Why Baking Cookies Is Harder Than You Think (& Expert Tips To Get It Right)

Baking cookies often seems like an easy task. Follow a recipe, and you'll get the same, reliable results each time. That doesn't often happen, though. Instead, it's quite common for each batch to be different from the next, from chewier to flatter or crispier. Baking cookies is a type of science where even the most negligible differences in ingredients, bake temperature, or time makes a significant difference in the final product.

Amy Emberling, one of the original bakers and current managing partners at ZIngerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI, answered some questions about the challenges of baking cookies. "I think American cookies are actually more difficult to make than most of us think," she shares. "The butter really needs to be softened just the right amount. Overmixing adds too much air to the cookie batter. The proportions of butter, sugar, and flour determine the texture, so not all recipes are the same." 

When slight changes occur, it's likely that the final product will not meet your expectations. Emberling says, "You might get crisp cookies when you want chewy ones. And they can be super easy to over-bake." That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, though. Instead, consider a few simple tips to get cookies just right.

Tips on the hard baked good?

Emberling has a few tips to help ensure that every recipe has the best chance to create the most desirable results. "Choose really flavourful ingredients. They'll make a significant difference," she shares. It's easy to dig out what's in the pantry and hope for the best, but she warns, "I know it's 'just' a cookie, but it can be a great cookie if the ingredients are super tasty from the start."

When planning to make numerous batches for a bake sale or baby shower, take the task seriously and don't wait until the day before. Test out the recipe. Then, on the day you prepare your cookies, run a quick test again. Emberling offers, "Take the time to test bake a cookie or two to determine the best oven temperature and length of baking time that will give you the results you want. It's worth the effort to avoid overbaking or underbaking a full tray of cookies."

Even if you're making cookies for the kids after school a few times a week, put some extra time into the process to use quality ingredients. "And remember, you can make a batch and then refrigerate or freeze the portioned raw dough that can be baked fresh whenever the urge hits you," reveals Emberling. That means you can take your time on the weekend to create a fantastic dough measuring everything just right and have a fantastic treat throughout the week whenever the mood strikes you.