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Should I microwave my butter to soften them?

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pangrumboon Sep 29, 2012 11:25 PM

I have been doing a lot of baking recently, but I have never been able to leave the butter to soften on its own. So i use butter from the fridge, measure it then microwave it for about 7 seconds, or until it is soft. Sometimes the bottoms starts to melt a little. Does microwaving the butter effect my "bake goods"? I have heard that it ruins the texture, which I have been having problems with lately. Should I just try to leave it outside the fridge next time? Thankyou

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  1. Hank Hanover Sep 30, 2012 12:01 AM

    I don't do a lot of baking but I soften my butter in the microwave all the time. I don't get it liquified on 1 side either. I put a wrapped stick of butter from the fridge into the microwave at 12 seconds on power level 3 then I flip the butter to the opposite side and give it another 12 seconds on level 3. That should be pretty close. If it is a little harder than you wish leave it on the counter for 2-3 minutes.

    1. Ruthie789 Sep 30, 2012 04:29 AM

      I zap mine all the time using the lowest setting on my microwave in and verifying in 20 second increments and as well turning it. It's one of the few uses I have for a microwave.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruthie789
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        Liz K Sep 30, 2012 05:28 AM

        That's my method, too.

      2. roxlet Sep 30, 2012 04:58 AM

        In a pinch, I will microwave butter. I put the butter in at regular high power, and flip every 5 seconds. It works very well. However, when I am baking and I haven't taken my butter out in enough time for it to get soft, I will frequently cut it into very small pats, and put it in the bowl while I am getting my other ingredients ready. It usually softens perfectly in a very short amount of time.

        1. hotoynoodle Sep 30, 2012 06:16 AM

          "but I have never been able to leave the butter to soften on its own. "

          ~~~~~~~

          why not? butter keeps perfectly well at room temp for a long time. as long as your house isn't 90 degrees. :) i don't have mw at my own house, so once the weather cools, i pretty much just always leave my butter out. my b/f who does have one, keeps his butter out too.

          4 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle
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            pine time Sep 30, 2012 08:42 AM

            I leave out a stick of butter most of the time, too, but just recently, had some mold develop on it. Anyone ever heard of such a thing?
            If for some reason I don't have room temp butter ready for baking (or hot toast), I'll nuke it on the defrost setting in the microwave or grate it on the large holes of a box grater.

            1. re: pine time
              v
              vstock Sep 30, 2012 12:14 PM

              Once a while back I had a stick turn, but you can smell it and I attributed it to a knife that someone stuck in it. I have left my butter at room temp forever, as do my parents and gp. This was the first off stick. I live in TX here it is warmer.

              1. re: vstock
                p
                pine time Sep 30, 2012 12:32 PM

                Okay, makes some sense, 'cause it did smell off (however I didn't smell it until I put a big pat on some steamed veggies and then later saw the mold), plus it's 999 degrees in So. Cal. right now. thanks.

            2. re: hotoynoodle
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              pangrumboon Sep 30, 2012 07:37 PM

              Thankyou for your reply! I live in Thailand and the weather is very hot and humid here plus i always forget to leave it out of the fridge!

            3. greygarious Sep 30, 2012 09:01 AM

              If it's partially melted, that's too much for using in recipes where you cream the butter and sugar.
              It's best to leave the butter at room temp long enough to soften on its own. If you are going to microwave it, first cut it into small pats or cubes, and arrange in a ring on a plate or in a bowl.
              Using low power, it should not take more than 15 seconds. Another option is to take the paper-wrapped stick of butter from the fridge, place it in a baggie or wrap tightly in foil, and submerge in tepid water, weighing it down, until it is soft.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greygarious
                ipsedixit Sep 30, 2012 10:54 AM

                +∞

              2. trolley Sep 30, 2012 09:07 AM

                the quickest way to get room temp butter is to cut the butter into very thin pieces. i would never microwave it since it melts too quickly that way. it takes longer for butter to solidify than it is to soften.

                1 Reply
                1. re: trolley
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                  pangrumboon Sep 30, 2012 07:39 PM

                  I tried your method, but i grated the butter instead of cutting it. It works like a charm! Thankyou !

                2. todao Sep 30, 2012 09:18 AM

                  In terms of quantity, there is no difference between melted butter, softened butter or solid butter. Baking recipes are usually developed based upon relative weights of ingredients, then converted to measurements that home cooks are more familiar with (cups, tablespoons, etc.).
                  However, when baking, whether the butter is solid (at or near room temperature) can make a difference. In a dough, butter is often used as a coating for the flour to retard the development of gluten or, in other recipes, to provide a lighter texture (e.g. biscuits) by separating flour particles from one another during the baking process. In a batter, the butter is expected to blend into the mixture so softened butter works better, melted butter than has been cooled sometimes works even better.
                  Short answer, there is no reason why you can't soften butter in the microwave. It doesn't change anything but the consistency of the butter. How you use it after it's softened/melted is where the difference has an affect.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: todao
                    todao Sep 30, 2012 01:25 PM

                    Neglected to add that, if you're creaming butter, you don't want any portion of it to be melted. Melted butter cannot hold onto the sugar and form the air bubbles needed for an airy mixture.
                    It should be at "room temperature" or cool to the touch but not cold. You can cream butter that is not quite yet at room temperature but it's somewhat stiff and stubborn in the beginning

                  2. m
                    maxie Sep 30, 2012 10:53 AM

                    From the NY Times/Julia Moskin
                    "The best way to get frozen or refrigerated butter ready for creaming is to cut it into chunks. (Never use a microwave: it will melt it, even though it will look solid.) When the butter is still cold, but takes the imprint of a finger when gently pressed, it is ready to be creamed."

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