We keep our house cold in the winter. We have oil heat and that gets expensive really quickly. The wood stove in the living room helps a lot, but our house is still significantly colder than what most people would consider normal.
So what does this have to do with baking? Well, it’s impossible for me to soften butter in the winter.
For years, I just forged ahead and used my stand mixer to beat the crap out of it, but I know that’s not really ideal. Sometimes I would try placing it near a burner on the stove and hope I remembered to rotate it so it didn’t melt. My most recent attempts involved balancing sticks of butter on the hooves above the wood stove. This definitely worked, but it meant that I could only bake on days that we had a fire going.
And then I found the best baking tip ever.
Place your butter in a zip lock bag. Put your bag of butter in a bowl. Fill the bowl with hot tap water. Wait roughly 5 minutes, flipping the butter over halfway through.
Perfectly softened butter every single time.
I’m not exactly sure where I read this tip. It’s one of those things I read about a long time ago and never tried, but managed to keep it filed away in the back of my mind. This saved my butt during my holiday baking extravaganza and has now become my best baking tip ever for all of us slackers that never want to soften butter properly.