The 10 Best Pastry Boards
Wood, Marble, Plastic, Or Granite Pastry Board?
Granite won't stain, which is something we, unfortunately, cannot say about marble.
Acidic products can leave etches on marble, but won't do that as much on granite.
When you start your search for the perfect pastry board, the four main varieties you'll see are wood, marble, plastic, and granite. The main qualities we'll be looking at are ease of cleaning, ease of use, durability, and bacteria resistance. First, let's look at wood boards. Wood actually has naturally sterile properties that help it fight off bacteria. Wood also has a classic look that many bakers like. Just keep in mind that this material stains and burns easily. Plus, people can often mistake a maple pastry board for a cutting board and start chopping vegetables on it. Just make sure everyone in your kitchen knows this wooden board is for dough only. You also cannot put wood pastry boards in the dishwasher.
Next, we'll talk about plastic boards. These are very lightweight so if you need to take your pastry board on the go, they're a smart option. You can also typically run plastic pastry boards through the dishwasher, which makes cleaning them quite easy. Just know that the cuts in a plastic board cannot close up the way those in a wood model can. Plastic pastry boards will, of course, be one of the more budget-friendly options on this list, as well.
Now, let's make a sharp turn to one of the least wallet-friendly varieties: marble. Pastry chefs love marble because dough rolls so smoothly over its surface. The unique way this material dissipates heat also means marble stays very cool, which in turn keeps your dough at an ideal temperature. It's nearly impossible to cut a marble pastry board, so you don't need to worry about any germs getting trapped inside small markings in the material. Finally, let's look at granite, which many chefs compare often to marble because it's durable and elegant. Granite won't stain, which is something we, unfortunately, cannot say about marble. Granite removes one other worry, too: etching. Acidic products can leave etches on marble, but won't do that as much on granite.
How To Tell If Your Dough Has Been Properly Kneaded
Pizza, pretzels, bread: each of these foods seem like they'd have a pretty standardized baking process. So then why is it that some restaurants have noticeably better pizza? And some kiosks have remarkably tastier pretzels? It's probably in the dough. Whether you're new to handling this temperamental food or you're an experienced pastry chef, you can likely benefit from reading these tips on properly kneading dough.The reason you knead dough is to strengthen the gluten, a protein that makes dough elastic and helps it rise. You may have noticed that gluten-free bread often doesn't rise well, and seems rather dense. Now you know why. Sufficient kneading, either by hand or in a stand mixer, is important to give your pastry its shape and structure.
However, if the dent remains there, then your dough needs more kneading.
The first way to tell that your dough is ready is to check if it holds its shape. Form your dough into a ball and hold that ball in your hand. If it retains its shape, it's ready. If it starts to fall and flatten out, it isn't ready. The dough will sag if the gluten proteins are not yet strong enough from kneading. You can also test your dough by poking it. Strong dough won't hold onto the dent you poke in it. You'll see that indent fill out again quickly. However, if the dent remains there, then your dough needs more kneading.
You can stretch your dough to test its strength, too. Break off a small ball of the stuff and flatten it in your hands. Then, begin to stretch it into a nearly paper-thin sheet. If it's ready to go, it won't break. If it rips open, you need to knead it more. You can tell if your dough is ready by looking at it, too. Your ball of dough should look completely smooth once it's been properly kneaded. If you still see any lumps, it isn't ready. Your dough will also be rather sticky to the touch once it's ready to go. If it still feels dry, then you have to work on it.
What To Look For In A Pastry Board
Pastry boards have come a long way from the plain slabs of stone they once were. They boast features that can make creating your doughy recipes much easier. Some, for example, have standard crust sizes etched onto them, helping you create perfectly-measured out small, medium, and large pizzas at home for your oven. Some models even feature conversion charts, so if you're a big fan of European cookbooks but unfamiliar with their measurements, these can help. Many also feature grooved edges to capture any liquids that might go rolling off, helping to keep your counters a bit cleaner.
As for plastic or silicone varieties, look for ones that are durable.
If you have a small kitchen, you may want a silicone or plastic board that rolls up for storage. When you're already working with little space, you need kitchen tools that can do double duty. Fortunately, some pastry boards are safe to put directly in the oven, so you can cook your dough on the same surface where you kneaded it and have one less item to clean later. If you get pretty active when you knead your dough and tend to break a sweat, make sure your pastry board has non-slip feet on the bottom to withstand your enthusiasm. Some silicone boards are designed to stick to your countertops when you work, so you can be certain they won't slide around.
Do you have a hunch your family will try to use your pastry board as a cutting board? That's alright, because there are models that are reversible, with one side for chopping food and another for kneading dough. Just make sure your other kitchen mates know which side is which. If you opt for a wooden or marble board, make sure it has some sort of sealant on it to protect it from scratches and other damage. As for plastic or silicone varieties, look for ones that are durable.