There can be all types of things inside pastry-centered kitchens as the products these kitchens produce require different equipment and items to create pastries just right. Each plays a specific role in a tongue-pleasing masterpiece and becomes a magical item in a Patessier’s hand. One of these items is a pastry blender.
A pastry blender is a hand-held and half-moon-shaped tool with metal strips that pastry chefs use to cut off the butter into smaller pieces without fully incorporating it into the flour to make a dough. Flaky pastry goods such as biscuits, pie crusts require butter rubbed into their flour mixtures. While there are other ways of doing this, such as using your bare fingers or doing it into a food processor, the product may result in a less flaky consistency than it ought to be, thus making the pastry blender just the perfect leading star for the job.
There are two parts of a pastry blender:
- Handle. It is the part that the pastry chef uses to take a grip on the tool. Traditionally, a pastry blender’s handle is made of wood and is the most comfortable for grip than those with plastic or metal handles. The only downside to the wooden handled pastry blender is that it quickly ages and deteriorates due to water exposure; this is where the metal and plastic-handled pastry blenders shine, their resistant durability, and convenient cleaning methods.
- Tines. These are the strips attached to the handle that breaks down the butter into the flour or dough. There are two types of tines:
- Blade-like tines. These are thin blades attached to a pastry blender’s handle but not sharp enough to hurt the person using it. It is more convenient and more comfortable to use than the wired ones and sturdier, and holds up better than the latter over time, even with regular use.
- Wire tines. These are the traditional tines commonly attached to a wooden handle before metal-bladed tines were made.
How to use a Pastry Blender
You may think that there are indeed other ways to do a pastry blender’s job. However, there are several advantages for you or a pastry chef when they use this tool instead of settling on alternative methods such as:
- It’s easier to see your work. Compared to using your hands or any other methods such as using a food processor, pastry blenders are more convenient. It allows you to check your work easier and better so you’ll know if you already have the right and enough consistency you need for your flour.
- It makes the work less messy and gives the chefs or users less cleaning time. Pastry kitchens have many processes going on, and most of the chefs cannot afford messy areas, nor they have the leisure of time to wash and clean different pieces of equipment. Pastry blenders are handier because it keeps the users’ hands clean while it works on the dough and avoids additional equipment clean-ups if they’re about to use food processors. In this way, they can use their time to more significant matters in the kitchen.
- It makes it easier when working on a big batch. Working on massive batches can take a toll if done manually or cause delays, especially if other equipment fails to function. Working with pasty blenders can make pastry chefs more confident and gives them efficiency in working time.
- It helps to remove lumps on the dough. Unlike using your hands or a mere food processor, a pastry blender works magic on the possible lumps and breaks them down, preventing any imperfections on your product.
While pastry blenders can certainly be handy, it is unavoidable that some people don’t have this material in their kitchen. These can be the ordinary people who are not usually working on pastries and just needed to prepare pies or biscuits for a family or friendly gathering.
If you don’t have a Pastry Blender
However, if you are one of these people and you aim to work on perfection even without this tool, you can use the following as an alternative:
- Use a food processor. It is one of the best options. Make sure that all it’s parts are dry, put flour and cold butter in and press the button shortly several times. It is better to process the mixture with short impulses to avoid heating the butter.
- Use two (2) butter knives. This can work by holding the two butter knives in an angle same with those pastry blenders and cut through the butter into the dry ingredients until it has a coarse or crumbly texture you desire.
- Use a potato masher. This one can be one of those easy alternatives that you can use. Simply toss the cold butter in and mash it into the flour. A potato masher could be an excellent tool to blend ingredients without allowing the butter to warm up and give you outstanding results.
- Use a rubber or wooden spatula. Although this requires a little more work, mixing the fat or butter into the flour with these spatulas can also give you the right consistency and satisfactory results.
Although there are alternatives for every kitchen tool, it is still important to know that everything is needed for its specific purpose to produce the best possible results. However, every cook or pastry chef must understand that it is not just the tools that they use to make their pastries that make a food perfect. It is also about how much love and passion you have filled into your craft regardless of how complete your kitchenwares are.