why do my peanut butter cookies go flat
Cookies are a microcosm of cooking chemistry and a few fixes can turn them into the puffed, mounds of goodness you crave. Chocolate chip cookies that have a high butter content and too much liquid tend to spread as they bake. Adjusting your recipe's liquid and the ingredients that absorb it changes the texture and shape of your cookies. Butter. Butter has a rich flavor, which makes your cookies delectable. But, if you opt for butter, beware -- it melts quickly, which causes the cookies to spread and flatten out. Shortening-based cookies spread less, so consider replacing some or all of the butter in your recipe with shortening to keep your chocolate chip cookies puffy. Flour. Use a high-protein flour such as all-purpose or bread flour and your cookie turns out flat. The batter may hold together as it bakes, but it won't puff. Cake flour or low-protein Southern flours, popular in the Southern region of the United States, absorb less water from the liquid ingredients in the batter and thus leaves that water in the dough to steam during baking which turns out a puffed, cakier cookie. Note that Southern flours already have leavening added, so if you choose to use them adjust your recipe accordingly. Eggs. An extra egg in the batter causes a cookie to puff, writes Shirley O. Corriher in "Cookwise. " When eggs encounter heat, they set and hold the cookie together so they don't spread as much.
Don't worry if the batter seems almost runny from the added egg when you form the cookies on the sheet to bake; the cookies will puff rather than spread. Cookies on a baking sheet. Too much sugar makes a cookie crisp and thin. For puffed cookies, cut sugar by a few tablespoons. You should also switch from baking soda to baking powder because the acidic nature of the baking powder means the cookies spread less. For final assurance that your cookies avoid flattening out during cooking, chill the dough before it goes in the oven. Chilled dough, especially if it contains butter, melts more slowly when it encounters the heat of the oven -- limiting spread.
Hi, Molly, There are usually a couple of reasons that cookies will go flat. Let s take a look at the mechanics of a cookie first, then we ll get into what likely happened with yours. A cookie generally starts out with some sugar creamed into fat of some sort. Creaming, in this context, means mixing in thoroughly, enough so that the sugar essentially disappears and the butter becomes visibly lighter in color and fluffier. This will make tiny holes in the fat, which, when baked, will become slightly-larger holes in the cookie. This change from tiny holes to slightly-larger holes is what provides some of the rise. After that, you ll mix in your dry and wet ingredients. In the case of cookies, you aren t using much by way of wet ingredients.
Generally, you ll have some eggs and often a flavored extract. You ll rarely need more liquid. The dry ingredients consist of flour and often some kind of chemical leavener (baking soda or baking powder). The leavener is where you ll get the rest of the lift. Depending on your chemical leavener, you will either get bubbles created immediately when it s added to liquid, or you ll get bubbles when it gets to a certain temperature. For all the details on leaveners, check out my article describing. Finally, when you bake the cookies, a number of changes happen: fats melt, leaveners activate, air expands, starches gelatinize, starches set, and amino acids brown. How quickly each of these happen will have an effect on your cookies. Ideally you want your leaveners to activate while your fats are still somewhat solid, giving a chance for air to expand and then, when the starches in the flour gelatinize and then set, to ensure that all of that happens in the right amount of time. Finally, the Malliard reactions should cause your cookies to become golden brown and delicious. If it seems like a lot to keep track of, don t worry about memorizing it. I just want you to have an idea of what s going on so the recommendations will make sense. What s most likely happening with your cookies is that your butter is melting before the other reactions have a chance to happen.
This will happen if your butter was too warm before cooking. If your butter is too soft, then right on putting it in the warm oven, it will just melt the rest of the way and your cookies will spread. Then, by the time the other reactions happen, it will be too late. The way to fix this is to ensure that your cookies are chilled before you cook them, either by resting the dough in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before shaping and baking, or by forming the cookies then cooling the cookie sheet in the fridge for an hour. For more detail on keeping your ingredients at the right temperature, check out my article on. If you used a different fat, such as shortening or lard, then you would have a lot more leeway on the temperatures, and you would likely get taller cookies. The flavor would be very different. Especially with the lard. Another possibility is that your oven temperature is too low. Ovens are. Use an oven thermometer and get your oven calibrated if need be. If your oven temperature is too low, then the fat will melt slowly just as described above before starches can set. If it goes quickly, then rising happens, starches set, and all of that. Finally, though this isn t likely the problem, if you are using baking powder, it could be. Don t let your baking powder sit around for year after year. It ll absorb moisture, activate in the can, and lose all of its rising ability.
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