No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Dough scraper/cutters and spatulas - and their uses

 I've got several dough cutters that I use:

The wooden handled one belonged to my dad - it was always known as a Scotch scraper, I'd love to know why! It was old when he took over the bakery in 1948. It feels really comfortable in my hand, but the blade isn't as sharp as I'd like.

The one top right I've had for about 15 years and it came under the Graham Kerr (Galloping gourmet) label. It's the one I use most as it has a sharper blade and is just slightly flexible. This is particularly handy when I'm kneading a sticky dough - that way I only have one hand to clean! I have seen similar ones in kitchen supply shops for around £6.

Bottom left was from Macro (I think), and the one bottom right came from Creed bakery supplies. I bought a dozen  to sell at my Saturday workshop sessions - just before they were cancelled, and I haven't done one since!  I've still got about 9 left! (Now only 4 left after my Autumn evening course!)

The spatulas are really handy for starting to mix a small amount of dough - the shape means that you can easily scrape around the side of the bowl and you can readily cut through the dough with them. These used to be available at my local Cook Store, but they haven't been for about 3 years.

For a bigger batch I use a curved knife given to me by a butcher relative - it's an abattoir knife which I put to much better use!

Also available are small plastic scrapers in the shape of a D (with no handle), which are very useful. Bakery reps used to give them away - probably still do! Richard Bertinet always uses one.

The plastic scrapers are bevelled along the curved side and are brilliant for scraping dough out of a bowl
The metal dough cutter/scraper in the pic is one I used to sell many of in my workshops before Ikea stopped making them. At £1.50 each, they were a bargain  - and they fit very well into the hand, as well.

I was using my favourite cutter yesterday - the Graham Kerr one - and, in the light of a conversation on the BBC Food board, I thought I'd run through some of the uses of the implement.

Apart from the obvious uses - cutting dough, scraping the worktop clean - it's very handy for handling a sticky dough. I push the dough flat with my left hand (I'm left-handed when it comes to kneading dough - right-handed in most other things) and use the scraper in my right hand to lift the dough up and over - so I only have one hand sticky with dough.

But apart from breadmaking, this tool has many other uses:
Chopping potatoes for mashed potato, for instance. You can chop away then scoop the diced potatoes up and drop them in the pan in one easy action;
Spreading the oil out in my cast iron frying pan. I only like to use a teaspoon of oil, which takes ages to spread over the pan - but, using the scraper, it's a work of seconds to cover the area you want to cover;
Turning fried mashed potato. I like to gently fry my mashed spuds to get a crust on each side. Using the scraper, with its large area, makes it much easier to turn the potato over;
It's also good for lifting out and turning over a fried egg, on the odd occasion I make one for when the family visits;
If I ever I get some crusty bits on the bottom of the pan (it does happen!), it's the work of seconds to scrape it off. (But I wouldn't let it near my non-stick frying pans - for obvious reasons!);
Finally (for the moment!), it's superb for picking up an egg dropped on the floor - with one scoop you can pick up the whole thing!:-D

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