Know about pastry cloths and rolling pin covers? They’re what my mother and grandmother swore by for rolling out pastry and cookie dough, but Mon Dieu, I never saw them used at cooking school in Paris, nor were they used by anyone in the Gourmet test kitchens. No, marble was the mantra for pastry, because it stays cool for those finicky French butter-rich doughs.
I’m tickled whenever something old-fashioned is new again, and pastry cloths with rolling pin covers—my mother called them rolling pin socks, and that’s exactly what they look like—are back in vogue. I see them for sale not only in cookware shops, but in the baking aisle of my local supermarket, which says a lot because Manhattan supermarkets are notoriously small and cramped with limited shelf space.
I couldn’t be happier about this development, because pastry cloths and rolling pin covers work like a charm. You rub a little flour into the cloth and the sock-like cover (once it’s on the rolling pin), then start rolling. The cloth and the cover hold the flour, creating non-stick surfaces, which helps keep the dough from absorbing it. The less flour a dough absorbs, the better the outcome.
But what I really love about the cloth is that it keeps your kitchen from looking like a floury disaster area, especially if your kitchen is the size of a shoebox, like mine. When I’m done, I just shake out any excess flour or bits of dough into the trash, then fold up the cloth and store it in a plastic bag in the freezer. I’m not left with a messy countertop to scrub and clean. And the cloth and cover can be popped in the washing machine whenever they become too embedded with flour and butter stains. I particularly like the Norpro set pictured above, because the cloth and cover are 100 percent cotton, the cloth edges are stitched so that they won’t fray, and at only $5.99, the price is right!