I tried to get them to fight in the editorial office—ideally with blunt wooden objects, but I would have been satisfied with some huffy shouting. Just to add a little spice to a quiet Tuesday in the test kitchen.
I was asking two of the test kitchen’s pre-eminent bakers, Andrew Janjigian and Andrea Geary, which of our two winning rolling pins they preferred. One of the pins is a hefty straight dowel, while the other is tapered and a bit smaller. “If you could only use one,” I asked them, “for any and all tasks, for the rest of your baking life, which would you choose?” I was hoping they’d each pick a different pin and get into a heated tiff trying to sway the other to their choice of weapon—er, pin; as anyone who is familiar with their recipes knows, Andrew and Andrea are both especially intelligent, focused, and opinionated test cooks.
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Test-kitchen smackdown? ATK deathmatch? Sadly, no—Andrew and Andrea wouldn’t take the bait. They both said they saw the merits of and really liked both pins. Boring, right? When pressed, Andrew said he’d prefer the tapered pin because it offers finer control. And Andrea, a pie and pastry expert, slightly prefers the straight dowel pin because its heft is better for working large doughs, like for a batch of croissants. But they both said they are happy to work with either. So much for a jousting match.
I’m also an experienced baker and I love both of these pins. If I were forced into my own game and had to choose just one, I’d go with the lighter Fante’s Tapered Baker’s Pin; it takes up less room in the kitchen, and, to me, is easier to roll with one hand. The J.K. Adams Plain Maple Rolling Dowel—which can double as a home-security aid, perfect for chasing off burglars—is great for the type of larger jobs I don’t tackle very often in my home kitchen.
In all seriousness, these are fantastic rolling pins that feel great in your hands and perform flawlessly—and although it’s not immediately apparent in their names, they are both made by the same Vermont manufacturer, J.K. Adams. Setting my silly “choose one” provocation aside, serious bakers will probably want to have both pins. Apart from baking, a rolling pin is handy for crushing crackers or cookies into crumbs, pulverizing peppercorns and whole spices (cumin seeds, fennel seeds, etc.), and, in the “in a pinch” category, for crushing ice, muddling herbs, and pounding out chicken or pork cutlets.
How do you roll?