Fancy tools and gadgets? Forget ’em! Ask any seasoned baker which tools they can’t live without and I guarantee you the simple bench scraper makes every list.
If you’re new to baking and cake decorating, a bench scraper is one tool you need right from the start. Once you have one in your kitchen, you’ll quickly realize why the basic bench scraper is such a beloved tool!
There are many kinds of bench scrapers you could add to your kitchen toolkit
Images via Craftsy and blogger Wendy
1. Flexible plastic bench scraper
Also called a dough scraper or bowl scraper, the curved side on this type of scraper is perfect for scooping bits of sticky dough out of a bowl. Meanwhile, the straight side can perform the same tasks as its metal cousins. While the flexibility of a plastic scraper is helpful for bending around curves, it prevents it from being a great tool for making clean, straight cuts.
2. Hard plastic bench scraper
Hard plastic bench scrapers are often less expensive than metal ones, but they seldom last nearly as long. Plastic has a tendency to warp, bend or collect nicks in the blade over time.
3. Solid metal bench scraper (with or without a handle)
Handles can help you get a good grip on the tool if your hands are greasy from working with buttercream or dough, but it’s really up to you and what feels good in your hands. Scrapers without handles give you a little more flexibility, because you can use all four sides.
4. Bench scrapers with ruler on the blade
Both plastic and metal bench scrapers can be found with ruler guides on the blade. Look for a scraper where the ruler is printed on or very subtly etched. Rulers with raised lines or edges can effect the blade’s ability to make a clean cut. If you purchase a blade with a printed ruler, be mindful of the marks when washing your bench scraper, because they can rub off or fade over time.
5. Hardware store putty knife
Many bakers and cake decorators swear by using a large putty knife from the hardware store as a bench scraper. This idea started years ago before longer bench scrapers were readily available. Putty knives are inexpensive and found in a variety of sizes.
The only downside? They are not made specifically to be used with food. If you work in a commercial bakery environment in the U.S., it’s best to purchase tools that are approved by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation).
Uses For a Bench Scraper
1. Cleaning your work surface
Image via Erin Bakes.
Whether you’re working with fondant, pie dough, chocolate, bread dough, isomalt or any other delicious and sticky substance, a bench scraper is your go-to tool for the clean up job!
Hold the blade of the scraper at an angle against your countertop and scrape that mess into the trash. Your sponges and dish rags will thank you for it!
2. Making chocolate curls
Image via Craftsy instructor Zoë François
When you’re working with chocolate, a bench scraper is the perfect tool for making chocolate curls. Icing spatulas and offset spatulas don’t really allow you to approach the chocolate from the right angle. Having a long handle parallel to the blade makes the job infinitely easier.
3. Cutting butter into flour.
Image via Craftsy instructor Gesine Bullock-Prado
Biscuits, scones and pie dough are just a few of the delicious doughs that generally rely on cold butter being carefully cut into the recipe’s dry ingredients. A bench scraper is the perfect tool to reach for. After using it to cut the butter into the dough you can use it for many other of your baking and cleaning tasks to come.
4. Smoothing buttercream or ganache
Image via Erin Bakes
If you want smooth buttercream or ganache on your cakes, you’re going to need a bench scraper! If this is how you’ll primarily use your bench scraper (as opposed to pastry or bread making), look for a scraper with a long blade. A longer bench scraper will allow you to smooth cakes of different heights.
5. Portioning bread dough
Image via Craftsy instructor Jeff Yankellow
Fluffy, proofed bread doughs can be tricky to handle when it comes time to portion them out. Using a bench scraper allows you to make long, clean cuts without deflating your beautiful proofed dough.
6. As a wide spatula
Larger delicate items like cake layers and intricate cut cookies can be difficult to handle with thin icing spatulas. Using a bench scraper to assist adds more surface and stability to safely move baked goods around.
7. Cutting soft pastries.
Image via Craftsy blogger Nicole Weston
No need to break out a knife to slice up those brownies, blondies or other bar cookies. A bench scraper is the ideal tool for cutting perfect rectangles and squares every time.
8. Measuring cakes, cookies — anything!
A bench scraper with ruler markings along the blade is particularly useful for determining the height of a cake and making even cuts. But don’t discount using a bench scraper without these marks for a similar task. Using the size of your blade as a guide can help keep your cuts evenly spaced.
9. Scooping up chopped fruit, chocolate or other ingredients.
Image via Craftsy instructor Anna Bullett
Bench scrapers can help out when you’re cooking savory dishes as well. Moving anything that’s been chopped — chocolate, nuts, veggies — can be a challenge. A bench scraper makes the task quick and easy. The long blade is extra helpful for scooping up every last bit of something thats been finely chopped.
10. Cutting pastry doughs
Image via Craftsy instructor Gesine Bullock-Prado
Those gorgeous gluten strands that give pie and pastry doughs their structure, can also make cutting them a challenge. Chef’s knives tend to pull and drag through the springy doughs, while a bench scraper makes a cleaner cut coming in from the top down.
Our Favorite Bench Scraper
Sturdy, sleek, easy to use — and dishwasher-safe.