Types of Oats in Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are a classic treat, but they can be made with different types of oats: old-fashioned or quick-cook. Some recipes are written only for old-fashioned oats, while others leave the choice up to the baker. In this experiment, we wanted to see what would happen if we substituted quick-cook oats for old-fashioned oats in an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe.

Egg Foams in the Kitchen: Meringue

In the last post, we covered eggs’ many roles in cakes, cookies, muffins, and breads. But eggs are even more versatile when we consider what they can do with air. Think about it: egg whites on their own are dense and chewy. But with air (and sugar), they become light, crisp, melt-in-your-mouth meringue cookies. Add a few more ingredients, and we can make macarons, pavlovas, cake frostings, soufflés, and sponge cakes. In this post, we’ll explore how meringue forms and how we adjust its texture for different bakes.

Eggs in the Kitchen: Water, Protein, and Fats

In the last post, we explored how eggs are made to support growing chicks. Now, we’ll see how those same eggs can contribute leavening, structure, and flavor in the kitchen. This post will focus on the functions of eggs in bakes such as cakes, muffins, breads, brownies, and cookies, but we will turn to meringues and custards in future posts.

Aging Cookie Dough

In the last couple posts, we’ve seen that the temperature of cookie dough affects its spread and texture, which explains why many recipes chill the dough for a couple hours. But what about chill times that range from one to three days? That’s more than enough time for the dough to cool. These long periods of refrigeration, which are also called “aging” or “ripening,” are meant to improve the flavor and texture of our cookies. In this experiment, we’ll explore how significant these changes really are.

Adjusting Oven Temperature for Cookie Dough Temperature

In the last couple posts, we’ve seen how both oven temperature and dough temperature affect a cookie’s spread and texture. Cookie recipes usually give clear instructions for both. But when we don’t have time to refrigerate the dough, or if we forget to thaw it, can we adjust the oven temperature to compensate?

Chilling Cookie Dough

Many cookie recipes ask us to chill the dough before baking. Sometimes this makes the dough easier to handle and shape. But in other cases, chilling just seems like more time to wait before we can get to our cookies. How much of a difference does it actually make? In this post, we’re exploring how the temperature of cookie dough affects its bake.

Oven Temperature for Cookies

In my Maple Walnut Snapdoodle recipe, I suggest two oven temperatures for two different cookie textures. A low 325°F produces a crisp, gingersnap-like cookie, while a moderate 350°F makes a thicker, chewier snickerdoodle-style cookie. In this experiment, we’re baking chocolate chip cookies at three different temperatures to explore the effects of oven temperature on cookie shape and texture.

Fats in the Kitchen: Spread and Consistency

Over the last few posts, we explored how fats create tenderness and flakiness in our bakes. These functions mainly result from fats’ tendency to repel water, but other applications of fats come from their greasiness. By lubricating the ingredients in our mixing bowls, fats can affect bread rise, cookie spread, and fudge texture. They’re also essential for making sure our bakes come out of the pan. In this post, we’ll focus on the roles of fats that stem from their greasiness.

Fats in the Kitchen: Tender Textures

In the last couple posts, we explored the chemical structure of fats, learned why fats repel water, and discussed how they melt. Moving forward, we’ll focus on how these properties affect our baked goods. As we’ll see, fats are crucial for the texture, flavor, and sensory properties of our food. Let’s start with a closer look at the molecular interactions that create tender textures in our bakes.

Starch in the Kitchen: Flour

In the last post, we discussed the molecular details of starch: what it is, where it comes from, and how it changes with water and heat. Today, we’ll apply those concepts to baked goods with a focus on the starch in wheat flour. Although flour is often noted for its gluten, it actually contains 68–75% starch. So when we consider the chemistry of any baked good that contains flour, be it cake, bread, or cookies, starch always plays a role. And in foods cooked in steam or boiling water, starch helps create textures as diverse as soft skins on steamed buns, chewy crusts on bagels, and crisp shells of choux pastry.