A baking spatula is specifically designed to assist with baking tasks. It has a very narrow blade, allowing the baker to use it in tight quarters without the risk of messing up. The blade is also flat, not at all curved or rounded, and extremely flexible so that it can be bent and torqued easily. They are essential for making professional quality cakes and can also be useful around the kitchen for other tasks.
The primary application for a baking spatula is frosting cakes. The blade can be used to spread icing onto a cake and smooth it out so that it has an even and aesthetically appealing look. One can also be used to a similar end on other foods where a smooth appearance is desired. In some cases, the spatula is also designed to double as a serving utensil, and some companies make ones with a serrated edge for cutting cakes.
There are two primarily styles of baking spatula. A straight blade spatula has a blade that runs straight in one line from the tip to the handle. An offset spatula has an angled blade, distancing the hand of the user from the cooking project. For small cakes and precision projects, an offset spatula can be very useful. If a cook often ends up with his or her hands in the frosting, this type is crucial.
The three primary characteristics that set this type of spatula apart from other models are the width, flatness, and flexibility of the blade. When a shopper selects a baking spatula, she should remember that it is supposed to feel slightly flimsy, since the give in the spatula ensures that it does not gouge baking projects like a stiffer spatula can.
Metal and plastic are both used to make these spatulas. Metal tends to be a more flexible, yet sturdy choice, while plastic can seem bulky but floppy at the same time. For a short bladed tool, this difference may not be terribly important, but metal is sometimes a better choice for longer blades. In both cases, the spatula is often made heat resistant and dishwasher safe, for convenience.