I couldn’t even begin to count the number of rolling pins that have been turned on my lathe…..probably scare me to know. A rolling pin was my first lathe project while I was in my Fine Woodworking Program, it took me two whole days from the time I mounted it on the lathe to the moment I released the tailstock and removed my masterpiece. I still have it hanging in my kitchen, still love it and use it. And ‘the rolling pin’ has taken me on a wonderful journey for the past 15 years. I always enjoy turning them and designing new ones. Not a week goes by that I do not turn pins, always get a huge thrill when rubbing the sunflower oil on them and seeing how beautiful they are….. AND I am way faster at it!!
My most popular style, the one I use most often in my kitchen is the french or tapered pin. It is clean and modern looking, works so well for everything. I am a pie maker and find it perfect for pastry. Once you get the hang of it you can gently roll the dough using the palms of your hands to push or roll while also pressing down on the dough. I have had a few pastry chefs tell me that this gives you much more control over how thick you roll the pastry as well as letting you use a lighter touch with the dough. I find the dough is pushed outward somewhat instead of being pressed flat. I turn mine with beautifully figured wood, gives you an extra thrill when you pick it up just to see the loveliness. So easy to clean, the fats in your dough will normally be enough to keep it looking fabulous with a soft sheen.
I also make a long pastry baton, some bakers prefer the straight rolling surface without a taper. I turn a small ‘handle’ on one end so it can be kept on a hanger on the wall when not in use. They are long 24 -28 inches and usually will not fit in a drawer, plus why hide them, you can enjoy the beauty everyday. These are fantastic for rolling fondant, because of the length you can have a large sheet with no trouble.
Then there is the large heavy old fashioned pin. I do not make these with bearings etc..too hard to keep clean,and they usually fall apart. There are many bakers who want a heavy thick pin with handles. I use thick solid wood, once again heavily figured. They are stunning and will be still ready to roll for future generations of bakers. I had a girl bring me her Grandmothers pin that she was lucky enough to inherit after her Grandma has passed away, her Grandfather had turned it as a wedding gift for his new bride many years ago. She and her sisters have fond memories of baking with their Grandma when they were little, enjoying the warmth of the wood range in the country farmhouse and of using the big pin. I made exact copies for her to give as gifts to her sisters who all coveted the original, they were a huge hit, a lovely reminder of a dearly loved woman.
My pasta rollers began as a custom order from a girl who wanted one turned for her sisters wedding gift. Her Grandmother who came to Canada from Italy when she was young gave me great instructions on the size …she believes hand rolled pasta is so much better then the pasta made using a pasta machine. I assume it makes it more a labor of love, it is the whole process and time does not matter. I have made pasta rollers in lengths that range from 20 inches long to 40 inches long…I love these.
Because I am such a lover of Acorns I had to incorporate them into my pins..both in large old fashioned and a smaller pastry roller, they are lovely and really one of my best sellers. Acorns are believed to bring good luck, health and happiness to a home, so hanging one in your kitchen can’t hurt……
Last year after requests for a shorter pin I started to make small walnut rollers out of the most beautiful claro walnut, love these for their looks and they are wonderful to use. Many of the requests came from folks taking special classes and the short pin is desirable for lots of chefs/instructors. They are hard to find and I now offer my tapered pins in a shorter length as well.
The Chapati – Naan bread roller is another customer designed pin..one of my new favorites especially with the matching board. Just a beautiful and functional gift for a wedding or housewarming.
A great pin will last a lifetime and more. I just wipe mine clean with a damp towel and dry, if you do not use detergents the pin will rarely even need a coat of oil or board butter. Mine just get nicer with use, I have a great selection that hang in my kitchen, they are like a collection of little works of art, a display of ‘useful’ things.
I have sent these pins all around the world, it is just so wonderful to know that so many people love to take the time to bake. I have heard from so many who have a story about their Mothers pin, their Grandmother’s, Aunt’s and even Grandfather’s..what they looked like, what they rolled and how they treasure them. I think that pins are special because handmade things from the kitchen, including the goodies not needed for sustenance are true signs of love for family. When you see and hold a rolling pin you are taken to a warm kitchen that smells heavenly, you remember a big table laden with goodness for both the eye and palate, you can hear the lively conversation and laughter around it..That just can’t help but make you smile and think of family.
Rolling pins are not a forgotten kitchen tool..they are alive and well, rolling in all their glory, in homes around the world. If you have a special pin or a story, I would love to hear it, please leave a comment and share with us all.
Photos by Heather Ogg Photography
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