Bringing butter to room temperature quickly is the bane of my baking existence. It's no secret that in the world of food, baking isn't my first love anyway. There's so much science behind baking and being exact with measurements and timing, well, isn't really my specialty. A pinch of this and a little-bit-o-that is the kinda gal I am.
Topping the list of my baking woes? Bringing butter to room temp. Friends of mine will tell you that when it comes to some things in life, I'm super planner. Travel planning? Check. Schedule planning for school, by semester? Check. Planning my sleeping-in routine (or lack thereof) on the weekends? Check. Planning to take butter out of the fridge hours before I'll be using it? Big fail.
First thing's first - go get the butter out of the fridge (or freezer). Do it right now. Don't procrastinate - that's what got us into this mess in the first place!
Next - and this is easy - cut it up. Yep, just hack away at it. It may seem easier to just pop it in the microwave for 5 or 10 seconds at a time while keeping an eye on it. Don't do that! In most baking applications that call for room temperature (but not melted) butter, there is a reason for the texture clarification. Trust me, I've learned this the hard way a BUNCH of times!
How you cut it doesn't really matter. Size, shape, no matter. I cut it in half lengthwise. Then I cut those two halves in half, lengthwise again. Then I line all four of those pieces up and just cut them into little squares.
Spread the butter out! I know we all love warm fuzzies and snuggling up next to our neighbor, but butter doesn't deserve the warm fuzzy treatment at a moment like this. If you leave it in a big pile, it's just about as good as not cutting it up to begin with. Cutting it up AND separating it allows air to circulate around a larger surface area of butter, which brings it to ambient temperature faster.
There you have it. It's really that easy. Just remember one thing: When I say you're bringing butter up to room temp faster, I mean exactly that - faster, not "fast". There will be some waiting time still, but this will cut it down. I'm usually ready to bake in a half hour or less, which gives me plenty of time to prep the rest of my stuff and then be on my baking way.
Happy Buttering! Errrr, I mean Happy Baking! I'm not Paula Deen, I promise.