Flat vs. Puffy
Posted: 09 November 2008 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi, everyone - first time post here.

I’m curious why some cookie recipes result in flat, not-as-chewy cookies, while other recipes result in puffy, ‘full,’ very chewy cookies. It’s not the flour; I use the same type whenever I bake. Is there another ingredient that I should add or not add to help with this? I prefer chewy cookies, unless the recipe specifically says otherwise .... just curious if anyone else runs into this.

Thanks!

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Posted: 09 November 2008 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi David,

I’ve been an obsessive cookie baker for decades, and that question always puzzled me as well. I have to credit Flo Braker for clearing it up. Her book “Sweet Miniatures” explains everything at the level of detail we all adore in Rose’s books. The Reader’s Digest version is that (all other factors being equal) the way you mix the dough can make all the difference. For example, if you whip dough for 10 minutes with an electric mixer, you’ll end up incorporating more air than if you cream the ingredients, and MUCH more air than if you simply mix the ingredients by hand until they’re just combined. Even with exactly the same dough, each method would yield dramatically different results in texture. Other key factors are the ingredients (“short” doughs typically contain a lot of butter and no eggs—these doughs are usually creamed in a manner that incorporates very little air), and the ratio of ingredients to each other. Braker devotes a delicious 10 pages just to the topic of mixing. Well worth the read. Good luck!

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Posted: 10 November 2008 12:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Butter, shortening, leavening, and yes, even flour can all effect how a cookie turns out.  Check out the book CookWise by Shirley O. Corriher (should be able to get a copy from the library).  There is an excellent section on the subject, complete with 4 chocolate chip cookie recipes that explain how using various ingredients effect the outcome of your cookies.

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Posted: 11 November 2008 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Different recipes, different results.  I use different flours for different baked goods applications.  Unbleached flour for a chewier-style cookie, bleached for a crispier-style cookie.  Butter amounts and temps will greatly affect the appearance and consistency of a product.  Tweaking individual recipes with consistent ingredients will give you the results you desire.  Reading, educating, testing ~ it’s all an ongoing learning experience.

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Posted: 11 November 2008 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Cooks’ Illustrated has had some recipes and articles on this. I recall recipes for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies vs Crispy Chocolate Cookies. I also recall hearing that Alton Brown did an episode of Good Eats on this question. Sorry, I don’t have any links or references at this time. Maybe someone can find them.

I dimly recall that type of flour, type of shortening, type of sugar were all factors…

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Posted: 12 November 2008 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve made both recipes in cooks illustrated for chocolate chip cookies…and I have had each come out both crispy and chewy.  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  It’s not quite as bad as the cupcake debacle of 2008…but it’s close.  As far as I can tell, there are approximately…now let me get this right…about three billion things that will affect the texture of a cookie.  If you beat the sugar and the butter together for a long time, you will definitely get a puffier cookie.  But, if you don’t bake them long enough, they will flatten down when they cool…and the amount and type of flour seem to be issues, also the type and amount of baking soda/powder combinations, the amount of sugar, and…well…good luck.  What I have done, is experiment, make careful notes as to exactly what I have done, and when I’m happy with the cookie, I try to repeat it.  So far, I’ve been successful making cookies that I’m happy with, and I’m not as obsessive about them as I am about the cupcakes…but this is going to be a tricky one for you.

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