Baking Tips: How To Soften Butter


This weekend, the ladies in the Warner family attempted to start a tradition of Christmas cookie baking.

Baking Christmas cookies takes a lot of planning and shopping and measuring and mixing and of course, baking (which includes cooling and sometimes rotating, if your oven lacks convection).

My soon-to-be sister-in-law chose to make these Russian Tea Cakes for the first time ever. The recipe calls for a cup of softened butter, but because we were making 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen, we needed a cup and a half of softened butter (that’s a lot). And although I am  horrible baker, she asked me a question I could actually answer:

How do you soften butter without melting it?

Because of our early morning start, the butter I brought to my mom’s was still refrigerator-hard. So we needed to intercede.

Perhaps your experience with softening butter in the microwave involves you — nose pressed up against the glass — nuking the flavorful fat ingredient in short intervals and praying it doesn’t melt.


Softening gone wrong

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.

softened butter

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

To soften our cup and a half of butter, we microwaved each stick for a minute a piece at 10% power.

Based on your microwave, you might want to amp up to 20% and adjust the time or even use the defrost setting (which is 30% power).

Later, we also adjusted our microwave power to soften cream cheese for Peanut Butter Balls (which are amazing, by the way).

Microwave power levels can also come in handy for reheating foods, I’ve found. Foods like pizza and French fries revive less soggier when microwaved longer at lower power.

Try it out!

Share your tried and true baking tips in the comments section below. 

GE Cafe range: pro-style range at home cook price

I visited this summer with a homeowner on the upcoming AIA Homes By Architects Tour who loved to cook. Wolf Range makes the go-to cook’s range, but she hated the way it looked.

She loved the look of the GE Cafe dual fuel range, which also happens to be quite a bit more affordable, at $2799. It’s worth taking a look at, due to its professional styling and features:

  • Dual fuel means  combines the precise temperature control of gas on the stove top and even heating of electric in the oven
  • Convection system promises even air and heat circulation, plus it converts temperatures for you automatically.
  • Super big (5 cubic foot) oven cavity with meat probe, ideal for large roasts and — since it has convection — multiple racks of dishes
  • PowerBoil 18,000 BTU gas burner means water boils really quick, plus high heat for more professional-style cooking

Convection oven baking tips

.christmas snowflake food

It's cookie season. Do you need to brush up on your convection baking knowledge?


Are you taking full advantage of your convection oven (if you don’t know what that is, read What is convection?)?

You probably already know to decrease your oven temperature 25 degrees and decrease the bake time about 25 percent for convection oven vs. conventional oven.

But if you already know how to use convection cooking — and you probably do if you partake in holiday baking and cookie exchanges — I bet you’ll still learn something from Dacor’s convection oven baking tips (PDF).

Also, if if your convection oven cooking times seem to be longer now than when you first bought your convection oven, perhaps you need to clean your convection filter.

In a convection oven, the fan draws air through the filter. So especially if you do a lot of roasting,  grease particles will stick to the filter and could obstruct the airflow. Check your use and care manual for instructions on how to clean your filter. Some, like Dacor convection oven filter, are dishwasher safe.

Cook to Perfection with a Convection Oven

Have you ever baked a tray of muffins and noticed that one half of the tray was done to perfection while the other half was slightly underdone? Have you ever attempted to bake multiple sheets of cookies and been frustrated with the results from one of the pans? What about that Thanksgiving turkey that turned out so dry you swore next year you’d skip it and get takeout?

If you’ve experienced any of the above situations, it may be time for you to enjoy the benefits of a convection oven.

What Is A Convection Oven?

A convection oven has a fan implanted in the rear of the oven cavity. When in operation, the fan circulates the air so that from side to side, front to back, and top to bottom. As a result, the oven’s temperature is even and consistent throughout. By eliminating natural hot and cool spots, the convection oven yields much more even and consistent baking results. When preparing meats, the convection fan has a tendency to sear skin, trapping juices inside. Not only does this speed up the baking process, but it also traps the juices inside for more moist and more flavorful meats.

Many people think they need to sign up for cooking classes at their community college to figure out their convection oven. But that’s not true. Cooking with convection is incredibly simple. Follow the “25 rule” which states that you reduce your recipe’s cooking time 25 percent and temperature 25 degrees. For those who don’t want to convert, many of today’s ovens offer built-in convection conversion modes. You can also bypass your oven’s convection function and bake traditionally if necessary.

Another misconception about convection ovens is that they are only available in electric. Today, more and more gas ranges are offered with the convection fan. Several ranges wrap a 110-volt heating element around their convection fan, so as to force heat from the back for better multi-rack baking. This feature is sometimes known as “true convection” or “European convection.”

Once upon a time adding convection to your home was very expensive, but today it is more affordable than ever. Browse our ranges to find the right model for your budget and lifestyle.

If your oven is delivering more furrowed brows and frustration than delicious baked goods, stop into Warners’ Stellian today and treat yourself to one of our many convection ovens!