What’s a French Rolling Pin?

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The French rolling pin is a popular kitchen tool for bakers due to its tapered ends and lack of handles, allowing for better precision and easy care. While typically made of wood, plastic and marble options are available but may not be as durable. It is not known why it is called French, but many French chefs prefer it.

The French rolling pin is a useful kitchen tool for bakers, especially those who enjoy making pastries, rolling out sugar cookies, or making shaped breads and buns. The standard pin is usually 2 inches (5.08 cm) or less in diameter and can come in various lengths; 18 inches (45.72 cm) tends to be the most popular length. What differentiates it from other bricks is that it has no handles and is tapered at each end. It is essentially a round stick, usually made of wood, of a certain thickness.

Many people who bake regularly say they prefer the French rolling pin over other types because you get a “feel” for the dough better with one. The weight you place on the pivot is not affected by whether you touch the rollers or handles. This can correspond to greater precision in rolling out pasta or other types of dough.

Others like the easy care of the French rolling pin. Once you’ve used it, just give it a quick wash with some soap and water. You shouldn’t scrub it excessively or apply excess soap. Instead just give it a quick wash and let it dry. These rolling pins are usually made of wood, and excessive scrubbing can cause the wood to rot or warp over time, which can affect how well the pin works. Never put a wooden rolling pin in the dishwasher.

Because durability can be an issue if your rolling pin isn’t properly cared for, there are some plastic, silicone, and marble pins made in the French rolling pin style. These can be a little heavier and many find them inferior to the wooden styles. Some can be quite expensive, while the average French wooden rolling pin is relatively inexpensive.

There are some things you shouldn’t use the French rolling pin for. Many recipes will tell you to use the bricks to crack nuts or seeds, either by tapping them with the pin or by repeatedly rolling the pin across them. This can cause wood marking in the wood and as a result, make the dowel dough easier. Food processors, or old bricks that have been replaced by the new rolling pin, are better choices for crushing tough ingredients.

It is not clear why this rolling pin is considered French. There is little history as to when or where the pin was designed. It is certainly the case that many French chefs prefer these pins. Cooks who like them cite not only the “feel” of the dough, but also the relative ease with which these bricks can be manipulated.

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