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Old 12-31-2010, 10:00 PM   #1
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Please help me make cut out cookies

For some reason I have this desire to make really pretty cut out cookies. I want to be able to make delicious, pretty cookies to share - with friends, family, coworkers, etc. But I feel like such a LOSER!! I've tried different recipes, I've spent hours reading tips, watching videos, shopping in the fancy baking section of craft stores . . .
I'm really hoping someone can help me! I'd really appreciate any tips. I'm thinking it would be useful if I first tell what I'm doing and also tell what problems I'm having:

My first issue was sticky dough and trouble rolling it out. I'm no good a "light dusting of flour" (HOW DO YOU DO THAT EVENLY??) so then I tried rolling the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper.
That helped, but then my issue was getting the cookies OFF the paper onto the cookie sheet.
THEN I tried leaving the dough on the sheet where they were cut and just removing the excess dough. This didn't work very well either and the dough was still sticky. (Oh I also chilled the dough prior to all this)

I've have the most success with a method I saw in a video online:
Make the dough and then immediately roll it out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4" thick. Then chill the dough.
Then I would use the cookie cutter, and when I lift the cutter, the dough sticks to the cutter. So I then do my best to press the dough out of the cutter on to the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

So far, not too bad . . . except the cookies don't hold their shape all that well after my struggle to get them out of the cutter.
The next issue is the cookies getting all puffy and losing their shape when they bake. AUGH! All that work and now they don't even look like the cookie cutter shape any more!!

Any suggestions?? Why can other people do this and I can't?? I'm normally a pretty darn good baker. Maybe that's why this bothers me so much!!

PS, the recipe I've been using has the following ingredients, and I live at 5300 feet.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
Maybe this isn't the best recipe??
Thank you so much!!

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Old 12-31-2010, 11:48 PM   #2
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Welcome to DC. Someone here will surely have a solution. We have some excellent bakers and cookie-makers around. I'm rather curious to your solution myself!
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Old 01-01-2011, 01:09 AM   #3
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Hi timidbaker. I'm certainly not the "cream of the crop" here when it comes to baking but I've had success with rolling out and cutting cookie dough so I'll share why.

I don't fuss with waxed paper nor parchment paper. I just directly sprinkle flour on the counter and then all over the rolling pin, place the chilled dough on the floured counter, pat it and sprinkle some flour on top of the dough smearing it around with my hands slightly (I don't even take the time to chill it sometimes and this technique still works well). I turn the dough over and repeat. Use only the amount of flour you need but don't scrimp either.

Then I roll starting from the center and out to the edges. If it starts to stick I repeat the dusting process above. I loosen it from the counter before using the cookie cutter which gives you uniform shapes and easy removal.

Here's a video of a guy doing this exact process with pastry dough but it's the same process.

Click on:


.
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Old 01-01-2011, 09:38 AM   #4
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I saw Martha Stewart roll cookies on a Silpat, cut them and peel the excess off. I think she baked them directly on the Silpat. I remember thinking that it looked so easy.
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:35 AM   #5
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Thanks everyone!! I'll give it a try.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:25 PM   #6
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I use a small sieve to evenly coat my work area before I roll out the dough. The dough should be well chilled. I also keep a spatula handy so I can make sure the dough is not stuck to the work surface before I start cutting out the cookies. I work in small batches, like 1/4 of the dough at a time, keeping the rest in the fridge until I am ready for it and then always re-chilling the scraps before rolling them out again.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:31 PM   #7
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I just pour about a 1/2 cup of flour on my board, swipe my hand through it and cover the area where the dough will go and pile the rest to the side. I keep a little pile to dunk the cookie cutters before I put them on the dough. The biggest tip I ever got is too set all your cookie cutters in place at once and then press them all at about the same time. That way your dough doesn't get too overworked or dry. You have to have a lot of cookie cutters for that though.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alix View Post
The biggest tip I ever got is too set all your cookie cutters in place at once and then press them all at about the same time. That way your dough doesn't get too overworked or dry. You have to have a lot of cookie cutters for that though.
Yep, that's why I work in 1/4 batches of dough. I really works well having them all set and ready to go.
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Old 01-01-2011, 04:32 PM   #9
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I just use my flour sifter to dust the work surface. It, usually, already has flour in it.
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:31 AM   #10
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I don't use the flour at all. I use powdered sugar instead. I think it works much better and keeps the cookies from getting that nasty floury taste after they are baked. Be sure that the dough is loose from the board before cutting them. Remove the dough from around the cutters and then transfer the cut dough to the pan using a spatula. Once in place you can remove the cutter and they should keep their shape. Be sure to powder your cutters before cutting the cookies. As for the spread when they are baking, that is often a matter of using the right fat in the recipe. They all spread at different rates. Also be sure to check the temp of your oven and be sure to pre-heat it. Don't grease your pans unless the recipe tells you specifically to do so. When they come out of the oven let them sit for a full minute (but not much longer) on the cookie sheet before trying to move them to a cooling rack. The proteins need to set up some before they can be moved without damage.
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