Cookie Baking Tips

Everyone likes to bake cookies, children as well as experienced bakers. Recipes will most often guide you through whatever cookie you're making, however these tips might add to a cookie baker's success with every different kind of cookie.

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  1. Read the recipe from beginning to end FIRST thing. Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment you will need. Do NOT substitute or change the ingredients called for until you have tried the recipe once. Then you can vary the ingredients or cooking method to suit yourself and your family. Be sure to check the expiration dates on baking powder, baking soda, spices, and herbs. Experienced bakers can do as they please. :)
  2. Clean off your counter or table where you intend to work. You will need room for all the ingredients and utensils including cookie sheets. Go ahead and tear your parchment paper if that's what you're using or lightly grease the sheets if greasing is called for. Place all the ingredients and utensils you will need right there so that you can easily reach them. I like to measure everything like spices, sugar, shortening, flour, etc. before I ever begin. That way, I never forget to add anything. Watch the way the TV cooks do, and you'll understand.
  3. Always use the appropriate liquid or dry measuring cups and spoons. It never hurts to have a couple sets of each, especially when preparing several cookie recipes at one time.
  4. Having some type of scoop that allows you to make cookies all the same size will keep them uniform for baking times and will insure a higher rate of success. If you don't have a scoop, try to roll or shape them by hand as best you can for uniformity in browning too. If making shaped cookies, just try to keep them rolled out to the same thickness.
  5. When flour is added to the "wet" ingredients, mix only until the flour is fully incorporated. Over-mixing will make tough cookies.
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  7. Oven temperatures vary. We can't help that, but we can be aware of it and compensate for it. Use an oven thermometer to determine if your oven is baking at the right temperature. If if it isn't, you will know that you need to adjust the baking time for your cookies or raise or lower temperature.
  8. Many bakers will bake several pans of cookies at the same time and rotate them midway through the baking times. If possible, avoid having to do that. Place one pan at the time in the center of the middle rack of your oven for the most even baking and accuracy.
  9. Use a minute timer if you have one, otherwise, stay close to the kitchen and watch a clock. To prevent over-baking or burning, be sure to check the cookies 2-5 minutes before the suggested baking time is up. You will have a better idea of just how long it'll take the next pan to bake.
  10. Over-baking dries out cookies more than anything, so if your first pan of cookies seems dry, then adjust your baking time from then on for those particular cookies. Keep a record of what you've done right on the recipe. The cookbooks my children and I used when they were learning to cook and bake are filled with their hand-written notes. We all treasure those more than almost any of the other material things I've handed over to them now that they're all grown, married, and teaching their own children.
  11. Allow time for your cookie sheets to cool between baking if possible. It's sometimes just not possible so I like using parchment paper for that very reason. I can slide one loaded parchment sheet of cookies right off onto the counter top, and let them sit for a few minutes on their sheet of parchment while I load up another sheet of parchment. This gives the pan a few minutes to cool at least. Hot baking sheets will cause your raw cookie dough to begin melting and will create changes in the shape and texture of your cookies. I once thought I could hurry up the cooling time of my cookie sheet, so I ran cold water over it. It promptly warped, so I've not done that again. It's still warped.
  12. As a general rule, do unload the cookie sheets as soon as possible as the hot pan will continue to "bake" and might cause the cookies to be overdone. Always refer to your recipe for more instructions about this. Some cookies are quite fragile, and need to remain on the cookie pan or sheet for an extended period of time (another reason for using parchment paper). Bar cookies are always left in the pan to cool prior to removing them unless your recipe specifically says not to.
  13. Store crisp cookies in containers with loose-fitting lids or covers. This helps to keep them crisp. Store soft cookies in containers with tight-fitting lids or covers as air-tight as possible to keep them nice and soft. To help keep them nice and soft, keep a small slice of fresh apple in the container with the cookies.
  14. There are specific rules for shipping and/or freezing cookies, but for now, we just want to make and eat them. OK? Enjoy and Good Luck!

By Pookarina from Boca Raton, FL

Comments

June 11, 20100 found this helpful

We have a group of ladies who get together every year about a week from Christmas just to bake and/or exchange cookies. There are 16 of us now, so this year, I'm going to print out and mail this list a week before we meet so that everyone is on the same page together. This is the best set of "cookie making rules" I've seen and it is going to help us a lot.

Thank you Pookarina,

Songwriter

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