How to Soften Butter Quickly

Tips and tricks on how to soften butter quickly so you can get to baking sooner

Many baked goods require butter to be at room temperature, most likely for creaming butter and sugar, so it can be frustrating when you don’t plan ahead like you were supposed to. The good news is that there are many tips and tricks to help you soften your butter quickly so you can get to baking sooner. We’ve gathered all our favorite methods to get softened butter in no time. So just pick your favorite and get baking!

Our favorite methods to soften butter:

1. Countertop

Take your butter out of the fridge and leave it on the counter for 1-2 hours. This method is the most hands-off and consistent but also the most time-consuming. We recommend this method if you have time, but if you don’t, there are plenty of other innovative ways to skip this step.

2. Cube/Grate

All you have to do is cut the butter into small cubes using a knife or bench scraper. The smaller you can make your pieces, the faster they’ll soften. We like to cube our butter before doing anything else. It only takes 15 minutes to soften cubed butter, so it’s a perfect time to prep anything you may need. You could also grate your butter, but it risks the chance of melting instead of softening.

3. Microwave

Place a stick of butter on a microwavable plate and microwave in 10-second intervals while rotating the butter each time. This method seems to be the most popular, but there’s a price to pay with such a speedy method. Microwaving your butter will soften in some spots, melt others, and have no change in other areas. It’s wildly inconsistent, but hey, if it works, it works.

Microwaves can turn into a melted mess quickly!

4. Cup Steam

Fill a large microwaveable cup with water and microwave on high for 1 minute. Pour out the water and use the cup to cover the butter. Allow the butter to steam for 5 minutes. One caveat about this method is the outside may be the perfect temperature, but the core is still cold, and after 5 minutes, the cup is no longer hot enough to soften the rest of the stick.

5. Pound

If you have some unresolved anger, we recommend this method. Just place butter in the center of parchment paper or plastic and wrap it loosely. Grab a rolling pin and pound, pound, pound. The force will flatten the butter and allow it to soften faster. This method is great, especially when making croissants.

6. Knead

We love this method because it’s the most fun and hands-on. Using clean, dry hands, gently knead the butter on a clean, dry surface until it’s pliable. The warm temperature of your hands will gradually increase the temperature of the butter. The unfortunate news is that it’s also the messiest. The price to pay for an enjoyable experience.

Kneading is fun, but also one of the messier options.

7. Body Temperature

Just like kneading, this method uses your body’s heat to soften butter. Just place the wrapped, cold stick under your shirt and secure it under your waistband. Allow the butter to soften for a few minutes. Forewarning, though, your body will be shocked by the cold stick touching your warm skin.

So, there you have it! Our favorite tips and tricks to soften your butter in no time. If you have more questions about softened butter, like why butter temperature matters and how to know when your butter is at the right temperature, we recommend reading our extensive article on everything you need to know about creaming butter and sugar.

How to Cream Butter and Sugar Properly

A how-to guide to upgrading your baked goods with this simple yet critical technique.

You don’t have to be a professional baker to understand that creaming butter and sugar can make or break your recipes. Without creaming, your cakes will never rise to their full potential. Beating together softened butter and sugar is why your cakes puff up beautifully. It also determines whether a cookie is flat and chewy or more cake-like. So if you’re looking to upgrade your baked goods, It’s time to master this critical technique.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Hibiscus Frosting

Creaming butter and sugar is usually the first step in cake recipes. “Creaming” refers to beating softened butter and sugar until the sugar dissolves, creating tiny air pockets in the batter. Once baked, these pockets of trapped air expand and puff up cakes, create texture, and provide structure. While using a stand or hand mixer is easiest, you can certainly do this with common kitchen tools if you’ve got arms of steel.

How do I know my butter is at the right temperature?

Recipes will either say softened or room temperature when referring to creaming. Those two words are used interchangeably for this method. While room temperature usually refers to the average 73℉ home, the ideal butter temperature for creaming is between 60-65℉. You’ll know it’s the right temperature when it feels slightly chilled and your finger leaves an indentation when pressed but doesn’t push through the butter quickly. If you forgot to take your butter out of the fridge beforehand, don’t fret. We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve that can help you soften butter quickly!

How to Cream Butter and Sugar:

Supplies

  • Softened Butter
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer
  • Large mixing bowl

Step 1

Add butter to a large mixing bowl. Beat on low until the butter begins to soften and spread. You can also cut your butter into cubes before beating to help with this process.

Step 2

Pour in the sugar and slowly increase speed to medium (level 6 on a KitchenAid stand mixer).

Step 3

Beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light in color, fluffy, and almost doubled in size. The sugar should also feel mostly dissolved. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure everything beats evenly. Adequately creamed butter can take up to 5-7 minutes, depending on the speed of your mixer.

That’s it! The creaming method doesn’t have to be complicated. With some understanding and patience, your baked goods will thank you for the extra effort. If you still have questions, that’s okay! We’ve got a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about creaming butter and sugar.

Baking Without Eggs–Try These Substitutions!

While eggs are highly nutritious and contain many essential vitamins and minerals, some people cannot eat them.

What does this mean for baking? As we all know, eggs are essential for baking as they provide structure, leavening and add color to our baked goods! Well, for people who can’t consume them, there are many substitutions for eggs in baking, luckily. Substitutions that also contain good amounts of vitamins and micronutrients such as chia seed and flaxseed. Let’s dive into which substitutions are best for baking!

Number one: Flaxseed

Flaxseed is a plant-based food that is all natural, vegan, GF, and can be added to many different meals and foods for extra nutrients. For example, oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, breads, etc. Some people use it as a dietary supplement to increase their nutrient, fiber, and healthy fat intake. All you need to replace 1 egg in a baking recipe is 1 tbsp ground whole flaxseed and 4 tbsps of water. Mix those two ingredients together and allow it to sit for roughly 10 minutes. It turns slightly thick and gooey like a real egg!

Number two: Banana

Bananas are not only delicious but they are also rich in nutrients! Combine that with the wonderful banana-ey flavor and they serve an elevated purpose of egg replacement in baking–who knew?!

Once again, the texture slightly replicates an egg, with 1 mashed banana replacing 1 whole egg in baking recipes.

Number 3: Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a fantastic way of hitting your fiber goals for the day! They’re a great addition to yogurts and salads. Quite similar to flaxseed; chia seeds are really easy to add to many dishes and they’re also nutrient-rich as well! Essentially the same as flaxseed, you can create 1 egg by mixing 1 tbsp of chia seeds with 4 tbsps of water and waiting for several minutes before adding to your recipe.

Number 4: Aquafaba

What is aquafaba you say?! It’s actually the leftover liquid/brine from soaking chickpeas in water. Sounds kind of weird– but trust us, it’s amazing for baking! You can whip it up into meringues, pavlovas, make ice cream, use it to replace eggs in different baked goods, muffins & pancakes, etc. Replicate 1 egg by using 3 tbsp of the liquid. Lightly whisk to aerate the chickpea brine before using.

Happy eggless baking! 

Everything You Need to Know About Creaming Butter and Sugar

Answers to the most common questions about creaming butter and sugar

Your cakes ended up dense and flat, but you have no idea why. You looked back on the recipe and did everything correctly, or so you thought. If the recipe said to cream butter and sugar, it’s most likely that the butter wasn’t creamed correctly. So, how do you cream butter and sugar the right way?

When a recipe says to cream butter and sugar, it’s telling you to quickly combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You do this by mixing softened butter and sugar with a stand or hand mixer at a moderately high speed. As the two ingredients whip together, the sugar starts to dissolve, creating tiny air pockets within the butter. These tiny bubbles of trapped air puff up cakes and other baked goods, creating lighter, fluffier, and moister desserts.

Creaming butter and sugar is an essential technique to master, especially when the recipe doesn’t contain any other form of leavener like baking soda or baking powder. It sounds like a simple task, but many factors can determine how well you’ve aerated your butter. So let’s get into the details.

Does the temperature of my butter matter?

The temperature of your butter is critical when creaming butter and sugar. Too cold, and your sugar won’t properly dissolve into your butter. Too hot, and your cakes will end up flat and greasy. The magical temperature of softened butter is actually around 65℉, slightly cooler than the ambient temperature of your home. When a recipe says to have butter at room temperature, they mean between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything more or less than that, you start teetering on the side of possible disaster. You know your butter is at the right temperature when it’s slightly cool to the touch, and you can press an indentation with your finger without quickly going through it.

I forgot to take my butter out of my fridge!

You start making a recipe and realize your butter is too cold. What are you supposed to do? No worries, we’ve got some great tips on how to soften your butter quickly.

  1. You could leave your butter on the countertop for one hour if you have the time.
  2. You can place your butter between two sheets of wax or parchment paper. Then, press down on the butter with a rolling pin and roll it out once it softens.
  3. You could grate your cold butter, making it easier to get to room temperature. Be careful, though; it can melt this way quickly.
  4. You can pour boiling water into a cup and wait a few minutes. Then, dump the water and place the warm cup over your butter until it’s at the proper temperature.

Do I use salted or unsalted butter?

Salted vs. unsalted butter doesn’t change the effect of the creaming method. However, it does affect your baked goods’ final level of saltiness. Professional bakers always recommend using unsalted butter, so you have more control. If a recipe doesn’t specify, it’s most likely unsalted. You can reduce the amount of added salt in a recipe if all you have is salted butter.

Can I use any other fat other than butter?

The short answer is yes! You can undoubtedly use shortening, lard, or other fats. But, keep in mind that temperature is still critical. Other fats are also better or worse at trapping air which can result in different levels of texture in your final baked goods. Our suggestion is to experiment and have fun with it. Find which fat you prefer!

Does the type of sugar affect the final bake?

Yes, the type of sugar you decide to use will affect the final bake. The size of the crystals determines the amount and size of the air pockets it creates. Superfine sugar is perfect for cakes that call for a delicate texture. Granulated sugar seems to be the standard in most recipes, so that’s what we suggest. But castor and brown sugar also work well for this method. The only thing we don’t recommend using is powdered sugar.

Do I need to use a stand mixer?

You could certainly cream butter and sugar without a stand mixer. It will take a good amount of elbow grease, though. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer will work just as well. If you don’t have either of those, that’s okay! Here’s how to cream butter and sugar using common kitchen tools:

  1. Add your softened butter and sugar to a bowl.
  2. Gently mash the butter with a fork until mostly combined.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, mix until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of a bowl with a spatula as needed.

Do I cream butter and sugar for the same amount of time for cookies?

Ultimately, that’s up to you. The amount of creaming you do will determine the final texture. Creaming butter for longer will result in more cake-like cookies, whereas creaming butter for a shorter period will create a flatter, chewier cookie. Of course, both cookies are lovely in their own means, so it really depends on what you’re going for. That said, when baking a cake, we recommend creaming for a full seven minutes.

How do I know I’ve creamed my butter and sugar long enough?

Butter goes through phases when in the process of being creamed. It will go from dark yellow and grainy to very light yellow, fluffy, and the sugar will feel mostly dissolved. It’s better to know what stage you’re in vs. the amount of time you’ve spent creaming. This is because your mixer’s speed and the butter’s temperature will whip at different rates. Here’s how to tell what stage you’re in and the average time it takes to reach each one:

Phase 1 (1-2 minutes)
Dark Yellow
Grainy
Dry Sand

Phase 2 (3-4 minutes)
Slightly lighter in color
Grainy
Wet Sand

Phase 3 (5-6 minutes)
Light yellow
Fluffy
Slightly grainy

Phase 4 (7-8 minutes)
Very light yellow
Extra fluffy
Sugar will feel mostly dissolved

Can you over cream your butter?

You sure can! You know you’ve gone too far when your butter surpasses the fourth phase and splits back into a grainy texture. If you’ve reached that far, you can add ground cinnamon and use that as a spread for toast or pancakes. Then, start over using new butter and sugar before continuing with your recipe.

Long story short, creaming butter is an essential technique every scratch baker should know. Convert your dense, flat cakes to moist, well-risen, professional-grade delicacies! All it takes is the right temperature, a little bit of patience, and some knowledge. Let us know how creaming butter and sugar has helped your baking!

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