Spatulas come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes. These simple little utensils are an essential tool in any baker’s arsenal. Perhaps one of the most versatile, and underrated, baking utensils is the straight edge spatula.
The straight edge spatula is definitely one of my most frequently used tools when I am baking or cooking. Although I mostly use mine for icing cakes or flipping pancakes, there are so many amazing uses for this clever little utensil.
If you are unsure of what a straight edge spatula is – or how to use it – read on!
What is a straight edge spatula?
A straight edge spatula (also known as a palette knife or flat edge spatula) is a kitchen tool that has a flat, rectangular blade with a rounded tip. It is most usually attached to a long handle so it’s easy to grip and is commonly used for baking tasks that require you to level, lift, or compress. It is an especially popular tool in the world of baking and is most widely used to spread and level out frosting on a cake to make it look smoother.
The blade is usually made of stainless steel or plastic (although you can also find them in wooden and silicone forms) with the most common material for a straight edge spatula being stainless steel due to its durable nature.
In addition to the humble straight edge design, you can also find an offset palette knife (also known as a cranked palette knife). This type of spatula is which is specially designed for spreading substances and looks very similar to a straight edge spatula, with the expedition of the bend in the blade which creates a raised handle and ensures you don’t drag your knuckles through your freshly iced cake.
Straight Edge Spatula Uses
So what should you use a straight edge spatula for? These tools can help out with a variety of tasks in the kitchen.
Frosting cakes is the most common use for a straight-edge spatula. The spatula’s flat blade is perfect for spreading frosting evenly on a cake. You can also use it to create different designs and patterns on the top of your cake.
The curved end helps to smooth out any rough edges and gives the cake a clean finish.
Making designs on cakes and cupcakes
If you are frosting cakes or cupcakes, you can use the spatula to create swirls on top of the icing. This is a simple way to dress up your cupcakes and make them look more professional. A good set of spatulas is an essential cupcake tool!
Flipping pancakes and crepes
Another common use for a straight edge spatula is flipping pancakes and crepes. The flat blade helps to slide under the pancake or crepe easily, and the rounded end prevents the pancake from tearing.
You can also use the spatula to fold crepes or to help roll them up.
Level off ingredients
When you are baking, you often need to level off ingredients like flour or sugar. A straight edge spatula is the perfect tool for this job. The flat blade will help to scrape any heaped dry ingredients from the measuring cup and give you a more accurate measurement.
If you have a smaller straight edge spatula, you can use it to spread condiments like peanut butter, jelly, and chocolate spread instead of using a knife. The flat blade is great for getting an even layer on bread or crackers.
Leveling cake batter
Another common use for a straight edge spatula is leveling cake batter. When you pour the batter into the cake pan, it is often not level. A spatula can help to even out the batter and prevent uneven baking.
A straight edge spatula can also be used to compress food. This is often done with things like burgers and meatloaf. The flat, dense blade helps to flatten the food so it cooks evenly.
Pushing food off a griddle
If you are cooking pancakes or eggs on a griddle, the straight edge spatula is the perfect tool to push the food off. The flat blade will help to slide under the food easily, and the rounded end prevents the pancake or egg from tearing.
The straight edge spatula is also great for lifting food. If you need to transfer a cake or pizza to a plate, the spatula can help to lift it without it falling apart.
Scraping food from flat surfaces
The straight edge spatula is also great for scraping food from flat surfaces. If you need to get the last bit of frosting out of the bowl or the cake batter off the counter, the spatula can help.
What to look out for in a flat edge spatula
Flat edge spatulas are all generally the same, but if you are in the market for one, there are a few things you should consider before buying one.
When buying a flat edge spatula always go for the stainless steel ones. Stainless steel spatulas are durable and will last you years compared to other materials.
Stainless steel spatulas also have a good amount of flexibility, so they are less likely to break when you are using them and are much more malleable.
The only issue with stainless steel is that it can easily scratch away the non-stick coating on your pans and tins.
If you are worried about the stainless steel scratching your cookware, you can opt for a silicone spatula. Silicone is not as durable as stainless steel, but it will not scratch your pans.
If you are into bright kitchen utensils, you can find silicone spatulas in various eye popping colors. They are also kid friendly.
Another thing to consider when buying a flat edge spatula is the size. You want to make sure you get a spatula that is the right size for your needs. If you are going to be using it for larger tasks like flipping burgers, you will want a larger spatula.
But, if you are going to be using it for smaller tasks like spreading frosting on cupcakes, you will want a smaller spatula.
Straight edge spatulas are usually found in packs of 3 or more. In the packet, you will get a variety of sizes, but the most popular are a 6-inch, 8-inch and 10-inch spatula. Buying a pack is a great way to get all the sizes you need for any baking or cooking task.
Another thing to consider when buying a flat edge spatula is the handle. You want to make sure the handle is comfortable to hold and that it won’t slip out of your hand when you are using it.
The handle should also be heat resistant so you can use it on hot surfaces without burning yourself.
Most flat edge spatulas have a metal or plastic handle, but some have a wood handle. If you choose a wooden-handled spatula, make sure the wood is treated so it won’t warp or splinter when it gets wet.
Ideally, you want to opt for a spatula with a plastic handle so it is easy to grip and won’t slip.
Offset or straight edge spatula?
If you are a regular baker, then you’ll know how annoying it can be to try and level off a brownie batter or cake batter with a straight-edge spatula.
This is where the offset palette knife makes an entrance. Although they both look the same, there is one major difference between the two types of spatulas.
An offset spatula has a blade that is slightly offset from the handle, keeping the flat edge straight when you lower it into a cake tin.
If you try to level off cake batter with a straight edge spatula, the spatula will go in at an angle and the edge of the tin will prevent it from being lowered, so you’ll find it difficult to level out the batter.
Every baker should have both types of spatulas in their arsenal as both come in very handy.
A straight edge spatula is a versatile tool that can be used for many different tasks in the kitchen. Whether you are frosting a cake or flipping pancakes, this spatula is up to the job. So, next time you are in the kitchen, make sure you reach for your straight-edge spatula.