Technically speaking, this was not from the mailbox, but rather, a culmination of google searches that landed visitors to this space. Seeing that it is the time of the year when most Malay/Muslim households are abuzz with baking cookies for the upcoming Eid (more commonly known here as Hari Raya Aidilfitri), there has been a surge of visitors looking for “Hari Raya cookie recipe”, “easy Hari Raya recipe”. But of all the searches, the one that caught my attention was “why Hari Raya cookie flat”.
Since I can’t seem to find the time to share new recipes (will update after the Eid celebrations, I promise), I thought it’d be best to share tips on baking the perfect cookies for this season.
Tip #1: Chill the dough
Some recipes call for the dough to be chilled, so ensure that you do so with the recommended duration, otherwise you’ll end up with a morphed adaptation of a sheet cake when all the cookies spread and decide to go the amoeba way. Yup, been there, done that.
Even in recipes that do not call for the chilling of dough, I’ve taken to practise chilling the dough in between batches, taking out only what’s necessary. It definitely helps in ensuring that the cookies do not spread, and for recipes like cutout cookies, it helps in maintaining the shape of the cookies. Also, it’s a big boost for the texture of the resultant cookies; I’m a fan of chewy chocolate chip cookies vis-a-vis cakey or crunchy, and having the dough cold and sent straight into the warm oven makes the cookies bake at a slower rate, thus resulting in the chewy centers.
Tip #2: Use lighter-coloured baking sheets
Darker coloured baking sheets, as beautifully sleek as they may look, are not friends of a cookie connoisseur. Dark pans conduct heat faster as compared to lighter sheets, so your cookies will bake and brown faster, and there are higher chances of the bottom of your cookies to be burnt. When/if using dark pans, you might want to check your cookies a few minutes before the recommended baking time, or you can lower the temperature just a notch.
Tip #3: Leave cookies on the pan for at least 5 mins
You always see it on the telly; a mother donning a crease-free apron takes out a batch of cookies from the oven, and her young child traipsies into the kitchen and grabs one off the baking sheet. And that’s just about the greatest television illusion we’ll ever see, second to the fact that the camera adds 10 pounds to anyone.
Cookies continue to bake after being removed from the oven, so if you were to grab one straight out from the oven, you’d probably end up with soft, crumbly, underbaked cookies;– and that’s not in a good way. The heat from the warm baking sheet reacts with the cool room temperature, firming up the cookies, so you should leave the cookies on the sheet for about 5 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies look set (you can test by gently poking the edges with your fingertip, and it doesn’t cave in), before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool down.
Do not, however, leave them on the sheet for too long (3-5 minutes is just about right), because as mentioned, the longer you leave them there, the more they’ll firm up, and if you take too long to remove them, the cookies may stick to the pan.
Tip #4: Let baking sheets cool between batches
Start off with a baking sheet at room temperature, and thereafter, try to ensure that the baking sheet cools down before you place your next batch of cookie dough on it. If your baking sheet is warm, the dough may melt and spread out, even before they go into the oven.
You can gently wipe crumbs off the used sheet with a paper towel or spatula, before placing your next batch, or you can simply run the pan under cold water, and wipe dry before using. What I usually do is I plonk the whole sheet with the dough into the fridge while waiting for its turn to go into the oven.
Tip #5: Do not over-grease your baking sheet
Read your recipe carefully;– if it calls for an ungreased pan, don’t grease it, and if it calls for a greased pan, don’t go liberal on it. Over-greasing your baking sheet will cause the cookies to spread. Just think of it like an oil spill on a pavement; the lesser the amount of oil spill, the lower the chances of you falling and sliding.
I usually use a pastry brush to spread soften butter on the baking sheet to give it an even coat.
Hope that helps! If anyone has any further enquiries on baking cookies, or any further tips to add on, feel free to drop a note 🙂 Happy baking, and Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my Muslim readers.