It’s Halloween weekend, so I know you’re baking treats for all the festivities. Tomorrow is our celebration day where we’ll head on over to our friend’s house for a celebration. The pups, obviously in their costumes, are joining.
Here’s what I’m making:
- salted caramel apple bars
- soft cut-out sugar cookies (pumpkin shapes!)
- cake batter chocolate chip cookies (obvi)
- honeycrisp apple sangria
I’ll be running around all day today and tomorrow– and I’m sure you will be too. Not only this, we’ve all got a million and one things to do this holiday season. Baking treats is a priority, of course– and we always try to prep as much as possible by reserving enough time for all the holiday goodies we’ll churn out of our kitchens. But guess what? We’re human. And we’ll forget to lay out our butter ahead of time. It’s still in the fridge, hard as a rock. So aggravating! We’ll make up for it by trying to heat it in the microwave, but it always ends up slightly melted. Then our butter and sugar never cream properly and our cookies spread everywhere. It’s a disaster.
Sound familiar? Let me help. It’s the return of baking basics!
Why Softened Butter?
First, let’s discuss why you actually need softened butter for your recipe.
Baking recipes calling for softened butter (aka like 99%!) typically have you creaming said butter with sugar. This step is crucial. Let’s revisit why: if butter is at its magic room temperature, the sugar effectively aerates the butter during that creaming process. It cuts into the soft butter pieces, whipping air into the base of your recipe. Then the baking powder and/or soda helps expand those little air pockets the creaming process created and your finished baked good is light, tender, and fluffy. Just as it should be because you followed the rules with the MAGIC that is room temperature butter. 🙂
If the butter is too soft and slightly melted, it can’t form those air bubbles. Rather, sugar simply dissolves. On the other hand– if the butter is too cold, it’s not pliable enough to cream and blend. Melted, softened, and cold butter cannot be used interchangeably in recipes as they all perform differently. It is critical you follow the recipe and start with the correct form of butter. While we’re at it, make sure it’s salted or unsalted as the recipe states!
For most baked goods, nothing beats softened butter– and the best way to always have it on hand is to just lay it out on the counter ahead of time. But we forget. No offense butter, but you’re not a priority in my day.
How to Soften Butter Quickly
There’s a billion tricks to softening butter quickly, but the following works like a charm each time. And it couldn’t be easier. Here’s what you’ll need:
- butter, sliced into small pieces
Step 1: Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave-safe cup or bowl. I always use a liquid measuring cup.
Step 2: Microwave it for 2 – 3 minutes until boiling.
Step 3: Place butter into a heat-proof bowl or plate and into the microwave. (Our microwave is one of those models in the kitchen island. The microwave drawer so cool and sorta kinda futuristic looking!) Remove water from the microwave.
Step 4: Close the microwave to trap hot air inside. Butter will soften in 10 minutes.
Then you can use it in your recipe.
Keep in Mind
The more butter your recipe calls for, the larger the bowl or plate (holding the butter) should be. In other words, you don’t want a huge pile of butter in a small bowl. You want it slightly spread out so all the pieces can warm up quickly and evenly.
There ya go!
How to Soften Butter Quickly
- 2 cups water
- butter (sliced into pieces)1
- Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave-safe cup or bowl. I always use a liquid measuring cup.
- Microwave it for 2 - 3 minutes until boiling. Remove water from microwave.
- Place butter pieces into a heat-proof bowl or plate, then place into the microwave.
- Close the microwave to trap hot air inside. Butter will soften in 10 minutes.
- The more butter your recipe calls for, the larger the bowl or plate (holding the butter) should be. You don't want a huge pile of butter in a small bowl. You want it spread out so all the pieces of butter can warm up quickly and evenly. Thinner pieces will soften faster.
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And there we have it! Perfectly softened butter, the base for millions of recipes. Including ♥ ♥ the best frosting ever ♥ ♥