On test: The best pastry brushes

We called upon the skills of some of our best baking friends – Great British Bake Off contestants Edd Kimber, John Whaite and Frances Quinn – to discover the finest kitchen equipment out there. Read on to discover what you should be looking for when buying a pastry brush, and which product is right for you…

Why buy?

Whether you want to brush whisked egg onto your pastry to give a mirror-bright shine, oil a baking tin to prevent your cake from sticking or baste a joint of meat, a pastry brush is the best way of ensuring an even coat and minimum wastage.

What should I buy?

Edd brushing pastryPastry brush bristles come in plastic, silicone or natural fibres. Silicone brush strands are less likely to fall out or splinter, plus they wash easily. However, Edd warns that they can damage delicate pastry and that liquid tends to drip off silicone rather than grip – this is where natural brushes have the edge. Whichever material you go for, you want to opt for a brush that’s flexible, soft-haired and flat.

What we looked for: 

Quality bristles: Scratchy bristles will damage pastry and could splinter off as you brush, so we looked for strong, flexible bristles that could withstand being dragged across a plate with relative force.

Firmly-held bristles: We gave the bristles a tug to check whether any of them came loose – stray, coarse hair on your pie is not a good look.

Brushes

Ease of washing: As pastry brushes use oily or stubborn ingredients, the bristles need to be easy to clean and dry.

Flexible bristles: If the brush head is too stiff, you can end up knocking air out of delicate bakes like brioche buns.

Good surface area: Wide, flat brushes are best for working quickly and efficiently when stroking liquid across your dish.

Our top three pastry brushes…

Best… Chef’s standard brush

Matfer brushMatfer natural pastry brush

This professional-standard natural brush comes with a super-strong plastic handle for easy cleaning. Edd liked this brush as it doesn’t flake or leave lines or pools of liquid in the pastry as some of the silicone brushes we tested did, and John said the floppy bristles are ideal when you’re working with a delicate egg glaze. The brush is also nice and flat and very affordable.

£3.19, from Nisbets


Best… For delicate work

Patissier brushSmall patisserie brush

This natural brush is designed for use on dainty, French-style patisserie, so it has a light touch. Liquid grips to the natural bristles with ease, plus the classic wooden handle, made from beech, is hardwearing and designed for comfort of use. For a specialist brush, it’s affordable, too.

£3.00, from Sous Chef


Best... All-rounder

Beechwood brushCherry wood natural pastry brush

This robust brush is a good all-rounder – it’s Italian-designed and ideal for making pasta, but it’s substantial enough to use for basting meat. The brush is stubby and rounded, so you won’t get the surface area of some of the flatter brushes, but we like its rustic look and attractive wooden handle.

£3.95, from Sous Chef

More reviews from Great British Bake Off bakers... 

The best spatulas
The best flour shakers
The best rolling pins
The best icing turntables
The best marble rolling pins
The best measuring sets
The best piping bags
The best cooling racks
The best baking sheets

This review was last updated in October 2015. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com. 

For more product rundowns, visit our review section            

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