My French Rolling Pin

French Rolling Pin

11 May My French Rolling Pin

This is my French rolling pin. It doesn’t have easy-grip handles. It doesn’t have ball bearings. It isn’t made from cold, heavy marble. It’s just a smooth, tapered piece of hardwood.

For years I wondered why anyone would choose this style over the comfy-handled version with ball bearings I grew up with. Then last December, watching pastry chef Anna Olson use one to roll a perfect circle of dough, I saw the Rolling Pin Light. Its tapered form allows you to guide the dough in any direction you want. My other pin bullied the pastry, shoved it about, barked orders at it. The resulting tussle left all parties looking somewhat dishevelled and my ego fully bruised.

But Anna’s French pin? It waltzed a ball of pastry across the board with smooth glides and coaxed reluctant edges into submission with a mere whisper. Watching her gave me hope. So, I put “French Rolling Pin” on my Christmas wish list. I even drew a few little stars beside it in case no one took me seriously.

Just to be sure my desires were clear, I dragged my husband to a cooking store. I pointed one out. I showed him the packaging. Cracked some off-colour joke about the designer being a timpanist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra (true) so he would remember. And in his wisdom, Andrew obliged. Christmas morning I got my French Pin.

Many pie crusts and palmier recipes later my official verdict on the French pin is in. I love it. My only complaint. It took so long to discover this amazing tool.

Andrew’s verdict: “Great. They’ve found a way to upsell a stick.”

Ignore him. He doesn’t make Pastry.

With this pin beneath my palms, my dough is obedient. Pie crust turns out round(ish), puff pastry forms a reasonable resemblance to the rectangle I intended. It all goes into the oven according to plan.

What comes out? That’s another matter.

Now, if I can just remember to set the !@#$%^& oven timer …

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No Comments
  • debbie koenig
    Posted at 13:44h, 11 May Reply

    Ooooo, I’ve been eyeing one for years–French rolling pins are just so purdy. This only makes the longing more intense. Hanukkah’s only… oh, wait. SEVEN MONTHS away. Dang.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:18h, 11 May Reply

      Seven month is too long a wait. When’s your birthday? Either way, start dropping hints now.

      Or buy one for yourself. This one falls into a reasonable price range. If I’d known how much I’d like it, I’d have bought one years ago.

  • Annie
    Posted at 18:50h, 11 May Reply

    I’ve had one of these for years. I even bought one for my piemaking neighbor after I got mine, I was so excited about it.

    Definitely buy yourself one. They are about $10-$12 at Bed Bath & Beyond. I don’t know about the ones they carry now but the one I bought 5 or so years ago is great, very solid and smooth heavy wood. Love it and would never go back to a standard rolling pin.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:08h, 12 May Reply

      What a good neighbour you are! Or was that just a sneaky way of getting more pie? Glad to know I’m not the only French pin fan. Thanks for sharing costs and locations!

      For those who care, mine is a Vic Firth pin. It was made in Maine and I believe was about $20.

  • Lisa MacColl
    Posted at 11:34h, 12 May Reply

    I always just used the handles/ball bearing one because that’s what my grandmother and mother used. (with the cotton sock and the pastry cloth)

    I bought myself a French Rolling Pin last year and I don’t know how I managed before it. I love it. You’re right. It has much better control!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:16h, 12 May Reply

      Oh, the cotton sock and pastry cloth. We had that too. I remember the patterns it left in the pastry. I thought that was necessary for the dough. :-)

      The handle version is still good for heavy jobs, like rolling yeasted doughs and smashing up crackers (I wouldn’t do that with my French pin). But my French pin offers so much control I am stunned at the leap my pastry skills took.

      Glad you treated yourself. I know you love to bake and you so deserve it. Happy baking, Lisa!!

  • Lynda
    Posted at 13:50h, 12 May Reply

    I have a rolling pin like that and yes, it is very good and easier to store — I think.

    My old rolling pin belonged to my mother. One day it just fell apart. I saved the cylinder and use it in my craft projects when I need to flatten something etc.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:35h, 12 May Reply

      What a great use for your mom’s broken rolling pin. I love that you didn’t throw it out and are still using it — although not in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Judith Rutty Godfrey
    Posted at 18:56h, 12 May Reply

    Mmmmm….I’ve used my shower gift rolling pin with ball bearings for 46 years but I don’t think I’m an old dog that cannot learn new tricks! Move over, and share, dear trusty rolling pin, but I’m buying a French one. (I’m such a sucker for anything French anyway!)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:46h, 12 May Reply

      I used mine for years, too, but when I saw the control the tapered French pin gave, I nearly ran up on stage and grabbed the pin from Anna’s hands.

      Mine was made in Maine, but I’m sure there are lots of local versions no matter where you live. Have fun searching. And baking.

  • Sally McClelland
    Posted at 16:52h, 16 May Reply

    Oh this is so funny. My sister-in-law gave me one almost 40 years ago when I was starting out on my own and collecting “house” stuff. I had no idea it was “French” ! It was just the rolling pin that was in my possession, so I used it. Then about 20 years ago my mother died and I ended up with her rolling pin with the handles (no ball bearings). I started to try to use it thinking it would be better than mine, but every time I used it, it didn’t seem to work as well for me. I didn’t know why, but now I do. It’s been sitting in the bottom of my pot drawer and I do get it out to smash stuff, but not for rolling pastry. Thanks for letting me know why.
    BTW, my mom also gave me an old flour sack that she used for a pastry cloth, and I have to say that it works quite well (particularly with my French pin). :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:17h, 21 May Reply

      Glad you kept your mom’s rolling pin. The heavier pins are also good for heavier doughs, like yeasted pastries (croissants for instance) and rolled breads, where weight is needed.

      My mom used a linen tea towel instead of a pastry cloth. I grew up thinking this was the only option and that the texture the linen left on the pastry was somehow crucial to its success. Love that you have a pin AND a cloth!

      Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  • jacqui
    Posted at 01:26h, 06 June Reply

    Anything that will help me roll a real circle!!!!!!!!!!
    I am off to do some online looking…

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:38h, 06 June Reply

      I was surprised by the amount of control this pin allowed. When I saw Anna Olson guiding the pastry with the pin, it was all I could do to keep myself from jumping on stage, grabbing it from her and running off.

      I settled on bullying my husband into getting me one.

      I think you’ll love it. If you get one, let me know how it works out for you!

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