Hello everyone, here is my first blog post. When deciding what to write, I thought about one of the most difficult times I’ve had in the kitchen. How can I help someone who might be experiencing the same baking disaster that I did? Well, my sugar cookies spreading to what seemed to no end was definitely one of the first thoughts that came to my mind. Last year, I got my first order to make royal icing cookies that were to be shaped like pumpkins. I was so excited because I loved looking at all the beautiful and elaborate royal icing cookies floating around on social media. However, they were very intimidating to a novice cookie baker like me. But, these were only pumpkins. How hard could it be, right? Little did I know that I would arrive at one of my toughest tasks since I’d started baking. I made 3 different batches of sugar cookies that were shaped like pumpkins when I put them in the oven and came out as one giant cookie. I tried three different sugar cookie recipes and all 36 of the cookies spread out of their pumpkin shape! I was tired and felt defeated. How was I going to complete this order? I took a break and researched ways to stop the cookies from spreading. I will share with you the 5 techniques that helped me to prevent this from happening again.
Tip #1 The temperature and firmness of your butter is the foundation to baking cookies that will not spread. The butter should be just at room temperature so that it will mix well with the other ingredients. However, it cannot be too soft. That will cause the cookie dough to become soft and tacky while mixing. I like to be able to bend my butter without it breaking or my fingers going through it.
Tip #2 Mix the dough just until all ingredients are incorporated. This is important for several reasons. I’ll explain the two that I most understand to contribute to the shape of cookies. Overly mixing the dough will warm the butter that you tried to avoid becoming too warm in the first place. This could cause your dough to be too soft or tacky for rolling out or forming into a ball. Remember, you have to be able to shape this cookie dough so it needs to be somewhat firm. Over mixing dough can also contribute to the shape a cookie holds while in the oven. Cookies are usually cooked for a very short amount of time. My cookies stay in the oven for exactly 10 minutes. Over mixing will accumulate too many air bubbles in the mixture. This will ultimately cause your free-standing cookies to rise in the oven quickly and become flat when removed.
Tip #3 Refrigerating the cookie dough before rolling it out is important because the dough has a chance to chill and become firm. I suggest at least 30 mins for chilling if you’re pushed for time. I shoot for an hour or more for better results. I usually separate my dough, place it in resealable bags, and sit them in the fridge overnight.
Tip #4 Use powdered sugar when rolling out cookies. This will prevent cookies from sticking to your counter and tearing. Flour and cornstarch are also acceptable. I prefer powdered sugar. It gives the cookie a more pleasant flavor.
Tip #5 Refrigerate your cookies after using a cookie cutter and before placing them in the oven. The butter in the cookie dough will become somewhat warm again after it has been rolled out. To help your cookies hold its BEST shape possible, it is important to allow your cookies to sit back in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. This will once again solidify your butter. I let my cookies sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before placing them in the oven.
I hope the information I provided for you is helpful. There are many other techniques and tips provided by amazing bloggers, chefs, home bakers, and recipe creators. These are my favorite that I have learned and I thank you for letting me share them with you! Much love~ Chan