What's the best kind of rolling pin?

 rolling pins

Chances are good that the type of rolling pin you use depends on what your mother or other cooking mentor had, whether it is the best option or not. There are several different styles of rolling pins on the market, and each one has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. So how can you determine what is the right choicefor you? We scoured the internet to find the answer.

While the number of rolling pin options can be overwhelming, there are only a few basic varieties. The first variable you need to consider is whether or not you want handles. Most professional bakers choose rolling pins without handles (often referred to as French pins) because they have a larger surface area, are more maneuverable, and allow for better 'feedback' from the dough. They're also lighter, and as Dorie Greenspan sayswhile heavier, handled pins are suitable for coaxing puffy yeast doughs into the desired shape, they can be too heavy for cookies and pastry.  The argument to be made for rolling pins with handles is that they can be easier on the wrists, especially those with ball bearings. 

Choosing whether you want a tapered pin or one that is straight across, like a dowel, is the next decision to make. Tapered rolling pins can allow you to more easily make round shapes because they concentrate the pressure on the center of the dough. The taper does make it more likely to roll unevenly, however, so that is a consideration. Straight pins allow you to use spacers to more accurately achieve the proper dough thickness. Serious Eats calls the spacers "training wheels" for your rolling pin.

In addition to the shape, the type of material differentiates the rolling pins. Each material comes with its own set of properties, and which you choose can depend in part on what type of doughs you are working with. Pins can be made of wood, marble, stainless steel, glass, or silicone.

Wood is the most traditional material, is inexpensive, and can be gorgeous as well as practical - I purchased the beautiful sapele pin above from a local woodworker for a very reasonable price. Some varieties of wood can stick to the dough a bit more than others, but generally speaking all hardwood pins, such as maple, beech, or ash, will perform well in this regard. Hard maple is the most common wood species, and one that many bakers swear by.

Marble pins are, according to Joy the Baker, "for the aesthetically aware and the laminated dough enthusiasts." They can be chilled, which is helpful when handling buttery pastry that needs to stay cool. They are also beautiful, expensive, and heavy (remember Dorie's advice above). In my experience, marble pins have a tendency to stick to the dough more than wooden ones. 

Stainless steel is a newer option that possesses many of the positive attributes of marble with few drawbacks. You can chill the pins, they are silky smooth, lightweight, and they aren't very expensive. They may not be as attractive as marble, but they do have a certain modern aesthetic that some people might appreciate. You may want to wear gloves if you use a chilled metal pin as they can become uncomfortably cold and do not usually have handles (most marble pins do). 

Silicone pins are touted as being completely nonstick, but as with all silicone tools they have a tendency to pick up and hold on to odors. Most silicone pins are the type with handles, so they are not as maneuverable as the straight or tapered French rolling pins. Glass rolling pins may look cool, but they are impractical for reasons you can probably guess. Some glass pins allow you to put ice in the center to chill, but condensation usually renders this a poor choice. No one wants soggy dough.

As with many baking tools, there is no one-size-fits-all, perfect option. The choice that is right for you will depend on what you feel comfortable using, how much money you are willing to spend, and what types of doughs you will be rolling. Since rolling pins are relatively inexpensive and don't take up much room, having more than one is often a practical solution, so that you can switch depending on the task at hand. If it helps, tell your significant other I said it's okay to buy another rolling pin.  

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