There are so many choices these days for rolling pins. I have my favorites as I’m sure you do, too.
My interest in pins and pie baking began when I was little and watching my grandmother get out her big wooden rolling pin, with the unpainted handles, and roll out her beautiful light, flakey crusts that crowned the lemon meringue and apple pies that graced our holiday table. After she was done, it was carefully wiped down…never washed…and stored in the baking drawer for her next creation.
Before I settled on the French tapered rolling pins that I love and use at my classes, I too had a big wooden handled one of my own just like hers. Then I tried a marble one, without handles that came my way and I still have although the handles have long since been lost. I like its coolness on hot days and the weight of it feels sturdy and substantial. But, it feels too big for my hands so it sits in the drawer and comes out only when folks ask about different pins I might have for them to see.
One day I went into a kitchen store in Seattle (sadly no longer in business as so many independent places are) and of course I found myself gravitating to the baking gadgets, cookie cutters, measuring cups and spoons at the back of the store. Of course the rolling pins were there along with pastry cloths and pastry frames. There must have been at least fifteen different pins to choose from … maybe more.
Which one to pick? Which one would be best?
I had no idea…only that I felt compelled to pick each of them up and, in turn, hold them in my hand to feel weight and heft, size and shape. I was searching for something, a feeling, that would let me know THIS was my pin.
I picked up two at a time, one in each hand, making laps around the store. After about three times of going along like a modified drum major, I was asked, “Can I help you?” “Are you finding everything you need?”
“Yup, I’m doing just fine” and picked up another for some more laps. It’s no joke that years ago when asked what my favorite sport is I immediately said dough rolling!
After about 45 minutes of this, I found that I was returning to the same pin, a slender tapered one, with a smooth and silky feel to the wood. Light in color, it looked like something I thought a professional might use. Made in the USA from rock maple by Vic Firth. That sounded good, too. The wrapper on it had a picture of a man holding timpani mallets. Years later in my classes occasionally a comment was offered, from those in the know about such things, that Vic Firth is THE mallet guy. But, at that time, I had NO idea who he was. I just brought it to the counter, bought it and with excitement drove home to try it.
I think it would be safe to say it was love at first roll and I’ve been using it exclusively since. I have bought more of these beauties over the years to give as birthday, wedding, and holiday presents, given them as thank you’s to folks who have hosted me for workshops in other cities … and now I have a small arsenal of them for my own personal use as well as my Art of the Pie workshops at Pie Cottage.
Vic Firth no longer is in the rolling pin business and I was concerned that I would no longer be able to get these wonderful pins. I wondered what had happened. So, I set out to find out and here’s what I learned after emailing the drum division of his company.
Fletcher’s Mill, a small company in Maine, bought the equipment from Vic Firth a couple of years ago. So next, I found their website and emailed them. I received a reply and we set up a time to chat (great customer service!). They assured me that “Yes, these are the same pins.” I ordered two just to be sure. When they arrived and I unpacked them, my hands immediately told me that they are the same wonderful pins I have enjoyed and I am overjoyed to be able to let you know all this!
I don’t know where my grandmother’s rolling pin ended up and I sure wish I knew because I would love to have the one I saw her use sort of like a good luck charm. I like to imagine that someone found it at a second hand store and it’s still being used making glorious pies like hers…well, almost like hers! In the meantime, I’ll keep rolling along merrily, with the one that fits my hand like a glove.