Have you ever found yourself wondering how to use a pastry cutter and what the best substitutes for it are?
Pastry cutters are kitchen tools that are used for cutting dough, yet many find themselves searching for an appropriate substitute due to not having one at hand.
Depending on what your recipe calls for, there are some great alternatives that can give you the same desired result.
Knowing how to use them properly and which ones work best is essential in ensuring your pastry recipes come out just right.
So let’s get started on learning all about pastry cutters and their substitutions.
What is Pastry Cutter?
A pastry cutter, sometimes called a pastry blender or dough blender, is a kitchen tool used to quickly and evenly mix together dry ingredients.
It is typically composed of a handle attached to two or more looped and jointed blades made of metal.
The blades cut through butter, lard, and other shortening when added to the dry ingredients in a recipe for baked goods such as cake, biscuits and pie crusts.
The overall shape of the pastry cutter resembles a disc with several loops emerging from its center that allows you to manipulate it easily with one hand.
The most common type has 5 blades or 4 curved metal wires that are jointed at the end.
The user may mix either wet or dry ingredients with the implement; provided that in the latter case the liquids should not be pressed out of the mixture during mixing.
To use a pastry cutter you should:
- Place all your desired dry ingredients inside the bowl – this can include sugar, flour, baking powder or soda, spices etcetera;.
- Then cut any cold fat (e.g., lard) into small pieces;.
- Add this fat gradually while constantly stirring your mixture with your blade;.
- Cut until when you hold up some of your mixture between two fingers it should not just crumble away but rather keep its shape five at least couple seconds before disintegrating;.
- Once done using – clean it thoroughly using soapy warm water than dry it off carefully with a kitchen cloth before putting away safely in its proper spot for later use.
The 5 BEST Substitutes for Pastry Cutter
However, if you don’t have a pastry cutter on hand or can’t find one, there are DIY solutions available to replace them and still get your recipes ready in no time.
Here are five of the best substitutes for pastry cutters you can use:
1 – Forks
Using a fork to help with dough-based recipes is one of the most common approaches for substituting for a pastry cutter.
Forks come in varying lengths, so if you’re dealing with lots of dough or want to cut out a specific shape from the dough, that’s not going to be an issue.
When using a fork to substitute for a pastry cutter, use two forks at once and press them into the ingredients until the butter flattened into smaller beads.
It might take some practice before you get it right, but with proper technique this approach can work well for dough-heavy recipes like pies and quiches.
2 – Butter Knives
Butter knives are the sharpest of all regular kitchen knives and do a fairly good job at cutting pastry dough.
To use butter knives for cutting, use a sawing motion — gently pressing with one knife and pulling with the other — instead of the traditional downward chop.
With patience, butter knives make light work of most doughs.
It’s important to note that neither your kitchen nor your hands should be at risk if you choose butter knives as a substitute for a pastry cutter.
If you find that your knives are too sharp and make it difficult to handle or maneuver the dough safely, opt for an alternative rather than take any risks.
3 – Bench Scraper
A bench scraper is a multi-purpose tool designed to simplify food preparation, which looks very similar to a dough cutter.
It consists of a solidly constructed metal or plastic rectangle in various sizes with a handle on one end to provide maximum comfort when working with the tool.
Bench scrapers are extremely versatile and can be used in many different tasks.
You can use the bench scraper for huge batches of cake batter or for portioning cookie dough, as well as for measuring and dividing pastry dough, chopping vegetables, scraping down flat surfaces and much more.
This tool is quite effective at cutting floury pastries into equal parts while minimizing the amount of flour incorporated in the process.
The sturdy construction also allows you to bend it slightly so that you can easily scoop up the chopped pieces without damaging them or leaving any excess behind.
4 – Cheese Grater
For those of us who don’t have a pastry cutter, a cheese grater is the perfect substitute.
This utensil has medium-sized raised jagged edges that is ideal for cutting cold butter into flour.
Simply use the grater by pushing the butter across it with a grinding motion until the butter pieces are distributed evenly throughout the flour mixture.
Be sure to mix and check every few passes to be sure you don’t add too much butter as this may affect the texture of your pastry dish.
The cheese grater method works great for tart, biscuit and scone doughs as these recipes often require large chunks of cold butter being mixed in evenly.
5 – Your Hands
If you don’t have a pastry cutter on hand, your hands are the next best substitute (and if you knead your dough together enough and don’t press too hard, you may find that using your hands actually works better than a pastry cutter).
All it takes is a little bit of muscle and patience – here’s how you do it:
- Start by combining the butter and flour together with a fork until pea-sized crumbs form.
- Then use your hands to press the butter pieces further into an even flaky mix, using either your palms or fingers. You can use the warmth of your fingers to incorporate the butter easily into the flour without locking in too much heat; similar to how you would work with play-dough.
- Create small flaky pieces by pressing down slightly against the dough while pressing your hands together in rolling motion on top of it; this will help blend the ingredients quickly into one another while ensuring that there are no big chunks of butter left behind in the mix.
- The goal here is to eventually create a pile of fine powdery crumbs that are uniform in size but still tender; this will helps create a light and flaky crust when baking.
When creating a pastry, the pastry cutter is a versatile tool that can help you mix, flatten and cut evenly.
Unfortunately, not every kitchen has one but luckily there are some great alternatives that are easy to find.
From two forks to your food processor, tools that you already have in your kitchen can be used as makeshift pastry cutters.
The best substitute for a pastry cutter really does depend on what type of dough and texture you’re trying to achieve.
For example, if you’re working with Mason Dough you should use two forks to create flaky layers of buttery crusts for your pies.
On the other hand, if you’re making a tender sweet crust with crumb topping use your food processer or pulse oats in with your stand mixer or electric hand beaters until the texture is crumbly and course like sand.
Ultimately there are many different ways to create beautiful and delicious pastries without needing a dedicated pastry cutter but they all come down making sure to use the right tool according to the job at hand.
By understanding how each tool can give you a different type of crust or texture in your finished product will ensure that all of your pastries look professional grade.