Baking is fun, but it’s also a science! But like anything to be good at it, you need some guidance along the way. Here are some awesome tips to help you out in the kitchen to help improve your skills whether you are a beginner, moderate or just need a refresher! 🙂
Read through the recipe
That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for. When baking, you need to have accuracy, so it’s very important that you are familiar with the recipe and tools needed before beginning.
You might want to read it through two or three times more, just to make sure it all makes sense and you have everything you need. (Every time I don’t do this before-hand, it usually comes back to bite me in the buttocks.)
Use good utensils and tools
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Use fine quality and fresh ingredients
Be sure you ingredients are fresh and are of fine quality. Otherwise, your baked goods won’t be of good quality.
Bring ingredients to room temperature
Ingredients like butter, shortening and eggs need to come to room temperature. Store them on the counter several hours prior to making the recipe.
Room temperature butter will mix better with dry ingredients, like flour and sugar and helps the cookie hold it’s shape as your cookie bakes. Unless your recipe calls for chilled, very softened or melted butter, stick with room temperature.
The fastest way to get butter to room temperature is to cut it into pieces or grate it and let it sit on a plate for approximately 30 minutes at a minimum, while you get the other ingredients ready. I usually put mine out an hour or two. Butter should be 65 degrees F and give slightly when pressed with a fingertip, cold to the touch but warm enough to spread. Otherwise, if it gets warmer, the butter melts and it gets greasy.
Unsalted butter is normally what is recommended for baking. If you do use salted butter, only use 1/2 the amount of salt call for in the recipe. Don’t skip salt, because it balances out the flavors and sweetness.
Creaming your butter and sugar
“Creaming” is basically blending ingredients together with butter, shortening or a solid fat.
Creaming butter and sugar serves two important principles.
- It allows the sugar to be well distributed throughout the batter and disperse into the butter.
- By beating together the ingredients until light, pale and fluffy, it incorporates more air into the batter, making your cookies rise better and be lighter in texture.
- When creaming, start beating on low speed for the first 30 seconds and then continue on medium. When the mixture is over-creamed, creamed too fast or it’s too warm, the butter starts to break down and release the previously creamed-in air bubbles.
Measure your flour correctly
Most important tip for any baker is if you add too much flour will make your baked goodies tough, dry and hard. When in doubt, it is always better to use a little less flour.
Most times, I will subtract a couple of tablespoons of flour and add it back in after seeing what my dough looks like according to what the recipe calls out it should look like.
Always be sure to not overwork the dough and incorporate all the ingredients together just until the flour disappears.
Always preheat your oven 10-15 minutes before you begin baking your cookies.
You can purchase an oven thermometer to check your oven to make sure it is operating at the right temperature. Cooking times can throw off the texture and appearance of your cookies if your oven isn’t heating properly.
Be sure to use a baking sheet without sides or with very low sides.
Use parchment paper to line pans or lightly grease pan before using. Too much grease will cause the dough to spread and edges will be crisp and thin out and sometimes burn. Cookies spread more on greased sheets so parchment paper is preferred.
When baking, bake on one cookie sheet at a time, on the center rack of the oven, providing proper heat circulation. Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to baking wire racks or cookies could break when removing from cookie sheet because they are still hot.
Also, when adding a new batch of cookies to your baking sheet, make sure the baking sheet is either cool or at room temperature, otherwise, your cookies will melt, flatten and totally change the appearance of what your cookies should look like.
Baking Perfect Cookies
Leave 2 inches between cookies. If cookies are large, then adjust for more space. If it spreads too much try chilling the dough or adding a little more flour to the dough.
When baking the cookies, I always set my timer, and check my first batch of cookies 2 – 3 minutes before the cookies are meant to be done, and then adjust how long I want to set my timer for the rest of the cookies.
Timing correctly can mean the difference between a great cookie and a ruined cookie.
Remove baked cookies from the cookie sheet to the wire rack immediately to prevent further baking, unless the recipe directs otherwise. That way the cookies aren’t hard to remove and won’t break or tear.
Chill the dough before baking
Chilling the dough also improves the flavor and allows the dough to relax a bit and it also helps them from flattening out and helps them hold there shape better.
Making and freezing dough ahead of time not only is a great time saver, but it improves the texture of the cookies. ‘Icebox’ cookies or ‘Slice & Bake‘ cookies are shaped into a log and wrapped and then either chilled or frozen until it’s time to bake.
You can also form drop cookie dough into balls and freeze. When ready to bake, place on your baking sheet frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time. This also lets you make a lot of different cookie dough(s) in any given day.
Then take another day for the best part: baking decorating and eating!
Here’s more info for Storing and Freezing Cookies.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Heaven Tips!
Chocolate Chip Cookies are appropriate in every season, for every celebration and for no reason at all is preferred at my casa. There’s even a National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Best day ever!
Do you prefer yours chewy or crispy, with chocolate chunks or chips, with dark chocolate, milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate? If you like thin and crispy, you’ll love these Perfect Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies! If you love cashews and milk chocolate, you gotta try these OMG! Ultimate Milk Chocolate Cashew Cookies! The options are endless!
Ever wanted to be schooled on how many types of chocolate chip cookie variations and tips there are out there? Here’s a few for you!
- Here’s Martha Stewart’s Genius Guide To Making Every Type Of Chocolate Chip Cookie from the Huffington Post.
- Handle the Heat has the cookie scoop! She has The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies. She even has the Ultimate Cookie Troubleshooting Guide! How cool is that!?
- You can also check out The Baking ChocolaTess‘s (that’s me!) How – To! Baking Perfect Cookie Tips! Because what’s better than Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies? <—Seriously, did you see them, you’ll see why they are so perfect!
- Pinch of Yum has a good read and talks on ‘Tips for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies’ and these tips are winners for sure!