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I got a new baking book for Christmas; in it, I found the following sentence:

[To bake this bread] you will need the following kitchen tools: a digital scale for metric measures, a small scoop for flour, a thermometer, a wide bowl for mixing, a rubber spatula, a dough spatula, and a bench knife

(emphasis mine)

What is a dough spatula and how does it differ from a rubber spatula? What do I look for when I go to the store? Google shows me many products, all of which look entirely different from one another.

ETA: The first mention I see of it indicates I use it to... clean my hands? "Use a dough spatula to clean the clumps [of flour and water] off your hands and tidy the inside of the bowl"

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There's not much remarkable about any of the "dough spatulas" I saw online that would enable you to do something you couldn't do with either a bench knife (also called a bench scraper since it typically is useful for cleaning up your work area) and a spatula or wooden spoon. I wouldn't worry about it. –  JasonTrue Jan 1 '13 at 8:37
    
Many cookbooks (admittedly, not all), will have some instroductory parts at the beginning, where they talk about things like ingredients or equipment that might not be as well known ... and important things that apply to the recipes but don't specifically state in each one, such as how they measure their flour. –  Joe Jan 2 '13 at 21:50
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4 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

My first thoughts are this which is actually a scraper but I wouldn't use a metal scraper in a bowl. Being flexible plastic, it flexes and molds itself to the inside of a bowl and allows easy removal of dough. enter image description here

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+1 This is what I thought it referred to as well. I use mine constantly. –  Sobachatina Jan 2 '13 at 16:48
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Hmmm. Given that the cookbook calls for both a "dough spatula" and a "bench knife," I suspect that the book is referring to what I would call a "spatula" and a "dough scraper." I suspect they're using the term "dough spatula" to differentiate between the spatula one would use to flip a pancake from the spatula that one would use to stir cake batter. King Arthur flour offers a good example of the latter:

enter image description here

I wouldn't call it essential, but I do often use this kind of spatula when I'm making bread dough. It's really most useful for scraping down the side of my stand mixer bowl and extracting the finished dough from the mixer's bowl. In both cases, a plastic pastry scraper would work just as well but the spatula has the advantage of keeping your hands safely out of the mixer while the dough hook is still attached.

Of course, if you're kneading by hand, then this kind of spatula is minimally useful.

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That picture matches what I would call "a rubber spatula" which the recipe also wants you to have handy. –  Kate Gregory Jan 1 '13 at 23:02
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I've been baking bread for about 15 years. In all that time, I can say without a doubt that I've never heard of anything called a "dough spatula".

If you include the directions that discuss its usage, I might be able to figure it out. I suspect it's just a bowl scraper.

Dough scraper:

Dough scraper

Dough whisk:

Dough whisk

But dough spatula? What on earth?

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The first mention I see of it indicates I use it to... clean my hands? "Use a dough spatula to clean the clumps [of flour and water] off your hands and tidy the inside of the bowl" –  Yamikuronue Jan 1 '13 at 18:47
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Then that means a "bowl spatula" is what most people call a "bowl scraper" (ternent.com/recipes/bowl-scraper). They sell bowl scrapers that have handles too (like so: coppergifts.com/cookie-cutters/pc/catalog/p/…), so I can see why someone would call them "spatulas", but most of them do not have handles. You use them to scrap dough off the sides of the bowl (like so: chefdepot.net/graphics24/bowl_scraper.jpg). I suppose you can use one to scrap dough off of your hands as well. –  Thomas Jan 2 '13 at 17:28
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Awesome, I'll accept the answer stating that then. Thanks for the help, it's much appreciated! –  Yamikuronue Jan 2 '13 at 17:42
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You are quoting from the Tartine Bread book (I have it also) and the dough spatula is much different than a bench scraper. It is the flat white device pictured in the first answer. It is shown on p. 51 of the Tartine book.

I have another handled spatula that I use to stir the initial mixture of flour and leaven and water, and only get in with my clean bare hands when it's time to mix in the salt and prepare for the first bulk rise.

The dough spatula makes scraping the sides of the mixing bowl much easier.

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