In the late 1800s, J.W. Reed patented the dough kneader and roller, which helped bakers and chefs knead and evenly roll out dough while also limiting the contact with food using bare hands.
Known as standard pins and American or bakers’ rolling pins, this style of rolling pin has two handles. A modern variation includes ball bearings, which allow the roller in the center to move independent of the handles for a smoother, more fluid motion. Handled rolling pins can be made out of materials including wood, aluminum and marble, each with its own features and uses.
Aluminum and marble rolling pins are designed with sensitive doughs in mind. Both materials can be chilled prior to use, keeping doughs for croissants, puff pastries and Danishes cool when handled. They also have a smoother surface that may prevent sticking with minimal flour needed. Wooden rolling pins are more readily available and affordable; use them to roll out different types of dough including pizza, pie crust and cinnamon rolls.
There are two main types of French rolling pins: tapered and straight. A tapered pin has no handles and often is made from a single piece of wood that tapers at the ends. While they often are made of hard woods such as walnut or maple, other options include bamboo, silicone and stainless steel. A favorite among pastry chefs for its ease of use, control and ability to feel dough’s thickness while rolling, a tapered pin is great for forming pie crust, cookie dough, pasta and puff pastry.
Straight or dowel rolling pins usually are thicker and heavier than tapered pins but also are available in petite sizes. These pins can be made of wood, plastic, stainless steel or silicone and often are used to make pizza dough, short crusts, puff pastries, dumplings, pasta and more. Plastic dowel pins have a nonstick surface that is especially helpful when working with fondant or gum paste. Some dowel pins come with ring attachments of various sizes that can help roll dough to a desired thickness.
Rather than holding the ends of tapered or dowel rolling pins, use your palms to press down and roll the pin across dough. Other uses include crushing nuts and spices, and breaking up bagged ice.
The goal of textured rolling pins most often is aesthetics rather than flattening dough. Commonly made of plastic and engraved with patterns such as swirls, hearts or stars, textured rolling pins transfer the design onto the material over which it is rolled. This often includes already rolled-out cookie and pastry doughs and fondant, but also can include non-food materials such as clay for art projects.
Care and storage
Most rolling pins are made from durable materials designed for repeated use. Plastic scrapers can help remove stuck-on dough from rolling pins prior to washing. While most silicone, stainless steel, aluminum and plastic rolling pins can be safely washed in the dishwasher, wood and marble pins should be handwashed with a damp washcloth and mild dish soap. To avoid damage, wear and cracking, wood and marble rolling pins also should not be submerged in water. Dry pins thoroughly before storing in a cool, dry place away from heat. If desired, food-grade mineral oil can be applied to wooden rolling pins after washing and drying to improve the longevity of the pin and reduce the amount of sticking in future uses.
Rolling pins can last many years, but dispose of any pins that have excessive cracking or damage to reduce the risk of food and bacteria buildup. If rolling pins are in good condition, they can be reused, repurposed or taken to a donation center or charity instead of discarding.
Contributions of Blacks in Modern Day Society. Governors State University Office of Career Services website. Accessed August 1, 2019.
Marble Rolling Pin. Pampered Chef website. Accessed August 5, 2019.
Rolling Pins and Pastry Accessories. WebstaurantStore website. Accessed August 1, 2019.
Textured Rolling Pins, Decorative Designs Sugarpaste Rolling Pins. Kerekes Bakery & Restaurant Equipment Inc. website. Accessed August 2, 2019.
Wooden Rolling Pins & How to Clean Them Properly. JES Restaurant Equipment website. Published October 14, 2015. Accessed August 5, 2019.