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Fixing Flat Cookies

Dec 26, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose

KAREN QUESTION


Feedback: I can not bake cookies. All of my baked cookies go flat. I have cookies look great fresh out of the oven and then go flat in minutes and I have had cookies go flat in the oven. I have an oven thermometer, I have tried hand mixing and have tried margarine versus butter to no avail.

ROSE REPLY

use a lower protein flour such as bleached all-purpose flour. unbleached has higher protein which ties up the liquid keeping it from turing to steam and puffing up the cookie. also, after shaping the cookies, refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes or freeze them for 10 minutes if you have freezer space. that way they can set in the hot oven before they start to spread. if this doesn't help enough, try increasing the oven heat by 25 degrees.

Comments

Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Linda
12/22/2013 10:47 PM

Hi Linda,
Our thoughts are that the extra baking sheets are not allowing the initial heat needed for the cookies to properly rise. We have had our best texture and taste by baking cookies one baking sheet at a time placed on the middle rack of the oven. True, it takes a longer time to make several batches of cookies, but not that much longer than other baked items such as cakes and pies for the total amount of time to prepare, bake, and cool.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

I never had this problem before, but yesterday a number of my cookies came out flat. I was wondering if it was because I used all three racks in my oven. Otherwise, I followed the same recipes and used the same ingredients (including fresh baking powder/soda).

REPLY

Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from TJ
09/18/2013 01:22 PM

Hi TJ,
We ask were you getting successful results before your new oven?
If you were, then you need to confirm your oven is heating to the temperature that you are selecting. In all of Rose's books, she stresses ovens not heating to the chosen temperature is a major problem with baking. I have had to recalibrate almost all of my ovens.
Another culprit could be old baking powder for your made from scratch cookies.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

I have flat cookies, even with the pre-made tollhouse cookies (the ones you have to break). I also have a brand new oven, so I don't believe it's temperature differences. What else could be causing this?

REPLY

Hi CookieCrumb,
It sounds like you identified your problem. We suggest you make a given recipe with one batch using the current brand and one batch with your previous brand.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

My cookies recently started going flat after I bought a different brand if baking soda .. Could that be a issue ?

REPLY

Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Roxanne
11/11/2012 09:29 PM

Hi Roxanne,
We ask are you baking one of Rose's recipes?
We also comment that most cookie recipes intend for the cookies to flatten out to a certain degree upon baking. Are your measurements for width and height considerably different than that specified by the recipe?
If you are making prepared cookie dough, as in a pre-made frozen dough bought from a store, we suggest you check the manufacturer's website or contact the manufacturer, if your results are not meeting their specified measurements. For example: Pillsbury has a website for their frozen cookie doughs with contact information. We do not test this type of cookie doughs.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

I have the same problem.. Beautiful full cookies then flat in 1 minute. However, i also have this problem with frozen prepared cookie dough.. So whats the deal w those?

REPLY

Hi Theresa,
We think it could be your flour as others have mentioned. I had this happen when I was testing cake recipes for Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I was buying the same brand of flour from the same supplier each fall. When I bought a new bag in the spring, my cakes were coming out flat. The supplier said that the flour was made from winter wheat and that I could add some water to make it perform like the fall purchased flour.
We suggest a couple of ideas:
--try one batch as you are currently making them and another the way you did a few years ago to see if there is a difference.
--try to a new flour from the natural foods section of your store ex: Bob's Red Mill.
--try a blend of flours as Rose comments below
--since your pumpkin snickerdoodles have more liquid from the pumpkin, try adding some water (or more water) to your chocolate chip recipe.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

I so agree!! A couple of years ago I made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that were puffy and soft. I took no precautions, over mixed and still they came out prefect! Now I dont over mix and I refrigerate and these cookies once again came out flat!! Yet I made some pumpkin snikerdoodles the other day and they came out perfect?? What the heck??!!!!

REPLY

I think its that the butter has to be real and it has to sit out to become 100% room temp. I have always had great luck. I even use organic wheat flour. I used organic sugar this time and they were flat. I think its because its too course. I cant use non organic because of research.....too bad the fda and dept of agriculrure are in bed with the food giants..aka monsanto...they food now a days is a freak chemistry project filled with toxins.

REPLY

Flat and Chewy
Flat and Chewy
04/21/2012 11:07 PM

Funny, all of my cookies turn out fluffy. I've been trying to make them come out flat and chewy, like they used to.

I've tried just about every suggestion here, and still...

REPLY

Courtney, your husband is correct. Presifted flour does eventually settle down on storage but this is yet another example of why weighing rather than measuring is so much more consistent and reliable!

REPLY

I have been having issues with flat cookies for the past few months and couldn't figure it out...my husband figured it out yesterday: our flour is pre sifted! and i read an article that most flour sold in supermarkets today is pre sifted.

REPLY

I WOULD LIKE THE RECIPE FOR A FLAT OATMEAL COOKIE OR LACE OATMEAL COOKIE IN THE SHEILA RUSSO COOKBOOK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, BY SAT. 12/17/
THANK YOU

REPLY

I think it has something to do with the margarine/Crisco. I think since all the "bad" transfats have been removed the end product in baking is altered.

REPLY

katherine, it was the st. honoré trifle from my newest book "rose's heavenly cakes." thanks for asking.

REPLY

Dear Rose,
I heard your wonderful interview on the Martha Stewart Serius radio program and was wondering if you could help me...

I was driving and unable to write down the name of the cake and pastry cream you use in your trifle. If the recipe is in one of your books, let me know and I will purchase it. If the recipe is online somewhere, please direct me to the site.
Thank you so much!

Katherine

REPLY

Sharon...You and I are about the same age and just the other day I was speaking with my niece about this problem. I've been baking for a long, long time and my cookies USED to be family favorites...just a little crispy on the outside and a little softer on the insides. Not anymore! I thought maybe since the margarine isn't "real" margarine anymore....mostly spreads with a lot of oil in them that that might be the problem so I just made a lot of cookies and mixed the LOL margarine with real butter AND I made some with all butter and they still got flat! I'd be anxious to know if anyone speaks to the FDA or Dept. of Agriculture. Also, we have NO real idea what they're doing to a lot of our food anymore! I just know that it's not fun to bake anymore...if we can even afford the prices of sugar and flour, the cookies don't turn out right so why bother?? (Actually, they still do taste good, just look strange!)

REPLY

I have noticed the exact same thing as Sharon! I don't think the flour is the problem, because it happened with my macaroon recipe as well and that recipe doesn't include flour. So, I think that SUGAR has changed over the past few years in some way. Recipes that once produced perfect cookies started producing flat ones, with no alteration in ingredient amounts. Very frustrating! I now reduce the sugar in my recipes

REPLY

the protein content of flour may well vary from batch to batch. for puffier cookies you need a lower protein flour. if you are already using BLEACHED all-purpose flour you could use half this and half Wondra or cake flour. with a lower protein flour less of the moisture is absorbed into the flour and is available for puffing. alternatively you could try increasing the liquid a bit. the great thing about cookies is you can bake just one, see how it goes, and then if it's still flat mix in a little water. do let us know what happens.

REPLY

sharon mcclay
sharon mcclay
12/10/2010 11:16 AM

I am 62 years of age and I have baked alot of cookies. Over the past 2 years my friends and family have all notice our once raised cookies are getting flat. So it's not just a few of us noticing this. We believe that there is something different in the flour. Flour is the most common ingredient in the cookies. We have tried cookies made with baking powder and without. Again we believe it is something in the flour. We are about to ask the Dept of Agriculture if they have any idea. Too many having flat cookies!!!

REPLY

I have a terrific recipe for an "oatmeal lace cookie" that is in the Shiela Lukins Julie Russo New Basics cookbook. It is just as you describe.... have you tried it, would you like or still need the recipe?

REPLY

roberta, i don't, but i'll bet the quaker oats site does!

REPLY

Roberta Ross
Roberta Ross
09/ 6/2010 08:48 PM

Do you have a recipe for flat, crispy, thin oatmeal
cookies? I had some at a little shop some years ago
and I would like to try to make some myself.

REPLY

roberta, try using brown sugar as it contains more water and will make them rise more and be more chewy.

REPLY

I´m trying to bake a nice batch of choc. chip cookies in Central America! and they are turning out flat and super crispy... I already read all the tips and will try them- i want them thick and chewy!

REPLY

I have had this same issue. There are two key things to look at. First, make sure that when using flour (if it's involved in the recipe you're using), make sure it's light and fluffy by using a sifter. If it's compact, cookies will never turn out like they're suposed to. Second, make sure you let the dough chill for at least an hour, preferably two. If possible, roll it into individual balls and then refrigerate so they cool better and faster. I hope you try it out, it worked for me! Good luck cooking fluffy cookies! :)

REPLY

If your dough is already mixed, your best bet would be to bake balls of really cold dough on cold cookie sheets. You might even try freezing the dough balls for a bit before baking.

REPLY

ok, so I understand for next time what to do so I don't get flat cookies, but what can I do to fix the dough that I've already got mixed up that is still spreading flat when I bake them??

REPLY

I just found this simple explanation of the use of baking soda vs. baking powder on http://chemistry.about.com/cs/foodchemistry/f/blbaking.htm

Some recipes call for baking soda, while others call for baking powder. Which ingredient is used depends on the other ingredients in the recipe. The ultimate goal is to produce a tasty product with a pleasing texture. Baking soda is basic and will yield a bitter taste unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk. You'll find baking soda in cookie recipes. Baking powder contains both an acid and a base and has an overall neutral effect in terms of taste. Recipes that call for baking powder often call for other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Baking powder is a common ingredient in cakes and biscuits.

REPLY

Here's another link to some cookie hints:
http://www.cooksillustrated.com/howto/detail.asp?docid=1383&Extcode=L8NN2AA00

I think Patrincia's hint of using another recipe sounds like a good one. Things to look for in the recipe? More eggs, less sugar, uses baking powder, uses a "softer" flour, uses part shortening.

Good luck in finding that perfect recipe!

REPLY

Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. Eggs also play a part in leavening. Baking soda is often used to neutralized acidic ingredients. Why don't you try a new recipe. I find the recipe for Quaker's Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies is hard to beat. You can find the recipe under the lid of the oat canister.

REPLY

What is the purpose of using baking powder vs. soda? Remember, I want my oatmeal cookies to have a little more puff.Do I still need to use egg or not? This only tends to happen when I am baking oatmeal cookies.

REPLY

I was just glancing over the section in CookWise called "Fine-tuning Cookies".

For more spread:
use all butter
add 1-2 tbsp liquid (water, milk, cream - NOT egg)
Use a low-protein flour like bleached AP
(but not one that is chlorinated)
add 1-2 tbsp sugar
let dough stand at room temp

For less spread:
use shortening or reduced-fat spread
use an egg for liquid
use cake flour
cut sugar by a few tbsps
use baking powder instead of baking soda
chill dough before it goes into the oven

REPLY

Hi Catherine - is there a particular kind of cookie you'd like to make? My favorite choc. chip cookies are flat and chewey - the recipe can be found in Shirley O. Corriher's CookWise cookbook and calls for butter, bleached AP flour, milk, corn syrup, sugar, light brown sugar, baking soda, salt, lots of vanilla, choc. chips, and NO eggs. The recipe also calls for pecans, but we're not fans of nuts in our cookies so I omit them.

REPLY

Thanks for the reply. To get it straight...for a flatter cookie I should use an unbleached (higher protein) flour? If that's the case, I already use unbleached flour! Maybe I'll try lowering the oven temperature.

REPLY

if you go to the top of this thread and see the original posting and my response just reverse it! i.e. higher protein flour will tie up the water so it won't turn to steam and make the cookies puffy!

REPLY

I bet altitude has something to do with it. I've heard there are some great books on high-altitude baking -- try searching this blog for "altitude" and see what comes up -- and I'm sure some other folks will have some good suggestions.

REPLY

All of my cookies turn out puffy and cake-ish. I want to make a flat, chewy cookie. I've tried different recipes and even different ways of mixing the ingredients (high speed, low speed, wooden spoon) but I keep getting the same puffy, cakey result. Do you have any suggestions?

on a side note, I used to live in northern Alberta, Canada and could easily make wonderful flat, chewy cookies. I now live in Vancouver, BC. Could altitude or humitidy be preventing the cookies from flattening?

REPLY

Pat Doubleday
Pat Doubleday
06/ 7/2008 09:11 AM

I use butter flavored crisco to make my chocolate chip cookies as I had trouble with the cookies spreading when I used all butter. My cookies turn out great....I also bake them at 350 degrees for 12 minutes and wait a few minutes before removing them from the cookie sheet.

REPLY

scalding the milk will improve texture giving you greater height. letting the sponge sit gives more flavor but try doing it without and see if you're happy with the results--the extra time may not be worth it to you.

REPLY

I have a fabulous bread recipe from my grandmother, but must I let the 'sponge' sit overnight and must I scald the milk? Maybe this needed to be done many years ago; hopefully, I can save some time and be able to make this bread more often.

REPLY

lesley, people often blame themselves for baking failures but it's more often than not the recipe. proof is that your chocolate chip cookies come out well. my first cookie ever (100 years ago!) was the oatmeal cookies from the back of the box which turned out to be one giant cookie!

try someone elses recipes (dare i suggest mine from "rose's christmas cookies"!) usually flat cookeis are the result of too high a protein flour which ties up the water keeping it from puffing.

REPLY

I bake chocolate chip cookies great but when it comes to baking oatmeal cookies they go flat. I can't figure out why?

REPLY

use a higher protein flour and don't over bake them.

REPLY

Lori Neumann
Lori Neumann
07/17/2006 05:51 PM

My cookies don't flatten. They always end up puffy and dry tasting. Help!

REPLY

i just experienced a great stollen demo by hans welker at the french culinary institute and he used unbleached all purpose bc stollen is really a very rich yeast bread. but ask your mother which flour she used. flour variety makes such a difference in baked goods.

REPLY

Thanks for the hint...I've wondered for a while why my mother's recipe for Christmas stollen has not turned out for me the same as it turned out for her...I bet it's the unbleached flour that I use. I never thought it would have an impact. Thanks.

REPLY

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