Making cookies at home is really a great satisfaction. You can prepare home-made cookies for a snack and for breakfast, for example shortbread cookies, but also cookies to give as a present, perhaps using special shapes, depending on the occasion.
Preparing cookies is not that difficult, but it will be even easier after following our advice to improve the result of your cooking experiments. Here are the mistakes to avoid in order to bake crunchy and crumbly cookies that everyone will like.
1) A dough too wet
It may happen that the dough is too wet. The problem is an excess of the liquid part of the ingredients, for example vegetable milk, tea or water (milk and eggs if the recipe is not vegan). If the dough is too wet, it may be difficult to shape your cookies, which could also be difficult to cook inside. The best thing is to add a little flour – the same type indicated in the recipe – or corn starch, potato flour or rice flour.
2) A dough too dry
If the dough is too dry it becomes impossible to work well. It can be dry and hard. When you try to spread it, it crumbles and breaks. The same thing could happen to your cookies, once cooked. So adjust the consistency by adding a tablespoon at a time some of the liquid ingredients indicated by the recipe (vegetable milk or water) to improve consistency and knead better.
3) Sticky dough
Perhaps in your dough there is too much butter (or oil, vegetable butter, margarine – better to prepare margarine at home so it will be without palm oil and without hydrogenated fats). The dough could be sticky also due to honey, malt, maple or agave syrup and other sweeteners of similar consistency. If you can not work the dough well, arrange the situation by adding a little more flour. If you are preparing a dough and the surface is very sticky, it probably means that you will have to work it for a long time.
4) Substitutions of the ingredients
Maybe you're trying to make vegan cookies. So you are trying to replace eggs, butter or milk from a traditional recipe. This operation is not always simple, if you are a beginner. You will have to balance the consistency so that it is as similar as possible to that of a classic dough. So the result will be really satisfying. Follow our advice for alternatives to butter and to replace eggs in the kitchen.
5) Using the mixer for kneading
Do you use the mixer to knead? Remember that this tool is useful for rather creamy doughs – for example for cookies to be shaped on the pan with pastry bag – but not for the more solid ones, unless you have the appropriate kneading tool at your disposal. In any case, for the most consistent doughs, such as those of shortbread cookies, it is best to work by hand towards the end, to better shape the dough, which will be greased slightly with oil before resting in the refrigerator.
6) Wrong consistency for the recipe
When choosing your recipe, check the indications regarding the consistency of the dough. The result of your cookies can change much precisely based on this feature. For example, the dough should be creamy (you will have to work with the whisks) for the cookies to be prepared with the pastry bag. The dough for shortbread cookies instead should form a compact, soft and elastic dough, easy to roll out with a rolling pin and cut out with the molds.
7) Leavening times
In some cookie recipes a precise leavening time is provided before spreading the dough and/or baking. Try to respect it and put the dough in a warm place, protected from drafts, perhaps covering with a cloth, or in a cool place, for example in the refrigerator, depending on what is reported in the recipe. If your cookies do not leaven enough, they may be too thin and dry.
8) Oven temperature is too high
It is one of the most common mistakes with regards to baking cookies. Perhaps some recipes have higher values but the temperature of the oven for baking cookies should never exceed 160-180 ° C to avoid the risk of drying them, or worse, of burning them. Better then cooking them a little longer, at a lower temperature.
9) Cooking times
The cooking times are strictly related to the temperature. Keep in mind that if you have preheated the oven to 180 ° C, normal cookies such as shortbread cookies will be ready in about 10-12 minutes. Attention to cooking times indicated in the recipes, you risk drying or burning cookies. If you make more cookies, the temperature of the oven will be more uniform and will tend to rise from time to time. You will find that the followinf cookies will be browned more quickly. In this case you can reduce cooking times. Sometimes the cookies are still a bit soft, even if already golden brown. It's time to take them out of the oven: while they get cold they'll tend to dry themselves. If you prolong the cooking when the cookies are ready, you risk ruining them.
10)Final preparations and tips
Some last advice. Before baking the cookies you can lightly moisten the baking paper, so that it adheres better to the pan and helps to prevent the bottom of the cookies from burning. Check the cookies from time to time while they are in the oven, paying attention to the part resting on the pan. If there are two baking trays in the oven, invert them once or twice during cooking to obtain a uniform browning. When you take out the cookies from the oven let them cool preferably on a grill. Wait until they cool well before decorating them… and before tasting them!