When making bread, cookies, or other recipes that require some sort of dough, you may encounter instructions in the recipe requiring a dough spatula.
And, if you are like me, you may have several images pop into your head, but you may be a little unsure of exactly what the recipe is talking about.
If you have wondered exactly what a dough spatula is, read on and learn more about this tool and its uses.
What is a ‘dough spatula’?
A dough spatula or dough scraper is a kitchen utensil used to scrape out the inside of a bowl with dough inside it. The tool is a plastic scraper roughly five or six inches wide with a rounded end to help mold itself to the inside of a round bowl. This tool can also be used to help separate and handle the dough.
Dough Spatula vs. Bench Scraper
A similar tool usually made of a metal called a bench scraper is rectangular and used to manage and cut dough.
When shopping for a dough spatula, you will often see both dough scrapers and bench scrapers.
Unfortunately, these two items (dough spatula and bench scraper) have become synonymous with each other.
Often, you will find that a dough spatula and bench scraper are used interchangeably in some circles.
However, others may distinguish the two by their differences.
There are distinct differences between a dough spatula, also known as a dough scraper, and a bench scraper.
These differences mostly lie in what it is designed to do and the materials it is made of.
As mentioned above, a dough spatula has a specific design to help remove dough from the inside of a bowl.
These tools are large pieces of plastic of varying flexibility with rounded edges that help clean all the dough out of the bowl.
A bench scraper is a rectangular piece of metal with a handle on the top that often has a sharp end used to cut and turn the dough.
Often, the bottom edge has measurement markings that double as a ruler, so you can measure the size of the separated dough pieces.
The bench scraper is designed to help handle the dough outside of the bowl, separate it, and move it around without needing to take the dough too much with your own hands.
The bench scraper is very much a cutting and separating tool.
There are often rectangular dough spatulas that try to double as a bench scraper.
These plastic pieces are meant to clean out the bowl, but it also has a straight edge for cutting and separating the dough on the counter.
But, there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these tools.
Why You Need Both
If you are going to make bread regularly, I find that it is advantageous to have both a dough spatula and a dough scraper.
This is in large part due to the limitations of both tools.
It is extremely annoying to get sticky dough stuck in the bowl.
Trying to get all of that dough out of the bowl with your hands is frustrating and an exercise in futility.
A dough spatula expedites the process and allows you to be confident that you maximize your dough.
The plastic dough spatula is exceptionally tooled to scrape the dough and not get too much on your hands.
The rounded shape and flexible edges work for this purpose perfectly. On the other hand, a bench knife is not ideal for this situation.
The bench knife is rectangular, and those hard corners make it difficult to scrape the dough out of a rounded bowl.
Also, bench knives are metal, and the sharp edge or corners can potentially damage a glass bowl or non-stick pan.
However, the dough spatula is not extremely well suited to handling and cutting dough as a bench knife does.
The plastic and rounded edges of the dough spatula make it less effective when using it for cutting.
While there are tools that try to double for both a dough spatula and a bench knife, some sacrifices come with the combination.
Dough scrapers that try to do both jobs can be used for both purposes, but they do both jobs less efficiently.
Usually, the dough scraper that also tries to be a bench knife changes the dough spatula design from a rounded end to a straight plastic edge.
In essence, it is a plastic bench scraper. The material is ideal as a dough spatula, but the shape is not.
The rectangular corners of these all-in-one dough scrapers make it challenging when dealing with removing the dough from bowls.
And the plastic edge is not as sharp or effective as the metal bench scrapers.
I know it is not too hard to cut bread dough, and the plastic edge is fine, but I think you will be happier having the two different tools rather than the all-in-one option.
Frequently Asked Questions About What is a ‘dough spatula’
Why can’t I use a plastic or rubber spatula for the same purpose as the dough spatula?
The long handle design on plastic and rubber spatulas is a drawback. Often, the dough in the bowl is heavy, and the long-handled tools are not strong enough to scrape out the dough in the bowl effectively the way a dough spatula can. To avoid broken handles, use a dough spatula.
Is having a dough spatula and dough scraper really necessary?
Of course, you can manage without them. However, if you plan to be working with dough often, both tools are extremely useful. And they are often sold together in sets for very reasonable prices.
If you have ever tried to get some sticky bread dough out of a bowl with your hands or tried to effectively scrape out a bowl with a spoon or spatula and thought, ‘there has to be a better way.’
There is a better way.
A dough spatula is specifically designed for those types of occasions.
Try one out, and you may wonder what you ever did without it.