Soften, in cooking terms, means to make something less hard. Soften is different from melt, which means to make a solid into a liquid. The softened item may melt a little, but it still retains its solid state.
Difficulty to learn: Easy
Some Thoughts For You:
Some of the most common food items to soften are butter and brown sugar. A recipe calls for a softened item when melting would be too severe, or the food is too solid to mix with the other ingredients.
Typically, softened butter is used since when it is mixed with other ingredients air bubbles are created. This allows for fluffy cookies, cake, and frosting.
Brown sugar might be softened since it tends to clump in storage, making precise measurements and mixing more difficult.
What You Will Need:
The items required in order to soften something will vary depending on your ingredients and methodology.
Typical ways to soften butter involve:
- Briefly using a microwave.
- Leaving wrapped butter in a bowl of warm water.
- Simply leaving the butter on the counter for a few hours.
A suggested way to soften brown sugar is placing a damp paper towel over your brown sugar, and then microwaving it for 10 second intervals until it is sufficiently softened.
The following steps are for softening solid butter.
- Obtain the required amount of butter and place it onto a plate.
- Cut the butter into smaller chunks. Smaller chunks of butter will allow for more rapid softening.
- Fill a bowl with a few cups of hot water from the stove or sink.
- Place the butter into a plastic container (or other small container that floats) and carefully place it into the bowl of warm water.
- Keep an eye on the butter to make sure it just softens and does not melt.
Alternatively, you can place the butter on a microwave safe plate and warm it for a few seconds at a time in the microwave. This method is more finicky, since a few seconds too long in the microwave could lead to melted butter.
Tips For You:
- Properly softened butter will still hold the original shape, but when you press a finger into it there will be an impression left over. Overly softened/melted butter will be runny and will change form with even a gentle touch.
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