I have had my fair share of baking issues. Am I alone on this or, can you relate? After a little research, I created a shortlist of helpful reminders. Learn how to make your cookies better with these simple tips and tricks.
1 Before you Begin, Read through your Recipe
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is an excellent habit for so many reasons. Firstly, you want to be sure you have all the ingredients needed, and second, you want to clearly understand the recipe. For obvious reasons, this will make your baking easier.
2. Mise en place means Everything in Place
‘Mise en place’ translates to ‘put in place’. Applied to baking, the purpose of mise en place would be to allow the baker to bake in the most efficient way possible without having to stop.
This may mean different things to different people, but at its most basic, have all your ingredients out and measured, your baking sheets ready, and your oven preheating. This was a game-changer for, slightly ADHD, me! It truly makes the whole baking process faster, more efficiently, enjoyable, and carefree. If you haven’t done it, you must try it.😃
3. Use Fresh ingredients
To achieve the best baking results, it’s important to use ingredients that are fresh. It’s especially easy to overlook the freshness dates on baking powder and baking soda. (Oh and don’t forget, there is a big difference between the two!). If you have not baked in a while, take a look, check the dates. Both products expire in approximately 6 months. It’s a good habit to write the open date on the box so you know when it’s time to replace it.
4. Use Ingredients with the Proper Temperature
Sometimes recipes call for a couple of room temperature ingredients. For best results, it’s important to follow this directive. It really makes a difference! Below are a brief explanation and tricks to preparing your ingredients properly.
Room Temperature Butter
What does room temperature butter mean? Room temperature butter should be approximately 65 degrees F and cool to the touch. That is actually colder, as compared to most room temperatures. The butter should be firm, but pliable, not be soft or mushy. If it is too cold or too warm it won’t properly cream with the sugar or will not create a uniform texture.
How do you soften butter to room temperature? You want to take your butter out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before starting your recipe, to get the perfect butter temperature. Below are some shortcuts to quickly get your butter to room temp, if you forget to take it out early enough.
Try one of these easy options to quickly soften butter:
1 Cut the butter into small cubes. This will allow it to soften faster.
2 Microwave approximately 2 cups of water in a microwave-safe container for 2 minutes, so it gets very hot. Meanwhile, place your butter in a heat-safe bowl. When the 2 minutes is up, quickly remove the water from the microwave, and put the butter in. Shut the door. Leave in the microwave for 10 minutes, without turning it on. The remaining heat will soften the butter.
3 Place your cold butter in the smallest bowl it will fit in. Fill another slightly bigger bowl with warm water. Then, submerge the smaller bowl into the larger bowl for approximately 5-10 minutes. Your butter should now be soft, at room temperature, and ready to use.
Eggs at Room Temperature
What does room temperature eggs mean? Eggs that reach room temperature and are ready for use when they don’t feel cool or warm to the touch.
How do you bring eggs to room temperature? The easiest way to get your eggs to room temperature is to simply let them sit out of the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes.
Try this method to bring eggs to room temperature quickly:
To get room temperature eggs quickly, put the eggs in a bowl of warm water for approximately 10-15 minutes. Do not use super hot water because this can cook the eggs.
5. Measure each ingredient Correctly
Some cookie ingredients have to be measured with additional care, as to not ruin your recipe. Below are some of the most commonly mismeasured items and how to measure them correctly.
What is the proper way to measure flour? Your best way to measure the flour is by weight with a scale. This ensures that each batch of your cookies come out consistently.
If you are not able or do not want to use a scale, use a large spoon instead to scoop the flour into the measuring cup. Not the other way around. Then, use a flat knife or spatula to level off the top of the measuring cup. Do not shake the cup, pack down the flour, or tap the measuring cup. This can cause the flour to sink and give you an incorrect measurement.
What is the correct way to measure white granulated sugar? The best way to measure sugar is to scoop it out of the bag or container until it is full, then level it off with a flat knife or spatula. Fortunately, the accuracy of measuring the sugar added to a cookie recipe is more forgiving. For best results, be as accurate as possible.
How do I properly measure brown sugar? The best method to measure brown sugar is by packing it into the measuring cup or spoon. Unless the instructions state differently, you may use light brown sugar and dark brown sugar interchangeably in a recipe.
6. Do not Over-mix the Dough
When your recipe specifies how long to mix your batter, follow the directions closely. Overmixing while you are creaming the butter and sugar can cause your cookies to collapse. If the recipe calls to mix the dough only as long as you need to, it’s important to just incorporate the ingredients, then stop
7. Chill your Cookie Dough
Chilling your dough before baking will improve most cookies. This allows the fats to cool, will improve their texture, firm up the dough, and prevents them from spreading too much. If you use European butter, for example, Kerrygold; which is higher in fat than regular butter, chilling your dough is essential.
After you remove the dough from the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for approximately 5-10 minutes before scooping or making them into balls. After chilling, the cookie dough may be too hard to roll. As another option, you can make the cookie balls first, and chill those.
8. Use a Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper
Try lining your cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. This is a great tip, but not mandatory.
These Silpat Non-stick Silicone Mats are wonderful. I love using (and reusing!) them. They protect and keep my cookie sheets looking (almost) brand new. Silicone mats provide a nonstick surface with consistent heat distribution which promotes even baking and browning. I also use them for roasting meats and vegetables, for example, potatoes, broccoli, and peppers. Find them HERE
They do get oily over time, but you can easily wipe them off, or wash them by hand, and brands like Silpat, are dishwasher safe.
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9. Check Your Oven Temperature
If you have never calibrated your oven temperature, purchase an inexpensive oven thermometer. Then check the accuracy of the oven. It may be at a much higher or lower temp than what you set it for. This can cause over baking, under baking, or uneven baking.
10. Bake One Batch at a Time
If you have the time and flexibility, you will have the best cookie results by baking one pan at a time. You and your oven are fully focused on just one. You’ll be able to watch and remove the pan efficiently and on time. If you need to bake more than one batch at a time, simply rotate the cookie sheets halfway through baking. This assures even baking.
11. Do Not Put the Dough on Hot Cookie Sheets
Avoid putting cookie dough on hot baking sheets. Let your baking sheets cool to room temperature first, by rotating their use.
12. Keep an Eye on your Cookies while Baking
Use the specified bake time as a guide, it’s not mandatory. It’s better to check the cookies instead, to see when they are ready. Most cookies are done when they look lightly browned or set. This may vary slightly from cookie to cookie. Follow your instincts. All ovens and altitudes differ, so results will also vary.
Experiment with your bake time to find the cookie you prefer. For a crispier cookie, bake the batch a little longer until the centers look set. If you prefer softer cookies, remove them from the oven and test with a slightly underbaked center. Remember that cookies continue to cook on the baking sheet, as they cool.
13. Don’t Overbake your Cookies
One more secret to making the best cookies is to not over-bake them! Many cookies benefit by taking them out of the oven before they look done. Cookies continue to set up and cook slightly after they come out of the oven. They finish as they cool on the baking sheet. Again, do some testing to see what works best for each recipe.
To prevent burning I love using aluminum cookie sheets with Silpat Non-stick Mats. Nordicware pans are strong, sturdy, and professional. Mine still look fairly new because I protect them with the Silpat mats. For baking pans, click HERE
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14 How to Freeze Baked Cookies
If you want to make cookies ahead of time, it’s easy to freeze your cookies. Here are a few pointers, but always do a test if you are concerned about the results; cookies do vary.
To freeze baked cookies:
After baking, let cookies cool completely. Put them in the freezer on a flat surface, for example, a baking sheet or multiple plates. Keep them separated until they freeze solid; so they do not stick together. When frozen, put the cookies in an airtight container or ziplock freezer bags with parchment or wax paper between the cookie layers.
Most cookies should remain fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. Iced or frosted cookies should be frozen before decorating. Do a test freeze if you are unsure. To thaw, place the cookies on the counter at room temperature or in the refrigerator until ready.
Thanks for stopping by. 😁
Happy cookie baking to you!
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