Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Rolling Pin

You don't need a fancy rolling pin to make pie crust. In fact, I'd recommend holding off on buying one until you've made about 20 pies. In the interim, try a bunch of different bottles and things to get a feel for the weight and size you prefer. When I was living in Vienna and baking my pies in a Coleman camping oven (a metal box that sat on top of my stove-top burner), my makeshift rolling pins included thermos bottles, empty wine bottles, full wine bottles, and partially full rum bottles - whatever was on hand at the time. Just be sure to wash and dry the surface of your "bottle" before and after using.

Now that I've been reunited with all my stuff in the US, I have my proper rolling pin back. This one is a solid piece of pine and was a gift from my mother. I think it came from T.J. Maxx and is probably about 10 years old. It's fairly modest as far as rolling pins go, but in many ways I think that makes it a superior tool. It doesn't flaunt any moving parts or fancy heavy marble barrel. It is very lightweight and easy to control, so that I can get my pie crust just as thick or thin as I want it and even throughout. My only complaint is that pine is a weak wood, and this rolling pin does get dings and dents easily. So, I have to be careful when washing, handling, and storing it.

You might be able to tell from the photo that this one is also starting to lose its finish. I consider the weathered look a mark of pride in having used it well over the years, but I do have a tinge of worry about having to replace it someday. If I had to decide on a replacement now, I think I'd get something similar, but made of a sturdier wood - maybe a fancy varnished log of cherry wood.

On the pie horizon, my father in law and his wife are coming to visit this weekend. Which means enough people will be around to warrant making a pie. The top contender right now is Lemon Meringue, so I can use up the lemons and limes leftover from the party last weekend. Stay tuned...

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