A pastry blender is a cooking utensil used to mix a hard (solid) fat into flour in order to make pastries. The tool is usually made of narrow metal strips or wires attached to a handle, and is used by pressing down on the items to be mixed (known as "cutting in"). It is also used to break these fats (shortening, butter, lard) into smaller pieces. The blending of fat into flour at this stage impacts the amount of water that will be needed to bind the pastry into a dough.
There are several alternatives to using a pastry blender. One is to work the fat into the flour with the fingertips, though this requires having a good "touch" and knowing just how lightly to work the fat into the flour without melting it. Another is to use two table knives like a pair of scissors, one knife in each hand. A third is to use a food processor.
- Franke, Sharon. "Pastry Blenders". Best-Tested Pie-Making Tools. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
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