I’ve never done a ‘how to’ post before – I’ve never had anything that I thought I was good enough at that I would feel comfortable setting myself up as an expert at it. That said, I’m sure there are things that I take for granted that other people find baffling, I just need to find out what they are…
Today is different. This is officially a Top Tip, even though that phrase is dreadfully overused. A Premium Pointer maybe? A Heroic Hint? Anyway, here is the story… I often have a problem with softening butter, in that I always forget to take it out of the fridge in the morning and then have neither time nor patience required for it to come to room temperature before I bake with it. What inevitably happens then is that I put it in the microwave ‘just for five seconds’ and promptly forget about it and leave it until it’s half melted and too soft to work with. From rock hard to marshmallow soft, great. That’s what I usually say to the microwave: ‘oh that’s just GREAT’. Poor microwave, I know it’s not its fault.
This happened to me yet again lately, but this time I had a great idea – better than either just using it soft or putting it in the fridge for just the right amount of time so that it hardens enough to use but not to the same temperature as it was in the first place. I had the idea of putting the butter in my stand mixer with some ice cubes and mixing them round, in the hope that the ice cubes would bring the butter together again. Guess what? It worked! I was so smug for the rest of that evening, I put it on my Twitter and everything.
For those of you who doubt, here is a before and after – I had the same problem again about a week ago and I recorded it for blogging.
Here is the over-softened butter; you can see some of it is completely melted, round the bottom, and the big dent in the middle is where I pressed on it with my thumb, to see how bad the situation was. The situation was that when I pressed it with my thumb the whole lot collapsed and I was covered in butter.
Here is the butter after I’d stirred it round with six ice cubes for just one or two minutes. This time, when I pressed my thumb into the centre, it just left a dent. There is no longer any melted butter in the bowl, and I could pat it back into a block easily. It’s a tiny dairy miracle.
CAUTION: You can either do this in a stand mixer, which has a cover over the bowl, or you can do it by hand with a spatula. Both methods work. What you can’t do is mix the butter and ice cubes round in a bowl with a hand held mixer. If you try this, you will be hit in the face by a high speed buttery ice cube.
The butter, once cooled and rehardened enough, does not stick to the ice cubes so you can fish them out easily. I probably wouldn’t go so far as to put them in your drink afterwards. If you’re going to try it, try it with someone else’s drink first.
There is no butter on those ice cubes. The same can not be said of the plate, or the spatula. Or my face.
I hope someone finds this a helpful tip, I’ll probably use it again and again, as my issues with forgetting to take the butter first out of the fridge, then out of the microwave continue. It’s good to know that there is a backup plan.