Kitchen gadgets fall squarely into two categories: one-use devices that perform a very specific function and clutter your drawers (the majority), or apparatuses that help with a wide array of seemingly disconnected jobs (the minority). The simple bench, or pastry, scraper is one of those multi-use wonders — it’s an instrument that will help you cook more efficiently and keep your workspace free from mess. Plus, it washes and stores like a dream.
What exactly is a bench scraper?
At first glance, this thin rectangle of stainless steel looks like a superfluous gadget. But, as those who own one know, this magical device is a master of many trades. And if you’re able to pick up one with a 6-inch ruler on it, like this $13 version from always reliable OXO, you’ll reach an astonishing level of uniformity with your cutting and baking.
Here are a few reasons you should always have your bench scraper at the ready:
Use it to cut
The bench scraper’s best-known purpose is cutting dough, whether it’s puff pastry, pizza dough, or pie crust. Bakers swear by the scraper’s ability to punch, cut and portion out sticky, wet dough — unlike a kitchen knife, these cutters won’t stick to dough, and this way your fingers are kept clean. The scraper can also be used to divide up frozen butter, finely slice pastry, and eliminate the need to handle dough with hands, which may warm it up.
It’s also great for cutting up fudge, brownies and other baked bars quickly and evenly while they’re still in the pan. Others swear by the scraper’s ability to divide up large portions of cheese or ground beef and some even use it for cutting up veggies like carrots, celery and peppers.
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The scraper’s thin, wide, sturdy blade is multifunctional: use it to lift up raw dough that has been cut into unique cookie shapes; scrape dried dough from work surfaces without worrying about scratching your counter; clear away caked-on flour in seconds. The thin edge can also be used to smooth out icing on the sides of cakes. Not a baker? Those who practice home butchery like using it to scrape their cutting board after dividing up different cuts of meat.
Use it to scoop chopped veggies (and more)
For recipes that require a good deal of chopping prep work — everything from stews to stir-fries — having the bench scraper on hand is invaluable. Transferring chopped and diced veggies, nuts and fruit from cutting board to pan or pot can be done quickly, easily and without the risk of dropping bits of food onto the ground (or leaving morsels behind). It’s a task most home cooks accomplish using their chef’s knife, but one that often prematurely dulls the knife blade as it scrapes across the cutting board. Using the pastry scraper keeps your knives sharp longer and transfers more quantity than a knife ever could.
Use it to measure
If you’re in the market for a new pastry scraper, make sure to get one with a ruler etched onto the length of the blade. Bakers often use the ruler to ensure their pastry or dough is the right thickness before it goes into the pan. And if you’re cutting up a log of cookie dough or something like cinnamon rolls, place the ruler along the side of the log, use a knife to score at even intervals, then use the scraper to cut the log up for perfect rolls. What’s more, due to its shape, the scraper will store away in your kitchen drawers without taking up unnecessary space.