Even though I've been baking for a numerous amount of years, I always forget to soften butter before getting started on the recipe. And while it seems like a silly step, perfectly softened butter to room temperature and spreadable consistency is the vital key to baking treats like chocolate chip cookies, coffee cake, and even sugar cookies.
Not only does soft butter incorporate into ingredients more easily, but it also aids in the texture of baked goods as well. Take for example creaming the butter with granulated sugar. Using a cold butter won't be as "receptive" to the sugar, and the air pockets will form unevenly, making the texture of the baked goods off.
While in a perfect world it would be great to pull the butter out of the fridge an hour early, more times than not we have too much on our minds to add one more step. And that's where these next five quick tips come in.
1. Cut the butter into small pieces.
To soften your butter quickly, the best way is to increase the surface area of the butter, making it soften in a fraction of the time. Use a sharp knife and cut the butter into small cubes and let sit for about 10 minutes. The butter should be relatively softer than before.
2. Pound with a rolling pin.
This one is so much fun to do! Place your stick of butter into a plastic bag ( or even between two pieces of wax paper, and thwack the butter with a rolling pin. You could even roll the butter with the rolling pin but hitting it is just more fun.
3. Place it on the oven.
This trick is actually pretty easy to execute. For perfectly softened butter, place a stick (still in the wrapper) on top of your oven while it is preheating. After ten minutes the residual heat from the oven should have softened it.
4. Grate it.
Not only does this trick help with softening butter, but it's also a great way to cut small pieces of cold butter into flour to make a pie crust. Using your box grater, quickly grate the butter into a glass bowl. The surface area around the butter pieces will be so large that the butter practically softens immediately.
5. Warm the bowl.
This trick is pretty genius. Fill a large metal bowl or glass measuring cup with warm water (think really hot) and let it sit for about thirty seconds. Dump the water out of the bowl and place the bowl upside down over the butter for about 5 minutes. The heat from the bowl should soften the butter just right.
Now that your butter is softened, what's next?
We suggest making a batch of Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies with your newly softened butter. You can thank us later.
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