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Cookie Baking (follow up of previous topic)


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#1 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 07:25 AM

The previous thread on cookies was great. There were lots of great tips on improving appearance. However, I am looking for assistance on improving TEXTURE of cookies. (I am a home baker that does alot of baking.)

I know my problem is the result of human error. :biggrin: It seems to be a common mistake. I will try a recipe and love it. However, when I make it again and the results are not as they were the first time. All of the variables (ingredients, oven temp, pan used, mixer used, etc.) remain the same. I think that when I first test out a recipe, I am being much more cautious and careful. However, after making it the first time, I feel a little more comfortable and I am probably a tad bit more careless. As a result, the cookies either spread too much or they come out dry and more tough.

Here's what's involved:

- room temperature ingredients (i.e. butter, eggs, etc.)

- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
(Question: Should it be creamed on medium, low, high? And for
approximately how long?)

- Add eggs until incorporated
I think I could be screwing up here. Perhaps, mixing the eggs too long?
Should this be done on low/medium speed?

- Add flour just until incorporated
My other "trouble spot" might be here. Perhaps, I am mixing too long here. I
am concerned about getting the flour incorporated, but I may be overdoing it.


HELP!!! :blink: Any suggestions, tips, etc. would be appreciated!! :biggrin:

#2 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 05:54 PM

Help!!! :blink: :biggrin:

#3 JustKay

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 06:57 PM

I am also a homebaker who bakes a lot. I sell cookies, cakes, candies and stuff from home.

I think it all depends on what kind of cookie you're making.

I have made cookies that requires no creaming of butter and sugar ... just put everything in a bowl and mix by hand then add flour. The cookies made this way taste great too. But usually uses confectioner's sugar instead of superfine. And I use superfine in all recipes calling for sugar.

I think your cookies turning out hard and dry is probably because you added too much flour. I always never add all the measured flour but go by 'feel', adding more, or less, accordingly. Egg sizes could differ, butter might be softer on hotter days, etc.

I guess it would be easier for people here to help you if you have a certain type of cookie specified. :smile:

#4 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 07:24 PM

I will try a recipe and love it. However, when I make it again and the results are not as they were the first time.  All of the variables (ingredients, oven temp, pan used, mixer used, etc.) remain the same.


I hear the frustration in your post and I want to help you. The first thing I need you to see is what you just wrote. If all the variables remain the same your product must turn out the same. Sooooooo somewhere along the way you are changing some or many of your variables. Thats what we need to help you pin down so you'll get consistant results.

With baking small changes can make huge differences and that's probably what's happening for you. Have you ever done some reading on cookie baking and it's variables in depth? There really are tons of tiny ways to effect the out come of a cookie recipe. You mentioned everything at room temp. so I think you do know about these variables. With-out having a video tape of you baking in action we can't see that little variable your switching. So we need you to write in exacting details more about this so we can find tiny clues to what you might be doing differently the second or third time your making the same recipe. Can you mention what exact recipe or recipes your making? Who's the author of these recipes? Is this only when you make cookies or does it happen when you bake other items?

#5 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 07:45 PM

Thank you for your responses. It's most of the recipes. The recipes that I am referring to go through the process mentioned in my initial posts. They vary from rolled to dropped cookies (sugar, chocolate chip, etc.) I am experienced mainly with cakes. I do own a few cookie books with lots of knowledge. I am thinking the problem comes in b/c there is no "visual" on how to do some things like

properly creaming until "light and fluffy" (as it relates to cookies) , adding eggs properly and adding the flour "just until incorporated" (but not overdoing it).


I think that part of this is where my problem lies. I want to correct it, but not quite sure how. :blink: They dont turn out superhard or superdry, but they are more dry and somewhat tougher than when I initially make the recipes. For example, I made the CI recipe for sugar cookies. It was so good on the first try. Then, I made it a second time and it wasnt like the first. I know I did something wrong.

The other part may be the butter now that I think about it. What exactly is "room temperature"? Should it be soft or soft, but firm? :blink:

#6 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 08:01 PM

This is for STICK butter.... such as Land O'Lakes Sweet Cream Unsalted Sweet Butter (not Ultra Creamy), typically found in the grocery store. About 80-81% fat content ~

To see if your butter is at ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 68 degrees), choose one or two of these tests:

1) Hold the wrapped butter in your hand and press it gently with your fingertips. If it leaves an indentation, it is at room temperature. The butter should be still firm;

2) You can bend a stick of butter with your hands, but it should still feel firm;

You can also test butter with an Instant Read Thermometer which is the most accurate way; stick the pointed end in the center of the stick of butter and read its temperature.

I hope this helps! ~ :wink:

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 17 March 2005 - 08:23 PM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#7 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 07:32 AM

Thank you, Sarah. That information is very helpful!

#8 JSkilling

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 09:37 PM

I think the best answer here is to weigh your ingredients and take the guess work out of it. Since I make this sugar cookie recipe just about daily I've run into just about all the issues I can with it. I've been lazy and had not coverted the 2 1/2 cups of flour to weight. I scoop flour into the measuring cup, level off and then add to the mixer. Since I know how this dough should handle I might add a bit more as I felt how it came together or if the cookies spread too much. I NEVER add too much as it affects the tenderness of this cookie.

If I simply use a conversion of flour weight in this case it's not accurate and the cookies will spread too much for rolled cookies. So I'm going to do some work next week to get a completely accurate weight of the flour and sugar. I'll pass it on when I'm done.

As far as the butter... I don't find it to be of any importance what temp it starts at once I put it into the KitchenAid mixer. Within minutes it's softened and usable even if it was cold from the fridge - a tip I picked up from KarenS here. I don't begin to cream it with the sugar, though, until I've spent some time getting it softened in the mixer. Adding sugar to colder butter will result in an initial grainy mixture, but several minutes of creaming will result in the exactly the same consistency as if I'd used room temperature butter, which most often becomes a pool of butter because I'll leave it out and then get busy and not get to it in time. Thus, I simply use it somewhat cold. The texture you are looking for is for it to have lost the graininess and become fluffy. At that point you can toss in each egg and the flavorings and mix until incorporated.

Adding the flour is not hard. I put all of it at once into the KitchenAid and very slowly incorporate until it forms a ball around the whisk. Then I clean everything off and finish with a spatula. Here is where I know if I need more flour or not. If the dough is very sticky I add 1T at a time until I can form a bit of a ball and then drop it between two sheets of parchment, roll it out and chill. This saves me having to chill the ball in the fridge and then having to deal with dough that needs to be rolled out and is hard. It's already in the shape I want and I can just cut and bake. There is a balance between a usuable dough and too much flour. And I HATE, HATE, HATE these with too much flour in them so I'm cautious about how much I add and it's I why I roll out on parchment instead of a floured surface. If I simply get enough flour in the dough to begin with, they hold their shape well and the dough scraps can be rerolled without losing any of their original integrity.

Now any other recipe I probably can't help you with unless it's something I bake all the time and have done the Cook's Illustrated make it 50 times routine I am wont to do as I'm refining a recipe!
Josette

#9 sarah o

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 07:19 AM

How do u keep the cookie dough from wrinkling when rolling btwn parchment?

i have been using your recipe for cookies, which come out wonderful, but the sheets slide around when rolling. Tried putting silpat underneath which helps a little, but still have probs.

#10 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 07:29 AM

I think the best answer here is to weigh your ingredients and take the guess work out of it.  Since I make this sugar cookie recipe just about daily I've run into just about all the issues I can with it.  I've been lazy and had not coverted the 2 1/2 cups of flour to weight.  I scoop flour into the measuring cup, level off and then add to the mixer.  Since I know how this dough should handle I might add a bit more as I felt how it came together or if the cookies spread too much.  I NEVER add too much as it affects the tenderness of this cookie.

If I simply use a conversion of flour weight in this case it's not accurate and the cookies will spread too much for rolled cookies.  So I'm going to do some work next week to get a completely accurate weight of the flour and sugar.  I'll pass it on when I'm done.

As far as the butter...  I don't find it to be of any importance what temp it starts at once I put it into the KitchenAid mixer.  Within minutes it's softened and usable even if it was cold from the fridge - a tip I picked up from KarenS here.  I don't begin to cream it with the sugar, though, until I've spent some time getting it softened in the mixer.  Adding sugar to colder butter will result in an initial grainy mixture, but several minutes of creaming will result in the exactly the same consistency as if I'd used room temperature butter, which most often becomes a pool of butter because I'll leave it out and then get busy and not get to it in time.  Thus, I simply use it somewhat cold.  The texture you are looking for is for it to have lost the graininess and become fluffy.  At that point you can toss in each egg and the flavorings and mix until incorporated.

Adding the flour is not hard.  I put all of it at once into the KitchenAid and very slowly incorporate until it forms a ball around the whisk.  Then I clean everything off and finish with a spatula.  Here is where I know if I need more flour or not.  If the dough is very sticky I add 1T at a time until I can form a bit of a ball and then drop it between two sheets of parchment, roll it out  and chill.  This saves me having to chill the ball in the fridge and then having to deal with dough that needs to be rolled out and is hard.  It's already in the shape I want and I can just cut and bake.  There is a balance between a usuable dough and too much flour.  And I HATE, HATE, HATE these with too much flour in them so I'm cautious about how much I add and it's I why I roll out on parchment instead of a floured surface.  If I simply get enough flour in the dough to begin with, they hold their shape well and the dough scraps can be rerolled without losing any of their original integrity.

Now any other recipe I probably can't help you with unless it's something I bake all the time and have done the Cook's Illustrated make it 50 times routine I am wont to do as I'm refining a recipe!

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Thanks!! :biggrin: I am going to make these again this weekend. I didnt convert it to weights, but I will when I go to make it again. I am going to measure it out and weigh those ingredients. That way, I can be consistent with the amounts each time. I have actually started to do that with all of the recipes that are not written in weights.

I have done the letting the butter cream first, but never took the time to compae it to when I just put the sugar and butter in together. I will stick to creaming the butter first and then gradually adding the sugar.

I prefer to roll it out between parchment, too. I have rolled it out on flour and could always taste that extra flour on the bottom. Yulk!

#11 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 07:48 PM

How do u keep the cookie dough from wrinkling when rolling btwn parchment?


I spray the back side of a sheet pan (and roll on the sheet pan so you can easily pick it up and chill it if my dough is too soft to cut right away) with Pan spray then place my parchment paper on it, it sticks like glue. Place the second layer of parchement on top of the cookie dough and roll. If you pan is very flexible double or triple the pans underneath the one your rolling.

I find it helpful to pat the dough out roughly before rolling. Really sticky doughs might still stick to your parchement and sometimes it helps to release the parchement and replace it to sort of burp it.

#12 pandorphus

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 08:22 PM

I roll my sugar cookies without parchment, but I don't use flour. I use a very light dusting of powdered sugar. Doesn't take much, and works perfectly every time.

#13 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 07:02 PM

I would like to report that I made the CI recipe again with great success. This time, I was much more careful, as if I was making it for the first time. In addition, I also took notes along the way. That's something I plan to do from now on when initially testing a recipe.

Thanks again for all of your help! :biggrin: