Have you ever baked bread at home? I hope you have, because as soul soothing a hunk of crusty, gently chewy, warm-from-the-oven bread can be, the bread-making process itself is rewarding on a deeper level. Baking bread creates a satisfying sense of accomplishment and scratches the primordial itch of feeding your flock.
Picture your dough—shiny, sticky—after the flour, yeast, salt, and liquid have come together and tumbled around in the mixer. You dump it onto the counter and, for many recipes, divide it in two to make a pair of loaves. Now scale up that picture by a factor of fifty and try to envision a mountain of dough the size of a beanbag chair on the counter. How the heck are you going to divvy that up? In bakeries that make bread by hand, they use a bench scraper to cleave a long strip of dough from the mass and then cut that strip into weighed portions for each loaf. And when they’re done, they use the bench scraper to—you guessed it—scrape the bench (bakery work surface) clean of excess flour and clingy strands of dough.
6 Ways to Use a Bench Scraper
Bench scrapers are an invaluable tool in commercial bakeries and pastry kitchens; they’re the baker’s version of a pitmaster’s tongs or short-order cook’s spatula. But they are also incredibly handy to have at home—and not just for cutting dough and scraping the counter clean. I like to use a bench scraper to scoop and move chopped vegetables for stir-fries. It’s also awesome for evening out the frosting on the side of a cake. You can push the blade of your bench scraper over a block of chocolate to make decorative curls. Bench scrapers are great for cutting fudge or brownies—or fudge brownies!—into portions in the pan. Use them for portioning butter and cutting that butter into flour for biscuits or pie dough. I’ve even used my bench scraper to cut cucumbers, zucchini, and summer squash into rounds or peeled potatoes into chunks. They’re handy for cutting a log of chilled cookie or cracker dough into coins for baking. And for cutting vent holes into pie dough, cutting rolls of cinnamon buns, and portioning a blob of dough into rolls. The list could go on.
Do you absolutely need a bench scraper? Probably not. But if you have one, chances are you absolutely love it.