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I just used the rolling pin method. Worked like a charm. Thank you.
I use microwave on full power = 8 seconds, turn 8 seconds. Comes out perfectly and not melted in center.
Thanks for the microwave tip!
You mentioned that you can put the butter in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds but failed to add that the power level should only be 10 to 30 percent.
Hello Roboto, microwaving butter to soften it is not a method I recommend.
I haven’t read all the comments, so apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I just take the cold butter, hold the cube in its wrapping paper, and grate it on a box grater. Done.
I don’t remember where I learned this one but it works. Unwrap the butter and lay it on a saucer. Get a drinking glass or a mug and fill it with hot water then set it over the butter. Leave it for about five minutes. The heat will soften, but not melt the butter
You forgot to mention to empty the glass, then set the glass over the butter. It’ll soften better like that!
Last December my friend came over to my house to bake holiday cookies with
me. I had forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge to soften, and, as it had been in the freezer until a couple
of hours earlier, it was very hard. My friend, who had been to a culinary college, said not to worry. She unpeeled the sticks of butter and, using my Oxo Y-peeler, shaved of thin
curls of butter the length of the sticks into a bowl, and, after sitting at room temperature for 20 minutes more, they creamed quickly and easily.
If you use the microwave to soften butter, and it gets too soft, take several ice cubes and push them through the butter with a fork. The cold from the ice will harden the butter; you can add more cubes if needed. The water separates naturally from the butterfat. After the butter is the consistency you need, pour off the water and use the softened butter.
I couldn’t find my rolling pin or wax paper so I settled on a new strategy. Take a large plate and a stick of butter, still wrapped, on the plate. Peel the wrapping off and flatten the wrapping out onto the plate. Then take a butter knife and slice the butter into several pieces, until your entire stick is all sliced up. Place all the pieces onto the wrapping so that they won’t stick to your plate. Now wait a little bit (30mins, an hour?) and you should have relatively quick softened butter!
Great tip. I’ve ruined so many recipes by microwaving butter…it’s impossible to avoid overheating. It only took a minute to get two sticks softened using your method. Thanks!
Saved my life. I was starting to make lemon snowbars and needed to cut in softened butter. Only had about an hour to be completely done (just invited a guest for dinner). So – ran to the computer, googled softening butter, and came here first (thought I should use the microwave). I didn’t believe this would work but it sounded fast so tried it. Took the butter out of the fridge, ripped off 2 pieces of wax paper, and with my wooden rolling pin (not with the stockinette sleeve), I smashed the butter into submission – pushed and rolled like pie crust but *way* harder. Then measured out the flour and conf. sugar and put the flat butter on top, turning it over a couple of times to coat it. Then left it while I broke the eggs and juiced the lemon. We’re talking just a couple minutes altogether. Then got my two knives (like using them best) and cut in that butter. Worked wonderfully well. Went on to complete the snowbars, baked and on the rack, in under an hour. Now I’m stealing 2 more minutes to tell you THANKS!!!
Once again Elise came through again — a perfect tip and it worked like a charm. We were able to have cookies in a hurry without remembering to soften the butter. I did cut the sticks in 1/2 lengthwise (as suggested from others) and I do think this made it easier.
This tip is great! I’ve done it with foil as well, we ran out of wax paper. It worked fine with the foil, although I had to be careful not to rip it. Thanks for the tip!
After learning this method of softening butter I was so excited I couldn’t wait to share it with my daughter, only to find out she was softening butter on the counter for a new dessert recipe that evening. She was excited to try it out! Works great!!!
Thank you so much for this tip. I have used it numerous times and think it is the best baking tip I have ever received.
I never thought this would really work, but I tried it anyway. And to my surprise it worked! In fact, it worked perfectly. I’m not a good baker and an even worse planner so this tip will save me many, many times in the future. My children will thank you because now we’ll actually be able to make cookies and treats at our house!! Thank you!
Interesting tip! I will try this next time I bake. I’ve tried melting butter for recipes that call for softened butter before, and the texture was markedly different when I actually took the time to use softened butter instead. While I usually do what one commenter said – namely, leaving the butter (in a glass bowl) on the stove to soften as the oven preheats – it’s always good to have more than one way to get soft butter besides that. Two questions: first, would you recommend a wooden or synthetic rolling pin, and second, is there proof that leaving butter out all the time (before it becomes “rancid,” a time window that I don’t know about because I’ve never really thought about it before) is sanitary?
The second question is because my mom always says that it’s bad to leave butter out all the time, but she remembers “back in the old days” when her grandmother always left butter out (probably in one of those cute little crocks you linked to!).
Great questions. First on the rolling pin, since you are putting the butter between layers of wax paper, it makes absolutely no difference. You can even use a wine bottle. Second, fat is a preservative. Butter will eventually get rancid, left out or even in the fridge. When I was living alone and rarely eating butter, I would just keep a stick in the freezer. When we leave butter out, it is in a closed ceramic container, otherwise it may attract bugs and absorb odors. ~Elise
Elise, I had to use method this morning (April 11) for my Easter lamb cakes! I remembered your post and did a search for it. Merci!
Thinning it out and working it allows the cold butter to absorb more heat from the surrounding air, expanding its molecular structure.
Yay refrigeration theory applied to cooking!
I am a professional pastry chef so when I saw the tip about rolling butter to soften it I was very anxious to try it. I tried with standard unsalted butter. It did not work. All I was left with was hard flat butter! I tried on another occasion with salted butter and it did not work.
Not sure how others get this tip to work. I myself am convinced that the only ways to get soften butter is by either time or heat.
For home bakers why not put the hard butter in a metal pan and place it on the back of your stove where the oven vent is, that way as the oven starts preheating (which should the very first thing thing you do when baking) the butter is softening from the heat.
Hi Lee, once you roll it out, it will soften very quickly, much more quickly than if you just left the whole stick out at room temperature, because of the greatly increased surface area. Sort of like rolling out pie dough. Even if you are working with cold butter, that dough will soften very quickly once rolled out because the butter softens. ~Elise
I just slice the stick, as thin as my patience allows, and it’s perfectly soft by the time I have all the other ingredients measured (mise en place). I should add that I slice it longwise, so there’s only about an inch of slicing to do as opposed to 5 inches crosswise.
It’s the greenest way to go: doesn’t use any electricity and there’s no tree-felling involved either!