Have you ever decided to make a dessert only to see it requires softened butter? And then you decide just to scrap the idea of making a dessert because who has time for the butter to soften??!
Word of Advice: If it says to use softened butter, do it. If you don’t, you will have a major recipe fail!
Why Soften Butter?
Do you ever wonder why all those recipes are so specific about room temperature butter? There’s a good reason for it.
Butter is a solid fat capable of holding air. When you cream together the sugar and butter, the sugar crystals will cut into the butter and make air pockets. That trapped air is what leads to a beautiful, light baked good.
Let’s face it – it’s also just way easier to blend your ingredients together when it’s at room temperature. It’s really hard to blend cold butter into a batter. (And yes, I’ve tried it – I always try shortcuts – some work and some don’t. Cold butter doesn’t work, don’t try it. I’ll save you the headache.)
Do NOT Try to Soften Butter in the Microwave
Sally’s Baking Addiction does have a neat trick to use the microwave without melting the butter down. She uses the residual heat from hot water, and then puts the butter in and lets the residual heat do the work.
The BEST Way to Soften Butter
The best way, if you have time, is to let it sit out at room temperature until soft. This can take a few hours. I often will cut my butter into chunks to help it soften in a more timely manner.
However, I know – it still takes a long time, and that’s not the real reason you are here. You want it to be faster than that!! Keep reading, I have some tips and tricks to make melting butter go faster!
How long can butter be left out at room temperature?
Does leaving your butter out make you nervous? How long is too long?
So, if you know you will be baking the next day, go ahead and put that butter out the day before! It will be ok! Just keep it away from sunny windows or heat sources like your dishwasher or stove.
How do you know when the butter is at room temperature?
Your butter should be holding its shape, but if you press your finger against it, it should leave an indent. If the butter is too warm, it is a little melted or shiny.
Tricks to Soften Butter Faster
Ok, ok, so you hear me. You need to just leave the butter out so it’s always ready to go, and it’s even safe to leave it out. But, what else can you do to make it soften up faster?
→ As I mentioned, I’ll often cut mine up into small pieces to help expedite the softening process.
→ You can also grate your butter with the large holes of a cheese grater to help it soften faster.
→ Put the butter between wax paper, and roll it out with a rolling pin. (To me, this seems like too much work… but it’s an option.)
That’s it! It’s very simple to soften butter, and it’s a step you simply can’t skip over. If you are aiming for the best results, take the time to do this. If you use appropriately softened butter, you will get light, fluffy baked goods with a nice texture.
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