When we handle dough in the test kitchen, we often work with bowl scrapers. These small paddles are made of plastic, nylon, or silicone and have curved edges that help us manipulate dough. Unlike silicone spatulas, scrapers have no handles, which makes it easier to reach into bowls and create the leverage necessary to scrape up or gently fold dough. Bowl scrapers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, textures, and materials, so we put together a diverse group to test. The prices of the eight scrapers in our lineup ranged from about $2 to about $13 per scraper. One model comes in a set with a pot scraper for handling stubborn cooked-on messes; we set the pot scraper aside until the end of testing and used only the bowl scraper in our initial tests. Another came in an affordable set of six identical scrapers; we tested only one. Multiple testers with various hand sizes used the scrapers to manipulate sticky, delicate Fougasse dough as well as dense speculoos cookie dough in both wide and narrow bowls. We also compared the scrapers with our winning silicone spatula throughout testing to see if they truly offered an advantage, and we washed each of them 10 times and bent them in our hands to test their durability. We were looking for a scraper with a versatile shape that could fit into all sorts of bowls, that was sturdy yet flexible, and that could hold up to long-term use.
As we worked with the scrapers, we examined each model’s size and shape, and some patterns in our preferences emerged. The scrapers varied in size from 3½ to 7 inches long and from 3¼ to 8 inches wide. One scraper was simply too large to fit comfortably in our hands. It was unwieldy to use in bowls of all sizes, especially in narrower ones such as that of our favorite high-end stand mixer. We found ourselves having to twist our hands awkwardly to wedge the scraper into the bowl. Conversely, we found a few scrapers to be too petite: Their curved scraping edges were shorter, so we caught less dough with each pass. Working with these models was inefficient. The remaining four scrapers were large enough to efficiently scrape large swaths of dough yet small enough to fit comfortably in our hands. One medium-size scraper that measured 5½ inches long by 4¼ inches wide stood out: It was comfortable to maneuver and worked efficiently.
The shapes of the scrapers also varied. Three models were shaped roughly like a capital D, with one flat edge and another curved edge. These scrapers weren't versatile. They worked well when their broad, curved edges exactly matched the curve of a bowl, but when we used them in narrower bowls, they left dough clinging to the sides of the bowls and required us to make more passes to fully scoop up the dough. The shapes of the remaining scrapers were more diverse. We liked that three of them had multiple curved edges of different shapes—and therefore multiple scraping surfaces—making them effective in various bowl sizes. By repositioning these three asymmetrical scrapers in our hands, we could adjust which curved edge we scraped with.
Differences in the scrapers’ materials, sturdiness, and thickness also mattered. The four models made of nylon or other plastic were thinner and flimsier than others in the lineup, so they bent slightly under the weight of the dense cookie dough. Plus, the edges of three of these models were sharp and cut into the airy bread doughs, deflating them slightly. They also made these scrapers uncomfortable to handle: “I don’t like the sharp back side cutting into my hand,” one tester reported. One model made of ultraflexible plastic handled the delicate bread dough without cutting into it.
The remaining four scrapers were made from silicone; one was solid silicone, one had a thick nylon substrate silicone-covered core, and two had stainless-steel cores that were coated in silicone. All were thicker and a bit more rigid than the models made of plastic or nylon, so they held up better when scraping dense cookie dough. Their tapered, beveled edges were soft and flexible, which made it easy to scrape and manipulate delicate bread doughs with care. The silicone scrapers with stainless-steel or nylon cores combined these qualities best: Their cores offered strength, while their tapered edges were nimble. The silicone scrapers were also very comfortable to hold and maneuver. The silicone was grippier and softer, meaning that our hands were less likely to slip or get tired as we handled them.
In the end, we found a scraper with the best combination of size, shape, material, and thickness to handle all types of dough in a variety of bowls. The Fox Run Silicone Dough/Bowl Scraper is shaped like a teardrop. Each side of the scraper offers a different curve for a different bowl size and shape. Its core is reinforced with a sturdy stainless-steel disk, allowing it to hold up to dense cookie dough, while its flexible edges handle delicate bread dough without cutting or deflating it. It also came through our durability tests unscathed. This bowl scraper offers a few advantages over a silicone spatula: There are multiple scraping edges of different sizes, enabling it to efficiently scrape more dough per stroke in a variety of bowls, and it allows users to dip their hands more deeply into bowls, creating more leverage. This scraper won't completely replace a silicone spatula in your kitchen, but if you're an avid baker, especially of bread, it will make things easier for you. And at about $5, it is certainly worth the investment.