You will find a variety of rolling pins at most kitchen-supply stores and some supermarkets. They generally fall into two categories: with handles and without (called a French rolling pin). Handled pins are heavy and have a wide body diameter. French pins are lighter, longer, and thinner; some are uniform in diameter, others are tapered.
Any good wooden pin is made from a hardwood, such as maple, beech, or ash. Martha’s favorite rolling pin is made from mahogany (she of course got it in Paris on her honeymoon). While wood is the standard, marble is also an excellent choice because it stays cool as you work and is less likely to stick to the dough.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ONE
So how do you decide? If you prefer handles, select a baker’s pin with handles that are fitted with ball bearings (which makes it easier to roll), rather than one that is stationary. (Martha quips, “If you’re at all weak in your upper body, the ball-bearing type works well.” But trust us, lifting weights isn't a prerequisite for either rolling pin!)
With a French pin, you can cover a large dough surface with just one stroke because it has no handles and a longer body. Many professional bakers (and Martha!) prefer a long, slender wooden French pin without handles or tapered ends, as this type allows for the most control and lets you “feel” the dough as you roll. Another plus, according to Martha, is that it’s quieter: “The ball-bearing ones are easier because of the handles and roll very nicely, but they kind of make noise, which I don’t like.”
CLEANING TIP FROM MARTHA
Martha says, “Never wash wooden rolling pins with soap. Wash them with hot water and a rag to take off any excess specks of dough or flour.” You can even skip turning on the water and wipe with a soft, damp cloth instead. Just make sure to dry thoroughly before storing.