Doyenne of Cookie Dough’s Best Cookie Making TipsOct 5th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: show tips, the show
There is an art to cookie making, but that comes after the science — or technical aspects of baking. Expert home home cookie baker and author of The Daily Cookie, Anna Ginsberg, offers her best tips for making a great batch of sweet treats.
- Invest in a kitchen scale. It frees you from having to clean sticky, gooey things such as peanut butter from measuring cups and more importantly, it ensures accuracy and consistency with ingredients such as flour. For example, depending on how a cup of flour is scooped, it could weigh anywhere from 4.25 to 5.75 ounces. By using a scale and weighing 4.5 ounces per cup, you’ll get consistent results with everything you make. More and more cookbook authors and recipe developers are adding flour weights to recipes.
- Use room temperature butter. Make sure it’s not too warm (almost melted), but rather a cool temperature of about 61 to 63 degrees. Cool, but mashable.
- After adding the eggs to cookie batter, don’t beat until fluffy. Just beat until the eggs are mixed.
- When adding flour, do it by hand with a mixing spoon. If you are using a stand mixer, use the paddle on low speed. But if using a handheld mixer, it’s best to do it by hand because the friction of the electric beaters, even on low, may strengthen the gluten in the flour and make your cookies tough.
- When baking cookies, use the time on the recipe as a guideline rather than a rule. Ovens vary in accuracy. If your cookies are coming out with brown edges and pale centers, it means your oven runs hot. Reduce the heat by about 25 degrees for a more even bake.
- If your cookies always come out flat, it may very well be that whoever wrote the recipe was using a heavier hand of flour. Try adding a little more flour to the dough next time. Other reasons cookies may come out flat are out-of-date leavenings, using baking soda in place of baking powder (they are NOT interchangeable), using natural rather than Dutch cocoa powder or vice versa, using a too-thin baking sheet (heavy duty rimmed baking sheets are my personal favorites), packing the brown sugar a little too much, (sugar causes spreading), overbeating batter after the eggs are added.
- If you follow all the tips and a favorite cookie recipe is still spreading, try switching brands of flour. King Arthur’s all-purpose is very reliable. In some cases, you may want to try subbing half shortening for half the butter. Shortening helps give cookies a nice structure, while butter adds flavor. And check your brand of baking powder. My personal favorite is non-aluminum Rumford.