When it comes to the kitchen, there are myriad tools I want, but only a handful I need, and near the top of my list is a bench scraper. The flat rectangular tool (you can find some made of flexible plastic, others of sturdy metal) is sort of a cross between a chef’s knife and a spatula, and it will become your kitchen superhero in no time.
And before you say but I’m not a big baker, I don’t need this!, know that while you can certainly use a bench scraper for trimming laminated pastry and frosting layer cakes, I still think one of the best reasons to keep such a tool around is to seamlessly transfer chopped vegetables from the cutting board to a sizzling skillet (more on that later). Plus, I bet you’ve made a tray of brownies lately that would have benefited from evenly sliced squares? Or wanted to scrape up stubborn bits of food stuck to your kitchen counter? A bench scraper, specifically a metal one, can help.
If you don’t already have one you love, you’re in luck: We just launched our Five Two Baking Tool Set, and with it comes a bright and shiny metal bench scraper. This 6.5×5-inch tool fits neatly in your hand, and is actually marked with measuring guides, so you don’t have to break out a ruler in addition to all your baking tools. Thanks to our brilliant Five Two design team—not to mention whip-smart community feedback on comfortable handles, the practicality of silicone, and dishwasher-safe materials—the tool is ready to join your spoons, knives, and cutting boards in regular kitchen-rotation.
To celebrate the launch of the Five Two Bench Scraper, we asked three of our favorite bakers, Lani Halliday, Zoë Kanan, and Judy Kim, to share their top tips for how to use the tool, from how a bench scraper comes in handy on a daily basis to slightly more advanced home-baking uses.
Lani Halliday, Owner of Gluten-Free Bakery Brutus Bakeshop
Slicing Tray Bakes
“Bench scrapers are a great way to slice tray bakes neatly, especially ones with differently textured layers. Your oat crumble bars will stay neat and even when dividing through both the sturdy bottom oat layers and the delicate jam layer above if you use the scraper like a little guillotine.”
“I love frosting cakes with my metal bench scrapers. The scraper fits squarely against both the cake and the turntable. Give it a couple of spins and you’re left with perfectly straight iced sides.”
Tempered Chocolate Decorations
“I love using a metal bench scraper for making tempered chocolate decorations (rolling thinly spread chocolate into skinny cigars as it cools). They’re super satisfying to make, even more so if you’ve got a two-tone chocolate thing going on.”
Biscuits & Scones, from Start to Finish
“One particular process that really highlights the bench scraper’s versatility is biscuit- or scone-making. A bench scraper will take you from cubing butter, to cutting it into flour, to pressing the dough together, to scoring and cutting individual biscuits and scones, to transferring them to a baking tray—all with one tool.”
Perfectly Round Logs of Cookie Dough
“If you’re a cookie-dough-in-the-freezer-at-all-times person like me, you know the importance and ease of the slice-and-bake method. A simple trick using a folded piece of parchment paper and a bench scraper builds up tension in the dough log that forces it into a perfectly cylindrical round. I’ve used this bench scraper trick for other applications like chocolate salami or fancy logs of compound butter. A perfectly round look adds that touch of grace and technique with minimal effort. Thank your bench scraper for the assist!”
Dividing & Shaping Dough
“When dividing and shaping dough in the kitchen, I wield a bench scraper for so long that I begin to imagine it as an extension of my hand. Its variety of uses surpasses its namesake, making it a pastry (and pasta) chef’s MVP, and a home baker’s secret weapon.”
Bonus Trick: Save Time, Braid Dough
“I love a beautifully braided bread as much as anyone, but depending on the occasion I’ve been known to cut a corner here or there for the sake of saving time. My ad-hoc braiding trick relies on the help of a bench scraper. I roll out my well-chilled dough on a floured surface and use a bench scraper to carefully slice it into long, thin ropes that are braiding-ready. This cuts out the usual steps of individual portioning and preshaping, but yields a beautiful and rustic loaf that proofs quickly and tastes great.”
Judy Kim, Food Stylist & Recipe Developer
Transferring Ingredients During Cooking & Baking
“A bench scraper comes in handy for gathering chopped ingredients—from onions to chocolate—from the cutting board to a bowl or pan.”
Cleaning Up a Work Surface
“When I’m making pie or pasta dough, I won’t use a bench scraper to move the dough, but I’ll use it to clean up the work surface. All the pieces of butter and flour that get stuck to the surface when rolling out dough start to dry out. You might leave dough on the work surface to rest, but you don’t want all these dried bits of flour, butter, or other crusty pieces on the surface—a bench scraper is the only tool that works here. You can’t wipe the surface, because the pieces are already stuck, so you’ll end up smearing buttery flour all over the place. There’s nothing worse than feeling hard crusty pieces stuck to your dough. If you clean the surface first you’ll avoid that.”
Cutting Butter for Dough
“You’d think a knife would be the best, but because of the bench scraper’s even thickness and handle, you can apply direct pressure vertically, and the butter isn’t as likely to stick to the scraper. Also, if you buy sticks of butter wrapped in paper, if you cut it with a knife, you’d cut through the butter wrapper—with a bench scraper, which is a little duller, you won’t. Then you don’t have to dirty a cutting board or plate—you can just keep the cut butter right on its wrapper and then add it to the recipe.”
Bonus Tip: Store Them Upright in a Drawer
“I like to keep a lot of kitchen tools in a drawer organizer, but there’s a space between the drawer and the organizer insert, so I keep my bench scrapers there so they’re vertical and easy to grab.”