One of Food Network‘s handy baking tricks is the perfect hack for bringing that recently refrigerated butter to room temperature in a hurry: “cut cold butter into super-thin slices.” Seems simple, but the science checks out. This will definitely speed up the warming process, as the smaller elements can warm individually instead of being cooled by the larger mass of a brick of butter.
Sally’s Baking Addiction offers an alternate method for those afraid of cutting their fingers on a knife or grater. She suggests heating two cups of water in a microwave-safe cup or bowl (a measuring cup kills two birds with one stone) for two minutes. After it’s sufficiently heated, quickly remove the water from the cup/bowl and replace it with the butter, placing it back in the microwave for about 10 minutes — although it may make sense to check on this every minute-and-a-half or so to make sure it doesn’t melt instead of just warming.
Bigger, Bolder, Baking’s method is similar. It involves filling “a large, deep bowl with warm water,” then placing “your stick of cold butter in a slightly smaller bowl and submerge the bowl in the bowl of warm water. Wait just 5-10 minutes depending on how cold your butter was,” and voilà.
However you decide to warm your butter for baking, you can take comfort in knowing that with these tips, it won’t take the two or so hours it typically otherwise would.