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Dec 18, 2010 03:12 PM

For what purpose are those two lengthwise slots across the back of large cutting board / block? **Pics in reply**

I picked up a fantastic 2nd hand (3rd hand, maybe?) 30" x 24" maple cutting board. The back of the board has a back-splash kind of thing on the back (still maple) and so is a few inches taller than the rest of the board. That part is about 2 1/2" wide and 5" tall. It has two parallel slots running the length across the back. They are both only about 2 1'2" deep, so no on being knife storage. only 1/16" wide, so no cookbook holder either....

Anyone know what the purpose of those slots might be?

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    1. re: dost

      You don't have a cutting board there -- it's a pastry bench.

      Those slots hold items like these:

      1. re: Joe Blowe

        Joe beat me to it. ;-)

        It doesn't even occur to most people that these tools are called "bench scrapers" for a reason -- if something is called a bench scraper, it therefore follows that there must be a pastry-related bench or block of some sort for it to scrape, LOL -- because most home cooks have never seen a pastry bench. Their "pastry bench" is their countertop, or Silpat, or whatever.

        I had never heard of one until several years after I became seriously interested in baking, and that only after I visited a patissier's kitchen. I too thought it was some weird kind of butcher block until I was politely educated otherwise!

        Btw, I don't use a pastry bench. Not only do I prefer a cooler and impermeable surface, I'd bet money that it's a bit of a PITA to keep flour from building up in that right-angle corner.

        1. re: dessert_diva

          Fascinating! I've never heard of one either.... I tried googling "pastry bench", and it returned almost all "bench scrapers". Searched "Baker's Bench" and received about the same results- No wonder we've not heard of one before!

          So, what is the purpose of a baker's bench exactly? Just a place to "keep it all together" while you work? Do I care for it the same way I would a cutting board; oiling it, etc?

          The woman I bought it from had been using it as a cutting board for over 20 years.... Is there any reason I couldn't do the same?

          Thanks for the education! I learned something new today!

          1. re: dost

            Well, a pasty board can be used as a cutting board, but it is not designed as such. Some people do oil them and I did, but it won't matter too much, since you are not to routinely water wash it like a cutting board. The back splash guide you mentioned is to prevent flour dust going everywhere. Some has two. One is the splash guide and the other is to lock the pastry board to the edge of the counter, so it won't slide forward as you knead a tough dough on it.


            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thanks for the link- Pastry board.... :) Pretty handy how some have pie-crust templates,etc.

              This board did formerly have the counter lock, too, but the previous owner said her boys hacked it up pretty badly, so her husband cut it off the front. It now has 4 screw-mounted rubber feet, so no counter top sliding, and good circulation, to boot.

              I'm guessing we'll be using it for both applications. Hopefully that will work out fine... We won't be cutting meat on it, so no protein-borne nasties to worry about. SO spent all day rolling out Paparkakor on it, so we're enjoying it already.

              Looking forward to getting a "bench scraper", as I've been wanting one for collecting cut veggies and scraping my boards. Now I have the perfect place to store it (them)! Any personal recs for a good scraper?

              Really appreciate all the helpful, educational answers.

              1. re: dost

                :) I didn't spend a lot for my dough scraper. I bought mine from a restaurant kitchen supply store for $1.5-2.0. I use it to scarp my dough from time to time, but most importantly, I use it to scrap clean the pastry board before storing it.

                Actually, come to think of it, I have a stainless steel dough scraper as mentioned, but I also have a small plastic dough scraper. I don't use it much, but it is something to consider. A stainless steel dough scraper is more efficient and is long lasting, but a plastic scraper is more gentle to the wood. If all you need is to scrap cut foods off the cutting board, then maybe a plastic one is better.

      2. re: dost

        Pretty cool find.. you might find you use those slots for a scraper for scooping veggies.. or heck.. maybe not holding a cookbook but maybe some tall recipe cards?

        If it hangs over an open back of a workspace.. I wonder if you couldn't cut some openings on the bottom of the slot.. so you could have a blade that would slide through the open slot pointing down on the back side and have them handy.

        Just a thought! It looks like a nice workspace!