A grooved rolling pin is a more specialized type of rolling pin that is used primarily in the making of traditional, “Old World” flatbreads like Lefse or Lahvosh. It may look like a typical rolling pin, comprised of a hardwood cylinder, with a handle at each end, or it can also be a smaller pin that is attached with one single handle. Where a grooved type differs is that it typically has 1/8 (3.175 mm) inch grooves running around the pin. Its purpose is to roll out air pockets that can affect how flat a piece of flatbread turns out to be after baking in the oven.
The term “grooved rolling pin” can be a generic term for a couple different types of rolling pins that are not smooth. The type of rolling pin that has grooves running around the pin is typically called a straight grooved pin, single cut pin or corrugated pin. When it is used to make Lefse, which is a Norweigan flatbread, or sometimes Lahvosh, an Armenian “crackerbread,” some recipes call for rolling the grooved rolling pin across the dough, and then rolling it again perpendicular to the first roll. This allows the dough to bake up flat, without the characteristic air bubbles that inevitably develop during baking.
Cross-hatched, or double cut grooved rolling pins have grooves running both around the pin, and lengthwise, resulting in tiny grooved squares. A cross-hatched pin may be used to roll out flatbread dough in one step, without having to change the direction of rolling to create the perpendicular “stippling” effect that can be created with a straight grooved pin in two steps.
A rolling pin that has grooves that run lengthwise on the pin is called a French grooved pastry pin or Tutove rolling pin, named for the company that manufactures them. When this type of rolling pin is used in typical French pastries such as puff pastries, croissants, or other lightly crusted pastries, it is utilized to distribute the butter more evenly into the thin layers of dough. Since there are typically many thin layers to these types of pastries, the grooved rolling pin helps achieve that light, buttery texture and taste. When used in French baking, the grooved rolling pin also facilitates the softening of cold dough coming straight from the refrigerator without having to wait for it to warm.
Grooved rolling pins may be found in fine baking supply stores, or online. Along with information on these specialized rolling pins, you will likely find plenty of recipes for Lefse bread.