How to soften butter, tips for making it soft 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 at room temperature.
Room temperature butter should be firm enough to hold its shape but be soft enough to be easily spread on a piece of fresh bread without tearing it.
However, depending on the room temperature 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 use it to spread onto fresh bread without tearing it
- effortlessly make whipped butter
- cream butter and sugar for your bakes either by hand or by mixer
Why Is Softened Butter Important?
Soft butter is essential in baking because it makes it easier to cream butter and sugar together.
By creaming the butter and sugar together, air pockets are created around the sugar crystals as they are combined. These air pockets help your bakes rise and become light and soft.
Firm butter is hard to work with even when combining the two with an electric mixer and is almost impossible if you are doing this by hand.
You may be thinking, why not use melted butter. Melted butter will dissolve the sugar, and this is not what you want.
The butter needs to be in a soft solid state so, that it can easily and with little effort be combined with sugar to make a light and creamy mixture.
After mixing you should still be able to feel the sugar granules in the butter when you rub it between your fingers.
Also, if you are making flavored butters like garlic butter or cinnamon butter, it makes mixing in the flavors 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 cold 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.
5 Easy Ways To Soften Butter
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
Cut the butter into small cubes and place it in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate.
Heat the butter in the microwave oven for 2-5 seconds bursts on the lowest power setting until it becomes soft.
When softening butter like this, make sure that the butter does not become too hot and turns into a liquid. It will melt from the inside out.
If you let it go too far and it melts a little, put it back in the fridge for a short time to solidify without making it too hard.
3. Grate The Butter
Grating cold hard butter is quick but can be a little messy.
Grate first, then measure out the required amount and not the other way around because you will lose some of the butter weight because it will stick to the grater.
Grating breaks the butter into tiny pieces and softens quickly at room temperature. We use this method for our rough puff pastry recipe.
4. Cut the Butter Into Small Cubes
Cut the butter into small cubes and place them on a plate in a single layer and leave them at 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 (¼ 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 pushed through a small piece of butter.
If you are using an electric mixer, the butter can be a little firmer than this because an 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, several different ways to soften butter.
We have tried them all, but we just come back to using two. In hot weather, we leave the butter out for half an hour or so before baking, and in cold weather will use the microwave oven to soften the butter.
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