Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Useful Kitchen Utensils - Pastry Cutter
A pastry cutter is used to mix a hard (solid) fat into flour in order to make pastries. It is also used to break these fats (shortening, butter, lard) into smaller pieces. You can use your hand, a fork, two butter knives using one in each hand like scissors, or a food processor but if you bake a lot, a pastry cutter is a great little tool. I prefer the kind pictured here with the stationary blades instead of the more flexible wires. I've had the wires get bent.
Cut butter or margarine into flour for great pie and pastry crusts. I use it to cut shortening into the flour for biscuits. Chill the pastry cutter before using it. The best pie crusts are made from ingredients that are chilled before assembly. The pastry cutter should also be chilled. If you were using ice cold butter and chilled water, why would you use a room temperature pastry cutter to mix the ingredients and warm them up? Stick the pastry cutter in the freezer for at least a half an hour before using it and remove it only just before you are ready to make the pastry dough.
It can be hard to clean. The trick is to immediately put it in some warm water and leave it there until you put it in the dishwasher. That keeps the flour from hardening on it. The flour is a pain to get off if you don't keep it wet.
Use a pastry cutter to chop nuts. Use it in a bowl. The pastry cutter was sharp enough and the bowl keeps the nuts from flying all over the kitchen.
You can use a pastry cutter to mash potatoes if you don't have a potato masher. Same with mashing eggs for egg salad and avocado for guacamole.
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