I love baking cookies and over the last few months, i have learnt certain things that work with cookies and some that don’t. After i burnt my first batch of cookies, i realised that there are lots of little but important things to note while baking cookies.
Most cookie recipes have some common steps – cream butter and sugar, shape cookies, grease and line baking tray and the likes. Here i have tried to include everything that will help a new baker to bake ‘the perfect cookie’.
CREAMING BUTTER AND SUGAR–
This is the first and the most important step in cookie baking. Some of the points to remember while creaming butter and sugar are
a) The butter must be at room temperature and soft, but not melted.
b) Use only powdered sugar not granulated sugar. [ sometimes the recipe may call for castor sugar / icing sugar , those may be used as it is]
c) Cream the butter and sugar until it turns soft and fluffy. This takes roughly about 10-15 minutes. I hand mix and this gives the best results.
Take the soft butter and sugar in a large flat plate or thali.
Combine the butter and sugar together.
Press the mixture with your palm and mix in a circular motion. This is creaming the butter and sugar. Continue doing this until the butter sugar mix turns light and fluffy, for about 10-15 minutes.
This is how it must look finally.
MAKING THE COOKIE DOUGH-
Add the dry sifted ingredients a little at a time into the creamed butter and bring it together. The cookie dough must just ‘hold together’ and be workable .It must be handled gently and not be over kneaded. The right consistency of the cookie dough is when you can shape a cookie without any cracks around the edges.
If you add too much flour the dough would be dry and appear like the picture below. You can add a few drops of milk to bring the dough together. [ I prefer to avoid adding milk since it effects the texture if added more. Making smaller batches and adding the dry ingredients a little at a time helps the dough from drying out. You can also add a little for creamed butter or a few drops of oil , i usually do this.]
If the cookie dough is too soft , wrap it in a cling film and refrigerate it for about half an hour. Refrigeration also helps the cookie ‘keep its shape’ upon baking.If you want to make the cookies immediately ,10 minutes in the freezer would do the trick too. The final outcome must appear like this-
SHAPING THE COOKIES-
You can either hand shape the cookies or use a cookie cutter. For hand-shaping ,simply pinch a lemon sized ball of the dough , roll it between your palms and press into desired thickness. You can give it a slightly dome shaped top too.
Using the cookie cutter- Not all kinds of cookie dough can be rolled out easily. I usually press down a bit of dough on a lightly floured flat surface and then cut with the cookie cutter.
You can use a flat spatula [wooden, steel , plastic or silicon] to pick up the cookies and place them on your baking tray.
Recently i have learnt an easier way to shape cookies from my dear friend and super baker Simran. Take a lemon sized ball of dough and press between your palms and then cut with the cookie cutter. I found this way super easy and effective [specially since you can easily flip the shaped cookie from your palm, onto the baking tray.]
The thickness and size of the cookies matters too. Smaller sized and thinner cookies , bake faster and turn out crispier. A dome -shaped cookie ,like the butter cookie gives a soft crumbly top. Ideally if you are using flours other than all purpose flour , make the cookies on the thinner side [ otherwise they might feel like tough- chappati’s].
GETTING SET FOR BAKING-
Pre heat the oven, for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, while you are shaping the cookies.
Greasing and lining the baking dish-
Take a baking tray and grease it generously with oil or butter. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the greased tray. I usually grease the parchment too, in order to avoid the cookies from getting burnt. Sometimes certain recipe’s ask not to grease the parchment paper, you can follow this when specified.
Arranging the shaped cookies-
Place the cookies on the greased and lined tray, with enough space between each of them, since the cookies might expand or increase in size during baking.
BAKING THE COOKIES
Place the prepared baking tray in the middle rack of the pre heated oven.
I usually bake cookies at a temperature ranging from 150-160 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Use the oven mode, where only the lower heating coil is switched on, for baking.
Bake until the edges turn light golden brown in colour. I keep a torch handy to look across the oven door. It is always better not to open the oven door during the baking period. The cookies are done when the lower edges start to change colour. Don’t wait for the top to brown, else the base will start to get burnt.
Allow the cookies to rest in the baking tray for a few minutes and then using a flat spatula transfer them carefully onto a cooling rack.
If like me, you don’t have a cooling rack, make a makeshift one by placing a sieve over any large vessel.
Allowing the cookies the cool completely is very important. Hot cookies are soft and crumbly. As they cool down, they turn crispier.
If you are baking cookies for the first time, i would suggest ‘simple butter cookies’. This has just three basic ingredients and its always easy to see the colour change while using all purpose flour.
Oven time and temperature might vary. Thus a little bit of experimentation and exploration from your end would be necessary too.
I hope this helps you and makes you fall in love with cookies, like me. Happy baking .