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How To Soften Butter In The Microwave

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Can you soften butter in microwave without melting? Whether you use soft butter for spreading on bread or need softened butter for a baking recipe, achieve the results you are looking for by following the ultimate guide to microwave butter so you can reduce meal prep time. 

Butter is made of butterfat, water and milk solids. When the butter is cold, the soft globules harden into a thick paste, but when the butter warms, it becomes softer and the crystalized fat becomes spreadable. 

To soften butter in the microwave, place the butter on a microwave-safe dish and microwave on low power for 15 seconds. Check the consistency of the butter and repeat with 10 second increments if necessary. 

Butter become spreadable and starts getting soft at 68 degrees degrees Fahrenheit. The microwave timing will vary depending on amount of butter, microwave wattage and how cold the butter is to start with. 

Is there a difference between melted butter and softened butter?

Depend on recipe you are working on, it may require using melted butter or softened butter. Each create different texture and technique on baking, therefore the specific type of butter is required to achieve accurate end results.

Melted butter behaves very differently from softened butter because both the crystalline fats and the softened fats are completely liquified.

In the baking world, softened butter creates tenderness in cookies and muffins. On the other side, melted butter is great for brownies and cakes. Because melted butter has already released much of its water content, the baked crumb is soft and dense. 

Softened butter also  works best for creaming butter and sugar together. The globules of soft fat molecules trap the air.

As a result, the air pockets inflate with carbon dioxide gas from the baking soda or powder when the batter bakes. Baked goods will have airiness, elevated height and lightness in the crumb. 

Melted butter behaves differently than soften butter. The fats are completely in liquid form, resulting in rich and soft texture in the crumb.

How to tell if butter is softened?

In order to tell if butter is softened and ready to use, simply touch it and look for a soft center mass that still holds its shape. If the butter is still dense and hard, then it has not fully softened.

Take a piece of butter between your thumb and finger, and squeeze it gently or press it with your finger. Soften butter should make an indent and should feel waxy compared to greasy or shiny. 

If the butter is still too cold or hard to press into, continue microwaving slightly longer. But if the butter has no resistance that means it is too soft. 

Put the butter back into the refrigerator for a few minutes if you feel that the softening temperature has been exceeded and the butter is beginning to melt.

Why should you not microwave butter? 

Professional bakers plan ahead and leave butter at room temperature to soften the butter for a couple of hours instead of using a microwave. 

The reason why is because the microwave heats butter in uneven spots, which leaves some parts unmelted and the other side is burned all at the same time. Without adjusting the microwave power level to low, the butter may explode and spark fire. 

Butter explodes in the microwave because there is a heavier water layer beneath the lighter fat layer. As a result, the water turns into steam and gets superheated in the microwave, causing the fats to explode. 

If butter explode in the microwave, then that can lead to a catastrophic fire. The butter sparks because the heat emitted from the magnetron burn the exploded fat particles, which creates sparks that can cause fire.

How long do you put butter in the microwave to soften it?

Depending on the amount, it takes about 15 seconds on 30% power or defrost setting to soften butter in the microwave.

Microwave temperatures can be inconsistent and it’s easy to go from a solid stick to a melted mess when you’re trying to soften the butter. If you use microwave method, use very short time increments and set half power level to find the perfect consistency of softened butter.

How do you soften butter without melting it?

Microwaving butter to soften can be a bit tricky. Without caution, you might end up with melted butter instead of soften butter. 

First, microwave 2 cups of water in a liquid measuring cup for 2 minutes, or until very hot. Cut the butter into ½” cubes so it softens faster. 

Remove the hot water, and place diced butter in a microwave-safe container in the center of the microwave. Close the door and use the residual heat to soften the butter for about 10 minutes.

Watch the butter in the warm microwave to make sure it doesn’t melt. Test the hardness of your butter with your fingers to verify doneness.

Things to know before soften butter in microwave

Take a cold and hard stick of butter to soften in just a few minutes. Transform a staple kitchen ingredient into finger-licking delicious food that your heart desires!

To avoid melting and burning, here are things to know before you soften butter in the microwave: 

  • Put butter in a Ziploc bag or in between two pieces of wax paper and use a rolling pin to flatten the butter. This softens the butter quickly while still keeping it cool.
  • Cut the butter into smaller chunks to soften much quicker than nuking the whole stick.
  • Grating butter with the large holes of a cheese grater once it directly came out out of the fridge or freezer. 
  • For large amount of butter, use larger bowl and spread out the chunks of butter to speed up the softening process.
  • Use a low power level or defrost setting to safely soften butter in the microwave without melting. 

To soften butter in the microwave, place the butter on a microwave-safe dish and nuke for 15 seconds on low power. Check the doneness of the butter by pinching with your fingers, and repeat with 10 second intervals if necessary. 

Softening butter in the microwave seems like a step that could be easily done, but it gets a bit tricky without the right setting and time. If you forgot to take the butter out of the fridge in time to soften at room temperature, then use these microwave tips to speed up your results. 

How to soften butter in the microwave.
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