I want to get a new rolling pin. I would use it for pies and cookies. Do I want wood or non-stick? What about the french rolling pin that supposed to be best for pies?
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pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
Personally I favor the solid wooden dowel style. But ultimately it's what feels comfortable in you hand.
Though I'm not much of a baker, I second the solid dowel style. I use mine to hand-roll pasta sometimes.
It's definately a personal preference. I prefer a really hard wood rolling pin, as heavy as possible when rolling large batches of stiff dough by hand. The only non-stick ones I've tried felt flimsy and were so light I had to use a lot more muscle to roll the dough. I've used the dowels, but I prefer the rolling pin for cookies and pie crust.
I have a marble pin and and old-fashioned wooden pin with ball bearings in the handles--they're for decoration. I use a 2-foot-long, 1 1/2"-wide dowel because it's easier to control the thickness, and attain a uniform thickness, of the dough or fondant, especially at the edges. Also, I can press down hard on it without fear of breaking the handles, which I did with a hand-me-down pin when I was in my teens. I also use a small hand-held roller quite a lot, mostly for fondant.
The French rolling pin--is it a dowel that tapers at both ends? The easiest way to roll out dough to a uniform thickness is to plunk a ball of dough between two 1/4"-thick slats of wood set about a foot apart; flatten the dough, then rest the ends of the dowel on the slats and roll away. You wouldn't be able to do that with a French rolling pin.
I've got no experience with the marble or non-stick silicone ones, so can't add anything to that conversation.
I have 4 wooden ones. One of the tapered, French style. One hefty, solid dowel type (probably about the diameter of the meat end of a baseball bat), one solid dowel about broom-handle size and one with ball bearings.
I'd say it depends upon what you want to use it for. I haven't used the tapered French one much, but I've heard, and in my limited experience, have seen, that it's easier to obtain a round shape with them. They concentrate the pressure on the center of the dough mass, and push it towards the ends. The more I use it, the more I like it. I'd pick it up for pie crusts and cookies I want to keep round and fairly thin.
The two solid dowel types I use mostly for thicker doughs, biscuits, pizza crusts, some breads that need to be rolled rather than patted. They're good for their heft and for keeping the dough even throughout. They're good "beginner" pins, and also all-purpose pins if you don't want to have more than one. I'd go for the larger diameter one in that case.
I haven't used the ball-bearing pin with handles in years.
A coating of flour will keep any wood pin from sticking to the dough.
I like the solid dowel sort as well. I'm lousy at rolling stuff out and get much better results with it. I have a wooden one and a (solid) plastic one. I like the plastic, a bit less sticking.
I love my French rolling pin.
I love my french rolling pin as well. It's wood, which I definitely prefer to non-stick. Also, it tapers very gradually, which I find results in dough of even thickness. Some taper more abruptly, and I struggle to get dough even with the more drastically tapered rolling pins.
Here's the link to mine: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=10569044
Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking
Here's a funny story for you. I used to use a tapered French rolling pin, but we moved and lost the pegs that held my dining room table together. My husband sawed off the ends of my rolling pin, and there they still are--stuck in the table. Meanwhile, my daughter gave me one of the heavy silicone and ball bearing rolling pins. And I love it! Sounds silly, but for one thing, it's red! I get a little joy every time I take it out.