We all have the best plans when it comes to baking-we take the eggs and butter out early enough that they’re at room temperature, the oven is preheated to the perfect temperature, there’s a nice shiny silpat on the pan.
Then there are those days where you’re lucky you just don’t burn the house done and whatever goes in your oven comes out edible.
If you’re like me, one of the big issues is remembering to pull the butter out early enough that it’s softened to room temperature so you can cream it for cookies (or you leave it somewhere too warm and come back to a butter flood, but that’s a different issue).
There is one tool that will help with the softening, and you can even buy it at the dollar store:
That’s right, a cheese grater.
I put my bright orange dollar store cheese grater over a bowl, wrap the end of a cold stick of butter with wax paper or the butter wrapper, and grate away. By the time I hit the end of the stick, the butter there is normally too soft to grate and I just toss it into the bowl.
You can also grate your butter for hand mixing pie dough. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve been told it works to good success. Maybe I’ll try it during the next round of the pie crust wars. Right now, the crust is winning.