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Apr 19, 2011 09:42 AM

Pastry / Cutting Board


Anybody have opinions on whether there is a single "nice" board that I could buy (and leave out on my countertop) and use as both a pastry board AND a cutting board? Marble (ideal for pastry) is going to make a mess of my knives, but I'm afraid that the groves that develop in a cutting board will end up caked with old, dried pastry dough...

I saw a very nice wood over the countrtop edge board at Williams Sonoma (with lots of useful info burned into the wood) today. Think that would work?


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  1. Maybe I can help. There are three way’s to make wood cutting boards and wood countertops.

    Face grain orientation tends to be considered more decorative because it reveals more of the wood's grain. Wood planks are glued together with their wide surface positioned as the countertop surface.

    Edge grain results from assembling the countertop surface with the edges of the boards (or 'staves' as they're sometimes referred to) in the upright position, forming the work surface of the countertop.

    End grain countertops result from orienting the ends of the boards upwards so that these surfaces form the work surface of the countertop or cutting board.

    I use and recommend an end grain for your application. The cut marks will swell shut and it will last you a 100 years.

    1. We regularly use the same cutting board for pastry and everything else. After working with flour it gets a scrapping with a bench scrapper and then scrub/wash with soap and water and then back on the counter. 4 years and it's still fine. I worked at a kitchen store and Boos seemed to be the most popular barnd.

      1. "Think that would work?"

        Nah, I don't think it will work. I don't think it will be easy to have a single GOOD wood board for both cutting and for pastry.

        35 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          jbseiegel: how much was the edge grain board at Williams Sonoma?

          .You can pick up a beautiful hand crafted end grain butcher block from theboardSmith for less I bet. I picked up the one pictured below for $158.00(knives not included) U.S,shipping and taxes all in.

          1. re: petek

            The WS one was about $80.

            I'm also looking at this Boos one: It reverses to cut on one side and do pastry on the other. Might be the answer...

            1. re: jbsiegel

              The Boos cutting boards are edge grain not end grain like the boardSmith boards,for a few $$ more you can get yourself a much nicer product,IMHO. :)

              1. re: petek

                I don't know about this, you two. I still think it is much easier to have two separate boards. Good characteristics of a cutting board is not the same as those of a pastry board. Forget everything else for a minute. The washing part can be problematic. Whereas I would like to able to wash a cutting board with water and detergent after each food preparation session, I probably would like dust a pastry board full with flour and minimize water contact.

                This does not even account for all the other issues.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I think 2 separate boards is a great idea,but I'm not the one spending the money.
                  I personally would spend the big chunk of $$ on a good quality end grain board(which will save your knife edges and look great) and skimp on the pastry board(either wood.bamboo,marble or granite) But that's just me. :D

                  1. re: petek

                    "I personally would spend the big chunk of $$ on a good quality end grain board(which will save your knife edges and look great) and skimp on the pastry board"

                    Agree. Aong cutting boards, end grain boards are great. For pastry board, flatness (from end to end) is very important Otherwise the rolling pin will have trouble working on the board. Also it is a good thing (in my opinion) that a pastry board can 'grab' the flour. I think it is fine to get a good expensive pastry board especially if the person does a lot of pastry, but I won't try to combine them into a single board. They are just different.

                    1. re: petek

                      I'm always a little hesitant to point this out (I like recommending artisan makers and supporting domestic industry) but I'll let you guys decide based on your personal politics:

                      You don't have to spend big $ to get a perfectly serviceable end grain board that is a significant upgrade from other types of cutting boards. The cheaper imported end grain boards sometimes found at Walmart or Target (typically under $30 for an 18 inch wide, 1-1.5 inch thick board) seem to last just fine through heavy use and are significantly easier on knife edges than bamboo, plastic, rubber, and edge grain wood. Are they as good as hand made boards by custom American makers? Probably not. But you might be surprised that they are functionally very, very close. I have experience with a few and nary a problem.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        My largest board is more than 2 by 3 and it's part of a IKEA countertop that's been cut down. I use and basically abuse that guy and it still looks great with no problems at all. Just scrub with soapy water, rinse and store vertically next to stove. It is the workhorse for dishes like stews and soups where I want lots of prep space.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          There's "perfectly serviceable" end grain boards and there's beautiful handcrafted Artisan made end grain boards.Sometimes it's nice to treat yourself to something special.:) Plus there's no Target in Canada(yet) and didn't have what I was looking for. I searched high and low for an inexpensive end grain board to buy locally,but in the end I had to purchase from the U.S ofA. No regrets.

                          1. re: petek

                            I admit freely that the cheaper boards I'm talking about are far less beautiful than your handcrafted one.

                            Just wanted to float my experience with cheap end grain boards out there because I feel like people often forgo an end grain board entirely because they can't afford the high end ones. Whereas even the cheap ones are still a marked improvement over the alternatives.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              I hear ya cowboy.I wish I could have found an inexpensive, well made board locally. The closest one I could find was a boos board which was about the same price as the one I bought(most of the reviews of boos boards weren't that great).

                              The nicer Artisan boards made locally were at least $100.00 more than the boardSmith boards(go figure eh). Spending $160.00 on a butcher block is not for everyone but I use it every day and it should last me many years.

                              P.S Sorry if I sounded a little defensive in my previous post.

                            2. re: petek

                              I see that Ikea has stores in Canada. Here in the U.S., you can find some boards that are quite inexpensive at Ikea.

                              1. re: Rella

                                Trust me I checked every possible store I could think of that sells kitchen ware here in Ontario/Canada(I'm a little O.C.D when it comes to researching) but I was specifically looking for an end grain board.

                      2. re: petek

                        What wood species do you recommend? If I decide to forego the idea of having one board for both, should I go for a softer wood (gentler on the knives?) or something harder that will stand up to abuse better?

                        And...think leaving it out on the counter is OK?

                        1. re: jbsiegel

                          Maple is probably the most common wood used in end grain boards but I've seen some beautiful black cherry,walnut and mahogany boards. Even if you don't go with the boardSmith,check out the website.Lots of great information and ideas on boards.

                          I know it sounds like I'm shilling for this particular board maker but I did a lot of research before I purchased mine and I couldn't find anything better for the money I spent.

                          1. re: jbsiegel

                            I’m sorry, but I have to chime in again. I’m in the wood countertop business and I’m not trying to sell one of my boards. Trust me, one large board is all you need. We build in cutting boards all the time. They make perfect, lay space, chopping blocks, and pastry prep. I use thin plastic mats to cut chicken/meat on during a full meal prep to eliminate cross contamination risks.

                            There are two main reasons people have been using wood for thousands of years for preparing food. 1, There are natural enzymes in wood that kill bacteria. Never use bleach on your cutting board because it kills those enzymes. 2, The bacteria from what your cutting on it fall into the cracks of the grain and suffocate. This is why end-grain board work best.

                            You should not wash your board under the faucet. The Board Smith recommends using bleach on his products and I think that is just wrong if you want a healthy board. Escondido123 has it right. Scrap it clean. Use a terrycloth cotton towel with warm water on it and let Mother Nature do the rest. Every few months you can give it a coat of mineral oil. Never edible oils, they go rancid

                            1. re: Woodfireguy

                              With all due respect Woodfireguy and as much as I love mother nature,in this particular case I can't trust her "natural enzymes" to kill all bacteria on any wood surface.

                              I use a cheap plastic cutting board for all raw proteins.That way I can use a bleach solution or chuck it in the dishwasher.In any case, occasionally using a diluted bleach solution should not harm a good quality cutting board in any way.

                              I would also recommend a bees wax/mineral/mineral oil mixture for monthly maintenance.

                              1. re: petek

                                Have you ever seen a cutting board in a Chinese butcher shop? It’s a 50 year old round log that’s has pork cut on it all day long. The health department is not closing them down for contamination. You can do what you like with your equipment but if you want healthy board bleach is not the answer.

                                1. re: Woodfireguy

                                  Visualizing chicken (and pork - two blocks - one for each?) being cut up on a butcher block with the fluids flying everywhere while the inspector is giving an OK -- not a pretty site.

                                  1. re: Woodfireguy

                                    Are you saying the Chinese butcher shop(or any other butcher shop/restaurant) never uses some kind of sanitizing solution on their butcher block in this day and age? I find that hard to believe.
                                    And if they're not,they should be shut down immediately.

                                    I'm not a bleach fanboy but I do value my health....

                                    1. re: petek

                                      What I’m saying, wood cutting boards will kill all bacteria, eventually. Google wood vrs plastic cutting boards and read the studies. The health department requires sanitizing solutions in meat processing that’s for sure. That’s why big meat processing plants use Stainless Steel and Plastic so it will hold up to the chemicals. Wood will not and needs a different type of care. They do not place people in butcher shops like they do in processing plants. They take samples of the surfaces in butcher shops and test them for bacteria.

                                      Chinese butcher shops have been doing their thing for a few thousand years on a round log. Why, because wood kills bacteria. Do not confuse this with cross contamination risks.

                                      If you need to sanitize your cutting board because you don’t trust Mother Nature, use a lemon with salt.

                                      1. re: Woodfireguy

                                        Sorry Woodfire, I really have to disagree. I wash my board with soap, hot water and a scrubby sponge every time I use it for anything other than slicing a piece of bread. My husband, the bread maker, does the same everytime he makes a loaf of bread. I agree that wood has bacteria killing properties, but why would you chop onion, then garlic and not wash it before chopping nuts for dessert? I have never had a board warp, split or have any problems. Salt with lemon???? I saw the video on here and that truly made me feel nauseous.

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          That's can do what you like. I'm sure that other people will keep doing what they do with their boards as well.

                                          1. re: Woodfireguy

                                            I'm sure the lemon and salt trick is OK to remove odours from a wood cutting board,but unless you let it sit for hours,which could be worse for the board than a mild bleach solution, I can't see it have any sanitizing properties.

                                            And there's no way that a health inspector would not insist any butcher shop,Chinese or otherwise, that they sanitize whatever cutting surface they use at the end of the day, be it wood,stainlees steel or plastic

                                        2. re: Woodfireguy

                                          Yes, it is said that wood cutting boards can be more sanitary than plastic boards, and Dean Cliver is a very powerful voice in this.


                                          However, my understanding is that the primary natural antibacterial ability of a wood board is not from its enzymes, but rather its ability to absorb the bacteria deep inside the wood, inhibit the growth and eventually slowly killing them. If so, this ability will not be diminished due to use of disinfectants like vinegar or salt or even bleach. The real problem of using concentrated bleach over a wood board is that bleach will weaken the board -- structurally. That is the problem I see.

                                          As for the Chinese butcher shops, that is a bit different story. A butcher shop chops up a bunch of raw meat on a wood block. In short, one piece of meat has just as much bacteria as another piece of meat, and the customers are expected to eventually cook these meats. As for the Chinese BBQ shops, then only the cooked meats are being cut up there. Roasted chicken vs roasted duck... all cooked food.

                                          The real problem of food cross contamination is when a person chops up some salad after chopping some raw meat. The raw meat has bacteria, but they are fine because they will be cooked. However, the salad has contacted the bacteria from the meat and yet they will not be cooked. That is problem. A butcher shop will never run into a problem like this.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            You got the idea. Enzymes are much more important than you think. Spill some red wine on your board and those babies will take care of it for you. I have had a maple edge board for twenty years and have seen wine stains disappear a dozen times or more. Now I use a 36" X 24" end grain walnut board.

                                            1. re: Woodfireguy

                                              Do you keep the 36 x 24" board adjacent to your sink, or do you keep it adjacent to the stove.

                                              Or somehow lined up this way: sink, board, stove (or stove, board, sink).

                                              Or is it a table.

                                              1. re: Rella

                                                Right between the two but closer to the stove. You have to watch out for keeping them to close to moisture. We try to keep all our wood at a 4% to 6% moisture content during construction and shipping. To high of moisture and it will swell. To low and it dry's out and cracks. Oiling your board will help control this.

                                                1. re: Woodfireguy

                                                  Re Oiling Board.

                                                  My first board was a hunk of myrtle tree from Oregon some decades ago It was sooo smooth. I used it for a long time, but moving to a new small kitchen, I discarded it.

                                                  I never oiled it, as I was against any oil, any and all labeled natural, harmless, non-toxic, name-brands formulated for particular types of boards, etc.

                                                  I have bought several boards since, but seem not to use them as I can't stand the thought of oiling them. My large board/table (probably abt. 3' x 4' which I bought for pastry has just been covered with a vinyl table cloth, and I use Matfer silipat mats for messy doughs. Can't stand the thoughts of mixing residue oil (that is, if there is any) into a nice bread or pie dough.

                                                  Your thoughts always appreciated.

                                                  1. re: Rella

                                                    I have boards of all sizes, never oil them, use soap and water, they are all fine and most are used daily.

                                                    1. re: Rella

                                                      If what you are doing is working, then don’t oil it. Homes have fluctuating moisture levels depending on the time of year and where they’re at in the country. If you your table is stable then no worries. If you live in Arizona, then the wood would welcome the oil and drink it in with no residue left on top. Bees wax works great too.

                              2. re: jbsiegel

                                I've got an inexpensive cutting board with grooves on one side. I've always used that side for meat and the reverse for veggies. I've got a 40 year old Tupperware plastic sheet that has circles on it for pie sizes, it's terrific for pastry. You can lay it on your countertop with a little water underneath and it will squeegee flat and not slide around. Stays really cool on my granite! Something to consider.....

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I think it will. Look at bakeries. 90% work all their dough products on wood. They even sell a bakers wood bench that has coved edges and a 4” backsplash for them.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I agree. I have a separate pastry board, which conveniently has markings for pie crust diameters. It is thinner and bigger (square) than any of my cutting boards. If you bake enough, spring for a separate board or use marble. I also have separate boards for meat versus veggies.

                              2. it depends on what else you're going to be cutting on that board. If you plan on cutting onions or galic or cooked meats it is possible the flavor will transfer to whatever pastry you make on the board. Personally I'd have a separate board just for pastry work.

                                1. Are you planning on leaving your board on your countertop and never placing another item on it? In other words, do you have plenty of countertop space that you will never be tempted to put a bag of groceries on it for lack of countertop space.

                                  Is your kitchen dusty; will it sit there accumulating dust or splatter when it is not in use?

                                  Pastry boards needs space to work on for me at least.
                                  I hardly bake except bread and I have a large table with wooden top on it for baking. It would be hard for me to use less space - flour just goes everywhere.

                                  Meat doesn't need much space for prepping.

                                  However, I always need lots of space for prepping veggies.

                                  Are you wanting one to sit on your counter as a convenience; i.e., it will be used constantly.

                                  These would be important considerations for buying a one-size-fits-all wooden board.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Rella

                                    For the record...Wood does not contain enzymes! If it did, the enzymes would eat the wood. The end grain boards do wick the bacteria and water towards the interior of the of the board and the bacteria die due to a lack of moisture.

                                    Washing is essential! Don't leave the board under hot running water for a long time but for long enough to wet the surface and rinse. If you don't like soap and water, simply coat the surface with salt as the old time butchers did years ago on their large blocks. The salt will leech out the residual moisture and kill the bacteria.

                                    All wood contains moisture. When the tree is cut the moisture level is somewhere around 80 to 90%. Wood used for furniture comes out of the kiln at 7 to 10%. Anything much less than 7% will lead to cracks. Anything more and the wood will swell and could cause broken glue joints.

                                    Pastry boards are usually not oiled and are usually scraped after use to remove left over flour or dough. Personally, I would not recommend using a cutting board for a pastry board or a pastry board for a cutting board. Watch out for how a pastry board is built. To many interior corners will make the board hard to clean. The direction of the grain is critical, make sure all the grain direction is the same. Wood swells across its width and thickness and when a piece is placed at right angles to this direction, the likelihood of cracks and splits is increased dramatically.

                                    1. re: BoardSMITH

                                      Despite both Woodfireguy and you (BoardSmith) are in the wood board industry, I have to disagree with both of you -- though on different issues. I am sure both of you are great artists with great wood boards construction knowledge. In no way, I am trying to suggest otherwise. What I disagree with you two are areas outside of wood board contruction.

                                      Overall, I agree with you that it is best to have two separate boards for cutting and for pastry -- a point I made very early on. I also agree that the primary antibacterial property from wood cutting boards is that bacteria are absorbed deep into the wood boards and die slowly. They probably die due to lack of nutrients and dehydration, but it is speculatory. I am not sure that is actually proven. For the few papers I came across, the authors claim they are not sure the real mechanism. If you come across a recent paper which suggests otherwise, please let us know.

                                      However, I disagree with you that "For the record...Wood does not contain enzymes! If it did, the enzymes would eat the wood." Wood cells do contain enzymes, and the existence of enzymes does not mean they would eat the wood.

                                      An enzyme is not necessary a protease, but a protease is an enzyme. Even a protease does not just randomly chop up everything. There is an entire class of enzymes called Carbohydrate Active Enzymes (CAZYmes) which is responsible for wood formation, and there are many other classes of enzymes in wood cells.

                                      "...Woody tissues were the richest source of various other CAZyme transcripts, demonstrating the importance of this group of enzymes for xylogenesis..."



                                      Just because there are enzymes in wood, it does not mean the enzymes would eat the wood. My heart cells are full of enzymes and I sure hope they are not eating themselves.

                                      Just because there are enzymes in wood, it does not mean they are responsible for the antibacterial properties in wood cutting boards. Of the thousands and thousands of enzymes in our human bodies, only extreme few of them are responsible for antibacterial growth.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Thank you for your research. Very good. This has been a topic of controversy in the wood countertop industry for years. Here are three manufactures that boast enzymes as having antibacterial properties in wood.




                                        The two big food prep wood board manufactures (both over a hundred years old), Michigan Maple Block and Boos, stay away from it all together. I personally did not think much of it until I saw food base stains disappear from my boards.

                                        What are your thoughts on the natural phenols and trepans found in wood. Are they playing a roll in killing bacteria?

                                        Just for the record. I am a manufactures rep for three wood countertop manufactures specializing in wood countertops. I have never heard of the board smith until this board. They are in a different market channel that myself. I sell exotic countertops to kitchen and bath dealers

                                        1. re: Woodfireguy


                                          Thanks. I will look more into the enzymes then. I have not been reading that much into the wood board antibacterial papers. For the 3-4 I have read, the scientists suggst that they are not entirely sure. They saw the bacteria on the surface of wood cutting boards decrease after ~10 minutes (not the case for plastic cutting boards). They also found bacteria inside the wood boards when they cut the boards open -- so this strongly suggest that they are absorbed into the wood. Eventually, the bacteria inside the wood also die out, but that takes much longer -- they are not entirely sure why. There are theories, but they are not sure. Because I have not read the more recent papers, my statements are not up-to-date. Maybe it is proven now that it is due to enzymes, I don't know.

                                          You are right. There are also chemicals in wood which have antibacterial properties, but I don't know how much of a role they play.

                                          I will read some more and if I find something interesting. I will let you know, and if you find something interesting, please let me know as well.