This weekend my toddler requested pancakes, and I was happy to oblige. Most of the time parenting feels like taking a wild guess on a multiple-choice exam I haven't studied for and hoping to land on the right answer by luck. But pancakes I can handle. I can even make shapes. (Mickey Mouse is a shape.)
One adorable, Norman Rockwell-esque nostalgic childhood memory coming right up, kid, I thought.
Everything was going just fine until I tried to butter the pancake. The butter was too cold, and it tore a hole right in the pancake when I tried to spread it. My life flashed before my eyes. An adult would just pat the butter back into place and shrug it off, figuring the pancake would wind up in their stomach anyway.
But if you catch a small child at the wrong time — say, before they've eaten breakfast —you could be facing a full-on toddler meltdown because you "broke" the pancake. And there's no way to rectify the situation without physically traveling back in time to leave the butter out to soften for a few hours before breakfast.
A New Trick for Softening Your Butter Faster Isn't Really That Fast
Too-cold butter is frustrating and terrible at the best of times, and that's why the internet is full of tips and "hacks" for softening butter quickly. One that is going viral this week — unfortunately too late for me and my pancake, but maybe in time to save someone else — involves putting the butter under a hot drinking glass for a few minutes, and it seems like the sort of thing that should work.
According to Delish, the trick is to fill a drinking glass with hot water for a few minutes, then pour out the water and set the glass upside down over the butter for a few minutes; it's like a little butter sauna. I decided to give it a try.
Honestly, it's pretty annoying as "hacks" go. I boiled some water in my electric kettle and filled up a water glass. I let it sit for three minutes, then poured out the water. The glass was hot enough to burn my fingers, which I did not appreciate, but I figured it would help warm up the butter, so I set the glass over an ice-cold chunk of butter and set it aside to wait.
After about four minutes, I took the glass off and poked the butter to see what had happened. It was a bit softer, although still pretty cold in the center. It was nice and soft around the edges, where the butter was closest to the sides of the glass, but the middle 2/3 of the butter was still slightly colder than ideal for buttering a piece of bread. Or a pancake.
I cut the soft edges off and used them, and it worked pretty well. But this trick took 10 minutes and only gave me enough soft butter to coat one slice of bread, which does not seem like a very efficient "hack" for softening butter quickly.
For the future, I think I'm just going to start leaving a few days' worth of butter out on the counter in a covered crock. That's safe for a few days, and it means the butter will always be nice and spreadable whenever I want it, with no burned fingers or broken pancakes involved.
Do you have a trick for getting your butter to optimal softness?