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Why We Love Embossed Rolling Pins

For the longest time we used plain-old rolling pins when making cookies. Then Bill discovered embossed rolling pins, and making cookies has never been the same.

three embossed rolling pins with different designs
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Embossed rolling pins explained

Not familiar with embossed rolling pins? Some other ways that people describe them include:

  • textured rolling pins
  • patterned rolling pins
  • decorative rolling pins
  • engraved rolling pins

Basically, these are rolling pins with decorative patterns carved, engraved or embossed into them. We use them to make pretty patterns on dough for cookies. However, plenty of bakers and cooks we know use them for biscuits, fondant, pasta and other baked goods as well.

Working with fondant and homemade pasta is likely for more advanced bakers. Think those that might audition for the “Great British Baking Show.” That’s a little above our pay grade when it comes to baking and cooking.

So, if you’re like us, the average person in the kitchen but someone who loves to cook and bake — and loves trying out new tools — you may want to start experimenting with these special rolling pins with something a bit simpler.

A good first step? Using them on cookie dough.

one embossed rolling pin in foreground
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Popularity of specialty rolling pins

There are a number of reasons that specialty rolling pins are all the rage. First, there are all of the aspirational cooking shows on television, such as the aforementioned “The Great British Baking Show” or any of the baking shows on The Food Network.

I think it was on the Food Network show “Cookie Wars” where Bill first spied these embossed rolling pins and, quoting Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon from “30 Rock” exclaimed, “I want to go to there.” Or, in other words, I must have these!

Celebrity endorsements

Next, speaking of famous people, there are the celebrities that lend their names to cooking tools — although I haven’t seen anything cooking-related that Tina Fey is hawking these days.

For example, Martha Stewart hawks embossed rolling pins and other baking tools on her eponymous website, Gordon Ramsay is affiliated with Hexclad pans, and The Food Network has its own line of cooking tools. You can buy Food Network cookware at Kohl’s.

Social media

Finally, there is the rise of social media. Pinterest. Instagram. TikTok.

It’s on platforms like these that amateur bakers share how they make magazine-worthy cookies and the like. So, if someone’s favorite influencer is using specialty kitchen tools, chances are their fans and followers will want to own them, too.

Take my friend Ksenia Prints, who writes the At the Immigrant’s Table blog. After seeing embossed rolling pins everywhere, she was excited to use them.

“I love the idea of embossed rolling pins for my gluten-free cookies,” she said. “I’m a big fan of how easily they transform the look of the most ordinary cookie dough.”

Working with an embossed rolling pin

If you decide to use an embossed rolling pin to make cookies, there are a few things to keep in mind. The most important thing is this: make sure you’re using chilled dough. Chilled cookie dough is easier to work with, as it is in most instances when baking cookies.

In fact, around the holidays, our friend Robin borrowed our embossed rolling pins. She was so excited to make batches of beautiful cookies with them. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

I mean, she did make cookies. They didn’t, however, look as beautiful as she hoped the would. That’s because she forgot to keep the dough chilled. She ended up working with it when it got to room temperature, which is great when working with softened butter.

Not so much cookie dough. They came out as just blobs. Delicious blobs but blobs nonetheless.

However, there’s another reason you want chilled dough when working with patterns. It improves the chances of getting good-looking cookies, said Vee Zarate of Magically Allergy Friendly.

She warned me that if the dough is too warm, then the design disappears when you bake the cookies. I should have shared this advice with Robin.

Other tools to use with embossed rolling pins

Depending on the kind of rolling pin design you choose, you may have to use a cookie cutter or roller wheel to get the shape cookies you want. For example, some embossed rolling pin designs have a perfect square or rectangular outline. Inside the shape is a pretty design.

You see all of these geometric designs once you roll it out on the dough. In this instance, you can use a roller wheel like you might with homemade pasta to cut out the cookie dough into square or rectangular shapes.

embossed rolling pin with ravioli cutter cropped
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

For designs without uniform shapes but a more freeform design, you can use a cookie cutter, the shape of your choosing. Ravioli stamps work, too, to cut out a cookie.

embossed rolling pins and tools
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Finally, using parchment paper on a cookie sheet ensures that these delicately designed cookies won’t stick once they’ve baked. Then again, this parchment paper hack works for any kind of cookies you might bake.

transferring square cookies with embossed rolling pin
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Here’s why embossed rolling pins typically are wood

As soon as Bill decided to add embossed rolling pins to his kitchen tools, he started looking at them on Amazon. He noticed that all of the specialty rolling pins Amazon stocks are wooden.

Later, he learned that bakers and pastry chefs prefer wooden rolling pins for their versatility and durability. According to Serious Eats, wooden rolling pins were, by far, the best at preventing dough from sticking to them.

Also, wood is a great material for creating an embossed look. How is that done? There are typically three ways of transferring a design.

There is CNC machining. That stands for Computer Numerical Control and is a fancy way of saying a computer program transfers the design to the wood. The other two options for creating an embossed rolling pin are laser engraving and hand carving.

Here is how the company Embossed Co. describes the process for making its rolling pins. It combines both hand carving and laser engraving:

“Each of our embossed rolling pins starts with a piece of natural beech wood. We lovingly carve each piece of wood into shape before using a high-precision laser to carefully engrave the detailed decorative pattern onto the rolling pin.”

These decorative patterns can run the gamut. Here are some common shapes and patterns you might see on these specialty rolling pins:

  • Flowers and leaves.
  • Geometric shapes.
  • Animals.
  • Holiday imagery, such as Christmas trees, Stars of David or hearts.
  • Words and phrases, such as happy birthday.
  • Patterned designs like paisley or herringbone.
better picture of cookies with embossed rolling pin before and after
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Cleaning your wooden rolling pin

Here is something important to remember when working with a wooden kitchen tool like this: you can’t put them in the dishwasher. It’s just like you shouldn’t with a charcuterie or butter board.

The high heat in a dishwasher can cause the wood to expand and contract, leading to cracks and other damage. That’s not just me tell you that. It’s something that Epicurious professes.

Didn’t know that? Now you do.

Instead, wash wooden tools by hand with warm water and mild soap, then drying them thoroughly before storing them. If your faucet has a spray setting, the higher water pressure can help clean out small spaces.

Also, because of the nooks and crannies in these rolling pins, you may need to grab a clean toothbrush to really get in there and clean out the dough. Don’t let the dough sit in there too long and harden. That will only make it harder to clean and/or make it so your decorative rolling pin no longer makes the same pretty patterns.

Final thoughts on embossed rolling pins

If you’re stuck on a gift for a baker, you can level up how they make cookies with a specialty rolling pin. On the other hand, if you’re getting married or having a housewarming party and just set up an Etsy gift registry, you’ll find tons of embossed rolling pin options on Etsy that you can add to your registry.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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