Official Baking Questions Thread

Scrubs - yelling Cox
Posted on 02/01/2010 by bluemotion
The LJ Abuse Team is unable to resurrect our kid sister kitchenfaq, so until we get a replacement community up and running, this is the place to post your questions. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Post your question in a comment to this entry with a subject describing your question.
2. Patiently wait for other members to reply to your post with their advice.
3. Follow their advice and proceed to epic win in the kitchen!

Again, this is only temporary. We are not going to open this community to questions. We already have a lot of content to keep organized with just the recipes. It will probably take a week to get a new community set up, though, so please bear with us, and we appreciate any help you can offer our fellow members with their questions. Check back often to see if someone new needs help, or if you want to be super scrummy, track this thread. If not, there's a link back here on the community userinfo page. Thanks everyone.
the_mae_nymph 1st-Feb-2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
Whenever I make things from scratch they always seem to get really hard in the oven. I prefer my cookies/cakes softer and fluffier. What is the best way to make things softer without just using a new recipe?
bluemotion 1st-Feb-2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Have you put a thermometer in your oven to make sure it's running at the right temperature? Some ovens can be off by as much as 50°F.
newsbean 1st-Feb-2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
Also, using butter that is too soft will result in this. In order to create the pockets of air, butter needs to start out harder than completely melty. Here's a good article about the correct temperature: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/17/dining/17bake.html?_r=3&em

When I started getting this right, it transformed all my baking.

From the article:
Ms. Chu says that butter should be creamed — beaten to soften it and to incorporate air — for at least three minutes. “When you cream butter, you’re not just waiting for it to get soft, you’re beating air bubbles into it,” Ms. Chu said. When sugar is added, it makes more air pockets, she said.

And those air bubbles are all that cookies or cakes will get, Ms. Corriher said. “Baking soda and baking powder can’t make air bubbles,” she said. “They only expand the ones that are already there.”
thirdbase 1st-Feb-2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
get more air into your eggs (beat them longer and fluffier) and swap out some of your butter with crisco/vegetable shortening.
sushidog 1st-Feb-2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
Take them out of the oven a bit earlier; cookies harden up as they cool, so they should come out of the oven while they're still softer than you want the finished article to be!

Also, beating your butter and/or eggs for longer is good, but so is beating the mixture _less_ once the flour has gone in; if you beat cookie dough or cake batter after the flour has been added, it can develop the gluten in the flour (like kneading bread dough) and this can result in a tougher cookie or cake. So do all the hard work before the flour goes in, and then just stir enough to incorporate the remaining ingredients, no more.
six_two_four 1st-Feb-2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
I second the comment to bake them for less time. Start ignoring the baking times on recipes and rely on your own senses on when to takes stuff out - especially cookies.
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