By Preston Smith/Aug. 31, 2021 6:53 pm EDT
Here’s the thing about baking: It’s great for your brain health! Baking is science; it gives you a sense of accomplishment and, if you get really good at it, it’s delicious. What else do you need in life really?
Of course, you might need the right size of eggs and may want to do a little bit of research before you head into the kitchen to ensure you’re not falling into any common baking missteps. However, once you’ve decided which recipe you’re going to make and it’s finally time to bake, there are a few more things you’re going to need.
Among the key ingredients in baking is softened butter, especially if you’re going to make a butter-based cake or, really, any of a wide variety of desserts, including fresh, warm bread. In either case, it can be hard to remember to set the butter out to soften ahead of baking, or maybe you want to spontaneously bake. In these situations, you need a quick way to soften butter, and we’ve got just the answers you’re looking for.
One method proves there are always new ways to use this appliance
Softened butter is important when baking because it mixes easier. Moreover, the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry explains that “the fat chosen needs to be able to form an emulsion with the other ingredients in the batter or dough.” Butter is the fat and if it’s cold and hard when you use it, your other ingredients — usually sugar — won’t incorporate well.
According to Sally’s Baking Addiction, one easy trick to soften butter (without melting it) is to use steam. For this method, you microwave water for two minutes or until steam has accrued and then you swap the water for your bowl of cut-up butter. You’ll want to keep them in an even layer and to be left alone long enough to soften.
Another easy option, according to Real Simple, is to cut your butter up and set it on a plate and then fill a glass bowl with hot water to let it absorb the heat before dumping the water out and patting the dry bowl’s interior. Then, invert the bowl over the surface, creating a warm tent for the butter to sit under. This pocket of residual heat from the glass bowl will soften your butter without melting it.
Naturally, you can also try directly microwaving your butter. It may give you inconsistent results, but we’ll never tell. If you want a sure-fire path to softened butter, the above two methods will set you right every time.
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