okay so baking cakes, butter should not be room temp. 68 degrees or colder I believe.
Is this also true for cookies or should it be at room temperature?
It will depend on the recipe, but to be honest I have NEVER come across a CAKE recipe that calls for cold butter- always room temp as it mixes in better. But there are bound to be exceptions.
With cookies again it depends on the recipe- I've found most 'cut out' cookies to call for cold butter, but drop cookies often call for room temp, soft butter.
I always use softened butter for everything. Sometimes I even use melted butter for cookies and then chill the finished dough for a bit--it's much easier to mix the ingredients and starts to melt the sugar.
Okay, I do use cold butter for pie dough.
Room temp, in terms of creaming butter, is 65°, not the usual 68-72° you'd actually keep a room at. 68° is actually too warm and will result in poor creaming. The butter should be cold to the touch and should just give to the touch. It should not be soft to the touch or it will not be able to hold enough air in the aeration process of creaming.
If I plan ahead, I take butter from the fridge and let it sit out for several hours so it's slightly soft. But if I suddenly decide to bake a cake or a batch of cookies, the butter goes directly from fridge to microwave. Just soft enough so it creams without breaking the mixer paddle. I know there are butter rules, but this method always works for me.
Someone on here posted a tip on quickly getting butter to room temp...you can grate it on a cheese grater....as you grate it your hand warmth warms it up and by creating so much surface area it comes to room temp super quick. I like this better than the microwave because I always end up just a little too melted when I use the microwave.
Thanks for the information
For cakes, I know a lot say room temp, but from a lot of things I've read about the butter, it's best to use it cold rather than completely room temp as I guess the chemical reaction changes. I wasn't sure if this would make a difference in cookies as well.
I did my first batch of cookies with butter that had been out for maybe 3 hours? I didn't touch it to see how warm it was, but I'm sure it was still pretty cold as my butter usually takes overnight to be completely room temp/soft.
Cookies were pretty flat.
Due to poor planning, I took out the butter for my second batch and used it approximately an hour later (which is about what I do for cakes) and the second batch came out so much better; they had more volume which I liked. They also seemed to bake a lot better as well. I baked at the same temp and same amount of time and I also noticed they didn't come out as brown.
According to Alton Brown's cookie special, you use better when you want your cookies to spread and be in the crispier side. He said to use shortening for thick chewy cookies. It's just because the melting temperature of butter is so much lower than shortening. I think this is also why many cookie recipes tell you to chill the dough. It would be an interesting experiment with butter flavored shortening vs butter for texture.
I'm sure I'll hear from the purist about not using shortening but shortening is in lots of recipes like biscuits so I personally am not offended by its use in cookies
I think I used butter flavored shortening in one of the recipes I used last year (though none of my recipes were good last year - well, not great - as I grabbed random stuff off the internet without looking at reviews - boy I've learned a lot).
I do think that the colder butter did help it from spreading a lot, and I bet that was the majority of my issues last year in most of my recipes.
I know that the NFSC require 1-2 refrigeration which I'm sure is what helps the cut out keeps its shape.
That makes a lot of sense with what you say with butter vs shortening.
I feel like my afternoon was successful with my observation; although it may be obvious to those who are experienced.
But I'm glad to have figured this out so early in my Christmas Cookie baking. I think that alone will fix a lot of what went wrong last year.
Since I'm so pressed for time for my Christmas cookies, I'm just going to stick with the recipes to a t, but I do think I'd like to experiment a little more and try different things.