Butter has gone up and down in popularity over time. Its reputation suffered considerably with the health consciousness crazes of the various decades but is undeniably still popular. While its reputation is still somewhat up there one thing it hasn’t been able to overcome is how hard it is to work with especially if you haven’t had lead time to soften it. Knowing how to soften butter quickly is still a sought after skill for the butter enthusiasts. We will take you through ways of softening butter quickly but first, we need to understand butter and why it is so difficult to work with.
Butter is a light yellow coloured dairy product that is made from cow’s milk or cream. It is a high fat (80%) emulsion that is solid at room temperature. It is versatile and used as a spread, as a condiment, an ingredient in baking and cooking. Butter can also be made from the milk of sheep, goats, buffalo and yaks. Butter is made by churning the milk or cream to produce a consistent creamy substance when separated from the buttermilk, water and milk solids. Butter is an emulsion of water in oil which solid but softer at room temperature and achieves melting point at 32 to 35 degrees Celsius. The colour of butter ranges from pale white to bright yellow as colouring is often used in it. Softened butter is often required for spreading and baking purposes as most cooking processes will mix the butter into a hot mixture or melt the butter first. So how can we soften butter quickly?
On The Countertop
The first way you can soften butter quickly is on the kitchen counter. Of the methods available this one will take the longest but conversely requires the least effort from you. Butter will naturally soften at room temperature but perhaps you have a stick or block of butter and you just want it to soften quicker. Take the block or stick of butter and slice it into smaller pieces. The ideal piece of butter for this method should be no more than 1 centimetre thick while being 2.5 centimetres long and 1.5 centimetres wide. Normally at room temperature, a block of butter will take around an hour to become soft through and through but these smaller pieces of butter will take around 15 to 20 minutes to soften. This works great if you want to spread the butter or mix it into some sort of baked recipe. This size of butter piece is ideal when baking and the recipe requires the butter to be folded into a dry ingredient mix.
In a Water Bath
The water bath method will soften your butter a little faster than softening it on the countertop. It will however involve a little more labour than the countertop. For this, you will need a microwave, two glass bowls where one fits completely into the other and water. For this method, you will need about 1 to 2 cups of water and you will place in the larger bowl. Place the bowl with water into the microwave for 2 minutes or until the water is hot. While the water is in the microwave you should take your butter and cut it into smaller pieces. Place the smaller pieces of butter into the smaller bowl. You are aiming for the same sized pieces as in the countertop method for best results. Once the water is hot take it out of the microwave. Place the smaller bowl inside the bigger bowl making sure the water doesn’t overflow. The radiant heat from the hot water will have your butter soft in about 10 minutes and ready to use.
With a Rolling Pin
If the two methods above don’t appeal to you or perhaps are inaccessible you have another option that works pretty well. You can soften butter with a rolling pin and it works very quickly. For best results, you will need a rolling pin, wax paper and a plastic bag such as a freezer bag. This works best if you slice your butter first and lay the pieces of butter flat or close to flat. Place the butter between two sheets of wax or greaseproof paper. Place the paper packaged butter inside your freezer bag. Now take the rolling pin and roll that pin over the butter in small motions as you would when flattening pastry. As you roll your butter will soften very quickly. You should have soft butter in under 10 minutes using this method. While it does involve a bit more labour than the aforementioned methods it is simple and has less of a risk of completely melting your butter as would happen if your water bath has water that is too hot.
The easiest method of softening butter also happens to be the most fun method. You can use the shredding tool on your grater or perhaps you have a standalone shredder that you use for cheese and other things. The method is simple because it doesn’t require you to do anything else to the butter. You can shred from a whole block of butter or cut off the amount you need and shred that. It’s not quite a magic trick to be fair. Cutting butter into smaller pieces helps it soften faster so it is conceivable that shredding it will also help it soften faster.
If you want to soften butter quickly the best idea is shredding it using the large shredder you would normally use for cheese. If you have a little more time and energy you can use a rolling pin or a hot water bath. If the idea of exerting effort doesn’t appeal to you just cut the butter into small pieces and leave on the countertop.