There’s a special circle of Hell reserved for the very worst sinners. Forget being perpetually eaten by Harpies or disfigured by a horrible, sword-bearing demon; these sinners suffer an even worse fate. What could be worse than such tribulations? Five words: cake crumbs in your frosting.
If you’ve ever frosted a cake, you know the despair of seeing those first few crumbs sneak into your pristine buttercream. Yes, prevention via proper cake handling is key: letting your cakes cool completely before busting out the frosting, etc. But if you’re using a butter knife or a rubber spatula to spread your buttercream, you could be making things way harder on yourself. Allow me to introduce a key member of your baking arsenal: the humble offset spatula.
Otherwise known as a palette knife, an offset spatula is one of the handiest kitchen tools around. The spatula looks more like a knife than a traditional spatula, with a long, flexible metal blade at one end and a handle (set higher than the blade) at the other. The long blade features a tidy rounded edge, which makes it easy to manipulate icing for a uniform, professional finish.
You can get by without an offset spatula, but there’s a reason our baking experts cited it as one of the most essential baking tools.
“It’s one of those kitchen tools that I thought I could do without, but once I got one, found myself using quite often,” baker and recipe developer Teresa Finney told The Takeout back in February. “It fits comfortably in the hand, which I prefer over spatulas with longer handles. It’s great for smoothing buttercream on a cake, but also for adding swirls and swoops in buttercream, which is a really easy, no-stress way to decorate a cake.” Finney also pointed out that the tool is great for transferring small cookies or other delicate baked goods from baking sheet to cooling rack.
Finally, the average offset spatula will cost you all of six bucks. While you certainly can use another tool for icing cakes—a butter knife, spoon, or rubber spatula, for example—the offset spatula really does speed up the process and help you achieve a clean, uniform look. Plus, it’s great for spreading mayo on sandwiches. Can’t argue with that.