It’s holiday time and that usually means that everyone’s taking out their cookie sheets, oven mitts, and measuring cups! But are you baking cookies the correct way? Home cooks often make the same baking mistakes again and again. Spiff up your cookie baking game this year with these tips.
Think you’re a great baker? Make sure that you don’t make one of these common cookie baking mistakes!
You bake your cookies exactly according to the recipe, yet they come out underbaked or burnt. Where did it go wrong? Well, you’re probably trusting your oven too much. Most of our ovens are inaccurate, so while you think you’re baking your cookies at 350°F, your oven might actually be 20 degrees off. Invest in an oven thermometer to get an accurate read of the temperature of your oven.
So many cookie recipes start with creaming the butter and sugar together. By doing this, you incorporate air into the mixture. This is why it becomes light in color and fluffy. It helps the sugar to dissolve into the butter, creating light and crispy cookies that won’t end up dense.
Most cookie recipes state the measurements in cups and not weight. This makes it easy to follow, especially for home cooks. But what many recipes don’t tell you is that there is a right and a wrong way of measuring flour. If the flour is too compact inside the measuring cup, you will end up using more flour, and your cookies will be dry. Instead of scooping flour with the measuring cup, use a spoon and spoon the flour into the measuring cup. Always give your flour container a shake to loosen the flour before you start scooping it out.
Unless a recipe states otherwise, your ingredients should always be at room temperature. If the butter is too warm, it will start to spread immediately once in the oven, resulting in a flat cookie. When ingredients are at the correct temperature, the ingredients will combine perfectly, creating delicious cookies.
It’s easy to overlook the ‘pinch of salt’ that almost every dessert recipe has in the ingredient list. It might not seem like much, but it really makes a difference. Salt enhances the sweetness of sugar, as well as the flavor of other ingredients (such as vanilla).
When it comes to baking cookies, parchment paper is your best friend. While you can grease the pan, parchment paper is a sure way to prevent your cookies sticking to the pan. If you don’t want to waste parchment paper, why not invest in a non-stick Silpat silicone mat? You’ll wonder how you ever baked without one.
Some cookies are meant to be chewy. And to get this texture, they need to be just cooked. Because there is a fine line between ‘just cooked’ and ‘undercooked’, it’s best to slightly undercook them. While they’re on the cooling rack, they will continue to cook a bit more, creating the perfect chewy texture you’re after.
Like too many cooks in the kitchen, too many cookies on the baking sheet is never a good thing. Some cookies are supposed to spread in the oven, so if you don’t leave enough space in between, you end up with one giant cookie mass instead of individual cookies. Start with a space of at least one inch and increase if necessary.
If your cookies don’t bake properly at the temperature stated in the recipe, there might be a problem with your oven. Use an oven thermometer to check whether your oven is accurate and take this difference into account when baking your cookies. While you might be tempted to increase the temperature, it’s not the best idea. Because they’re so small, cookies can burn easily. Rather let the cookies bake for a smidge longer.
We get that you want to be frugal and use only one baking sheet. But this means that you will end up placing your next batch of unbaked cookies on a hot baking, which is not a good idea. Similar to Tip #4, your butter will start to melt immediately, meaning you’ll end up with a flat, dry cookie.