A perfect pastry comes into being when a pastry chef mixes and blends the right amounts of flour, water, butter, and several other ingredients. Pastry chefs are magicians that turn the piles of ingredients into mouthwatering cookies, cakes, pie, and pastries. However, most of the work is done by hands or basic tools for making pastries; there are still some specialized tools needed to get some jobs done.
One of these specialized tools is a pastry and dough blender. Before we talk about the benefits of using pastry blenders, let’s discuss what a pastry blender is and for what purpose it is used.
What is a Pastry Blender?
A pastry blender is a half-moon-shaped, hand-held tool used to mix soft solid ingredients, such as butter with flour. The process of blending soft solid ingredients with flour is also known as “cutting in.” Pastry blenders have metal strips that help cut down the butter into smaller pieces and blend it into flour to make the dough.
A pastry blender is important for pastry chefs, as several recipes call for the butter to be rubbed in the flour. So, if you are a professional pastry chef or love baking, you should get yourself a good pastry and dough blender.
Why a Pastry Blender?
Careful blending of ingredients is what makes the perfect pies, tarts, and quiches. The method used for blending the cold butter with flour matters a lot. You may see many modern pastry crust recipes that call for food processors instead of the traditional method of using a pastry blender.
Before the advent of food processors, pastry blenders did the perfect job of blending in cold butter and flour to create the most perfect and fresh pastry crusts. The traditional didn’t go through much change over the years, as its simplicity didn’t ever need any alternation.
Following are the reasons why every pastry chef should use a pastry blender instead of relying upon food processors:
Whether you are new to baking or a seasoned pastry chef, pastry blenders will always save you money without letting you compromise on the quality of your pastry crust. Pastry blenders don’t cost much neither do they require electricity to work. Simply hold it and cut that butter in the flour.
Sometimes we don’t feel like grabbing our gigantic food processor out, and on top of everything, washing the whole thing is another struggle. At such times, pastry blenders come in handy, as you can easily make the dough using it without creating a mess.
3. Easy to Clean
As mentioned above, it can be a struggle to clean the food processors. While cleaning a pastry blender is as simple as using it. Moreover, most pastry blenders today are dishwasher safe as well.
4. Prepares a Better Dough
The food processors may do a great job preparing pastry dough, but they can never compete with pastry blenders. The old method of using pastry blenders has its own effect on the dough, and the flaky and buttery texture it gives to the dough cannot be attained using a food processor.
5. Make It Easier For You to See Your Work
While using hands or a food processor, you may not be able to guess the stage at which your dough is. However, when you use a pastry blender, checking the consistency of the dough becomes a lot easier.
6. Pastry Blenders Are Great For Bigger Batches
Bigger batches are not easy to be made perfect with food processors or hands. In such situations, pastry blenders allow the chefs to have full control over the massive batch.
7. Pastry Blenders are Best For Removing Lumps
Unlike food processors or hands, pastry blenders can work a lot better in removing lumps from the dough. The efficient design of pastry blenders allows them to cut off all the lumps, so the final product is perfect.
Tips for Getting the Best Results Using Pastry Blenders
When using a pastry blender, you should follow some steps for the best results. Before adding the butter to the flour, make sure you dice it in cubes as small as ½ inch. After dicing the butter, put it in the fridge for some time. While the butter is in the fridge, you can measure and prepare the other ingredients. When all the other ingredients are ready, take out the chilled and diced butter and add it to the flour (mixed with other ingredients such as salt or sugar).
Use the pastry blender in a rocking motion to blend the butter in the flour. Make sure you blend every bit of butter and give each piece equal attention. Once the butter turns into small pea-size chunks, you can stop cutting in the butter and move on with the recipe.
What to Use as a Substitute for a Pastry Blender?
Even though a pastry blender is quite an important kitchen tool, some people still don’t own one. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use one of the following things in place of a pastry blender.
1. A Food Processor
Although a food processor is not a better professional option than a pastry blender, it is better than other substitutes. Before putting your ingredients in a food processor, make sure that all its parts are dry.
2. A Potato Masher
A potato masher can also perform the same purpose as a pastry blender. You can simply mash the butter into the flour, just like you mash boiled potatoes. It can be another great substitute for a pastry blender because it doesn’t let the ingredients get warm either.
3. A Spatula
A spatula is not the best tool to use for pastry dough; however, it can get the job done when nothing else is available. Make sure to use a wooden or silicone spatula and mix the right consistency of butter and flour.
4. A Fork
A fork is like a potato masher; however, it may take longer to blend butter and flour. You can use two forks to get the work done.
The presence of substitute tools doesn’t reduce the importance of pastry blenders for creating the perfect pastry crust. If you bake a lot or plan to start baking regularly, it would be better if you get at least two pastry and dough blenders.
Pastry blenders have been around since the art of baking came into being. We cannot deny the importance of traditional methods of blending ingredients when talking about the creation of the perfect pastries, tarts, and other baked items.
Professional pastry chefs would never prefer any food processor or other tool over a pastry blender, and the reasons are quite clear. The pastry blenders provide consistency to the pastry crust that cannot be attained by using any other tools. On the other hand, food processors or hands can heat up the butter and other ingredients, which can ruin the whole recipe. Hence it is better to invest in a pastry and dough blender instead of wasting money on useless tools.