Many baking recipes call for “softened butter”, and although you may be tempted to ignore the “softened” it is actually a crucial part of the baking process. In this video I go over how to bring all your cold ingredients to room temperature, including how to soften butter fast. I also talk about why having your butter not too hard, not too soft, but juuuuuuuuuust right is so important.
Softened butter is required when the recipe has a step called “creaming the butter” where you beat the butter at high speed using a mixer for 3-5 minutes until it has become light and fluffy, like in the image shown below.
What this step is doing is incorporating lots of tiny air bubbles into the butter. These air bubbles will act as a leavening agent during the baking process when they will expand, causing the batter to rise. If your butter is too cold it will be too stiff for air to incorporate into it, and if it’s too soft then the air bubbles won’t stay. That is why having the butter at the right temperature (usually between 65-70°F) is so important, because if this step isn’t done correctly your cake will not rise properly.