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Cookie Baking Basics


Since I have been on such a cookie kick lately, I thought it might be a great time to give you my tips for success.  I love to cook but baking is what really makes my heart {& stomach} happy.  I will admit that until I was a culinary teacher, I never really thought a whole lot about the logistics of baking.  Why do we put certain ingredients into a cookie recipe?  How does the baking soda/powder work?  After teaching for 4 years and wanting to help my students be more successful, I have really began looking into every aspect of baking because truthfully…if you want success…it is important.  Plus, my students need to know and I want to be able to at least appear like I have it all together.

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Baking can be intimidating.  It is more temperamental than throwing together a casserole because the recipe is like a scientific formula.  All of the ingredients and directions need to work in harmony for a victorious outcome.  I graduated from the culinary school of hard knocks and have had {and still do have} disasters in the kitchen.  On the bright side because of the disasters I have also learned a lot along the way and am excited to share my basics for cookie making success.

Cookies are such a great {and delicious} place to start when in comes to baking.  The ingredients are usually already in your kitchens and the directions are pretty easy to understand.  Here are a few things to make it even easier.

#1)  Room Temperature Butter

This can be hard, especially when you decide to bake something last minute but it is really important.  Most cookie recipes call for softened butter and for good reason.  If you have ever tried to cream cold butter with sugar then you know that you will not get the soft consistency you are looking for.  A great trick for softening butter is to fill a tall glass with water and put into the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Remove from microwave, pour out water {be careful because it is hot} and place glass over cold stick of butter.  The heat of the glass will soften it in no time.

#2)  Read the Recipe Completely Before Beginning

I know this one sounds too silly to even mention but there have been so many times that I have gotten half way through a recipe and realized that I don’t have one of the ingredients or I didn’t know a certain step was coming up and was unprepared.  Read the recipe right to the very end and then begin baking.

#3)  Prep Ingredients

In other words…be prepared.  have all of your ingredients ready and measured out before you start.  This helps so much in pulling a recipe together quickly.  Everything is there within arms reach and it helps with forgetting ingredients as well.  If I got paid $1.00 for every time my students forgot to cream the sugar with the butter and then try to add it at the end…I would be a very rich lady.  Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

#4)  Measure Flour Correctly

Adding too much or too little flour can make or break a cookie recipe.  Not enough flour can make your cookies spread and too much flour can make them dense.  I teach my students to spoon and level because it helps to keep the flour from packing down.  Just use a spoon to fill the cup and use flat side of a butter knife to level it off.  Also be sure when you are using flour to roll out cookie dough that you aren’t getting too carried away.  Too much flour can give you a tough end product.

#5)  Take High Altitude into Consideration

The low air pressure of being at a high altitude can cause your baked goods to do two things 1) rise too quickly 2) lose moisture faster which dries things out.  Liquid evaporates faster at elevations over 3000 feet but there are things you can do to counteract it.  I always have my students add 2 tablespoons of extra flour to every cookie recipe to help strengthen the structure of what they are baking.  You can also increase the temperature by 15-20 degrees.  The idea is that since leavening and evaporation work faster at higher elevations then a higher temperature will help set the structure before it over expands and dries out.  In turn, you may need to decrease your bake time by anywhere from 5-8 minutes, especially for anything baked for 30 minutes or longer.

#6)  Use a Cookie Scoop

They are so inexpensive and really help with the outcome of cookies.  Using a scoop keeps all of the cookies the same size which helps everything bake evenly and in the same amount of time.  I find that when I use two spoons I inevitably have a few large and a few small cookies on the same sheet.  Resulting in some cookies being overdone and some being doughy.  If you want your cookies to be uniform and look professional…use a cookie scoop.

#7)  2″ Spacing between Cookies

Allow for ample space between dough mounds.  If the cookies are too close together then they will bake and spread out into each other.  You end up with one giant cookie {that usually isn’t cooked in the middle} instead of the uniform cookies you were hoping for.

#8)  Bake 1 Sheet of Cookies at a Time

Unless you have a convection oven then only bake one sheet of cookies at a time.  So many times I have caught my students putting as many cookie sheets as they possibly can…into one oven.  If you have a convection oven then that works.  There is a fan in the back of the oven that distributes the air throughout the oven.  If you have a standard oven {like me} then your cooking element is on the bottom of the oven and so that is where the heat is coming from.  When you add more than one sheet then the top sheet won’t get the heat it needs to bake nicely.

#9)  Don’t Over Bake

In all of my recipes I preach this but I just can’t say it enough.  When you take your cookies out of the oven they will continue baking from the heat of the cookie sheet.  They will also set up as they cool.  I like to take them out before they are completely browned {the sides of the cookies are just starting to brown and the tops are set but glossy} and then let them cool on the baking sheet for 5-7 minutes.  I then transfer them to a cooling rack until completely cooled.  The cookies end up soft and chewy…no hockey pucks here!

#10)  Enjoy Yourself

The most important thing to remember is to have fun.  Go ahead and try things, if it doesn’t turn out then take it as a lesson learned.  I am also here to answer any questions I can, just send them over and I will do my best.

Thank you for reading through this long post and letting me totally geek out!  If you are looking for some fun recipes to make then here are a few that would be delicious.





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  1. Thank you so much ms June. There’s times when something just doesn’t feel right , been awhile since making. It is nice to have someone (you) to have as a go to person just being one click away.

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