A pastry blender is a kitchen tool with metal tines that allows you to cut butter, or other fats, into flour quickly and easily. The tines are curved, so you can use the tool right in your mixing bowl, and they are attached to a handle that makes it very easy to grip. Pie crust, scones and other flaky pastries can all be made with the aid of a pastry blender. Without one of these gadgets, you can rub butter in by hand or pulse it in using a food processor. Working by hand is satisfying, but messy, and working with the blender will save you a couple of minutes by streamlining the work. The food processor is faster than the blender, but there is more cleanup to do.
To use a pastry blender, combine the ingredients you need to blend in a bowl. The blender can be used both with cold fats, such as chilled butter or lard, and softened fats. such as room temperature butter or shortening. Grip the handle and press the tines down into the fat, cutting it and combining it with the flour/sugar/other ingredients for your pastry. Don’t worry if the fat sticks to the tines. Continue pressing the blender into the fat. Almost all of the fat/pastry dough that sticks to the tines will come off as you continue to work the pastry. It will probably take you 30-60 seconds, depending on how much dough you have, to break the fat down to the consistency called for in your recipe (larger pieces of butter for pie dough, smaller for shortbreads, etc.).Â Use a knife or spatula to scrape any excess pastry off the tines, then continue making your dough according to your recipe.