The icing spatulas in the photo range from less than 5 inches to over 14 inches in length.
An icing spatula isn’t your regular old metal kitchen tool you use to flip your pancakes or the silicone spatula you use to scrape your bowls filled with batter. Icing spatulas are well named, as their primary purpose is to apply icings, frostings and buttercreams. You’ll get the most out of this handy tool when you follow these simple cake decorating tips and techniques we use in the Bakepedia Test Kitchen.
Types of Icing Spatulas
Icing spatulas are available long or short, straight or offset, but the most important aspect of flexibility is often overlooked. Every person is different and needs varying degrees of flexibility in their spatula. For example, a shorter person has a different perspective with their work surface than a taller person. Someone with stiff elbows and wrists will approach icing a cake very differently than someone with flexibility. The “right” icing spatula will help you get the job done and make it more enjoyable in the process. The “right” one is the one that works for you and the key might be in its flexibility. Try out a few different kinds to see which works best for you, and not just in the store. Frost a cake with one and see if the spatula guides you or feels difficult, then decide if you want to try other sizes, shapes or levels of flexibility. What feels the most comfortable in your palm? It should feel like an extension of your hand, fluid and easy to use, not an awkward, clunky impediment between you and your cake. In our experience, most icing spatulas are too stiff and aren’t very helpful.
Different shapes have different purposes: Use a large offset icing spatula to smooth the top of your cake, and a mid-size, straight edge spatula for the sides. A very small small offset spatulas that are triangular in shape and have a very narrow tip for touching up hard-to-reach areas.
Using Your Icing Spatulas
In general, your spatula should glide over the icing, pushing the icing this way and that. Do not allow it to touch the cake and then come back up into the icing or else you might bring crumbs with it. Avoid that at all costs. One extra step that we recommend is to remove a cup of icing from your main batch and use that one at a time. This way, if lingering crumbs on the spatula get into the icing, all will not be lost.
Never use your icing spatula for any other purpose other than cake decorating. Do not use it to pry open a lid and refrain from tapping its edge on a hard surface, which might create a dent in the blade. This will later show up as a ripple in your applied icing.
So grab some icing spatulas and get in the kitchen! Let us know any special techniques you like to use that might be helpful to our readers.