Heeeeeeeeeeey everyone..I’m back with another post in the Baking Basics Series! Last week, I introduced the Baking Basics Series and we talked about how to make your own buttermilk. Buttermilk is essential in making this pretzel rod cake that I also debuted last week. It’s a stunning 4 layer red velvet cake adorned with chocolate covered pretzels and white chocolate curls on top.
That red velvet cake though wouldn’t have happened without the buttermilk but also not without perfectly softened butter. Mmm, butter. Softening butter is a major key step in most recipes. Like perfect chocolate chip cookies or maybe some perfect vanilla cupcakes. Butter is KEY, folks, But you knew that didn’t you?
Having perfectly softened butter is uber-important when it comes to baked goods. Butter that has been softened correctly means that the butter will incorporate into your dry ingredients. No weird chunks of butter that just won’t play nice.
Why softened butter?
Does it matter? You bet your bippy it does (yea I just said that). Moving on.
Softened butter means the sugar can basically punch holes in the butter which means air can get inside. Air is your friend in baking. If the butter is too cold, and your baked goods will not be able to incorporate enough air. That could mean heavy dense baked goods as opposed to light and fluffy ones. We want light and fluffy, friends.
If the butter is too warm (aka melty spots) then again the same thing happens. All those air bubbles collapse.
So too cold or too warm = fat won’t hold the air
Anyone feel like we are in the middle of a children’s fairy tale? That butter was too cold, and that butter was too warm. But this butter was just riiiiiiiiiight.
How do you know if the butter is softened properly? Softened butter means it gives slightly when pressed or about 67 degrees if you want to get technical.
So we know we need softened butter. Now in a perfect world we would all remember to take our butter waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before we ever intended to bake something. But I don’t live in that world, do you? In fact, I almost never remember take my butter out beforehand and I have a baking blog!
So what is a girl to do? Never bake? Ha, yea right. Not gonna happen folks.
We can soften our butter. Quickly. And perfectly. And I have not one, not two, but three different ways to do so.
How To Soften Butter #1: Chunking method
Take your butter out of the fridge. Cut the butter up into small chunks. The smaller the chunks the faster it will come to room temperature. Then wait (could be 30 or more depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
How To Soften Butter #2: Mixer (or rolling pin) method
Smash it. Yup, you heard right. Smash it. It’s a good way to get aggression out too. If your butter is sticking to your rolling pin, simply cover it with wax paper. I actually let my mixer do this step. I will put my butter in my mixer and turn it on medium (to high) and let the paddle attachment smash the butter soft. This will take a few minutes, and just be warned. Start out slow, otherwise you might find yourself cleaning up butter chunks all over your kitchen that came flying out.
How To Soften Butter #3: Microwave Method
This is my most favorite method. The microwave. My favorite but also the trickiest. This method could go from awesome to ah crap quickly. I place my butter in a bowl and then microwave on 20% power for 30 seconds. I will check it and decide if it needs more time, and then go in smaller amounts of time (10 second intervals), still at reduced power. Every microwave is different, so go slow and check frequently.
Another way to soften using the microwave that could provide more control. Microwave a cup of water for 2-3 minutes. Eeew, thanks overhead kitchen lighting for this photo…
Then place your butter pieces on a plate spread out so they can all soften equally and place in the microwave with the water.
The steam from the water will soften your butter, which will take about 10 minutes. (if your butter is still not quite soft enough, then just repeat this method again!)
And there you go, three ways to soften your butter quickly! If you’re like me, you will be using one of these ways shortly 🙂 Planning ahead = not a virtue of me.
So what other topics would you like to see covered in this baking basics series? Let me know in the comment section!
Happy Baking Everyone!