A pastry brush isn’t the most vital tool in a baker’s arsenal, but it is one that comes in handy from time to time. It is also one whose function can’t easily be performed with other tools. The brush is used to spread liquids and glazes onto the surface of foods, like adding melted butter to the tops of cinnamon buns or some milk/cream to the top of a muffin before sprinkling it with coarse sugar. An nearly identical tool (usually only differing in size) is a basting brush used for glazing meats ad they cook.
The brushes traditionally look like ordinary paintbrushes, with synthetic fibers making up the bristles. They can be a bit difficult to clean thoroughlyÂ and, after a while, usually start to shed out some of their bristles. Fortunately, brush technology is leaping ahead and it isn’t really necessary to replace ailing brushed every so often anymore. Basting brushes have been made of silicone for some time now, since silicone is stronger and more heat resistant than other materials, allowing the brushes to be used more effectively over high heats (like a grill). Now, pastry brushes are following the trend and designers are coming out with smaller silicone brushes specifically for pastry!
I use a silicone basting brush as my pastry brush right now and switching from a traditional brush was a grat decision. With silicone, there is no straining, no shedding and the brush can be cleaned in the dishwasher. It’s nice to see that there are now smaller, finer brushed available for pastry chefs – and home chefs -Â who do more detailed work than I do and could use the extra finess of a smaller brush.