I have a lot of favorite kitchen tools. My seven-inch Global chef's knife is my baby. My pasta maker is my dance partner on any given Friday night. My girlfriend's stand mixer is my favorite toy in the apartment.
But one of my favorite kitchen tools isn't so glamorous; it costs only a few dollars, yet is surprisingly absent in most kitchens. I'm talking about the humble dough scraper.
The dough scraper is a small rectangular piece of stainless steel used to help bakers and pastry chefs handle dough. It acts as a third hand: one that's flatter and easier to scoop with, and one that dough doesn't stick to as easily as it does to hands.
Traditionally, the dough scraper is used in a very simple way. While creating and kneading dough, you simply use the scraper in any way possible to aid the process. You can scoop rogue flour back into the pile of dough, flip the mixture upside down, or press the wet and dry ingredients together with the flat surface. There's no one right way to use a dough scraper; it exists because it's easier to handle dough with a flat piece of stainless steel than with your hands.
As an avid bread and pasta maker (dough scrapers/choppers are perfect for pasta, as you can use them to keep the egg mixture from getting out of hand), my dough scrapers (I'll admit it: I have two) get a lot of use with flour and water. But there are a million and one ways that you can utilize this ten-dollar tool in the kitchen.
My go-to use for my dough scraper is as a knife substitute. I've found that a dough scraper cuts through dough or other soft foods just as gracefully as a chef's knife, but you don't have to dirty your knife or grab a tool with dough-covered hands.
When I worked in a professional kitchen, I was introduced to a brilliant, yet simple way to utilize a scraper: as a shovel for ingredients. Surely you're familiar with how annoying it is to have to use your hands to scoop a chopped onion from a cutting board into a skillet. Just slide a dough scraper under it, and voilà! Instant transportation for any solid ingredients in the kitchen.
But my mom taught me the best use for a dough scraper. It turns out that a rigid and flat piece of stainless steel is perfect for scraping off messes. That dried pile of dough on your cutting board that never cleans off? It can be removed easily by a scrape from... well... a scraper. Dirty counter full of hardened sugar and food scraps? Run a scraper over it and the surface is clean in no time.
It seems that whenever I have an oddball kitchen task and don't know what tool to use, my dough scraper finds a way to get it done. Do you have any brilliant uses for this handy and underutilized tool?
Learn more about another amazing but underutilized food tool: the humble potato ricer. And talk about brilliant: simple wood planks will change your grilling game forever. In the "why didn't they think of this sooner?" category, check out these reusable bags that let you make grilled cheese in your toaster.