I got a request last week to do a little tutorial on using a pastry blender. This is the one I have if you were looking to buy one for yourself. A food processor is often used to replaced a pastry blender, but in my opinion, there is no substitute for a little elbow grease! You would use a pastry blender for biscuits, scones, pie crusts, pastry doughs. . . anything where you want bits of butter distributed through the dough. Last week, I used it to make scones.
You start with COLD butter. Cold is the key here. You don’t want the butter melting. Cut up the butter into 1/4″ cubes. If it starts getting melty because you have hot hands, stick it in the freezer until it’s solid again. Cold is the key.
Toss the cubed cold butter into your dry ingredients that have already been whisked together. If you don’t whisk the ingredients, the leavening agent could stick to the butter making your food taste bad. And we don’t want that, do we?
Pastry blender! Side note, when I was growing up, I thought that this was for mashing potatoes. It works for that too, but I missed out on years of pastry making because I didn’t know what it was actually for. Anyways, grab the pastry blender and begin to mash the butter into the dry ingredients. We’re looking for the butter to be broken up into little pieces and coated with the dry ingredients. Coarse ground meal is the texture we’re looking for. But really, who knows what coarse ground meal looks like?
This is too chunky. Too many big pieces.
Ah, and we’ve arrived. Check this out.
It’s ok if there are still some bigger chunks in the mix. It’s better to err a little bit on the too coarse side than on the too blended side. If things are getting melty at this point, feel free to put the dough in the freezer again. Cold. Seriously.
And this is the final way to judge success. After you have added the rest of your wet ingredients to the dough (in this case, it was cream), you do a quick knead to the dough – and quick is key, no melting butter, remember? Keep your hot hands in the dough for as little time as possible. Once done, you should see chunks of butter in the dough. That’s exactly what we’re looking for! When you bake your items that butter will melt into a little pocket of goodness. It lends a flaky, buttery, tender texture.
Alright, tutorial ‘pastry blender’ done! Let me know if you have any questions!