Image: Katelyn Williams
It happens to all of us. You want to bake, but the butter or margarine has been in the fridge and now it’s so hard you can use it as a weapon. Usually, one of two things happen; you leave it on the counter and watch it soften for what feels like a million years, or risk it all and stick it in the microwave but end up with a melted puddle.
After many years of baking (and watching butter soften), I’ve got a few tricks that REALLY work. These are my favourites:
1. Grate it
Get out that cheese grater and grate the butter onto a plate. The smaller pieces will soften quicker. Then simply whack the grated butter into your electric mixer and give it a good beating until it’s soft.
2. Microwave the sugar
This is an ingenious method that works every time – as long as you’re using the creaming method. Weigh out the sugar you’re going to use then zap it in the microwave on high for 20-30 seconds until it’s warm to the touch (not hot). Then add it to your cold butter in the electric mixer and cream as usual.
3. Use your microwave’s defrost setting
Set the microwave on defrost and select the weight of your butter (eg. 100g) then nuke it for 5 seconds at a time, flipping the butter over as you go until it’s soft. Works like a charm!
4. Beat it
If you’re looking to release a little tension, this is the perfect stress release. Place the unwrapped butter on a clean work surface and whack it with a rolling pin to break up the pieces. Fold the butter over and continue to whack. Repeat this until it’s pliable then flatten it out and leave it for 5 minutes to come to room temperature.
Which method do you use? Let us know in the comments section below!
(image: iStock) Short answer? Yes! Sugar is essential for baking; not only does it makes things taste delicious, but it goes through many amazing chemical reactions to give us fluffy cakes, chewy biscuits or light-as-air crisp meringue!