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Rolling Pins

Monday, 18 May 2009 | Tags: ,

Whether you're baking pizza, cookies, pie, pasta, or cake, a rolling pin is a necessary baking tool to have in your kitchen to create uniform pieces of dough. There are a variety of materials and styles available to choose from. We test them out to see if any one works better than the rest.

The Basics

  • There are two main styles of rolling pins:

    • French are longer with no handles and either cylindrical or tapered at the ends. Tapering makes them easier to manouever without handles.

    • American-style pins are shorter cylinders with a centre rod and handles at either end, providing extra leverage.

  • If you’re buying an American-style pin, consider the characteristics of the handles:

    • They should be soundly constructed and well weighted in relation to the pin’s weight.

    • Avoid any that seem to have flimsy handles.

    • Good handles will be contoured to fit comfortably in your hand.

    • Some are coated with silicone to make them grippy.

    • Hold the handles firmly to make sure they’re long enough so that the side of your hand doesn’t rub on the pin.

    • Try it out in the store if you can and make sure that the central shaft’s rolling movement is smooth, not wobbly or bumpy.

  • For French-style pins, look for tapers that arefairly short so that they don’t extend into the straight rollingsurface of the middle.

  • Rolling pins come in a wide variety of materials:
  • Wood, specifically maple, is the traditional rolling pin material. Nowadays, beech, birch and bamboo are also popular.

  • Marble pins are heavy and valued for their weight, which makes easier work out of rolling dough. Typically, a marble pin is chilled in the refrigerator before rolling out flaky pastry to keep the butter in the dough cold.

  • Silicone-coated pins claim to be absolutely non-stick.

  • Plastic plastic pins in full-size are not commonly found at kitchenware shops because their use doesn’t compare to others. However, some pastry chefs like small plastic pins for tasks like rolling out fondant or gum paste. Plastic may become stained with odours or colours.

  • Stainless steel pins tend can be kept in the fridge or freezer to help reduce sticking. Some are hollow and can be filled with cold water to keep pastry cold while rolling it out. Stainless steel are typically American-style in design.

  • Glass pins also are always hollow so they can be filled with cold water to keep pastry cold while rolling it out. Glass pins are typically American-style in design. Their fragility is the main disadvantage.

  • The material you choose may depend on the type of baking you usually do:
    • For pies, pastries, and items with thicker, chunky buttery crusts, a chilled marble pin will make the job easier with its weight and non-stick qualities.

    • For more savoury baking, like pizzas, flatbreads and cookies, a wooden rolling pin should work well since the doughs are pliable and don’t require a heavy or chilled pin.

    • For more delicate doughs that tear easily, you’ll want a lighter pin. Most silicone-coated pins tend to be lighter.

Other Considerations

  • American-style stainless steel pins weighted with ball-bearings help make the pin bottom-heavy while rolling without adding too much overall weight.

  • With hollow pins (American-style stainless steel or glass), some cooks feel that condensation created on the outside of the pin can make dough wet and soggy. Hollow pins that are insulated may help to reduce this tendency, but then the coolness of the water inside may not be transferred as efficiently.

TEST CRITERIA

We went to a ceramic studio to get help testing our line-up of American-style rolling pins (with handles).

  • Vic Firth “Classic” Maple Rolling Pin: $54.99
. . Amazon.com
  • Sil-Pin “Traditional (Soft Grip)” Silicone Rolling Pin: $48.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Fox Run Marble Rolling Pin: $12.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Danesco Stainless Steel Rolling Pin: $49.95
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Cuisipro “Stay Cool” Stainless Steel Rolling Pin: $31.99
. . Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Rolling Test

  • The Fox Run marble pin had good weight to it, though the one we tested was a bit on the small size. The handle wasn’t as comfortable as some of the others, and were a bit short for our hands.

  • The Danesco stainless steel was ok, but the idea of having to remember to put it in the freezer beforehand was a drawback.

  • The Cuisipro “Stay Cool” hollow stainless steel pin seemed to leak a bit, so that was just added hassle. Plus, the extra step of having to fill it with water was its main drawback.

  • The Vic Firth maple wood pin had good weight to it and felt comfortable. However, it fell on the floor and broke, which was a strike against it. It also had quite a bit of stickiness to it, which means you’d have to add a lot of flour, and that can make your dough too tough if you’re not careful.

  • The Sil-Pin silicone-coated product was pretty good but was light compared to the rest. Nothing stuck and it had a smooth rolling motion.

OUR TOP PICK

Though Anna wanted to stick with the traditional wood rolling pin, the merits of the non-stick Sil-Pin “Traditional (Soft Grip)” Silicone Rolling Pin could not be overlooked, which makes it our top choice. 

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