

Vintage Rolling Pin

Maybe it’s your grandmother’s rolling pin.  Maybe it’s a great find from that awesome vintage shop you found in Nashville.  Either way, a vintage rolling pin is lovely to have… especially if you’re a food stylist who collects various dilapidated wood props. 

Did people have smaller hands in the 1940’s?  I’m thinking yes.  Vintage rolling pins are often smaller than modern rolling pins.  This one in particular feels like something between a traditional and a tapered rolling pin.  

Pros:  way good vibes, and often smaller in size making them great for single pie crusts and food photographs.  

Cons:  sometimes they’re too small and questionably splintery.  These things are hard to ignore, but they’re still lovely to have in the kitchen. 

Marble Rolling Pin

Marble rolling pins are for the aesthetically aware and the laminated dough enthusiasts.  These rolling pins are rather heavy in weight but it can be chilled before rolling, making it a great tool for cool-sensitive doughs like puff pastry.  

Pro:  will hold a chill for the two times you might make puff pastry a year. Two!? Weight of the rolling pin can work for you… less arm pressure.  Oh so pretty. 

Con:  can be heavy and tedious to maneuver, but it’s hard to be mad at a piece of pretty marble.  

Overall, a splurge.  

To clean a rolling pin, here’s a trick: use a soft bench scraper to scrape any flour and dough bits off the pin then use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the rolling pin.  No submerging in water.  Don’t even think about the dishwasher.  

Update:  I love reading your comments below about your favorite, feel-good rolling pins!  Tell me tell me!  What’s in your kitchen?