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A flexible spatula refers to many different types and shapes of spatulas that have built in flexibility. Some are made of springy stainless steel or aluminum, but most are rubber spatulas. The rubber type is often preferred when working with non-stick cookware because it won’t scrape off the non-stick coating like metal spatulas inevitably do.
The simplest type of flexible spatula is used for mixing, combining and folding ingredients, or for spreading them evenly in a pan. It’s a semi-rectangular shaped spatula with rounded edges. The handle inserts into the middle of the spatula causing an uneven bump in the middle of both sides of the spatula. It’s great for scooping up frosting to place on a cake, but the center bump may not make it perfect for actually frosting the cake. This flexible spatula comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and price ranges; you’ll find heat resistant ones cost a little more. One of the larger manufacturers of these in the US is Rubbermaid®.
A flexible spatula type that is suitable for frosting cakes is a simple narrow rectangle, essentially the same width as the handle and about 2-3 inches (5.08-7.62 cm) long in the head. Since the handle fits smoothly inside the spatula head without forming bumps or ridges, this provides an even surface, which makes frosting cakes a breeze. You can also find frosting spatulas that are not flexible, and generally are made of metals that are suitable for this purpose.
A completely different flexible spatula type that many prefer for baking, and for mixing ingredients in a non-stick pan resembles the turner. These allow you to lift ingredients like crumbly cookies out of a baking sheet with minimal breakage. Some find that without a metal edge, and without some stiffness, these can be hard to use if baked goods have adhered to a pan. Using a good non-stick spray, or buttering baking sheets first usually eliminates this problem. This flexible spatula variant can look very simple, or you can buy decorative ones that may be enjoyed by children. The butterfly spatula or turner may be a great hit with kids or merely enliven your cooking hours.
With most rubberized spatulas, you have to be careful that you don’t melt them. Some are heat proof, but the majority are not. You should be certain never to leave them in a pan when you’re cooking, as they tend to take on the colors of your ingredients, and may melt when exposed to heat. A white flexible spatula and tomato sauce are a very bad mix, likely to leave you with an orange spatula. Any rubber spatula is prone to being discolored especially by highly acidic mixes.
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