Rolling Pin Guides
Rolling out dough to a precise, uniform thickness can be an intimidating task. Lately, however, we've noticed some gadgets meant to make uneven crusts a thing of the past. Do they really work?
One product, a set of rubber rings, slide onto the end of a rolling pin to serve as guides; you simply roll out the dough until the rings reach the surface on which you're rolling. A nice idea, but not without problems. The rings appear to be one-size-fits-all, but many failed to fit a single roller in the test kitchen. In addition, the rings shortened the usable length on tapered, French-style rolling pins (our favorite) by almost half.
Another product we tested was a wooden pastry board with an adjustable frame, along which the straight rolling pin included in the package glides. The board lets you focus simply on rolling the dough into a round shape; the smooth surface helps to prevent sticking, and the frame keeps the mess contained. On the downside, the 14-square-inch work area is cramped for some tasks, and adjusting frame height is somewhat tedious. And, this board is expensive.
We also found a product consisting of broad lengths of plastic strips of varying thicknesses. They are placed alongside the dough, and the pin is rolled on top of them. The strips do not impede the rolling pin, but you may want to use them only as you start to approach the desired thickness (keeping them oriented correctly as you turn the dough early on can be frustrating). Novice rollers were surprised at the flawless uniformity they achieved with the help of these guides. However, we encountered the same problem using French-style pins here as with the rings.
In the end, then, we found that nothing replaces old-fashioned patience and practice. But an inexpensive set of strips (when used with an untapered pin) offers an effective set of training wheels, providing a boost of confidence for the apprehensive roller.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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