Let’s Get Rollin’!

Sugar cookies in different shapes, pies, and pizza crusts; three foods most of us can’t get enough of.  Did you know that these three foods share something in common?  Before they are baked they are rolled flat by an object that most of us have in our kitchens but may not be used frequently.  This object is a rolling pin.

High Plains Museum | HHG032 Wooden rolling pin

High Plains Museum |
HHG032
Wooden rolling pin

Rolling pins have been around since the 9th Century and the first civilization we know to have used them was the Etruscans.  The Etruscans lived in Italy, north of Rome.  They were an extremely well developed and advanced culture.  Part of their culture was passing recipes and cooking methods down to their children.  One cooking method in particular was the use of the rolling pin.  Early rolling pins were made from stone, baked clay, smoothed branches and glass.

Rolling pins have several different uses.  Since rolling pins are cylinders they allow for easy rolling.  They also help the user get the dough to the same depth.  Rolling pins can be used for a variety of recipes, both baking and cooking.  Bakers use rolling pins for cookie dough, puff pastries, cinnamon rolls, pie crusts and flat breads just to name a few.  Those who cook also use rolling pins for things like pizza crusts, homemade tortillas, or when crushing something to make a topping such as corn flakes or pretzels. The different types of materials for rolling pins help with the various jobs rolling pins do.  To learn more about which types of rolling pins work best for different jobs, click here.

Today rolling pins are made from wood, metal, marble and silicone.  The basic structure of the rolling pin has not changed much since the 9th Century.  The biggest structural change to the rolling pin would be the addition of handles.  Other changes include non-stick rolling pins and some even a heater/cooler system in them!  A rolling pin with a heater helps things like fondant and other ingredients used in baking cakes, to roll out easier.  This would help the baker in the decorating of cakes or other baked goodies.  Rolling pins with a cold core allow the dough to stay cool and help it from tearing and getting too soft.  These types of rolling pins also have items that protect the dough from condensation.

Here at the High Plains Museum we have two rolling pins in our collection.  The first rolling pin which can be seen at the

High Plains Museum | HHG376 Homemade wooden rolling pin

High Plains Museum |
HHG376
Homemade wooden rolling pin

top of the page on the left was used by Baka Rankin who homesteaded here in 1887.  The second rolling pin, on the right, was homemade by W.H. Stone and is over 100 years old.  Stone moved to Sherman County in 1885 and Goodland two years later.  Both rolling pins are made of wood and both have handles.

Rolling pins are an item that has not changed much since they were invented back in the 9th Century.  Etruscans used rolling pins and passed down the technique along with recipes to future generations.  They are used by both bakers and cooks and help make some very yummy treats.  With new additions like handles and heating/cooling systems, rolling pins are an item that have changed and yet stayed the same.  They are a kitchen object of yesteryear but still important today.

Can you think of other objects like the rolling pin that are objects of the past but still used today?

Look for more posts in this series about our wonderful collection of Sherman County history.

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