Let’s talk how to soften butter! People always seems distraught when they read a recipe and in the ingredients list it says “butter, room temperature” on it. Usually it’s because they’re halfway through making the recipe and they go to reach for the butter and realize it’s still in the fridge (or worse, the freezer). They resort to the dreaded microwave in softening butter (don’t do it, your butter will warm up unevenly and parts might possibly melt). First off, read the entire recipe first. If there’s butter in there and it’s still in the fridge, take it out of the fridge first thing before you start making your baked good. Cut it up into 1/2 inch (or smaller) cubes. By the time you’re ready to use it, it’ll have warmed up enough to be pliable to use. The smaller you cut the cubes, the faster it’ll soften.
Now frozen butter is a different challenge to deal with as it’s usually rock hard and difficult to cut. There are two things you can do. You can either stick the butter (still in the wrapper) in a bowl of warm, but not hot, water and let it gently bring the butter up to the point where you can cut it up and let the room warm it up the rest of the way. I like to keep the butter in the wrapper so I can easily dry, still in the wrapper, with a paper towel around it after it’s warmed up, but if you’re one of those people who don’t like to get their butter wet just throw it in a small thin ziplock bag first before dunking it in the water. Or you can grate the butter using the large holes on the grater, which will bring the it up to room temperature super fast. Grating frozen butter, by the way, is an awesome way to make pie crust super flakey.
If you need to bring eggs to room temperature, check out my other Kitchen Tip for that dilemma!