Kitchn Love Letters

The Best Stocking Stuffer I Ever Got Was a $3 Piece of Plastic

published Nov 23, 2021
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Credit: Genevieve Morrison/Getty Images

What if, in the middle of your cookie-baking or pie crust-making, someone gave you one tool that could speed it all up — and help clean it all up, too? What if that tool also came in handy for making bread or pizza dough from scratch? Or soup? 

Well, unlike Santa, such a tool does actually exist! It’s a bench scraper and it’s the best thing that I have ever gotten in my Christmas stocking. Plus, it only cost Santa — er, my family — $3. 

Credit: Amy Graves

Made of tough, flexible plastic, the bench scraper looks a bit like an oversized credit card — except one side has a rounded edge. It fits neatly in a kitchen drawer, but it doesn’t spend a lot of time there because I am always reaching for it. Wide-shanked, thin, and sharp (but not knife-sharp), it’s perfect not only for scraping and shaping dough, but also for cutting butter into bits for pie crust, shaping and dividing bread or pizza dough.

I use it when I’m baking pies, too. Making a pie crust is messy and tricky, and it involves a lot of maneuvering. All of this is made much easier with a dough scraper, in part because dough doesn’t stick to it the way it sticks to your hands. The scraper lets you clean stray bits off of the work surface and your hands as you go. I also use it to lift the crust and place it into the pie plate. And after I fill the pie and put the top crust on, I use the scraper, again, to trim away the excess crust.

When I make a big double-batch of bread or pizza dough, which is often very sticky because of its heavy hydration level, the bench scraper helps with the lifting and shifting around on the countertop as I knead and work. 

Beyond dough, I reach for it a lot when I’m making dinner. The wide surface lets me safely transfer chopped veggies to a pan or pot for cooking. I’ve used it to smash garlic, and smashed my personal record for how long it takes to scrape gunk off a sheet pan.

Credit: Amy Graves

Now, some bench scrapers (also called bench knives or dough scrapers) come in stainless steel, with a handle on one side. This version allows for cutting power: I’ll use it to rough cut veggies or slice up brownies or focaccia in a pan.

Because I have a butcher block workspace, I recently purchased a stainless steel scraper. The sturdier material means I can use more pressure to really scrape off the fine grit of flour that always sticks to wood. Which type of bench scraper should you get? Stainless steel or plastic? I vote for both! Again, they take up nearly no drawer space and they’re endlessly useful. I hope you ask for them for your stocking this year!