The history of cookies probably traces back to ancient Iran, then called Persia, about 700 A.D. when the first sugar was cultivated. Archeologist believe that the first cookies were actually prepared as test cakes. Regardless of whether you call them cookies, biscuits, keks, biscotti, or koekie, following these hints will allow you to bake perfect ones each time.
Tips, Tricks & Cheats with your cookies and biscuits.
Choose your fats carefully when making cookies. If the recipe calls for margarine, then avoid margarines that contain 80 percent or more vegetable oil. These oils do not combine well with the other ingredients. Therefore, you will end
up with tough cookies. They also do not brown well. The best butter to use for baking is unsalted butter. If you open the refrigerator and all you have is salted butter, then simply reduce the salt in the recipe just slightly.
In recipes where you need to cream together the butter and the sugar, do not be tempted to rush this step. This step usually takes about 10 minutes. Butter and sugar are not properly creamed until they are double in volume. Make sure to scrape the butter and sugar off the sides of the bowl on a regular basis.
Make sure to check the expiration date oil all your ingredients. If your recipe calls for baking soda and you are unsure how fresh it is, then combine a little with vinegar. If it is fresh, it will bubble instantly. If not, then toss it out and buy some fresh. Additionally, if you are using nuts, then make sure to smell them. Nuts can turn rancid quickly. When they do, you will smell a horrible smell.
Most cookie recipes taste best when you allow the dough to chill. You can choose to let them sit for only a couple of hours, but for best results, let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. This allows all the flavors to blend. The cookie dough will also be firmer and easier to work with than dough that has not been chilled. If you are baking multiple batches of cookies, then make sure that you have enough cookie sheets. Never bake cookies on a hot cookie sheet. Doing so will cause the dough to melt. When dough melts, it affects the cookie’s taste and texture. In addition, make sure to keep the dough away from the heat of the oven.
Be very careful not to overmix your cookies. If you do, then your cookies will turn out tough. Instead, make sure to read the recipe very carefully and stir only when told. Usually it is enough to simply stir the dry ingredients together and then stir in the wet, but make sure to check the recipe.
If, once baked, your cookies stick to the pan, then return the cookies to a warm oven for about one minute. Then, immediately remove the cookies from the sheet with a thin spatula. Always cool your cookies on a wire cooling rack to avoid soggy cookies. Remove the cookies to the wire rack just as soon as you can.
Pay attention to what size eggs the recipe calls for and use the right size. In the United States, a large egg contains four tablespoons, while a medium egg only contains three tablespoons. Therefore, for every four eggs in a recipe, you will need an extra egg if using medium. If the recipe does not specify, then it generally is a good idea to use extra-large eggs.
When you bake cookies use two cookie sheets, one on top of the other. Most cookies will perfectly brown using this method, but if you want your cookies a bit browner, then remove the bottom cookie sheet and let them bake another minute. As always, make sure to use an oven thermometer to make sure that you: oven is at the right temperature.
If you are making rolled cookies, then be careful how much flour you put on your rolling surface. The dough will absorb the extra flour and come out tough. Additionally, this can cause the edges to brown too quickly. If you have trouble with this, then skip the flour all together by rolling your cookies between two sheets of wax paper.
Always divide your dough into at least three batches, only removing each batch from the refrigerator when you are ready to work with it.
If you love the taste of fresh baked cookies, but do not always have time to start from scratch, then consider making some dough ahead of time and freezing it. For chunky cookies, like oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip, divide the dough into individual cookies before freezing them in a plastic bag. If you are making slice and bake cookies, like shortbread, roll the dough into a log and freeze the whole log. If you want to freeze cutout cookies, like sugar cookies, then roll the dough into a pie crust shape and freeze flat. If you like to make wheat breads, but find that they always come out dense, then try a no knead recipe. While the rise time will be longer, these breads usually come out less dense. The microwave can be the perfect place to let the bread rise, but make sure that no one turns it on while the bread is inside.
Measure the liquid in your dough very carefully. A dough can almost never be overhydrated, but it can certainly be under-hydrated. Therefore, the next time you try the recipe, up the amount of liquid slightly. It sometimes helps to let the bread rest about 10 minutes between mixing the bread and kneading it.