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Possible to bake large (5") cookies with convection?


bdasko
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Forgive me if this is a very base question :) I've never really done much convection baking so I can't figure this out.

I've got a really great cookie recipe and I am starting a feasibility analysis of sorts to see if it would be worthwhile to go into business selling them at our local market.

But then time comes in - I can't bake them fast enough to be worthwhile. Just to do a Farmer's Market (to have enough to sell to be worthwhile) I'd have to stay up all night baking.

I currently bake my cookies one tray at a time with 6 cookies on the tray in a standard oven for 22.5 mins. In order to even be able to remotely bake them quickly enough (without having to buy a new oven) I am trying to figure out how to use convection.

My oven would fit 3 large trays that would each hold 8 cookies, increasing production significantly from 6 to 24 cookies at a time. However, no matter what temp/time combination I do I can't get them to come out right. They are just raw on the inside and too crisp on the outside.

I did a little googling and the only thing I could find (besides a suggestion to make smaller cookies, which I don't want to do) was that convection doesn't work well with large cookies. But there's got to be a way, since commercial operations will often make large cookies like that, don't they?

Anyway - I thought I'd ask the experts. I come from an entrepreneurial, business and marketing background but I've been passionate about baking for most of my life. Our cottage food law is a recent thing here in WA, and it is making it possible for me to pursue this dream, but if I can't get to where I can bake more cookies at once, there's no way it will work.

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I think you're just going to have get to testing. In my experience with pizza, reading and trying endless variations, the one 'law' I have developed is "Your oven is not my oven". In general, most advice about ovens should be dismissed - except for the underlying reasoning. This is not about good ovens vs. bad ovens. They just all have their own personalities. I think this is why we so often see suggestions that we should be buying oven thermometers - and even move them around the oven to learn its characteristics.

Perhaps this isn't so important if we're talking about specific models. But if the question is really "Should I invest in a convection oven?", make sure you nail down the specific model.

But if you already have the oven you intend to bake with, then just go for it. Even with the low overhead of being able to bake at home, you'll probably wind up going through more capital on incidentals (packaging, labels, legal and accounting expenses, etc.) than a few batches of cookie dough.

BTW, thanks for mentioning the cottage food law. It appears to be a movement I was unaware of. It may deserve its own thread if we don't have one already.

ETA: Steam?

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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are you doing the usual, spinning the pans, changing the pan position (top to middle, middle to bottom, bottom to top or some combination thereof)?

Will your oven fit a three-quarters sheet pan? It is not as large as a sheet pan used in commercial kitchens, but is bigger than a half sheet pan. I bought a dozen or so years ago, and use them at home because they don't fit on the speed racks at work :( You might end up having to bake two of these size pans at a time, rather than three smaller pans.

Edited by JeanneCake (log)
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Ok, sorry, I missed the paragraph where you said you tried many combinations of time and temp. I added the steam option above as a result of a lingering thought train. But if it comes down to "what else can be tried?" then it's a brainstorming session....

  • Cover the pan for the initial part of baking
  • Cover the pan for the end of baking
  • Experiment with the height of the cover
  • Par-bake with a microwave for 10(?) seconds prior to baking
  • Can you get one cookie to bake properly under convection bake? Then you could slowly scale up, observing the different results closely
  • When you do a full load, are any of cookies properly cooked? If so, there's a data point. Look at the cookies around it.
  • Could you slow down the convection action a bit? Partially block the convection fan with something?

There are probably recipe tweaks too, but I wouldn't blame you for not posting yours.

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As a former food rep for some frozen dough manufacturers, we used to have a 6 oz cookie, that could be baked frozen, cold, or thawed in a convection.

Use High Temp short time.

I now bake 4 oz cookies in a convection that are frozen at 375 F for 18 to 20 minutes.

Carlton Brooks CCE, CEPC

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I sort of have a hard time thinking 5inch cookies can't be baked in a convection oven. It does sound like, though, you may need to lower the temp. How hot are you baking anyways?

I don't have my notes handy but iirc, the last combo I tried was at 325. Normal bake time was 20 mins at 350 so I tried 325 but even after 20 mins at convect the inside was still raw (although naturally the outside was overbaked and too brown). I refrigerate my dough at least 24 hours, so the dough balls are cold (ish) when they go in but I tested room temp and it didn't seem to make a difference either. Do you think it would be worth it to go below 300? I did some on regular bake at 300 (2 trays) yesterday and they seemed to come out okay although they took a long time.

Are you using an oven designed for a home kitchen? When it comes to convection effects, they often over-promise.

yes - I'm using a home oven, just what I already have. I imagine you might be right in that, although since I'm just going to be using a home kitchen to get started, investing in a commercial convection oven isn't in the picture. If this thing works out well, then we will build a commercial kitchen on-site.

are you doing the usual, spinning the pans, changing the pan position (top to middle, middle to bottom, bottom to top or some combination thereof)?

Will your oven fit a three-quarters sheet pan? It is not as large as a sheet pan used in commercial kitchens, but is bigger than a half sheet pan. I bought a dozen or so years ago, and use them at home because they don't fit on the speed racks at work :( You might end up having to bake two of these size pans at a time, rather than three smaller pans.

yep, 180 degree spin, switching racks midway, etc. My oven could theoretically fit pans that are 16x24 but I can't find any that size. I might look into having some custom made if I do this, because if I could go 16x24 then I could bake 24 at a time (theoretically). I'll have to check into three quarters size pan. I wonder if two pans might bake better than three pans, since it isn't a commercial oven.

You guys are FULL of helpful advice! One big mistake I realized yesterday is I was doing the day's testing with my oatmeal cookie recipe but I really should be using my chocolate chip recipe since my oatmeal cookie is very high on oats and raisins which makes it more gooey to begin with. It just makes it harder to know once they are cooled which ones truly are still raw on the inside.

I think one of the worst parts of this project is trying to test all these bake combos and not eating a bazillion cookies! Just lost 100lbs and this will undo all my hard work ;)

Oh and Carlton - I will try that! Never thought of high temp short time, I figured that wouldn't work but I'm shopping tomorrow for more ingredients so I'll give that a try next time.

One more question - yesterday I tried flipping over a baking sheet that had sides and baking on top of that (vs a flat sheet). They seemed to do a little better - do you think that perhaps that helped trap more heat underneath for a more evenly baked cookie?

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One more question - yesterday I tried flipping over a baking sheet that had sides and baking on top of that (vs a flat sheet). They seemed to do a little better - do you think that perhaps that helped trap more heat underneath for a more evenly baked cookie?

double pans will do the same thing

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Okay so here's the verdict - thank you guys! I got a three-quarter size sheet, which should fit a full dozen cookies.

Yesterday I baked ONE cookie until I got it correct, and then today tested with six at a time with another "placeholder" sheet in the oven. Got it perfect at 21 mins (switching trays halfway and rotating 180) and 300 degrees. I ran out of dough before I could test to see if I could actually fit a dozen cookies so I'll have to do a new batch. They are beautifully browned but still nice and chewy to the edge, without being raw in the middle. Obviously the dough was the problem before. The main problem is I sent my husband out to buy the chocolate and he came home with chocolate "melty" discs instead of the feves I usually get!

I'm kinda kicking myself for even trying to test this with my oatmeal cookie recipe, but at least it spurred me to post this thread and I wouldn't have known about this awesome new huge cookie sheet. These will come in handy, and I'll definitely invest in a "full rotation" of them before I open up my business. I also decided to treat myself with a giant cookie scoop (I was weighing out each dough ball and shaping the chilled dough by hand) which actually holds pretty much exactly the correct amount of dough so that will also be a huge timesaver.

The beautiful thing is, this tells me that it can be done time-wise. If I am truly able to fit 12 on a sheet, that means I should be able to do 24 in under 25 mins instead of 6 in 20 mins. Now I just gotta figure out how to get my off-grid kitchen approved and we'll be all set ;) That and I have to actually think up a catchy NAME for this business :)

Edited by bdasko (log)
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