Though it can be a chore under the wrong circumstances, plenty of people find baking and cooking pretty therapeutic.
There are obviously plenty of benefits to cooking for yourself. On the one hand, you can save money by always getting groceries and not eating out. On the other, you’ll often end up using fresher and better ingredients, leading to better health as well. Finally, knowing how to cook won’t hurt with romantic partners, either—who doesn’t want to be cooked a nice meal? Still, baking can be a little more complicated at times than just throwing things in a pan.
Baking takes a little bit of pre-planning… and if you’re not prepared, it can be a hassle.
As it turns out, one of the most important (and frustrating) ingredients in baking is butter.
Butter makes everything taste more rich and feel more soft and fluffy in our mouths, making it an integral part of virtually any recipe. Still, many recipes call for you to change the temperature of the butter depending on the food’s final texture.
In some cases, you need to have soft butter on hand… and you forgot to set it out on the counter. What do you do then? If you microwave it, it might not turn out right. On the other hand, you can’t wait that long to keep baking.
Fortunately, actress Jennifer Garner has an ingenious solution to this all-too-common problem.
Garner revealed one of her secret butter hacks on her Instagram in a recurring segment she calls the “Pretend Cooking Show.”
In it, she lists some of her favorite recipes and takes her audience through how to make them, step-by-step. As she says in her video, her typical plan is to put everything that she’s going to bake with out the night before so it’s ready to go. But in this case, she forgot to do that—and when it came time to use warm butter, she was in a pickle.
Fortunately, she knew exactly what to do.
Instead of trying to microwave it so that it warms up, she pulls out a cheese grater.
After that, she takes her cold butter and she shreds it through the grater, carefully measuring out the amount she needs for the recipe. As she explains, the butter isn’t fully softened but it’ll now be softened enough for the recipe—and she’s right! If you ever forget to warm up your butter, shredding it is a great option for a few reasons.
In some recipes, fully melted butter will actually result in a dough that is flat and not entirely fluffy. On the other hand, cutting in cold butter can be a bit of a pain. By shredding it, you get a happy medium between the cold chunky butter and the more liquid-y warm butter.
We’re definitely going to try this trick for ourselves soon.
On another episode, she tries another butter softening method as well if you have a little more time.
If you forgot to take your butter out of the fridge and you have about 10 minutes to spare, try filling up a tall glass with some very hot water and letting it sit for a few moments. After the glass itself is warm, pour the water out.
Stand your butter upright and put the glass over it. After 10 minutes of that, the ambient heat of the glass should have warmed up the butter enough so that it’s somewhat softened.
For most recipes, this should probably be good enough—just be warned that the middle of the stick may still be a bit firm.
Garner’s butter tips and Instagram show have been having a huge impact, with millions of views each!
Aside from these handy tips, Garner makes all kinds of different recipes at home that she loves to share with the world. In each of the clips, Garner takes inspiration from some of her favorite cooks such as Ina Garten. If you want to see someone having so much fun in the kitchen, you should definitely check out her show.
Thanks for the tip, Jennifer! Check out the full video below:
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This time of year it is extra cozy to send kids to school with something warm in their bellies. My kids feel extra cozy about @realbakingwithrose’s chocolate bread. This recipe isn’t crazy sweet and, with a good swish of peanut butter, is just the thing for my early rising middle schooler. You can find the full episode on IGTV. #PretendCookingShow #bangwentthecabinet #😡😩🤦🏻♀️wentmybrain #hurryupchristmas🤶🏻 . #TheBreadBible Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread Ingredients: 3 Tbs plus 1/2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder 3 Tbs boiling water 1/2 Tbs pure vanilla extract 3 large eggs 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar 3/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 13 Tbs unsalted butter, softened 3 Tbs chocolate mini chips or bittersweet chocolate (chopped) . Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350F. 2. Whisk cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature, then gently whisk in vanilla and eggs. 3. In a mixer bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add half the chocolate paste and the butter and mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute to aerate and develop structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add remaining chocolate paste in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the bowl. Fold in chocolate mini chips/chopped chocolate. 4. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. 5. Bake for 50-60 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 200F. (The bread shouldn’t start to shrink from the sides of the pan until after removal from the oven.) 6. Set the bread on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread and invert onto an oiled wire rack. Reinvert so it is top side up and cool completely.