Unlike my mother, I have never been much of a collector. Her mind takes just about anything she loves and turns it into a collector’s odyssey, a search-and-find presence of mind that is always with her. She’s done it with antique teacups, with her Fostoria glass, a slew of teapots, flow blue china and porcelain pillboxes. She started me on a collection of little pitchers a few years ago and have I bought one little pitcher to add to it? Nope, it’s all her, and I love every interesting piece she brings home.
But every time I pull out my wooden rolling pin, I think of how I’d like to start a collection of them. A whole drawer full, the top drawer in a prominent place in the kitchen. Or hung on the wall, my rolling pin art.
The only problem with that is my complete devotion to one type of rolling pin and one type only: the roller type, with an internal axle and two handles that make it roll with grace and ease. This is the type of rolling pin my grandmothers used and it’s the rolling pin my mother uses. We save our pins, hand them down the generations so that by now we have Sitto’s and Aunt Hilda’s and Grandma Abowd’s and Aunt Latifi’s too. You can get them lots of places new (this is a nice one), but really the older the better, because they get a smooth, worn patina–the better to channel the good karma of all the bakers that went before me. And they spin with such ease, they’re like…well…butter.
The look of the French tapered pin is wonderful, beautiful. And yet, for me it has nothing over on the roller pin for functionality and for lifting your hands up above the dough so that they don’t knock into it every time you glide across it. I do want to love the way the French pin does its job, though, just so I could buy these.
There are a few other rolling pins made from marble or other heavy weight for candy making or to hold the cold. These can make for a nice and even rollout and require a lot less brute strength to get the job done. I do have to tell myself sometimes mid-roll that if I can stand to go to the gym and lift weights, then I can stand to push down and out on this dough and take control of its destiny. Frances, our teacher at Tante Marie’s, was insistent that we control the dough, and not let the dough control us. You are in charge! Za’atar croissants, here we come.
What type of pin is your favorite? Do you collect? I’m jealous. I might just have to put my mother onto the job. Before you know it I’ll have a drawer full, a wall full, and plenty of beautiful rolled out dough to boot.