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"Baking: From My Home to Yours" (Part 1)


rjwong
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I recommend portioning your cookie dough into spheres and chilling them before baking if you want a mounded shape.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I recommend portioning your cookie dough into spheres and chilling them before baking if you want a mounded shape.

Thanks for the last two posts. No, I've never chilled my cookie sheets, have tried chilling the dough, but not the individual sheets, with mounded dough. Will try both. Always wonder if my butter is TOO warm before beating, or if I beat not long enough or too much. I have success with other cookies, but the chocolate chips have got me :wacko:

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After seeing all the fun that everyone's been having with this book (thanks Dorie!) I ran out and bought a copy this past weekend. Since then I've made two of the simpler recipes, the pound cake and the peanut butter cookies.

First off, everything in the book looks great! There's hardly a recipe in there that I don't want to try.

The cake has incredible flavor! I baked it a tad too long, probably because I only have dark, non-stick loaf pans; the sides ended up darker than the top, and I didn't use a foil tent. I'll have to experiment with turning the oven down a few degrees next time. Any ideas about where to start?

I just finished baking the peanut butter cookies a few hours ago. After the first couple trays, I shortened the time down to 10 minutes from 12; after 12 minutes, the cookies were fairly crispy coming out of the oven, and had a dryer texture than I wanted. The recipe also says that they should be just colored and still soft; mine were not. I haven't had a chance to try to the 10-minute cookies yet (I'm full!), but they're softer in the middle but still plenty firm, so I think they'll be good.

I use a separate thermometer in my oven, so I don't think it's running hot. While I was baking the cookies I once opened it up and read the thermometer at 10 or 15 degrees over, but that sounds fairly reasonable. Other times I've checked and the temperature has been right on.

I wonder what recipe I'll do next. It sounds like everyone loves the apple spice bars...

-------

Alex Parker

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I made a pair of rum-soaked vanilla cakes yesterday. (I didn't have any cream on hand, so I subbed in milk with some extra melted butter.) Mine didn't turn out as gorgeous as Patrick's (in fact, they bordered on downright ugly, with a kind of bubbly top and no hump or crack at all) but the taste was divine. I'll have to try this again the next time I have cream in the house, so I'll know whether the ugliness was caused by my substitution.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Why do my cookies turn out flat???  Followed your recipie, Dorie, for chocalate chips.  But I always have this problem.  My cookies melt out, rather than puff up.  I can tell you step by step what I've done, but thought you might have ideas before I went thru that.  They're still tasy as heck, but thin, not mounded like yours. :wacko:

Do you start with a new (not hot) cookie sheet for each batch of cookies going into the oven? If not, the cookies will melt out before cooking. That has just been my experience.

Well, l've tried again, and they're still flat. I chilled the dough, put the mounds on chilled sheets, chilled again, and they still spread. They are flat, and smooth looking, rather than puffy and crinkly (?) looking. My kids still love them, which is the important thing, but I can't stop wondering what I'm doing wrong. Chocolate chips seem to be my downfall, where cookies are concerned...any more ideas???

Another point, they are very greasy when they come out of the oven, making me wonder what I'm doing with the butter. Overbeating? Needing more flour? I sure need help :raz:

Edited by maggiejiggs (log)
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Well, l've tried again, and they're still flat.  I chilled the dough, put the mounds on chilled sheets, chilled again, and they still spread.  They are flat, and smooth looking, rather than puffy and crinkly (?) looking.  My kids still love them, which is the important thing, but I can't stop wondering what I'm doing wrong.  Chocolate chips seem to be my downfall, where cookies are concerned...any more ideas???

We need to form a club, Maggie -- Otherwise Good Cooks Who Bake Flat Cookies. OGCWBFC, for "short". :raz:

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Well, l've tried again, and they're still flat.  I chilled the dough, put the mounds on chilled sheets, chilled again, and they still spread.  They are flat, and smooth looking, rather than puffy and crinkly (?) looking.  My kids still love them, which is the important thing, but I can't stop wondering what I'm doing wrong.  Chocolate chips seem to be my downfall, where cookies are concerned...any more ideas???

We need to form a club, Maggie -- Otherwise Good Cooks Who Bake Flat Cookies. OGCWBFC, for "short". :raz:

Well, I must say your support really does lift my spirits :rolleyes:

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I made a pair of rum-soaked vanilla cakes yesterday. (I didn't have any cream on hand, so I subbed in milk with some extra melted butter.) Mine didn't turn out as gorgeous as Patrick's (in fact, they bordered on downright ugly, with a kind of bubbly top and no hump or crack at all) but the taste was divine. I'll have to try this again the next time I have cream in the house, so I'll know whether the ugliness was caused by my substitution.

MelissaH

Melissa, no one can make their pastry look as good as Patrick's! That's why I did not post any pics of my rum soaked vanilla cake either. Although it did not look ugly, just looked like a plain square cake...

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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It's only been a few days since I posted and you've all done so much I don't know where to begin.

First off has to be a big BRAVO to juliachildish -- what a spread! And, I repeat the question: How did you do this in a dorm kitchen???

When I was first married -- which is the first time I baked -- our kitchen was a converted linen closet. It was awfully tight, but I was so excited about learning to bake that I just went ahead and baked, but I don't think I ever did more than two things in a day! You must be the world's most organized person.

Becca, I'm not sure why your glaze thickened up so -- I would have said cold corn syrup, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Patrick's solution sounds like the right one -- gently melting the chocolate should have thinned it again.

I think it was probably the opposite situation with the topping on Sugar Plum's cinnamon squares. If the chocolate seemed more like a glaze, perhaps you should have waited a bit for it thicken. From the picture, it looked pretty good to me.

To members of the newly formed OGCWBFC -- the flat-cookie bakers. I'm a little confused because I wouldn't call the chocolate chip cookies puffy. In fact, mine are usually pretty flat and I think they look flatish in the book. My chocolate chip cookies are usually flat around the edges and have a little more thickness in the center. Unless you're getting wafers, I think you're ok and should just join your kids and have another cookie.

About butter -- butter shouldn't be so soft that it's like mayonnaise when you start to beat it.

Kathy, don't kill me -- there's nothing I like more than knowing that I've created a sweet-loving monster like your husband.

Patrick -- I wish had that Far Breton now. I made a batch of World Peace Cookies to bring to a friend's for dinner tonight, but now I'm wanting that Far.

Welcome Palladion.

I've got to go pack those cookies up and start out for dinner -- I'll be back.

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It's only been a few days since I posted and you've all done so much I don't know where to begin.

First off has to be a big BRAVO to juliachildish -- what a spread!  And, I repeat the question:  How did you do this in a dorm kitchen???

When I was first married -- which is the first time I baked -- our kitchen was a converted linen closet.  It was awfully tight, but I was so excited about learning to bake that I just went ahead and baked, but I don't think I ever did more than two things in a day!  You must be the world's most organized person.

Becca, I'm not sure why your glaze thickened up so -- I would have said cold corn syrup, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  Patrick's solution sounds like the right one -- gently melting the chocolate should have thinned it again.

I think it was probably the opposite situation with the topping on Sugar Plum's cinnamon squares.  If the chocolate seemed more like a glaze, perhaps you should have waited a bit for it thicken.  From the picture, it looked pretty good to me.  Thank you SO MUCH for taking the trouble to answer my questions :smile:

OOps, just read more, and maybe mayonnaise more describes what my butter looks like when I get started to add the other ingredients. I'll try to remedy that and see what happens.

To members of the newly formed OGCWBFC -- the flat-cookie bakers.  I'm a little confused because I wouldn't call the chocolate chip cookies puffy.  In fact, mine are usually pretty flat and I think they look flatish in the book.  My chocolate chip cookies are usually flat around the edges and have a little more thickness in the center.  Unless you're getting wafers, I think you're ok and should just join your kids and have another cookie. 

About butter -- butter shouldn't be so soft that it's like mayonnaise when you start to beat it. 

Kathy, don't kill me -- there's nothing I like more than knowing that I've created a sweet-loving monster like your husband.

Patrick -- I wish had that Far Breton now.  I made a batch of World Peace Cookies to bring to a friend's for dinner tonight, but now I'm wanting that Far.

Welcome Palladion.

I've got to go pack those cookies up and start out for dinner -- I'll be back.

Dorie

I'm getting wafers!!! And they taste and look like pure butter to me. Puffy I guess isn't the right word. Somewhat mounded, perhaps. I don't have trouble with other cookies, but chocolate chips are my downfall :wacko: do you think my butter is too warm before beating? Or should I try more flour?

Edited by maggiejiggs (log)
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Dorie

Perhaps my butter IS too warm. Mayonnaise is a pretty good description.  How long do you hold your butter out of the fridge before creaming?

Why not try the recipe using butter that is a less soft and/or subsequently mixing it a little less so that the dough isn't softened as much? Mayonnaise consistency butter definately sounds too soft for most cookies unless that is specified in the instructions. How long you soften the butter depends on the temp of your fridge, kitchen and whether or not you cut up the butter. The other way to over soften the butter too much is by overbeating. This rarely happens for me as I mix by hand... :smile: (I will get a KitchenAid one day, I hope.) I would just shoot for a consistency firmer than mayonnaise.

If the dough uses baking powder, I guess would also check that it is not past its expiration date.

I like the way the regular nestle toll house recipe comes out in terms of crispness, thickness, etc. However, here is a whole discussion on how to make chocolate chip cookies that are less thin and crisp if that is your preference:click

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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If you hold a stick of softened butter it should bend easily but still be cool enough to hold it shape. What is the recommended temp? I think it is 70 degrees. That would be a good way to see the proper consistency.

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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Made the maple cornmeal biscuits last night. Why? Because I really wanted to eat biscuits and I didn't have a biscuit cutter. These drop biscuits came together so fast and easy, and were just the right sweetness. Great buttery flavor, but not too rich - just perfect. Now if I can just find a biscuit cutter....

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Maggie--I was going to ask about your baking powder too. That could be the trouble.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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Made the maple cornmeal biscuits last night.  Why?  Because I really wanted to eat biscuits and I didn't have a biscuit cutter.  These drop biscuits came together so fast and easy, and were just the right sweetness.  Great buttery flavor, but not too rich - just perfect.  Now if I can just find a biscuit cutter....

You probably have several -- they are also called drinking glasses and cleaned, empty cans. :smile: Seriously, an actual biscuit cutter may give you a somewhat sharper cut and therefore somewhat higher-risen sides after baking, but thousands of grandmas turned out thousands of perfectly delicious biscuits cut with an old tomato can or whatever, so don't let that stop you.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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About the flat cookie club:

Chocolate chip cookies (and their ilk) are the worst for me, too, and I actually know at least part of the reason. Our budget is pretty tight and I often reduce the number of chocolate chips/nuts/other additions by about half to cut costs. The cookies are appreciatively flatter when I do this because there is less stuff to make lumpiness. Other things that have "pumped up" my cookies:

--when I use eggs from a friend's farm, I have all sizes to deal with. The jumbo eggs give a little more leavening to the cookies.

--a quarter cup or so of extra flour makes them stand taller, but of course they are also drier.

(That's another big key for me -- I like my choc chip cookies nice and gooey and slightly underbaking them to go for the goo factor will give flattened cookies.)

--A thing I learned on this particular thread (think I already knew it but never "obeyed" it before) is the cooling the pans between batches thing. That really made a difference with the pecan-brown sugar shortbread I made for the second time -- much sharper edges on the squares.

The reality is that I'm usually in a hurry when baking cookies (so I don't cool the pans) and my budget is tight (so I skimp on the add-ins) and I'll probably keep turning out flat cookies, but I don't really mind that much, so for me, Dorie, don't keep scratching your head and trying to figure out solutions.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Lori's right -- a biscuit cutter gives you nice clean cuts, but a can or glass will do the trick, too.

Unlike Lori's grandmother, mine never made biscuits, but she was an ace cookie-maker and her cookie-cutter was a glass. In fact, the glass she used to cut cookies was also the glass she used to measure everything. When I got my aunt's kitchen notebook, it included some recipes from my grandmother and they were all measured by the glass.

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Speaking of baking cookies: I have egg yolks to use up, and I'm planning a batch of sables. I'm wondering if I can bake more than one sheet at a time in my convection oven. Any advice from those of you who have those beasts? I'm still learning, as I've only had mine about three months.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I made the thumbprint cookies using almonds, homemade pear-vanilla jam, and some blackberry preserves. They're delicious.

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"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Made the maple cornmeal biscuits last night.  Why?  Because I really wanted to eat biscuits and I didn't have a biscuit cutter.  These drop biscuits came together so fast and easy, and were just the right sweetness.  Great buttery flavor, but not too rich - just perfect.  Now if I can just find a biscuit cutter....

what's wrong with cutting square biscuits? this way, you don't have to re-roll your dough and you get appreciably less scrap. most kitchens have a knife or pizza wheel, right?

i'm sure purists everywhere are cringing... :shock:

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Made the maple cornmeal biscuits last night.  Why?  Because I really wanted to eat biscuits and I didn't have a biscuit cutter.  These drop biscuits came together so fast and easy, and were just the right sweetness.  Great buttery flavor, but not too rich - just perfect.  Now if I can just find a biscuit cutter....

what's wrong with cutting square biscuits? this way, you don't have to re-roll your dough and you get appreciably less scrap. most kitchens have a knife or pizza wheel, right?

i'm sure purists everywhere are cringing... :shock:

Hey, The Baker's Catalogue (KA Flour) sells square biscuit cutters for those who have too much money to spend to cut their own squares by hand (which I think would be faster anyway).

Or triangles -- after all, what is a scone but a sweet biscuit in disguise....

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Dorie

I'm getting wafers!!! And they taste and look like pure butter to me. Puffy I guess isn't the right word. Somewhat mounded, perhaps. I don't have trouble with other cookies, but chocolate chips are my downfall :wacko: do you think my butter is too warm before beating? Or should I try more flour?

Edited by choux (log)
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Choux, you've got me stumped. There are way too many other goodies in the cookies for the butter to be the dominant flavor. It sounds like whoever you quoted who said you might not have measured the butter correctly could be right. If you measure your butter and your flour correctly, you should end up with cookies that are thinnish around the edges, thicker in the center and generally delicious. I wouldn't add more flour -- I'd check that everything is properly measured. Let us know how the next batch turns out.

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You folks on the flat cookie team should try the Chocolate Chunkers (page 70). There's so much chunky stuff in these that there's no way they can flatten out.

I made them the other day and they're delicious. I had some misgivings shortly after they came out of the oven. I used salted peanuts (as the recipe suggests), and when I tasted a cookie I felt the saltiness of the nuts was overwhelming some of the other flavors. I know both Dorie and Pierre Herme like to combine salt with sweet, but seeing as there's salt in the cookie batter already, it occurred to me that maybe there's a typo in the book and the peanuts should have been UNsalted.

So then I asked my wife, who tried one and said I was being stupid, the cookies are unbelievably decadent and amazing. As they cooled I didn't find the saltiness to be as out-of-balance. But next time I might try it with low-salt or no-salt peanuts.

I also made the Double Apple Bundt Cake (page 184) for an office breakfast, and man, there were no misgivings about that cake! It was gone in seconds. This batter is so moist that it's very forgiving. I actually got distracted by a phone call and dinner prep while the cake was in the oven, and I let it bake beyond the recommended time before I remembered to check it. When I checked it I thought it seemed a little beyond just done, but it wasn't even close to dried out when I served it. Really good.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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