When I was working at a large production bakery, there was one bench scraper that was treasured above all other tools in the kitchen. Known only as the “good bench scraper,” it had a shift schedule as rigorous as any employee: it spent the early hours of the morning dividing English muffins, then it got passed off to the prep baker who used it to cube pound after pound of butter for scones and biscuits. Then, the croissant baker held onto it for a few hours, neatly trimming their batons into perfectly laminated rectangles. Next, it returned to the bread bakers, who spent hours with it, dividing huge masses of dough into loaves, baguettes, rolls, and bagels; it also scraped the wooden table clean between each variety. Then back over to prep, where it neatly chopped perfectly triangular scones, and finally over to the bread baker, who would use it to gently lift partially-proofed portions of baguette dough off of wooden boards to be shaped. Despite having at least eight other scrapers at our disposal, the entire team always knew about the whereabouts of this one.
The “good bench scraper,” it turns out, is officially known as the Mundial W5697 Dough Cutter/Scraper. Despite its vaulted status in the bakery, no one knew where our favorite scraper came from or even who made it until it fell into the mixer and perished. The blade survived the tragic accident (please share a moment of silence for the bread dough we lost alongside the shards of handle), and it was then we finally noticed that our favorite tool had a brand name: Mundial. The bakery immediately ordered several, and the daily bench scraper journey/power struggle came to an end. I eventually moved on from that bakery and bought one for myself. I’ve also given them as gifts to fellow bakers and even included one in a still-life drawing I made for an art class.
So why did this one tool get such preference? What made it the best? Why did I draw it as part of a still life? I’ll tell you why.
Mundial W5697 - Dough Cutter/Scraper
The Mundial Bench Scraper is Sharp
Bench scrapers are simple tools, so achieving excellence in just two key areas led the Mundial to be a universal favorite. The most important quality this scraper has going for it is its sharp, slender blade. Mind you, it’s not sharp enough to injure you (nor will it require maintenance from a whetstone), but sharp enough to glide easily through cold blocks of butter or sticky piles of sourdough. In production baking, a recipe may require division into dozens or hundreds of pieces (and it’s just one of many recipes you’re making in a day), so making that task a little easier can lighten your load considerably. The blade is also much sturdier than a knife’s, allowing you to chop up dough right on your scale’s metal top or scrape along your work surface—activities that you would (hopefully) never think to do with your freshly-sharpened santoku.
The two tasks that I think having a sharp bench scraper is most essential for are:
- Dividing dough with multiple textures - if you want to glide through sticky scone dough without getting your blade caught on tough dried fruit, you will be very thankful for this tool.
- Lifting delicate doughs - if you bake delicate, wet doughs such as sourdoughs and baguettes, you know the pain of getting them stuck to the bench and watching them deflate as you work to get them off. The sharp blade and nimble handle of the Mundial can deftly dislodge your dough from your work surface.
The Handle’s Unique Shape Makes it Easy to Maneuver
The handle shape is the other thing that this scraper gets right. Our winner for best bench scraper, from OXO, has a similarly sharp blade, but a bulkier (IMO) handle. The Mundial’s handle dips slightly at the top, centering your hand on the blade without excess material in the way. The thinner profile of the Mundial’s handle is advantageous when sliding it under larger masses of dough and also when using it to chop or divide taller items; the handle doesn’t encroach on the height of the blade.
While a bench scraper might not get all the attention that other kitchen gadgets and tools do (hello, chef’s knife), it’s a truly useful tool that can scrape, cut and maneuver ingredients. It’s sharp but not nearly as dangerous or delicate as the blade of a knife, and great for moving material while being much more precise than other scraping tools such as spatulas and bowl scrapers. The Mundial bench scraper excels in each of these areas, and will always be the one I reach for.
What is a bench scraper good for?
A bench scraper is well-suited to many kitchen tasks that involve cutting/chopping/dividing, lifting, and moving— the more of these you’re doing at once, the more you’ll love your bench scraper. For example, when you’re making biscuits, you’ll use your scraper to cube the cold butter, fold and scrape the dough onto itself, shape biscuit dough into squares, and transfer the biscuits onto a pan. If you bake infrequently, you could use a combination of other tools to complete these tasks, but once you get comfortable with a bench scraper in your hand, you’ll never want to bake without one. It’s also great for moving chopped vegetables to a bowl or pan and cleaning debris off a cutting board or counter between tasks.
What’s the difference between a bench scraper and a bowl scraper?
A bench scraper features a metal blade with a plastic or wooden handle. It is stiff and sharp enough to cut through dough or scrape debris off of a countertop. Because of their rectangular shape, bench scrapers are most useful on flat surfaces. Conversely, a bowl scraper is a flexible piece of plastic with a curved edge that is useful for removing materials from bowls and scraping them clean. Because of their flexibility, bowl scrapers can conform to fit many shapes of round containers. Both bench scrapers and bowl scrapers fit comfortably in your hand, and can be useful for expanding the surface area of your hand when lifting and transferring different materials.
What are other names for bench scrapers?
Bench knives, dough knives, dough scrapers, and dough cutters all refer to the same item. “Bench knife” is the other name that I’ve heard the most in my cooking and baking career.