Troubleshooting Common Cookie Baking Problems

Troubleshooting Common Cookie Baking Problems

It's Okay, It Happens

Troubleshooting Common Cookie Baking Problems

Even seasoned bakers occasionally have a batch of cookies turn out badly. Whether they're holiday cookies or they're just a hobby batch. Sometimes they're too soft, and sometimes they even come out burnt.

Does this sound familiar? Here are some tips to try if you're not getting the results you want when baking your cookies.

Image courtesy of Howard Dickins on Flickr

Too Hard

Baking Error #1

If your cookies are coming out too hard, then you may have over-mixed them or you may have added too much flour. If you are making rolled cookies that you cut with cookie cutters, try not to add a lot of flour to your work surface.

This is a very common mistake to make when baking cookies. It may be confused for leaving them in the oven too long, or not long enough; but that's why I'm here to tell you the real issue!

Use Your Eyes

Baking Error #1

Keep an eye on your cookies. There is no fix after not keeping a good watch on them.

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Some Overcook, Some Undercook

Baking Error #2

If your gourmet cookies aren't coming out evenly baked, it could simply be due to the fact that they are not all the same size. Spoon your batter out with an ice cream scoop or melon baller so that they are all uniform in size. This should help them bake up perfectly and evenly.

Burnt Bottoms

Baking Error #3

One of the most prevalent cookie-baking problems is the dreaded burnt cookie bottom. It can ruin a whole batch and discourage further cookie baking. To avoid this problem, try using a light-colored aluminum cookie sheet instead of darker cookie sheets.

You can also try the type on the market now that have a cushion of air between the top and bottom. They're designed to prevent early browning.

Melted Cookies

Baking Error #4

If your cookies are melting into puddles before they even go into the oven, chances are your pans are too hot. You can't take one batch out of the oven and immediately place then next batter on without cooling the pan. To do this quickly, just run the bottom of the cookie sheet under cold water-not the top. And reapply any nonstick spray or grease before continuing.

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Completely Burnt Cookies

Baking Error #5

Many bakers put their cookies in the oven and then start cleaning up or doing something else only to hear the smoke alarm going off. If your cookies burn all the time, chances are you're leaving them in too long. Set a timer for the minimum time the recipe recommends. Because all ovens are different, check the cookies at that time. Take them out when they are a tiny bit underdone so that as they cool they will harden.

Also, remove them from the cookie sheet. Don't let them cool there as they will continue to cook as they sit on the hot sheet and become overdone. Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Cookies That Need Too Much Time

Baking Error #6

If the timer's gone off and your ideal gourmet cookies still aren't done, you may not have let the oven heat up properly. Always allow at least 10-15 minutes for the oven to preheat. And check to make sure your oven is actually as hot as it says it is on the dial. Cooking stores sell thermometers you can place in your oven to check the exact temperature.

Cookies that Spread into Others

Troubleshooting Common Cookie Baking Problems

Baking Error #7

If your cookies refuse to stay in their own spots and if they prefer to get cozy with their neighbor cookies, then you may have put them down on a hot cookie sheet. If that isn't the case, odds may be that you have greased the pan when the recipe didn't call for it.

Not all cookies need a greased sheet to bake on. Also, if you melted the butter instead of letting it soften at room temperature, that could make your cookies spread as well.

Image by aWee on Flickr

Brownies that Crumble

Baking Error #8

If your brownies or other bar cookies are not cutting into a straight, neat square, then chances are you tried to cut them before they were fully cooled. This might be the time to say that it's important to be sure that you allow enough cooling time before you dig into the batch.

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