When I decide to bake something, I have a bad habit of only reviewing the recipe once I’m already in the kitchen. Unfortunately for me, a lot of recipes are written for someone who reads them in advance, and notices that it calls for room temperature butter, eggs, or milk.
That person would then get their butter, eggs, or milk out of the fridge, then return to the kitchen an hour later, fully prepared to make the recipe as instructed. But since I am not that person, I usually spend the next 15 minutes trying to bring those ingredients to room temperature as quickly as possible.
But I suspect that I am not alone in this type of hasty behavior! :-) So in today’s post, I’ll be sharing a helpful guide for those of us seeking shortcuts to room temperature baking ingredients!
Why Do Some Recipes Call For Room Temperature Ingredients?
Why do so many recipes for cookies, cakes, and breads call for room temperature ingredients? To put it very simply, room temperature ingredients behave differently than cold ones, and those differences can produce desirable results!
The most noticeable difference with warmer ingredients is that they are easier to mix. Creaming butter and sugar together is easy when the butter is soft and pliable, but when the butter is rock solid? Not so much.
Another more subtle difference with room temperature ingredients is that when mixed, they form an emulsion that traps air. That air expands during baking, producing lighter, more evenly baked treats!
How To Quickly Bring Cold Ingredients To Room Temperature
If you set a cold stick of butter out on your countertop, it will take about an hour to come up to room temperature. But you can shave off about three-quarters of that time by cutting it into cubes!
Start by cutting the stick in half lengthwise, then flip the stick on its side and cut in half lengthwise again to form 4 long columns. Then cut the butter widthwise in 1/2” increments to create your butter cubes.
Cubed butter should come to room temperature in around 15 minutes, saving you a significant amount of time! Use a thermometer to know for certain when it’s ready—the ideal “room temperature” for butter is between 65-70°F.
(If 15 minutes is still too slow for you, try microwaving your butter cubes at 20% power in 5-second intervals. Stop when the butter is soft, but still slightly cool to the touch.)
To quickly bring whole eggs to room temperature, fill a small mixing bowl with warm (not hot) water. Carefully place the eggs in the water, let them sit for 5-10 minutes while you measure out your other ingredients. After 5-10 minutes, your eggs will be ready to use!
If your recipe calls for room temperature egg whites or yolks, it’s a good idea to separate them while the eggs are still cold. (Yolks break more easily at room temperature!)
Put the separated yolks and/or whites into ramekins, then place the ramekins in a pan of hot water. The separated eggs will come to room temperature in about 5-10 minutes this way.
▶︎ Milk, Cream, & Buttermilk
You can use your microwave to quickly bring dairy to room temperature. Pour it into a microwave-safe container, then microwave at 20% power in 10-second intervals until it’s ready. (It should read around 70°F on your thermometer.)
If you don’t want to use a microwave or don’t own one, you can easily do this on your stovetop too. Just add the required amount to a small saucepan, and place over medium-low heat for a minute or so, stirring regularly.
- If your recipe calls for room temperature butter, the other ingredients should probably be at room temperature too.
- This is a useful guideline for most recipes, unless your recipe specifies otherwise!
What’s your best baking tip?