How to soften butter for baking and spreading. If you are new to baking, you may have come across the term “soften butter” and wondered what that is and how to do it. This tutorial will explain it all.
What Does Soften Butter Mean?
Softened butter is just that, butter that is soft and at room temperature.
Room temperature butter should be firm enough to hold it’s shape but be soft enough to be easily spread on a piece of fresh bread without tearing it.
However, depending on the temperature of the room and time of year no matter how long you leave the butter out it may never be soft enough.
These tips will show you how to soften butter quickly so, that you can easily spread it on bread, use it to make whipped butter or for creaming butter and sugar for your bakes.
Why Is Softened Butter Important?
Soften butter is important in baking because it makes it easier to cream the butter and sugar.
Creaming butter and sugar together creates air pockets around the sugar crystals in the butter as they are beaten together, these air pockets help your bakes rise and become light and soft during baking.
If the butter is too firm it can be difficult to combine the butter and sugar even with an electric mixer and is almost impossible if you are doing this by hand.
Now, you maybe thinking why not use melted butter. Mixing sugar in melted butter is only going to dissolve the sugar which is not what you want.
You need the butter in a soft solid state so, that you can easily and with very little effort combine the two until they are light and creamy looking.
And after mixing you should still be able to feel the sugar granules in the butter when it is rubbed between your fingers.
Also, if you are making flavoured butters like garlic butter or cinnamon butter, it makes mixing in the flavours so much easier.
So, When Do You Soften Butter?
- You will need to soften butter if the recipe asks for it and all you have is fridge hard butter.
- You have left the butter out at room temperature for several hours or overnight, and it is still too firm to use.
- Or you want a very soft butter because, you don’t have an electric mixer and want to cream the butter by hand using a wooden spoon.
How To Soften Butter – 5 Easy Ways
#1 – Soften Butter At Room Temperature
If you live in a hot climate softening butter is not that much of an issue. All you need to do is measure the amount required and leave it a room temperature for a short time to soften.
But, if you’ve forgotten to remove the butter or, you’ve left it a room temperature and it has not softened enough, use one of the following methods:
#2 – How to Soften Butter In The Microwave
There are two ways that you can soften butter in the microwave, you can microwave in short burst or create a warm environment in the microwave oven.
Microwave in short bursts
Cut the butter into small cubes and place in a single layer on a microwave safe plate.
Heat the butter in the microwave oven for 2-5 seconds at time on the lowest power setting until it becomes soft.
When softening butter this way make sure that the butter does not become too hot and turns to a liquid.
If you let it go too far and it melts a little, put it back in the fridge for a short time to solidify and without making it too hard.
Measure out the required amount of butter and cut it into very small pieces – the smaller the pieces the softer they will become.
Arrange the butter in a single layer onto a plate.
Pour two cups of boiling water from the kettle into a heatproof jug or container.
Place the jug of hot water into the microwave oven and heat for 2 minutes on high to boil.
Quickly place the plate of butter in the microwave with the jug of hot water and close the door.
Leave the butter and the jug of hot water in the microwave for about 10 minutes.
The above is an adaptation of a method for softening butter quickly by Sally’s Baking Addiction.
In Sally’s method she removes the hot water from the microwave before placing the butter in.
I found that this method did not work that well for me because, my microwave oven is quite large.
I had better results by leaving the jug of hot water in with the butter. So, you might want to test out these two methods in your own microwave to see which works best for you.
How to soften butter without a microwave?
There are other ways to soften butter without a microwave, you could use a double boiler or grate the butter
#3 – Grate The Butter
Grating cold hard butter is a very quick way to soften it but it can be a little messy.
If you are going to grate butter to soften it, grate it first then measure out the required amount needed because you will lose some of the butter weight when it sticks to the grater.
Grating breaks the butter into very tiny pieces which soften quickly when left at room temperature.
#4 – Cut the Butter Into Small Cubes
Cut the butter into very small cubes place them on a plate in a single layer let them sit a room temperature or near a warm spot to soften.
#5 – Roll Out Flat
Place the butter between two sheets of wax paper. Use a rolling pin to press down on the butter and roll out about 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Then peel the butter from the paper before it gets too soft.
How Soft Should The Butter Be?
Softened butter should be soft enough so that your finger easily be push through a small piece of butter from the top to the bottom.
If you are using an electric mixer the butter can be a littler firmer than this because and electric mixer can easily break the butter down.
However, if you are going to hand mix with a wooden spoon you should have it as described above or a little softer but be careful not to melt it.
So, there you have it a number of different ways to soften butter.
I’ve tried them all, but I just come back to using two. In our hot summers I just leave the butter out for half an hour or longer before baking, and it is very soft. In winter I will usually soften it in the microwave oven on short bursts.
If you have found this cooking resource for How To Soften Butter helpful please don’t forget to rate the tutorial and leave a comment below.