Baking cookies may seem easy in theory, but you make your first batch and they’re hard as a rock. You try again and end up with greasy cookies.
You are convinced you followed the recipe, but you can’t get the chewy, moist cookies a bakery makes.
What’s gone wrong?
Problem: Mistakes Involving Measurements
One of the most common mistakes in baking is that your measurements are off.
The oil to flour ratio may be a little off, which leads to cookies that are too crumbly, too dry, or too greasy. Different flours may have a different overall weight due to moisture content, weather, or altitude. You need to account for these slight differences.
Quick Fix #1: Spoon your flour into a measuring cup and then use the back of a butter knife to scrape it. You want the flour to be level with the rim of the measuring cup.
Quick Fix #2: Look for recipes that do not use standard measurements involving cups, tablespoons, or teaspoons. Instead, use a recipe that has weight-based measurements. Use a digital scale to measure the weight of your butter, flour, and other ingredients in grams or ounces to get as precise as possible.
Your dough came out okay, but the recipe said two dozen cookies and you ended up with a dozen…What went wrong?
Quick Fix #1 – Unless you manage to get the exact same size cookies as the recipe’s originator, you may end up with fewer cookies. Use a cookie portion scoop to ensure all cookies are the same size. Most bakers use a #30 cookie scoop.
Problem: Mistakes With Ingredients
You’re making chocolate chip cookies, but the chocolate chips seem to melt and get lost in the cookie.
Quick Fix #1: Before adding your chocolate chips, put them in the freezer. They’ll stay firmer while the cookie bakes.
Your dough seems too moist and doesn’t seem to have enough flour.
Quick Fix #1: Did you accidentally use cake flour? If you did, cake flour is not the same as all-purpose flour, so measurements must be altered. Add a little more flour until the dough is stiff.
You accidentally used baking powder when the recipe called for baking soda.
Quick Fix #1: If you used baking powder instead of baking soda, you’re okay. Baking powder is approximately one-quarter baking soda and then other ingredients. Add in enough baking soda to make up the difference. If you used baking soda instead of baking powder, you might want to start over as the flavor will change.
Problem: Mistakes With Recipes
You’re following the recipe, but something doesn’t seem right. It calls for a tablespoon of salt, which leads to a very salty batter. Some recipes in books and online have editorial mistakes.
Quick Fix #1 – Read over a recipe completely before getting started. If something seems off, find a different recipe. If you can’t find another suitable recipe, look at similar recipes to see what the measurements are. If your recipe says 1 tablespoon of salt, but other recipes say a teaspoon, use a teaspoon instead.
Quick Fix #2 – See if the website has contact information or a Facebook page. If so, message the site owner and ask them to verify that the measurement is correct.
Quick Fix #3 – Stick to sites that have solid ratings or are well-known cooking sites. Read the reviews before you start baking to see if others had to alter the recipes at all to get perfect results.
Problem: Mistakes When Baking
Your dough seems okay, but the cookies came out burnt on the bottom.
Quick Fix #1 – Buy a hanging oven thermometer for your oven. Turn the oven to the required temperature and make sure the oven setting matches the actual temperature of the oven. If the oven is too hot, turn the oven setting down until it’s reading correctly.
Quick Fix #2 – Dark colored cookie sheets are more likely to burn the bottoms of cookies. To avoid this, use parchment paper or aluminum foil to add a layer of protection between the cookies and the baking sheet.
You’ve had your cookies in the oven for far longer than the recipe called for, but they don’t look done.
Quick Fix #1 – You’ll need to verify that the oven temperature is correct. Follow the same steps from the aforementioned tip and check that the oven’s actual temperature isn’t too low. If it is, you’ll need to turn the heat up.
Quick Fix #2 – If your oven has hot pockets, which is likely, try moving the tray to a different rack where it might be hotter. If your burner is in the top of the oven, it’s likely to be hotter there than at the bottom of the oven.
Your cookies are done, but they’ve run together and now must be cut apart.
Quick Fix #1 – Make sure you’re leaving enough space on your cookie sheet. The cookies need space to spread out while they bake. If you have them too close together, they will spread and join edges.
After the suggested baking time, some cookies are done and some aren’t.
Quick Fix #1 – Ovens often have hot spots. This means one area of the oven is a little hotter than another. Halfway through cooking, turn the baking sheet so that the cookies each bake in a different area and, therefore, get even heating.
You can’t tell if a chocolate cookie is done.
Quick Fix #1 – Dark colored cookies, such as molasses or chocolate cookies, can make it hard to tell if they’re cooked. Press slightly on the middle of the cookie. If there is resistance, the cookie is done. If it’s a more cake-like cookie, the cookie should spring back up and not leave a depression where you pressed down.
We hope these tips help you perfect your cookie baking skills. You can always sign up for a baking class with our expert baker if you want to learn more or gain new skills in the kitchen. Visit our website to learn more.