Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Baking Cookies

Here's a great question about baking cookies ....

"I so want to make the beautiful decorated sugar/butter cookies but I CAN'T DO IT!!! I don't know why. What am I doing wrong? I follow recipe after recipe to no avail. I've got chilled dough sitting on the counter now, ready to roll out and cut. Obviously, I have little faith these will turn out or I wouldn't be writing to you. I realize that you have previously stated you're not a baker, but I thought you might be able to help!"
I truly sympathize! I'm not sure what exactly your problem is - I personally get uneven browning or too brown on the bottom. And usually I'm in too much of a hurry to really do things right in the first place. So I did a little research and of course came up with lots of different tips

Like....
chilling the dough before rolling them and cutting them into shapes (anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, depending on who'se doing the telling);

rechilling the cookies once they're on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes in the fridge before baking (a Martha Stewart tip ) so they'll hold their shape; She will actually have a cooking class on April 6th on her TV show just for baking cookies!

I even tried doing Google searches to find tips for us (you and me) and came up with a few.....
FoodTV suggests refrigerating extra dough (after cutting out shapes) before you make more shapes with them.

Evenly space the racks in the oven and rotate during the baking process (lots of sites mentioned this).

My Doubleday Cookbook says to bake until the cookies are firm but not brown in the top third of the oven. Bottom line, everyone seems to have a slightly different answer.

I do find that I have better luck when I use heavy cookie sheets that are aluminum coated (a little late for you now since the dough is on the counter!) and insulated. Here's what they look like

Best answer of all - My Joy of Cooking came up with a bunch of suggestions. Helpful tip #1: if you don't have insulated baking sheets, you can just put one regular sheet on top of another during baking. It also says....

baking sheets should always be cold so the cookies won't lose their shape;

bake one sheet at a time - no double layers! in the center of the oven so the air can circulate;

remove the cookies from the pan as soon as they are done or they will continue to cook and place them on a rack to cool.

If there's anyone out there with other ideas, please share them in the comments.

Please email me any of your questions, and if I don't have the answer, I'll certainly try find it for you.
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