There are two types of rolling pins. Traditional rolling pins with handles provide more leverage and are usually easier for an inexperienced baker to use, while French rolling pins do not have handles and are preferred by bakers who want their hands directly on the barrel of the rolling pin to better feel the dough. French rolling pins have a rolling surface of approximately 20 inches, which is longer than the standard 12-inch barrel on rolling pins with handles. French rolling pins come in three shapes: straight dowel, tapered from the middle and tapered at the ends only. Additionally, French rolling pins are less expensive and have no crevices that can be difficult to clean.
Wood, usually maple or birch, is the most common material for rolling pins with or without handles. It's fairly inexpensive and durable, but prolonged exposure to water can cause the wood to crack or warp. Additionally, wood must be coated in flour to prevent dough from sticking.
Marble is heavier than wood and, if chilled before use, will help prevent dough from sticking. A marble rolling pin doesn't necessarily cost more than a wooden one, but the standard size is a smaller 10-inch length. Marble is prone to chipping, but many models are sold with a wooden storage base that allows them to be safely stored in the refrigerator or elsewhere.
Less common are rolling pins made of metal, glass or nylon. Metal or glass rolling pins can be chilled to prevent sticking. Some metal or glass rolling pins can be filled with cold water to create a rolling surface that stays cool longer. Rolling pins made of nylon have the advantage of being dishwasher-safe. Some rolling pins include a nonstick silicone surface to minimize sticking.
Specialty rolling pins have ribs to cut the dough or a texture to imprint a pattern on the dough. Ribbed rolling pins are mostly used to make pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti. Textured rolling pins can imprint patterns like crisscross or lace when rolling out a paste like fondant or marzipan. In this report, we focus on basic rolling pins you'd use to roll out pie or cookie dough.
Experts and owners suggest considering the following when choosing a rolling pin:
There are various accessories that can make using a rolling pin easier. Rubber rolling pin rings are slipped onto either end of a traditional rolling pin with handles to make it easier to roll dough with an even thickness. A set of four rolling pin rings (*Est. $9) includes 1/16-inch, 1/8-inch, 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch thicknesses. A cotton rolling pin and pastry cloth set (*Est. $10) are used to prevent dough from sticking to the rolling pin and work surface. They are reusable and machine-washable.