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I was recently given a 'French Rolling Pin' as a gift. To me, it just looks like a fancy dowel-rod. What exactly is it, and what is it useful for?

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The tone of this question is unfortunate. Perhaps you could step down the undeserved animosity a bit. –  Sobachatina Nov 29 '10 at 13:56
    
@Aaronut- Thanks –  Sobachatina Nov 29 '10 at 15:36
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The SO---who does the baking in our house---acquired an antique pin in this style for a couple of bucks, and shortly thereafter gave away all out axle-n-handle rolling pins. Good tool. –  dmckee Nov 29 '10 at 18:46

3 Answers 3

A French rolling pin is a real thing. It is also a very convenient thing. I find that I have much better control over my rolling using one rather than the foolish little pins with the handles that get filthy and hurt my knuckles.

As for the 'French' part of the name. I don't know, having never lived in France, whether they actually refer to that style of rolling pin as French. However, I find it extremely unlikely. Probably some English speaker coined the phrase to differentiate that style of pin as one commonly used in France. Hopefully there is a French speaker who can provide more insight. (If you didn't insult them with your question.)

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As far as I know (I'm French but no chef), they are just called rolling pins with or without handles (rouleau à pâtisserie avec ou sans poignée). At least it's not like French letters or taking French leave… –  Gilles Jan 12 '11 at 0:34
    
Exactly. In France they use both types, each has there own job, and personal preference takes place as well. Both are useful tools in the kitchen. The plain wooden pin is obviously cheaper to make, and more common on a global basis –  TFD Oct 14 '11 at 21:37

The French rolling pin is a useful tool in the kitchen for bakers, especially those who like to concoct pastries, roll out sugar cookies, or make shaped breads and rolls. The standard pin is usually 2 inches (5.08 cm) in circumference, and can come in varying lengths; 18 inches (45.72 cm) tends to be the most popular length. What makes it different from other rolling pins is that it has no handles, and is tapered to a smaller circumference at each end. It’s essentially a round, usually wooden, stick of a certain thickness.

From here: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-french-rolling-pin.htm

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In professional baking circles, the tapered "French Pin" is best used to roll out pie and tart dough so that the center of the crust is slightly thinner than the outer edges. This way the crust is sure to be evenly baked. As for the French part of it, my French chef friends have never heard of a "French Rolling Pin", nor have they ever heard of a "French Knife", or "French Fries" for that matter. I believe that any culinary item that is slightly more sophisticated it is called "French ...". Probably because the French are reputed to enjoy a higher standard of culinary expertice.

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I am not so sure about the "French = sophisticated" theory. Normally, when a product style is predominant in the location, people from there don't call it by their own location, but people from outside do. So French say "rolling pin" to what you call "French rolling pin", Dutch people say "cheese" to what you call "gouda", Americans say "sandwich" to what I call "American style sandwich", etc. –  rumtscho Dec 15 '13 at 17:06

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