Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: Your bench scraper has news for you: You're not using it enough.
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A bench scraper is one of those inexpensive utensils that lasts a lifetime and has a million uses. I keep mine easy to grab, wedged between the plastic drawer divider tray and the side of the drawer. And I use it often. (If you already have one but can’t find it, look in the garage or basement among the craft, carpentry, or painting supplies, or in your kids’ room. The only possible drawback to having this tool is that everyone has a use for it.)
It’s a scraper. Use it to remove congealed bread dough, hardened chocolate, or any other kind of wet, dry, or sticky stuff from a counter or pastry board -- just sweep the mess directly into the trash before wiping down the surface with soap and water. In a pinch, a bench scraper can even scrape paint or remove ice from car windows…
It’s a straight edge. Use it to level a cup of flour, tighten a log of cookie dough in parchment paper, or (absent an offset spatula) level batter in a sheet pan.
It’s a knife. Use it to trim the edges of rolled-out dough, cut square or oblong cookies, or cut portions of bread dough for rolls.
It’s an extra wide spatula. Use it to loosen and lift pastry, transfer cookies or biscuits, lift a fragile cake layer, or divide and scoop sifted flour from wax paper into a mixing bowl. Or, turn a fragile fish fillet on the grill.
It’s a ruler (if yours is marked in inches). Use it to check the thickness of pie or biscuit dough or a piece of meat, the size of a cookie cutter, or length of a lady finger.`
Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).