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cookies that melt

I'm at my wit's end. My cookies--every single type--literally melt before my eyes in the first minute or two of baking. I've tried several different brands of butter, thoroughly chilled or frozen dough; checked oven temp; used parchmont paper on cookie sheets; added flour to try to compensate, etc. Can anyone help? I never used to have a problem, but since I moved across country I haven't been able to bake a decent cookie! It can't be geography...

asked by ATL over 1 year ago
15 answers 1985 views
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Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added over 1 year ago

Do you chill the cookies before baking them or are you just chilling the dough before forming the cookies? I find that it helps to chill the cookies once they are formed and then go straight into the oven

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sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

Maybe you should add a little more flour to the dough I only use one brand of butter for cookies if I switch brands my cookies just aren't the same. I had that happen before and added a little more flour not a lot maybe a couple of tbs. Since you are chilling the dough before baking it's not that, hope this works for you.

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sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

Oh sorry just saw that you already tried that, perplexing. Did you check your baking soda or powder to make sure it's still active?

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ATL
added over 1 year ago

On the most recent cookie there was no leavening (Russian tea cake/Mexican wedding cake). I've checked that in the past. The cookies spread out like fried eggs with a little dime left in the middle. Answer to a previous post: yes, I chill the dough after forming and before baking.

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sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 1 year ago

Really perplexing I'm sure you know all of this but here is what David Lebovitz has to say <a href="http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/12/why-do-cookies-spread/" target="_blank">http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/12/why-do-cookies-spread/</a> Maybe the oven temp is off??

P1291120
added over 1 year ago

According to "Bakewise: Hows and Whys of Successful Baking" (a GREAT resource), here are some ideas to "reduce spread": use shortening or reduced fat spreads (butter spreads the most); decrease amount of fat; use an egg for liquid (i.e., replacing milk or water); use cake flour; cut the sugar by a few tablespoons; switch from baking pwdr to baking soda; use unsweetened chocolate [guessing this is related to the "reducing fat" previously]; use regular (not dutch processed) cocoa; use cold ingredients or chill dough before going into the oven.

I've had the spread problem in the past, and it is usually related to using butter rather than margarine, so I've pretty much made the margarine switch for most cookies. You indicate that this is a problem since "moving across the country" but didn't indicate in which direction. If you moved East to West, it might be the flour -- I know the AP flour in the South particularly is different (lower protein?) than what is more common in the West. If everything else is the same in your recipes and you moved East to West (particular Southern E to W), I'd start by replacing the AP flour with cake flour, then perhaps try a butter to margarine switch.

Good luck, as this has to be TERRIBLY frustrating.

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ATL
added over 1 year ago

Thanks for all answers! I moved from the East coast to the West coast but thought King Arthur AP flour would be stable no matter where I lived. I'll try the cake flour. Alas, I can't switch to shortening for true butter cookies as to my taste they just don't work. But worth an experiment. Thanks so much again.
BTW, I have NO problem with any other baking. Pies, cakes, breads are all perfect.

Dsc_0028
added over 1 year ago

I think you are right about King Arthur flour. I doubt that's the problem.

P1291120
added over 1 year ago

I would also expect the same brand to be the same regardless of where you purchase it, but would try the switch to cake flour "just in case", and maybe reducing the amount of butter a bit. I'm also assuming your move didn't also include an altitude adjustment -- I'm at low altitude myself, so have never personally had to deal with this, but do know that those in higher altitudes do have to adjust their recipes to accomodate.

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added over 1 year ago

I had this problem for years! thought I just had a cookie curse. But now at higher altitude added 1-2 tbl to dough, lowered oven temp, switched to margarine and presto no flat cookies. I too am a butter purist but I had to pick flat over buttery. Maybe if we used half butter, half margarine it would be a middle ground?

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added over 1 year ago

I had this problem for years! thought I just had a cookie curse. But now at higher altitude added 1-2 tbl to dough, lowered oven temp, switched to margarine and presto no flat cookies. I too am a butter purist but I had to pick flat over buttery. Maybe if we used half butter, half margarine it would be a middle ground?

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ATL
added over 1 year ago

I am at higher altitude, which I did consider, but it's only 1000 feet. I think I'm going to try half shortening and half butter, continue to add a little flour (that only seems to work for me in chocolate chip cookies) and adjust the oven down as suggested. There simply has to be a solution!

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ATL
added over 1 year ago

You Food52-ers are the best! Problem solved--and I've had it for seven years. I took the suggestions to cut the butter and add some shortening. My trial batch which was halving a full recipe: instead of one stick of butter, I used 5 tbsp. butter and 3 shortening. I also added one tbsp. of flour. I'm doubting that the flour is necessary as I added more flour than that before and it didn't solve the problem. Clearly it's the butter. The taste isn't affected much since the butter carries it. Next time I'm omitting the flour and dropping the shortening to 2 tbsp. as an experiment. Thanks and happy holidays, everyone!