Every kitchen needs to have certain tools for cooking and baking. You don't need to have every new and fancy gadget that comes out on the market (although some of those gadgets are cool and can be useful), but you should have some basics.
Today's Monday Must Have is one of those basics--the Rolling Pin.
Rolling pins come in several styles, shapes and sizes, materials and even different colors. I own four or five, but the one I typically use for most of my rolling needs is the Straight Rolling Pin, sometimes also referred to as the French-style rolling pin (but not to be confused with the French Tapered Rolling Pin).
I first used a Straight Rolling Pin in culinary school. In fact, the one pictured above is the very same one that came as part of my culinary tool kit. At first, I wasn't sure if I liked it. Growing up, I'd always used the type of rolling pin with the handles and that was what I was used to. The first time I used the Straight Rolling Pin, well to be honest, it was a frustrating experience. It felt awkward and strange to use the palm of my hands on the pin, instead of keeping them on the handles.
It was so different to me, that I was resistant to changing over to it. In fact, in one of my first classes, I opted to use the regular rolling pins when learning to roll out pastry dough--until the Chef came over and explained why he loved using the Straight Rolling Pin for rolling out many types of dough. He encouraged me to give it another try and showed me the advantages to using this type of rolling pin and once I got the hang of it and had a bit more practice, I understood how this tool was a very valuable part of my collection.
The Pros of the Straight Rolling Pin:
Balance ~ The straight rolling pin is uniformly balanced and can roll out larger amounts of dough because it is longer than a rolling pin with handles. This balance helps to roll out the dough evenly and with some practice, it is easy to use.
Control ~ Because you are using the weight of the pin to help roll the dough out and also depending on your touch, you can add more pressure and feel the dough as it rolls out or add less pressure if you only need a little more.
Relaxed ~ I actually find myself more relaxed while rolling out dough, because I'm not gripping the handles and forgetting that I'm not handling the dough gently enough. Also, this type of rolling pin allows you to be closer to the dough and you are able to feel the dough's thickness while rolling it out and make the necessary adjustments through the pressure from your hands on the rolling pin.
Size ~ The Straight Pin is 18-inches long, vs. the handled rolling pin which is about 10-inches long. This is helpful in not adding edging dents which can occur with the other type of rolling pin at times.
How-to-Care for your Straight Rolling Pin:
Before using a brand new rolling pin, it needs to be oiled, to help protect the wood from drying, spliting or cracking. Mineral Oil is the best type of oil to use for protecting wooden kitchen tools and should be used rather than vegetable oil. Vegetable oil can turn rancid and that in turn, produces an unpleasant oder and flavor; not what you want on your beautiful pastry dough. Follow the recommended directions on the Mineral Oil bottle for how often to use on your rolling pin.
As with most rolling pins, you don't want to soak this in water, but rather wipe it down after use. If you do have a bit of excess dough sticking to your pin (because you didn't use enough flour--it happens), then wash it quickly with a little mild soap and warm water and dry it right after to remove excess water.
As I mentioned before, I do own other types of rolling pins and I do use them from time to time for certain baking projects, but the Straight Rolling Pin is my go-to pin for the majority of my dough rolling needs.