Baking is a science, and one of the most common mistakes people make when trying to bake their favorite cake or sheet of cookies is using butter that is too cold or too melted. Instead, using room-temperature, softened butter is the key to success for most of these recipes. In a perfect world, we'd all have the time and presence of mind to set our butter out for an hour or two ahead of time to soften naturally, but "perfect" isn't always practical when real life gets in the way. This is why knowing how to quickly soften butter can come in handy.
Room temperature butter is approximately 65° F, according to Sally's Baking Addiction.
"Room temperature butter can trap more air during the beating process, and when your baked good goes in the oven, the trapped air expands and creates those fluffy cakes and cupcakes and quick breads and muffins," Sally explains in a video shared via the Sally's Baking Recipes YouTube channel.
If you're in need of a quick way to soften butter ASAP, here are a few tips and tricks to try.
Grate the butter
Trying to soften a cold block of butter can be a challenge if it's whole, but breaking it up into smaller pieces will help it naturally soften. You can soften in more quickly by cutting it up into smaller cubes, or you can take a cheese grater and grate the block of butter. This may seem strange if you've only used a grater for cheese, but this will help soften the butter quickly.
If you're going to use a cheese grater, we recommend using one of the bigger sides and not the smallest holes on the grater, as the butter will just get stuck if the size is too small.
Roll out your butter
Another way to soften butter quickly is one that's going to require a little bit of elbow grease. All you'll need is the butter, two sheets of wax paper, and a rolling pin. You can set the butter between the two layers of wax paper and roll it out using the pin. This will give the butter a much softer, easier-to-use texture.
Microwave your butter (without melting it)
According to the butter experts themselves Land O Lakes, you can microwave butter to soften it if you're in a bind. Although this isn't ideal because butter melts so easily, knowing how to slowly defrost it in the microwave can help. Because it can be difficult to microwave butter without it fully melting, Land O Lakes recommends using the defrost setting and only using 5-second increments. That way, you can better control how fast it melts.
Sally's Baking Addiction also discusses a clever way to use your microwave without melting your butter. Her advice via her blog requires only a little water, your microwave, and of course, the butter.
To get started, grab a microwave-safe dish and pour in two cups of water. Then, pop it into the microwave for one to two minutes, or until the water is boiling. Next, cut your butter into cubes and place it in a separate bowl. You can then add that bowl to the microwave and close the door. This will trap the heat from the boiling water inside, slowly warming up the butter. Leave the butter inside for about 10 minutes for perfectly-softened butter.