5 Basic Tips for Baking Cookies

Baking cookies is one of life’s sweet pleasures. So why don’t more people bake them?

Maybe you don’t think you have the time… maybe you’ve tried before with less-than-stellar results… maybe you think it’s a hassle… or maybe you simply don’t know how.

You can get delicious results simply and easily when you follow these tips for baking cookies.

Tip #1: Read the Cookie Recipe

Before you get started, read the cookie recipe from start to finish to find out how much time you need and steps you need to take while you bake. You may need to set out butter to soften or bring eggs to room temperature before you begin mixing.

The recipe also tells you what items you need – both ingredients and equipment. No one wants to make an emergency run to the grocery store in the middle of making cookies. And you need to retrieve the 13 x 9 pan you lent to Aunt Myrtle before you get started.

Tip #2: Measure Accurately

Mis-measurement is the easiest-to-fix mistake when baking cookies. Use liquid measuring cups (which are clear) to measure water, milk, and oil, setting the cup on a flat surface and checking the measurement at eye level. Use dry measuring cups and measuring spoons for dry ingredients (such as flour, sugar, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda), always leveling off ingredients with a straight-edge utensil before adding them to the dough.

Tip #3: Handle Dough Well

Add ingredients in the order specified by the recipe… and as you do, avoid the number one no-no in making cookie dough: overbeating. Over beating cookie dough, whether when creaming together butter and sugar (which adds air pockets) or when adding flour (which activates gluten, also building air and volume), can cause cookies to fall and flatten – or be too tough.

Tip #4: Monitor the Oven

Preheat the oven as you prepare cookies. Setting cookie dough in a cold oven alters the baking time and outcome. Use an oven thermometer to check your oven’s temperature before baking cookies.

But don’t pop the batch in the oven and forget them. Most cookie recipes designate a baking time window (“Bake for 10-12 minutes”). Watch your cookies as they recommended amount of time so they are not over baked.

Tip #5: Store Wisely

Keep homemade cookies fresh by allowing them to cool completely after baking. Otherwise, condensation from cooling will collect and cookies will become soggy.

Follow the recipe’s directions as to whether to store cookies at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Store them in an airtight container. Don’t combine different kinds of cookies in one container. Flavors will bleed from one type of cookie to another. Different types of cookies stored together changes their texture, too. Moisture from chewier cookies transfers to crisper cookies – and vice versa.

Baking cookies is easy and fun. Plus, you can share the end results – cookies – with family, friends, and colleagues. That is assuming you haven’t eaten them all as soon as they come out of the oven.