It wasn’t until I was an adult expat that I discovered the pastry brush. What took me so long? I think it was our reliance on non-stick cooking spray for greasing our pans. Non-stick cooking spray is incredibly convenient and easy to use but since establishing my own kitchen, I have not once considered purchasing it. The main reason I feel it doesn’t belong in my kitchen is it also seems incredibly wasteful. After the can of spray is used it cannot be reused and recycling programs don’t always accept it. In some cases, the food grade aerosol cans are categorized within hazardous waste programs and must be brought to a recycling centre and dropped off for a fee. In my mind, the pastry brush provides a less wasteful and inexpensive way to make sure that your cake won’t get stuck in its pan.
Both home bakers and professional pastry chefs benefit from the variety of uses of the pastry brush. Its primary use is to butter a pan by simply dipping the brush in soft or melted butter and “painting” your pan. It allows for more accuracy when greasing muffin tins, for example, as it only goes on the surfaces that you apply it. In comparison, a cooking spray often ends up outside of the wells. When the item is baked, the residue spray becomes brown, greasy and difficult to clean.
Pastry brushes are also use to spread glazes on cakes and pastries. Pies and breads often require a light egg-wash of which a pastry brush is essential to achieve the desired result. Finally, I use my pastry brush to dust off excess flour from any type of rolled dough (for example, pâté brisée, pâte sable, pie dough, laminated dough, etc.).
It will help your work-flow to designate one pastry brush for wet ingredients and another for dry ingredients. I recommend to dry your pastry brush with a tea towel after hand washing it. This will prevent any mold from forming at the base. Set the brush out on your kitchen countertop to completely dry before putting it away.
Happy baking folks!