Wednesday, July 13, 2011

KITCHEN TOOLS - The Rolling Pin

Here's to the rolling pin...that handy dandy tool that is at once dough roller, crumb maker, meat tenderizer, veggie smasher, talking stick and equalizer all in one.  The power one can wield with this device in hand is not to be ignored!  With it, a person can make biscuit dough cooperate, reduce hard cereals and so on to crumbs and so much more.

Let's get rolling!
I'd imagine it was one of the first real "kitchen" tools...although my version of its discovery may be slightly different from the actual facts.

Picture if you will, a cave.  The cave man of the house has just come home with breakfast...a rabbit, or it's equivalent. The cave woman of the house sees the hare and grumbles "Hasenpfeffer again!"

In anguish she takes a thick tree limb she's been playing with and smashes it against a pile of seeds. She notices the seeds crack open.  This is her Eureka moment.  She smashes the seeds to a fine paste, and after skinning the rabbit, rubs the meat with some of the seeds before setting it on a stick over the fire.

Mr. Neanderthal is happy with the results, so is the Missus.   She decides to try her magic stick on other things.  Gradually grain seeds are smashed to a powder, water is added....the stick is used to flatten out this mush into something.....and suddenly she's making breads and cookies.

And when hubby tries to steal one of the cookies still cooling on a rock, she smites his hand with that same utensil. And there you have it....the basis for not only the rolling pin as a kitchen tool, but the start of that life-long vision of woman "training"  man with a rolling pin.

Modern day rolling pins can be made of anything, from hollow plastic that you fill with ice water, through the various wood designs (with and without handles) and even pins made with copper, glass and marble, just to name a few.  The marble, metal and ice water filled varieties can be especially handy for working with finicky pastry dough.

According to Wikipedia, they come in different models:
  • Rod: Thin rods typically made of wood around 2–3 cm in diameter. They are used by rolling the rod across the dough using one's palm. The pins may be tapered at one or both ends for more pivot control in certain tasks such as making small jiaozi skins or pie shells. Most East Asian or French style rolling pins, and the Turkish Oklava are rod style.
  • Roller: Consists of a thick heavy roller made of a variety of materials around 7–10 cm in diameter with thinner handles which extend through the roller. They are used by grasping the handles and pushing the pin across the dough. Many Western rolling pins are roller types.
  • Textured: Some specialized rolling pins have textured surfaces that mark and indents the dough surfaces for special breads and pancakes.
The wooden ones are great for pastry, too....although I put mine in the freezer for a few moments to chill it before working with some doughs. 

It's a versatile tool no kitchen should be without!